I’m struggling right now with how hard to promote my book, Addition by Adoption. Or at least I would be if I weren’t so busy. With another adoption (an 11-year-old, no less!), another book project and the end of summer, I’m not sure my life has reached this level of busy before. So the book kind of gets forgotten.
And that’s the struggle. Do I let it slide into obscurity or do I work even harder to promote it, keep it on the forefront of people’s thoughts and sell a few more copies? Or is it already in obscurity and I should just give up now? Or is all that promotion just annoying?
I worked relentlessly in April and May to promote this book and get it out there and the response was pretty incredible. The sales for a self-published book were spectacular. Of course spectacular sales of a self-published book don’t account for much. When I look at my expenses the book hasn’t even broken even yet (let’s not even talk about the time involved). And we still need to raise $3,000 to build that well in Ethiopia.
Publishing is a harsh mistress.
Of course for all that promotion there are still people who have no idea I published a book, let alone a ground-breaking book of tweets. Nevermind a book exploring adoption. There are still people who said they’d do some kind of promotion and never did. There are still people who said they’d buy a copy and never did. Sometimes people need to be reminded again and again and again. And sometimes that just gets old.
So I guess we’ll see what happens. This post serves as a handy (and lame) bit of further promotion. So don’t forget that we still have ‘Awesome Editions’ of the book available ($12 goes to charity: water!) and you can always buy it on Amazon.
I actually woke up to Milo storming into our bedroom at 5:45. We graduated Milo to a real bed last night and are now very appreciative of the cage-like qualities of a crib.
But after that I saw the incredible Pioneer Press feature on my book, Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters, complete with a little photo gallery and lots of details about my life as a twittering dad. I love that they mentioned my blogging history going back to 1998—and my comment that it was really bad back then (it was). I’m glad they included our latest addition at the very end. And I can’t quite pick a favorite picture—our kitchen dance party with Lexi in her ballerina, the fact that Milo in sporting his Red Wings shirt, or the five of us—dogs included—piled around the laptop (a rare moment indeed). But my favorite part about the story is that I didn’t say anything stupid to the reporter.
If you’re checking out my site for the first time, thanks for stopping by:
And a bigtime thanks to everyone who makes this stuff happen. I should specifically mention TriLion Studios and Ronald Cox, who volunteered to do the book’s cover and layout respectively, and the Pioneer Press for doing such a great story.
The book is normally $9.99 on Amazon and $2 of every copy goes to charity: water to build a well in Ethiopia. But at Friday’s Social Media Breakfast you can get a copy for $8 and $4 of that will go to charity: water. It’s cheaper, no shipping, no waiting and double the money goes to charity. Score.
Tomorrow’s event is being held at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Last time I was at the Target Center it was for Sesame Street Live (which gets a nod in the book). Before that it was U2. Oddly enough, I’ve never been to the Target Center for a Timberwolves game. The size of the venue will have little to do with the size of tomorrow’s crowd, which is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view (my fear of public speaking and my desire to raise cash for charity: water are clashing on this one).
I’m hopeful tomorrow’s event will be a good chance to connect with people and get closer to building a well in Ethiopia. You can read more about the discount or learn more about SMBMSP.
A year ago today we were in the midst of the Bald Birthday Benefit. We’d already shattered the $600 goal and my baldness was imminent. You pushed on and raised $2,605 for charity: water, giving clean water to 130 people for my 30th birthday. I’m still in awe and incredibly grateful for that.
I thought about doing the Bald Birthday Benefit again this year, but I’m not sure shaving my head is such a big draw anymore. But I still love celebrating my birthday by giving back.
So here’s the deal: My birthday is in 10 days. Father’s Day is in 15 days. All I really want is a well in Ethiopia. Help me get there.
There a number of ways you can donate, from straight cash to buying a copy of my book. We’ve set up a few special options with the book where more money can go to charity: water, from an Awesome Edition to a 10-copy package. I’m also willing to give you a free digital copy of the book for making a donation. And yes, if somebody wants to see me shave my head again, I’m willing to do it (for a price).
More than buying a book or giving some cash, you’re giving life. 70-80% of Ethiopians don’t have access to clean water. It ends up killing 300,000 Ethiopian children every year. It’s the number one cause of infant mortality.
So help me celebrate my birthday, let’s celebrate Father’s Day—heck, we can celebrate Flag Day too!—by building a well in Ethiopia. Give water. Give life. Thank you.
I’ve avoided blogging non-stop about my book, so it seems safe to talk about it again (go buy a copy!). There are a few cool things to report:
First and foremost, we’ve officially raised $784 for charity: water. That’s clean water for 39 people. Only $4,216 to go. But unofficially another $96 has been raised by books sold that I haven’t been paid for yet, which brings us to…
My jaw dropped the other night when I saw this tweet: “I LOVE your book. I just ordered 40 copies 4 gifts in my adoption classes.” Wow. That’s just incredible. (Speaking of which, if you’re interested in multiple copies of my book, let’s talk—I can make you a deal.)
That massive order, plus the other books sold and our pre-order, puts us at 114 copies of Addition by Adoption sold. I’m now in the top 21% of the publishing industry (if you like facts that don’t mean much). Not too shabby for a self-published collection of Twitter posts.
I’ve also signed up to have a booth at the annual Ethiopian picnic in the Twin Cities, the Summer Mehaber. It’s put on by the Ethiopian Kids Community, an organization that serves families with Ethiopian American children, so it’s a lot of adoptive families. I’m hoping it will be an ideal audience for the book, but I’m also a little freaked out about what to do with a 10′ x 20′ booth. I’m also hoping to hire some people to run the booth for me, both because sitting in a booth all day and hocking my book is something I’d be terrible at, plus I’d rather be at the picnic with my family all day. It also means diving deep into the real world of marketing—spending money to make money. It sounds ridiculous, but I don’t have a lot of first hand experience with marketing and direct sales (i.e., how many books do I need to sell at the event to cover all my expenses and make it worthwhile?). I’m just a writer!
So my book, Addition by Adoption, officially released on Amazon last week. And so I began my fixation with Amazon’s sales rank, something I imagine most authors go through (whether or not they admit it).
Before the May 11 release date the book’s Amazon sales rank was in the 500,000 range. Not too shabby, considering the millions of books that are published, right? Then on Tuesday the popularity surge began. It zoomed into the top 100,000, eventually settling as high as 55,721. It did end up at #35 in the adoption category.
Whoa. I know, right?
I assumed my book must be selling like hotcakes. Wow. All my hard work trying to spread the word about this thing (i.e., being annoying) must be paying off.
Not quite. Turns out the Amazon sales rank doesn’t mean as much as you might think. Depending on what you read and who you believe, cracking the top 100,000 might mean you’ve sold a single copy lately. Cracking the top 10,000 might mean you’ve sold a dozen copies. The top 1,000 might mean 50 copies.
It’s all relative. It’s all fluctuating. It’s all meaningless.
Just as quickly as my book surged, it also flopped. Today we’re sitting at 483,172. Total monthly sales to date? Seven. I don’t know what ‘selling like hotcakes’ actually means, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than seven.
It’s short. At only 82 pages and comprised of 140-character updates, this one isn’t going to take you long to finish.
It makes Twitter useful. Lots of people like to make fun of Twitter and joke about how useless it is. This book is proof positive of the usefulness of Twitter.
It’s for a good cause. A portion of the proceeds will go to build a well in Ethiopia through charity: water. We’ve already raised $276 for clean water, but we have a long way to go to reach our $5,000 goal.
Let me add a big thank you. There are so many people who have made this book possible, from my hilarious kids to my lovely wife to my friends who helped create the book and became my marketing team. It’s humbling to see the responses pour in over e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Thank you.
I’m indebted to a lot of people for this book, and one of them is the cover designer, Brian White of TriLion Studios. He jumped on board and came up with an incredible design right out of the gate.
The cover is such an important piece for a book. Even though my book will likely never sit on a bookstore shelf, you still need that eye-catching cover.
But more than being a great designer, Brian is also an adoptive parent. In 2007 his family moved from Kansas to Guatemala to complete the adoption of their baby girl. They spent about eight months living in Guatemala providing foster care for their daughter until the adoption could be finalized. A blog from that time captures some of their memories.
They also continue to be connected to Guatemala through work with the organization Paso a Paso (I blogged about this back in 2008). It’s an understatement to say it’s cool to see that kind of commitment.
I’m a little-biased towards this one, since it’s my wife. Abby is doing a fun giveaway with some motivation to better your chances of winning. Tweet/blog/whatever about the book or make a donation and you increase your chances of winning. Very cool.
Faith & Geekery
A more traditional ‘enter to win’ giveaway from a site that covers all things faith- and geek-related. They reviewed the book and I’ll also be doing an interview with the site that should appear on Friday.
So check out those sites and try to win yourself a copy.
A minute later we left to pick up Grandma at the airport.
We had adoption classes all day Friday and Saturday.
Sunday our Internet died. Not a big deal on Sunday, but crippling for work on Monday and today.
Dropped off two huge boxes of pre-order books at the post office on Monday.
Monday night we had more adoption class.
We’re still processing the adoption classes. It’s a pretty overwhelming nearly 20 hours of class. What I think is amazing is that we already went through maybe a dozen hours of classes for our first adoption and very little of it was repeated.
And trying to work without the Internet has been crippling the past two days. I certainly don’t require the Internet to write, but it’s amazing how much work requires Internet access in some way or another. I need to access documents or conversations or e-mails or something and it’s all online. Yesterday I was getting ready to leave the coffee shop to head home and I spent at least five minutes paralyzed, trying to figure out if I had done everything I needed to, trying to remember what else I had to check. It’s kind of embarrassing, really. I don’t like being that addicted to or reliant on the web.
Last night I sat in my car outside a closed coffee shop usurping their wifi. At least until the cops rolled by shining their spotlights in my face. I’m not sure if they were actually there for me, but I didn’t stick around to find out.
Today with both kids and no babysitters I had to give up on Internet access. I spent my morning filling out paperwork, writing thank yous, clearing off my desk, cleaning the kitchen and fixing the toilet. I even had to call a client on the phone.
Thankfully Comcast got things fixed this afternoon and I’ve been frantically working since.
A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.