Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Courtney Stevens and Madcap Retreats

You may have seen Courtney Stevens (author of Faking Normal, and Lies About The Truth) talking about MadCap retreats over Twitter. As bloggers we love the books authors release and eagerly devour them. Many of us follow them on social media platforms and we're 'involved' enough in the industry in a way that we know that writing a book is work. Hard work. Fear, self doubt, writer's block are all things that can plague writers. Sometimes a support group, knowledge, and critic partners can help. Courtney has written an incredible post about the benefits of taking part in an educational retreat and the story behind the retreat she is hosting to help other writers (and offering up some prizes in the process!). Be sure to check out her post and enter the contest and find out more about these retreats. Stop by the Madcap Retreats website as well to learn more about their services (especially if you're writing a book, or are just interested in writing in general).

Courtney wanted to share some insight on writing, marketing and the side of being an author most of us don't consider. She graciously answered three of my questions relating to these topics.

1 What do you find to be the most surprising part, as an author, of the marketing aspect of publishing a novel?

This might be an unusual answer, but ... the cost. The dollars I spend to sell books and launch a platform have added up to thousands. I didn't see that coming, which is ridiculous in many ways. I am a small business of one, and most small business models have several years of deficit prior to profit. It's not unusual; it's just expensive. I never anticipated how much it would cost to put myself out there. 

For instance, I'll break down one thing I chose to do as part of the Faking Normal campaign. I printed Channel Your Brave silicone bracelets. 
Bracelet-  .25 a unit --if I order 2000 at a time
(If I hand that out at a school visit, sometimes by the hundreds, it's cheaper and worth it.)
If I have to mail it:
.10 envelope
.49 stamp + .30 extra stamp, because the package isn't flat
Every bracelet I mail, (before I add bookmarks and additional swag) cost roughly the exact same amount that I earn per book.
So I know every time I mail swag to someone, I am doing it a) out of generosity and genuine thanks and b) with semi-hopes that they'll buy my next book.

2 What one piece of advice do you wish you had prior to publishing your first book?

The book two curse is a real thing. BOOK TWO IS HARD. Be prepared to struggle with having an audience.

3 As an author what do you feel was most beneficial in terms of marketing? (pre-order campaigns, Twitter contests, blog tours, etc)

I think pre-order campaigns are awesome, but I've never run one. 
I've done a few Twitter contest, but they mostly cost me money and time and when I measure the result, I think I'm failing.
This is my first true time to work with a group of bloggers, and it's not even to sell my book.
So... I don't know that any of these things have been my bread and butter, although I've seen several of my buddies with much larger platforms rock them. 

The most beneficial thing I do is get eyeball to eyeball with someone and share about why I write what I do, and that means traveling.

A huge thank you to Courtney for taking the time to answer these questions, and for letting me help spread the word about these amazing resources for authors and writers of all kinds.

If you want to help spread the word be sure to visit Courtney's post as she is offering up some AMAZING prizes which include

3- $300 coupons to this Madcap Retreat:
1- 50 page manuscript critique by me (Courtney C. Stevens)
3- signed copies of Faking Normal
1- ARC of The Lies About Truth
5 - electronic copies of The Blue Haired Boy

Would you ever take part in a writing retreat? Let me know in the comments.

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