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Books, Writing, History, and the Ritchie Boys

In "Books, Writing, History and the Ritchie Boys" I share my thoughts on certain books, the process of writing, the experiences of an indie-publisher, short pieces on WWII and the Holocaust, highlights of places from Immigrant Soldier, and, occasionally, profiles of Ritchie Boys. Everything in this blog reflects my personal ideas and feelings–a memoir of sorts, it is my perspective and any errors or omissions are mine.

Book Promotion for the Self-Published Author

As a self-published author, the job of book promotion landed directly on my shoulders.  It also soon became clear that some venues for sales were not open to Immigrant Soldier because it was self-published, or at best, were difficult to break into.

Over the last year, I have tried a variety of promotional avenues —some have worked out better than others. Often assessing the benefit is impossible and it is necessary to proceed on faith and the hope that some of your efforts will hit the mark.

Early on, I concentrated on contacting independent bookstores (difficult and often fruitless) and museum gift shops, especially the shops at various Holocaust museums (more successful if I was persistent). Stores and gift shops interested in putting Immigrant Soldier on their shelves could purchase books from the distributor (Ingram Content) or from Pacific Bookworks (my publishing company), either for a wholesale price or on a consignment basis.  But without the media/advertising backing of a traditional publisher, sales are very slow and often the bookstores take advantage of the Ingram return policy, which can put my account in the red as far as royalties go.  Worst of all, in November of this year, Ingram charged me for all the returns, a sum of well over $200! However, in order to be in bookstores or libraries at all, I must keep Immigrant Soldier available through Ingram.

Direct customer sales through Amazon have picked up gradually as the book gathers more and more positive reviews.   https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Immigrant+Soldier%2C+The+Story+of+a+Ritchie+Boy .  If you follow this link, don’t buy the used book on offer for $65.54!  Do people really fall for this?  In fact, though I am happy for any sales and all readers, the sale of used books earns me nothing. 

I also spent quite a bit of time in the first six months after publication getting interviews and reviews — slow and difficult work. I was able to land two appearances on a local FM radio station and a couple of articles in the local newspaper.  One venue that did result in some recordable sales was an article in the Sunday section of a regional newspaper.  This article also garnered me an invitation to participate in a local (Newport Beach) book fair, one of two book fairs where I have set up a table and talked to prospective readers. Unfortunately, the big book fairs, like the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books have prohibitively high entrance fees for a self-published author.

Another avenue I tried was entering my book in contests.  Many of these are little more than promotional set-ups, but it looks good to promote your book as an award winner at a local book festival.  However, all these contests have entry fees and require you to send one or more copies of the book for judging. Thus, I needed to be judicious in selecting the contests I would enter.   I am especially proud of the IPPY and the Eric Hoffer awards.
 
The following are awards Immigrant Soldier has earned:
• Independent Publishers Bronze medal award (2015) in the military/wartime fiction category
• Runner-up in genre fiction from the Los Angeles Book Festival
• Silver medal rating from Mom's Choice Awards
• Honorable mention in general fiction from the Southern California Book Festival
• Eric Hoffer Award (2016), finalist in general fiction
• National Indie Excellence Award, finalist in the Military Fiction category
• Florida Book Festival (2017), Honorable Mention in History category
• Two awards from Hollywood Book Festival, which honors work worthy of consideration by the film, television, and multimedia industries.
1. Runner-up, Biography/Autobiography
2. Honorable Mention, History
 
Since the beginning, I have promoted myself as a speaker and have sent out hundreds of letters and emails to veterans’ groups, museums, bookstores, community organizations, senior centers, retirement communities, and libraries offering to come and speak to their members and customers.  At first, the idea of speaking to a group was stressful, but as I do it more and more, I find I love presenting my talks to an interested and attentive audience.  Sometimes, especially for informal groups, like reading groups or senior centers, I speak extemporaneously about my inspiration for writing Immigrant Soldier, my experiences doing the research, and the journey to self-publication.
 
For groups that would like a prepared talk accompanied by PowerPoint slides, I have developed two different presentations: “Discovering the Ritchie Boys, Secret Heroes of World War II” and “Turning Fact into Fiction: The Evolution of Immigrant Soldier.”  Both have been well received and are especially popular with libraries. In fact, I have recently expanded the “Fact into Fiction” presentation into a mini writing workshop. (See blog posted October 2 titled "Turning a True Story into Fiction.") Most exciting of all, I have discovered most libraries and some senior residences have a budget that allows them to pay speakers, so now I am occasionally earning a small honorarium to help defray travel expenses. For a list of my upcoming events and presentations you can go to http://www.klangslattery.com/schedule-of-upcoming-author-events. Kt book fair 1.jpeg
 
One exciting development is that I now have a downloadable classroom PowerPoint available for teachers.  One day, when I was randomly searching the internet for possibilities, I discovered a site called “Teachers Pay Teachers” that allows educators to create and market classroom materials to others.  It is a great resource for teachers who are always overstressed and overworked. (I remember this from my own days as a classroom teacher back in the late 1960s and I’m sure it’s worse today). 

I have been able to partner with a husband-and-wife team who already have quite a good selection of materials on the site and have a special interest in history.   I redesigned my PowerPoint materials on the Ritchie Boys to work when someone other than myself acts as presenter. The husband of the team helped by upgrading the animation elements for the slides so the presentation can maintain the interest of students in a high school class.   This classroom curriculum supplement material is now available to purchase for the low cost of $5.99. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/World-War-II-The-Ritchie-Boys-Heroes-of-World-War-II-2522062   My partners and I are planning to add some extra items (lesson plan outline and a couple of handouts) to the offering soon so that it can be purchased as a “bundle.”  

The association with my education partners has also yielded an unexpected bonus.  The husband, a computer guy, has a travel website that allows hotel booking.  He offers non-profits a 5% kickback for all reservations made through a link on their website, and he offered the same to me.  Check out the travel possibilities by going to my home page www.klangslattery.com  and clicking on the Favorite Hotel Collections link on the bottom left.  Or you can go directly to http://favoritehotelscollection.com/partners/ritchie.  If you make hotel reservations through this site, you will be helping me finance my continuing trips to speak about the Ritchie Boys around the country.  

After two full years devoted to the promotion of Immigrant Soldier, I need to shift my concentration back to writing.  My intention is to begin work on a new book.  As part of this shift, my blogs will be posted only about once a month.  If you want to continue reading my thoughts about writing, books, and history, please subscribe to the blog so you will be automatically notified of new blogs via email. 
 
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