Amy will have her own take on Balticon, but judging by the constant smile and energy she displayed it was easy to tell that she was having fun. The things she won’t tell you are: (1) how great she looked as a red-orange sea anemone; and (2) how she spent two days spreading flyers advertising my reading all over the hotel.

For me it was a time for learning lessons.  As I commented to someone, (my brain hasn’t retained who,) each step forward seems to simply push the horizon further away. Aside from the truth of that statement, I love that line.  I may have to use it in a story.  The reality of what it’s going to take to market our books these days can seem overwhelming until you take a few deep breaths.  Then it simply looks like a huge mountain to be moved.  Only slightly better is the image that it isn’t really a mountain, but an immense mound of very heavy stones, none of which you can afford to leave unturned.

Toby has promised me a marketing lesson in a couple of days which should help, but what Amy and I got out of an hour-long lecture on marketing books was the need to scour book review blogs.  For those of us who approach life with a degree of organization and planning, that is a nightmare.  Most blog sites are either designed haphazardly or not at all.  The idea is to get the bloggers/reviewers to read your book and write about it, after which the hundred or so other bloggers on their personal blogger lists might read it and review it too.  In theory there’s a critical mass of reviews that causes the big snowball to start rolling downhill of its own accord.

In theory.  To put it in perspective, many blog sites tell you to submit books for review to the blog editor, which would be relatively easy if the blog offered a link or any other contact information about who the editor is or how to reach him or her.  Duh!

Two days of really painful effort so far (about six concentrated hours of work) yielded six query notes, of which I’m sure at least two are worthless.  No responses yet. One thing I finally learned was to look at how many people actually follow a blog.  The number is usually surprisingly small,  not many more than a hundred.

The stones really get heavy after a few hours.

Alan Zendell

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