Sunday, June 28, 2015

Marketing Your Books with Merchandise by PEN

Available on CafePress from On The Q-Teez

8/26/15 Note: Sharing this earlier post today by guest author PEN on the Fiction Writer's Blog Hop on Julie Valerie's Book Blog. Click the link and check out more posts today on other blogs. Hop right along! This is a monthly blog hop the last Wednesday of each month, so mark your calendar for next month, too.

T-shirts. Coffee cups. Sweatshirts. Coasters. If it’s a printable surface, you can have anything printed on it.

Long before “See Rock City” graced red-barn roofs across the South, people have slapped a logo, a quote or a company name on everything from pens to linens, hats to socks, and everything in between. It’s a relatively inexpensive form of advertising and promotion and there’s no reason authors can’t use that to their advantage. 

Promote Your Book 

Got an eye-popping cover? How about a catchy quote from your book? An artist’s rendition of an interesting character?

Any – or all – of the aforementioned can be displayed on merchandise to generate interest in you and your book. Just remember to put your website URL on the merchandise as well. 


Buttons, magnets, bookmarks, key chains and other small items with your designs make for great giveaways at festivals, parties, and other gatherings. Ask your local independent bookstore if you can leave a stack of bookmarks somewhere. If you have any speaking engagements, have these freebies available to all who attend. Keep some buttons, magnets and key chains on hand to give to people you meet. Or to strangers on your commute, particularly if you recognize someone as an avid reader. Having a little something extra to give away will get you remembered. It may even get you talked about and generate more book sales down the road. 

Contest Prizes 

T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and other apparel items can be given as prizes for contest entries. For instance, if you’re selling books at a festival or other event, offer one ticket per book sale for a drawing to win the T-shirt, hoodie or other apparel. Host your own event with the same or similar premise. 


Make inexpensive business cards with the URL to your merchandise. Hand them out to everyone you meet, especially if you’re wearing some of your own merchandise and people express interest. Have family and friends wear and use the merchandise; have them share the URL with their friends. Use social media to its fullest: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and any other social media site you use. Boost an ad on Facebook a few times to see if you get any response.

The key, of course, is promotion. You must be as diligent in promoting the merchandise as you are with promoting your books.  Merchandise is an additional form of promotion for book sales. But, just like your books, no one will purchase if they don’t know it’s available. 

Where To Go 

CafePress is a Print-on-Demand type of company for merchandise. In business since 1999, CafePress is one of the largest online retailers of printed merchandise.

There is also Zazzle . However, I have never had one sale from Zazzle and I’ve been with CafePress longer. I find the CafePress site easier to navigate and understand.

It costs nothing in dollars and cents to set up a shop. What it will cost you is time and patience. Tutorials and instructions are available and helpful. Once you jump in and do it is when you’ll really learn. 

Using CafePress 

Using the CafePress website isn’t difficult. But it is time-consuming. If you are a person short on patience, you will either learn the art of being patient or abandon the shop altogether.

The important thing is sizing your images. CafePress has a sizing chart for all the merchandise available. Sizing can be tricky; follow the chart to make sizing easier. Creating images for dark apparel is also tricky and requires Photoshop or a similar program in order to create a transparent background.

If you have several different images, do them in small increments: about a dozen at a time. I learned this lesson the hard way. I had a dozen or so different images to upload and eagerly and excitedly placed them on a variety of merchandise. This left me with hours of attending to other details. Had I done my images a few at a time it would not have been so aggravating to go back and attend to all those details.

About those details: there are many. Everything from putting a title to your image, adding tags and description, product description, parent page and landing page descriptions, mark-up and then some. As tedious as it may sound, each of these aspects is important if you want people to find and purchase your products. Take care of each detail as you go along and you won’t have to spend hours later doing it all. 

Getting Paid 

As with many do-it-yourself online print-on-demand sites, payment is withheld for a certain time period. This isn’t done to irritate you. The time frame allows for returns or exchanges. CafePress deals with these details so you don’t have to.

CafePress allows you to choose whether you want to be paid via PayPal or by check. You can also choose whether the payment is after reaching $25, $50, $100 or $250 in sales. Payment is withheld for 60 days after the month in which sales are accrued.

So don’t quit your day job right away. 

All in all, using merchandise to promote your books serves a dual purpose: you earn money for the products as well as get the word out about your work.

You have nothing to lose by trying.

 About the Author 

A native Georgian, Pen has been daydreaming since the age of four, writing since the age of ten and recently discovered self-publishing. She currently resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
 Previous post on this blog by PEN.

Visit Pen’s Amazon Author Page and her website.

Nero's Fiddle on Amazon .

Visit her shop On The Q Teez  for merchandise geared for writers and artists.

Sure to bring a grin, this slightly risqué quote from the novel, Nero's Fiddle, is sure to be an attention-grabber! Shop On The Q-Teez

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Doug Dahlgren Show Celebrates First Anniversary on ArtistFirst Radio Network. Would You Like To Be Interviewed?

Have an interesting story to share?

This month, Georgia author, Doug Dahlgren, began his second year of hosting interviews on the ArtistFirst World Radio Network.  This weekly, hour long, forum introduces the audience to writers, musicians, and other interesting people with a story to tell.  The Doug Dahlgren Show airs live on Monday evenings at 7 pm eastern time and is available free and on demand, in podcast form through the show’s webpage.

The show and artist podcasts are more than "just an interview."  It's a well
thought out and produced promotional tool to help you market your book and a great addition to your media kit or website.  Doug does his research and sets the tone for a comfortable and informative chat!
Contact Doug for details.

Upcoming guest this Monday, March 30th, Doug Peters, attorney, singer, and songwriter.

Past interviews have included:

 March 23, Alfred Goldsmith and Andy Liechty
Veteran "Open Mic" Artists  Atlanta's Music Scene
March 9, Amanda A. Brooks  Author of The Thunder Mountain Brides Series
and Host of The Amanda A. Brooks Show

Earlier Shows

August 11, 2014, Gregg Loomis, Former Race Car Driver and 
Author, The Cathar Secret

June 30, 2014, Wilbur McCauley
Vice President/Director Animal Care Tigers for Tomorrow

For a complete list, click here and scroll down the page to see all the interviews and listen for free!

About Doug Dahlgren


Doug is the author of seven novels, including the six book set, The Son Series. The Son Series is set slightly in the future, but close enough to be uncomfortable, the stories expose a level of evil that goes untouched by the law. High ranking political figures, who use their positions to protect them, while committing unspeakable crimes. The willingness to take a stand for what is right, against any odds. Those ideals are the inspiration for the main character , the mysterious and secretive assassin known to the world only as "The Son". 

Visit Doug's Amazon Author Page for more information on Doug and his books. Coming soon, The Eagle.

Doug is no stranger to Book Talk. Check out past interviews with him, including the launch of The Doug Dahlgren Show, a charming children's Halloween storyand his author interview.


The Doug Dahlgren Show     Amazon Author Page  

Author's Website       Facebook      E-Mail Doug

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Stone Mountain Christmas Book Signing Party

The Book:

A collection of Christmas stories ranging from romance, to fairies and superheroes, to people who need to believe again. Set in Stone Mountain, Georgia, these stories are filled with Southern-style tradition, love and the magic of Christmas. From revisiting "The Gift of the Magi" to blended families making new traditions, twelve authors share Christmas stories to put you in the holiday spirit. Melba Moon, Mary Marvella, Jackie Rod, Georgiana Fields, Valerie Keiser Norris, John A. Robinson, C.C. Ansardi, Nan Monroe, Yasmin Bakhtiari, Regan Humphrey, Andrea Sommers, James Hugh Reeves.

Published by Gilded Dragonfly Books. Buy on Amazon and Kindle. Need a holiday gift? Give as an e-book on Kindle. include a gift message, just $5.99 and you can send it today using Kindle's gift button!

City of Stone Mountain, Georgia:

While the stories in this anthology are fiction, the town is real. It is named for Stone Mountain, the largest exposed granite dome in North America. Stone Mountain harbors plant and animal life found no other place in the world. It is also the site of a famous giant carving commemorating the military leaders of the Confederacy as well as a state park and museum, including a steam railroad. Stone Mountain is a great family park. The town is full of charming shops and places to eat. Considered part of metro Atlanta, Stone Mountain has a personality all its own!

Book Signing Photos:

The book's launch was held on December 18 at The Spot in Stone Mountain Village, the evening was a fun time. Warm and cozy, and full of holiday spirit, the authors gathered to celebrate the season, meet with folks, and sign books. The food was delish right down to the cake that looked like the cover of the anthology.

Photo borrowed from Facebook, author Georgiana Fields' page.
Not all the authors were in town, but those that were had a merry time.
 The cake!
The Spot in Stone Mountain Village
 C.C. Ansardi and Mary Marvella
Mary Marvella, Jackie Rod, Georgiana Fields, Valerie Keiser Norris
Nan Monroe and Yasmin Bakhtiari
Author M.J. Flournoy (Melba Flournoy-Moon)
Jackie Rod
Author James Hugh Reeves (front left) and family.
If you missed this event, you can meet the authors again in Stone Mountain Village, this Sunday, December 21st, 3 - 6PM at Café JAYA,
6566 James B Rivers Dr, Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Author PEN First In Our New 'Authors On Writing' Series

Author PEN kicks off a new series on Book Talk. Authors talking about writing! Penny will be back next week with more information on her recent book, Nero's Fiddle.
Keeping It Simple
     Most people don’t even think about the effort put into writing a novel. But they’re not really supposed to.

     They don’t know about the hours of research that go into writing. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning or getting up in the middle of the night to work on dialogue. Rewriting a section of work because you realize the writing is awkward or needs clarification.

     Agonizing over the correct word usage, the syntax of the dialogue, descriptions, proofreading, editing, proofreading, editing and, again, proofreading and editing.

     Visiting another part of the country, or even areas outside the country, in order to get a feel for the environment, location, people and architecture to lend authenticity to the work in progress.

     As an example, my most recent work, Nero’s Fiddle, is a result of two years of research regarding an Electromagnetic Pulse. What causes it, how it works, the damage it can do: all of this was instrumental to the writing.

     Then there was visiting Washington, DC itself; a small, compact area rich in history housing some of the most wonderful and memorable monuments of our heritage.

     When the reader holds the finished product in her/his hand, he/she isn’t contemplating the effort put into it. She/he just wants to know if the book was worth the investment.

     Most people think the act of creativity is easy. They think brushstrokes appear magically upon a canvas. They think words flow easily from a pen (or a keyboard). They don’t realize the hours it took to write the tome or paint the masterpiece. They know nothing of the suffering endured in the creation. They do not equate the creation of creativity with that of giving birth.

    Creative people suffer in silence.

    But this is how it is supposed to be. Revealing the suffering of the artist won’t necessarily make the work more appealing. On the contrary, the easier the creation appears to the audience, the more the audience appreciates the creation. If the audience realized the work that went into the creation, they probably wouldn’t find it more appealing. As a matter of fact, they would probably find it discouraging.

    The object is that the reader read that book to its completion, or the viewer appreciates that art until s/he reaches the point where they ask themselves, who is this person? Then, s/he will research to find out what other work you have done.

    A well-written book or a beautiful painting keeps the creator of such in the background. You want the audience to focus on the end result, not on what went into its creation. If a reader forgets about you while s/he is reading, you’ve done your job and you’ve done it well.

     By all means, continue to suffer in silence. But do keep a bottle of aspirin and Bourbon on hand. For yourself, of course.
Author PEN
Pen has self-published 20 titles in print and ebook formats. Her latest endeavor, Nero’s Fiddle is available on Amazon. Follow her on Twitter @penspen, Visit her blog My Tuppence . Pen offers editing services and can be contacted via her web. She lives in the metro Atlanta area and it is rumored she does a mean impression of  the Scooby-Do laugh.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Story by Doug Dahlgren, Author and Radio Talk Show Host

Many thanks to Doug Dahlgren, author The Son Series and host on The Doug Dahlgren Show on ArtistFirst Radio for sharing this Halloween story with us.
The Walk Home
© Doug Dahlgren
The question was less than a whisper.
 “Did you hear that?”
“No,” the younger girl shot back.
“What do you mean, no?” Her sister bristled, eyes glued to the edges of the road, “You had to have heard it.”
“No… I didn’t,” Julie looked only at her feet, clenched fists pumped at her sides. She had indeed heard the sound, whatever it was, but would not allow herself to admit it. “Just keep moving,” she yelled, her defiance of the situation reflected in her tone.
“Well… keep up then,” Elizabeth commanded. Being six years older than her sister, she felt responsible for her. Thirteen was the outer edge of grown-up, yet in her heart, she was still only a child. She’d known better than to wait so long to head home. Dad said to “leave before dark,” but they were both having such a good time at the party. The walk home would, only be a few minutes, she had convinced herself. In reality, it would take half an hour at least.
Rounding the curve of the road, they left any light from the party behind them. They were only seven-tenths of a mile from home, but there was nothing in between. Massive clouds hid what moon there was and the darkness was more than she had counted on. Should have listened to Dad, she thought.
It had been Dad’s idea to move to the country. They came just last spring and had enjoyed the summer in the clean air and open spaces. The people were nice, but they lived what now seemed like great distances from each other. Elizabeth’s friend, Mary Lou, had thrown the party. They had walked to and from her house many times, just not at night. And this night was dark.
There were no street lights or traffic for that matter. A passing car would be nice right now, Elizabeth told herself. But they were very alone.
Julie was afraid, Elizabeth could tell, but her sister would not let on. That included not admitting hearing the noise. Then there it was again, standing out against the other sounds of the night. She turned and caught Julie looking to her, but for only a second.
The sky or something in it was moving above them. Clouds perhaps, but the dark hid all except that feeling of motion. The wind blew in bursts that raked the ground on either side of the road with low hanging tree branches. Those limbs, though nearly bare, still swung across the tall grass and weeds before touching the dirt. The creaking wood of the tree branches was audible over the whoosh of the grasses. Yet the noise, that awful noise stalking them, rose above it all.
“Stay up with me, Julie. I heard it again and it’s closer.”
“No,” the little sister said, stomping her foot as she walked. “I don’t hear anything.” She sped up and reached out to grasp Elizabeth’s coat. “Are we close, yet?”
“I think so…”Elizabeth tried to be assuring, “I can’t see much. It’s really dark.”
“That I know,” Julie snapped back, her shell cracking just a bit. Julie loved her sister and trusted her above anyone. But she just couldn’t bring herself to say so. Unconsciously she tried her best to play counter to Elizabeth’s demeanor and that meant being perceived as “mean” from time to time. Though in her heart, she was anything but that.
The unnerving sound happened again. Elizabeth could not tell what it was or from where it was coming. A crackling noise that came in sets of two or three repetitions, then stopped. The older sister looked back towards the sound but saw only dark. A chill ran down her back as she looked forward again. Julie had pulled ahead of her and was walking faster.
“Still don’t hear it?” Elizabeth asked again.
“No,” came the defiant reply. “I told you, no.” Julie’s fists were in knots and she now held them up near her waist as she walked. Elizabeth could see through her sister’s pretenses most times and she clearly understood the fear in Julie’s voice.
The dirt road seemed to stretch forever in the dark. There were no other houses along this road, no porches, or porch lamps, nothing but darkness. Elizabeth tried not to look to either side very often. Old dry fields lay on the right side with waist-high grass that bent at the top when the wind wasn’t whipping it. A few oaks and maples lined that side and it was those limbs that could touch the ground when stirred.
 The left side had been a pecan orchard but the trees were mostly old and in bad shape. It was those gusts of wind through the orchard that would catch her attention and make her look in spite of her efforts not to, but that was not “the sound.”
 They pushed on, looking straight ahead and staying quiet as much as they could.
But staying quiet was not one of Julie’s best attributes. “Are you sure we haven’t passed the house?” she challenged.
Elizabeth looked at her with amazement and disgust, “No, silly. We have not passed the house.” I don’t think, she finished internally to herself.
The noise came again, closer still this time, sets of two and then a set of three. The last set being the loudest one. It was closer. Something was following them in the dark. The girls instinctively began to run.
“Liz-beth!” Julie cried out as she reached for her sister’s hand. Her big sister grabbed Julie’s hand and pulled her along as she ran. The noise seemed to speed up with them and got louder. But then it stopped.
They ran for several minutes, breathing hard and fighting back tears. They ran until they could not run any more. Slowing down but still moving, Elizabeth braced herself for the thing following them to catch up at any moment.
But the noise was not there. It had stopped back down the road. We must press on and get home, Elizabeth thought.
The older sister took a deep breath and jerked on Julie’s arm.
“Hey,” the younger complained. “Don’t pull on me like that.”
 But pull she did and within another minute they crested over a rise in the roadway and saw the lights. It was their house. All bright and shiny and Daddy was standing on the porch with a flashlight.
“Dad,” Elizabeth hollered.
Their father jumped from the porch and ran towards them. “Where have you two been?” he asked. “You should have been home twenty minutes ago.”
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Elizabeth said, breathing in hard, deep breaths. “It’s my fault, I know.” She looked at Julie who was staring back down the road, back into the dark where the noise had been. “Do you hear it, now?” Elizabeth asked her.
“Hear what?” her father asked as he shined the flashlight into the darkness.
“Something followed us.” Then she added, “Julie was scared.”
“Was not…” The younger insisted and cocked her head to one side. “I didn’t even hear anything... it was you who was scared.”
Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders in disbelief. Her father took them both by the hand and led them up on the porch. That’s when they all heard it.
The noise crackled through the grass and became rhythmic and steady. It grew louder and faster as it came nearer.
“Eeeeck,” Julie screamed and jumped into her father’s arms. “That’s it, that’s it.”
Elizabeth looked at her, stunned by the acknowledgement. Taking her father’s flashlight, she turned to look toward the darkness and the noise. Her light shone high at first. In her mind the offending creature had to be big. But as it obviously came nearer she pointed the beam lower. And there it was.
A figure low, long, and sleek emerged from the edge of the field along the road. It began to leap in huge strides.
“Come here, Susie.” Elizabeth’s father called out behind her.
“Susie?” Elizabeth repeated with her mouth hanging open.
The family’s black lab took three more big jumps and was on the porch. She rubbed up against the father and then Elizabeth before approaching Julie with her tail wagging at full speed. Julie had nothing to say. Her eyes were wide but displayed no thought behind them. Her mouth, normally in gear, now hung open without a sound.
“She left right after you guys did earlier,” their father told them. “Guess she just followed you there…and then home.” He laughed under his breath and pulled the door open.
“I knew it was Susie all along.” Julie declared, having recovered from her stupor.
Elizabeth didn’t say a word that time. She fell to her knees and hugged her dog’s neck. Susie offered a huge kiss and Elizabeth could feel her own heart slowing down to normal.
They went inside where Mom had hot chocolate ready for the after the Halloween party celebration. 
Happy Halloween!

       Doug Dahlgren


About the author:



Doug Dahlgren is a familiar face to Book Talk. You can learn more about this amazing man, who writes political thrillers and promotes authors with his talk show on ArtistFirst Radio Network, by checking out two earlier posts on this blog.  If you are an author and would like to be featured on The Doug Dahlgren Show contact him via e-mail at .




Author Web     Amazon     The Doug Dahlgren Show 


Earlier Posts:


Monday, May 28, 2012  Doug Dahlgren "The Son: Silas Rising"


Monday, May 19, 2014  The Doug Dahlgren Show on ArtistFirst Radio Network - An Author Interview Site Hosted by Doug Dahlgren Monday Nights at 7PM


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Martha Conway "Thieving Forest"

Thieving Forest is available as a print and e-book at
"Conway's historical novel features prose as rich as its characters ... hypnotic." —Kirkus Reviews


About the book:

When a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin in June 1806 at the edge of Ohio’s Great Black Swamp, seventeen year old Susanna Quiner is the only left to rescue them. Thieving Forest is the story of her quest to find her sisters, and the parallel story of her sisters' new lives. All five sisters change so much in the five months that they are almost unrecognizable from the young women who argued over petty things on the morning of the kidnapping.

Thieving Forest follows five pioneer women and one man as they contend with starvation, slavery, betrayal, and love. It paints a startling new picture of life in frontier Ohio with its mix of European and Native American communities, along with compelling descriptions of their daily lives. Fast-paced, richly detailed, with a panoramic view of cultures and people, this is a story of a bygone era sure to enthrall and delight.

Paperback: 416 pages  (also available in e-format)
Publisher: Noontime  Books (August 7, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0991618505
ISBN-13: 978-0991618507

About the author:

Martha Conway

Martha Conway is the author of Thieving Forest and 12 Bliss Street, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. Her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, The Mississippi Review, Folio, Epoch, and other journals. She is the recipient of a California Arts Council fellowship, and has taught fiction at UC Berkeley Extension and the Online Writers Studio at Stanford University. Born and raised in Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She currently lives in San Francisco.

In Martha's Words:

Top Three Writing Tips

1. Make writing a habit. Doesn’t matter if it’s every day or certain days, but make a schedule and stick to it.

2. Find a group (or even one reader) that you trust, and regularly meet to discuss your work.

3. Take chances. You can always delete.

Learn more about Martha Conway on The Muffin. This post is part of the author's blog tour with WOW! Women On Writing and continues all month long. Check her scheduled stops by clicking here and scroll down the page.

Links:  Author Web        FaceBook            Twitter @marthamconway

               GoodReads            Amazon          Amazon Author Page       Pinterest