Friday, 6 June 2014

Part 06: Mili Fay And The Picture-Book Marketing Challenge

June, 2013.

Mili Fay: "After 5 years of toiling, my book, 'Animals In My Hair', has finally been published.  I am at the top of the world!  The hard part is over.  All that is left is to let everyone know that this brand new marvel of literature exists! 


How hard can that be?"


May, 2014.

Mili Fay: "It is not only hard, it feels impossible!"

*****

I know I have a great product.  I know this, because "Animals In My Hair" has been flying off shelves at markets, and the people who have not bought the book have actually apologised that they did not have the money to purchase it, or that they do not have children in their lives to gift it to.

So, the book is not the reason why I am struggling.  The reason is that I have no clue how to get my book in front of parents and teachers who are my target audience: Marketing.

I have done my research.  The problem is not that there is no information on marketing--there is TOO MUCH information!  

A month ago, I felt crushed by piles and piles of information (most of it useless.)  I wallowed in it.  I was buried in it.  I was slowly being flattened by it.


I've been crying for help for what felt like forever and no one has been able to hear me.

Then like a ray of sunshine that pierces and melts the fog, Sandra Beckwith's newsletter led me to D'vorah Lansky's Book Marketing Challenge.  

Now at the very end of the challenge,  I have a clear path (with supportive signposts) that will lead me to the kind of success I have always dreamed I'd achieve.


I cannot share just one thing I have learned; it is not who I am.  What I will share with you is the tools I have found most applicable to the picture-book/fantasy author like me.

The first week of the Challenge we were supposed to create our author's platform.  Well, in my case, my book is just a tiny part of a greater entity called Mili Fay Art.  Last year, I have finally established Mili Fay Art's platform and have supported it with the vision statement: "Together we support the world one artwork at a time." 

Instead of creating a platform, I have learned about creating effective blogs, have decided to really get involved with Amazon and Goodreads, and have also discovered something called a Facebook Fan Party--which I think is the best way to get more Likes for my Facebook Page.

The second week was all about becoming friends with our audience.  I am intrigued by list building through giveaways (I have been giving stuff away since the beginning, but have not asked anything in return).  I have created my first giveaway, a PDF Colouring Book from the outline scans of some of my most popular pieces of artwork.  At my last market I have let people know that they will be getting this book if they sign up for my newsletter and the signup sheet was 200% longer. 


You can download the picture book here

Cathy Demers gave me a great idea for creating a show showcasing my very talented friends once a week as part of my "Art: Help!" blog.  Thank you, Cathy!  I may not be able to connect with "Animals In My Hair" audience in that way, but I will reach a lot of artists and fantasy lovers who I know will love my novel, "Warriors of Virtue".  Besides, I will chat with some of the artists I have admired for years.  What could be better?

Third week was not my week.  I do not want to teach the subjects and themes that I use for books.  My books are fantasy, and there are people out there more qualified than I to teach on the real subjects I touch upon.  However, I did have a major brainstorm as I listened to the Kindle Ninja (I find Kristen Eckstein a bit scary to be honest).  

"Warriors of Virtue" is my masterpiece.  A massive fantasy story about a reluctant princess who learns to be a Queen.  It really is massive.  The first book out of the planned five-book series (and one novella) is 600 pages (slightly over 100 000 words, which is not an unusual length for a fantasy novel).  I have envisioned the whole book illustrated with sketchy ink illustrations, and one beautiful, full-colour illustration for every chapter.  Just thinking of the amount of work that will take makes me slightly ill.

After listening to the Kindle Ninja, I have decided to publish the whole book in individual chapters.  My plan is to offer the first chapter for free, then to raise the price when the second chapter is published and offered for free.  I hope in this way to create a loyal following who may eventually help me achieve best-seller status with the printed version of the book.  My future fans may even help me Crowdfund the project.

Crowdfunding is what we have discussed in week four.  A week where we learned the importance of press releases and book reviews.  Both of which I will be working on as soon as the Challenge is through.

This last week we have been learning about Virtual Book Tours.  As someone who loves to write and share what I know, a VBT is what I am looking forward to the most.  Somehow, I will have to figure out how to get in touch with relevant mommy-blogs, and teacher sites (or I may spend this year doing actual tour of Toronto schools and Libraries--if they'll have me).  I did have this idea to contact haircut blogs for children, and share funny haircuts I have had throughout the years.  I also love, LOVE, Once Upon A Sketch blog run by Norman Grock.  I would dearly love to write them an article about my watercolour technique.  People marvel at the clarity of my colours and the secret is all in the...

;-)

I am also intrigued by a Review Crew, and will be setting mine up soon.

I'm also planning on starting a review blog as a result of being part of this fantastic Children's Picture Books group on Goodreads, with a weekly article about outdoor games that will keep the kids active and away from TV.  If you know of any old games that may be fun and are willing to share an article for this new blog, please let me know.

The Book Marketing Challenge sparked so many ideas that I am not sure where to start first, but the above are some that are bouncing around my scull more frequently than others.

Lastly, I want to give a big virtual hug to everyone reading this blog, and to all the participants of the Book Marketing Challenge Group who have welcomed me with open arms.  I hope we will stay in touch for years to come.  If you are ever in Toronto I would love to meet you all in person and share with you my favourite haunts.

My June 2014 Challenge is to fully illustrate my "Dream, Little Dreamer" lullaby (you can hear me singing the full version on a YouTube video here).  If you have kids, or if you just like children's art, you can follow my progress on Pinterest for a chance to win original sketches and a watercolour painting.

First Illustration: "...or a chick in its pen..."
If you'd like to keep in touch, and get more artistic freebies (such as greeting cards, art prints, colouring books, Kindle Books, etc.) and discounts on portraiture and Mili Fay Art products, become a member of the Mili Fay Art Fan Club.  You can also join Mili Fay Art's brand new Review Crew where you may get all of her future books for free.  Details coming soon!

Join Mili Fay Art Fan Club and/or Review Crew:

* indicates required
Mili Fay Art
Email Format


Good luck with all your endeavours!

Mili Fay
"Together we support the world one artwork at a time."

P. S.  I will go into more detail as I follow each marketing step, so make sure to tune in from time to time. :-)

A Proud Member Of:

Back to Blog Hop List

39 comments:

  1. Dear Mili,
    I want to say a big THANK YOU for all the great ideas that you've given in the comments to the posts of The Book Marketing Challenge. As a fiction writer, I have found them very insightful, without even mentioning that some of them were my big 'a-ha moments' ;-)
    Your artwork is awesome and I think your marketing plan for the "Warriors of Virtue" is the best way to go - it will make your readers avidly come back for more and will guarantee their loyalty. As a fantasy lover, I'll be looking forward to reading this book too ;-)
    I wish you the best of luck with all your projects!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Katery Nakei. This is such a sweet comment and I really do appreciate your support. I love sharing, so if I figure out more stuff, I plan to post it on this blog. I created it yesterday to keep all my publishing/marketing information together.

      What is your book about?

      I'm afraid I'm terrible with names, so even if I've seen it before, I may have missed it. Also, on my blogs, authors and artists are welcome to leave links to their blog, their store,... as long as it has some relevance to the blog's theme and the subject matter is PG13 (or at most 14A).

      Therefore, if you ever visit this blog again and feel an urge to leave a comment, please do so.

      I feel so silly that I did not think of the fantasy idea before. I can't wait to get started. At this moment I'm trying to figure out what to illustrate for Chapter 1: "Three Unsuspecting Teenagers". I'm leaning towards a picturesque painting showing the castle where our main characters live. There is also a growing cottage where the wizard lives, and a bubbling cauldron... I think I will have to create another blog to keep all that information organized.

      Oooooh, there's an idea: create an encyclopaedia of your settings, characters, and themes. :-D

      Wishing you best of luck as well!

      Mili

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Jacci. <3

      You can follow the board I link to on Pinterest (see above). I plan to gift most of my sketches for the upcoming book. Currently there is a contest for the one of the little chick. All you need to do is guess how long it took me to draw the image on good paper with ink, colour it with watercolours, and redraw the outline for the final image you see posted above. Do not count the time it takes for the work to dry between each layer. Just how long it takes to paint. The image is about 5" x 4". Post your answer on Pinterest or on my Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account. The person who comes closest first wins the final original ink sketch. This person also goes into a draw to win a painting of one of the illustration at the end of the project.

      Delete
  3. Mili Fay -- you are so talented! And your illustration of being buried under a mountain of marketing information struck true with me! You have some great ideas, and I know you'll move forward well. And yes, lets all try to keep in connection in order to watch/support each other's successes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Peg. My problem is not ideas, it is too many ideas and not knowing what to do first. So, I try to do a bit of this and a bit of that and in the end I get very little done. Must create a better, more focused plan.

      We'll stay in touch for sure. <3 M

      Delete
  4. Such lovely art, Mili! Thanks so much for your thoughtful insights. Best to you in your future marketing and joyful sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Donna. I wish you all the best as well. I may be crazy, but I feel as all of us in The Challenge are a big family. I will certainly be available in the group until I am kicked out ;-). I'll continue to share, and I hope you will do so, too.

      Delete
  5. I love your site -- its humor and its refreshment -- and your lullaby is lovely! When I get overwhelmed with all the new ideas, I remember the emphasis on picking one or two things to do and doing them well before going on to the next one or two!
    My blog is http://smithnrs96.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/who-will-read-my-book/ and my new FB fan page is https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNancyRSmith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this warm comment, Nancy. I have just seen your Facebook Page, and I hope to get to your blog eventually. I too have had several spiritual experiences, but never nothing as intense as yours must have been. Good luck with all your endeavours.

      I have put my life on hold for this challenge and now I have to get back to some of my responsibilities. I really have to work on picking just two things. My mind is filled with ideas, worlds no one but me has ever seen, and stories that demand to be told. I decided to stop working for others, because I began to fear that if I did not get things in my head out on paper I will eventually go mad.

      Delete
  6. What a fun and interesting post. I know how you feel about information overload. It's crushing. I think we've all been there. I wish you every success. I'd wish you good luck, but I don't think you're going to need it. You are so very talented. You just need to keep moving forward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, moonrox. :-) I'm glad you have enjoyed my post. I wish you all the best as well. <3 M

      I will save your words to give me encouragement on those "Blue Days".

      Delete
  7. Hi Mili, I love your summary and how you are applying this to your book and your business. I'm intrigued with the idea of a "review crew." How does that work?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone else has posted details about a Review Crew on an earlier post (probably in the comments of the post about getting more reviews). The way I plan to create a Review Crew is by inviting people who enjoy my work to join a special mailing list. When I have a new book coming, I will invite everyone on that list to reply if they are interested in reviewing the book. The first x# of people to answer will be given free review copies as a gift in exchange for their review. The catch is that if they do not post a review within a specified time frame they are kicked out of the review crew. I will apply the 3 warnings and you are out rule. :-) This should help me separate the people who just like getting free stuff from my true fans. I would be thrilled to be on the review crew for my favourite authors; get special treatment and gifts, etc. The benefit is that I will generate honest reviews to help my ranking.

      I do not know how well it will work, because I am still very much unknown. However, the moment I've heard it, I have loved the idea.

      I believe you are doing the same thing with your Kindle Book series. I really appreciate my copy and have been thrilled to write a review for you.

      Thank you so much for all you have done to set up this challenge. I have been drowning in information, but have not had a solid plan. I was always terrified of Marketing. As an artist and writer all I want to do is create; however, this challenge has shown me that marketing is nothing to be feared and it can actually be fun. I also hate Networking. I absolutely detest that word. It makes me feel like a used car salesman. What I have learned since this challenge is that if I stop thinking of the activity as Networking, and just focus on meeting people, true great connections can be made. I love meeting people.

      I will remain in the group for as long as I can, and I hope we all keep in touch.

      Delete
  8. Your book looks really cute Mili! I've been working on a picture book manuscript for several years now and am currently sending it out to publishers. Will see what happens... :-) All the best to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I'm trying to make it ridiculously cute. :-)

      I wish you best of luck with your picture book. I love picture books, because they are miniature works of art. There is a great book club on Goodreads I have recently joined that is all about reading and discussing picture books. You may wish to check it out. I have posted a link above.

      I have just read your blog, and I think you are doing some amazing work. I wish you all the best! If you ever want to run anything by me, please don't be shy.

      Delete
  9. Hello Mili,

    I have enjoyed your blog and artists skills. Congrats on completing your book. I am so close to finishing mine and now have a wealth of information on how to market it as I diligently work on my pre-release platform. Good luck with everything.

    Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. The link in on the homepage of my website.

    Have a great day.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello Mili, I enjoyed your blog and art work. Congrats on your book. Mine is so close to being finished yet other responsibilities must be factored in.

    Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. The link in on the homepage of my website. www.jazzyeco.com
    Have a great day.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you. I love what you are doing. I have signed up for your newsletter. We'll keep in touch. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. You're artwork is amazing. And the book, Animals in my Hair sounds so cool. I'll be sending a copy to my niece for her kindle. Much success to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Desiree. Unfortunately, "Animals In My Hair" is not on Kindle at this time. I am planning to add it to Kindle as soon as I figure out how. ;-)

      Delete
  13. Hi Milli,
    I love your blog and your incredible art work. I just love your pictures and cartoons!
    All the best for your own marketing challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Shirley. All the best to you as well! <3 M

      Delete
  14. Mili,

    I have been so blessed to discover you as a friend, mentor, coach, and queen of inspiration! Your book made such a difference for our little granddaughter and her feelings of self-worth! What a tremendous compliment to your unending talents. You are truly the heart of an artist and creator of stories and pictures to inspire the next generation. Your recap is a testament to the beauty of your soul and your commitment to everything you undertake. Thank you for being who you are and for all the encouragement you have given to all of us during this 30-day adventure. I look forward to sharing our journey in the coming years!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Peggy...

      Your post made me cry. I really am becoming a "watering pot". :-)

      I am the one who is blessed to have discovered you and so many wonderful people through D'vorah Lansky's Book Marketing Challenge. I do not feel as alone as I use to. I know one day we will all be laughing together at some big New York Book-Something event. <3 M

      Delete
  15. I really enjoyed your very creative post. Your artwork is amazing! And thanks for the thoughts about doing a Review Crew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the complement. It is disturbing how we artists need to hear such words; it makes us work harder and gets us to give more than we thought we had.

      You are very welcome. I'm trying to organize my Review Crew now. :-) Good luck with yours!

      Delete
  16. OMG Mili! You are such a ball of fire -- a highly gifted ball of fire at that! This just might be my favourite Blog posting of all time. I LOVE it! I'm highly visual - but have no artistic talent. I need to live vicariously through others. (I need to be content painting pictures with words.) I've signed up for your two lists. I think your emails will provide a refreshing break from information overload - because they'll have pictures! Really liked the Mind Map and the graphic on the Info. Overload Mountain. Maybe you can Brand those images with your website address and place them on Facebook. If you like, I'd be happy to Share them on my FB page to help spread the word about you. I think your books are about to spread like wildfire. Have to say I've really appreciated all of your helpful comments throughout the Book Marketing Challenge...and I don't think anyone's about to kick you out. You rock Girl! P.S. Lived in Toronto for 20 years. Say Hello to Kensington Market & Palmerston Blvd. for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jan,

      Thank you so much for all your complements and such an enthusiastic comment. I am glad you found the information I shared useful; it makes me happy.

      I will never turn down an opportunity for anyone who is willing to help spread the word about me. Which image would you like to share on your Facebook?

      I have lived in Toronto for 20 years (exactly 20 this past May 13th--it was Friday the 13th when my mom, sister, and I emigrated so I will always remember that date). The sad truth is that I have not spent much time in Kensington Market and have never heard of Palmerston Blvd. :-D I think I heard that they are refurbishing Kensington Market. When my city walks take me in that direction again, I will be sure to yell out: "Hello from Jan, Kensington Market!" Then I'll use the wide birth the crowd will give me to easily pass through the busy streets. :-D

      Delete
  17. You are a genius! God speed with your work and the journey ahead!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you so much!

      May you journey be blessed. <3

      Delete
  18. Great drawings, Mili. I sometimes have trouble focusing too, but I find that D'vorah's programs and live group calls have helped me narrow down my to do lists. A monthly mind map is especially helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the complement, Gina.

      I need to get started on that Mind Map, Gina. So, far I know what I want to do, but have not found the time to map it out with an actual mathematical plan. Hopefully, by this weekend's end I can get it all into a nice, neat linear timeline.

      Delete
  19. Love your enthusiasm and appreciate your clever artwork.(especially the dragon) Amazing! I know how it feels to have all those ideas swirling in your head and trying to capture each one on paper or in paint. That is one part of the creative path that is so frustrating! So excited for you with your picture book release in the making for 5 years! Congrats! Enjoy the fun. I know you will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, J Q Rose. I'm very excited to get my novel out there. It is my baby and now that I have finally figured out what I want to do with my illustrations, I should have the first chapter out by July.

      If you like dragons you should watch out for the promos, since an entire race in my novel is of people who can turn themselves into dragons at will. Lots of dragon pictures coming your way. :-D The Green Dragon pictured in the colouring book is Vert, Prince Diamond's best friend and Captain of the Guards for all the Dragon People.

      Delete
  20. Hi Mili. Great Blog. During the challenge, besides implementing the action steps, I tried to read all the comments. I found yours to be honest, and at times, mirrored my thoughts. I love your artwork and your enthusiasm for life. I have no doubt you will be a great success. On Fan Page Friday, I found and liked your page and was able to share your Toronto Show on my page to support a fellow Ontarioian. Not sure this is a word. heheheh Marketing, not my strong suit, has taken me away from my other loves. (silk painting and quilting. I now need to pace myself. I hope we continue to share our journey together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to see you again, Sharon. I recognize your picture form the Challenge. :-) Are you trying to combine Toronto and Ontario for Ontarioian?

      Thank you so much for sharing my Toronto Show. I will be having another one on June 28th, and if you are in the area I would love to meet you in person.

      I have spent the day creating a New Contest, 2 Facebook Groups, and catching up on my emails and Facebook. Tomorrow, I hope to actually get some time to draw. :-D

      I will remain a member of D'vorah's group; if you are there you can always find me :-) I really love the community this challenge has created.

      I hope to get to read a few more blogs while eating my dinner. All the best! M

      Delete
  21. I absolutely love your artwork! its beautiful and I am jealous that you are so gifted :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Jealousy is the new form of flattery. ;-)

      I guess whoever whacked me with the "gifted stick" tried to compensate for my poor immune system and lack of coordination. You should have seen me trying to play basketball...

      Delete

Please be courteous. Abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.