Do You Really Need a Marketing Expert on Your Team?

caulfieldI recently asked self-published author Dr. Thomas Caulfield to share his experience working with a professional marketing team. His book, Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in a Hearing World, won an award and has received several media mentions, thanks in part to his marketing team.

But was it worth it?

In this post, Tom answers that question and many more about what it means to have an expert marketer in your corner.

Do You Really Need a Marketing Expert on Your Team?

By Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield

Do you need a marketing expert on your publishing team? This was a looming question for me as an author. That is, until I began to better understand the multitude of elements that contribute favorably to the book-publishing process. For me, there was a baseline theme, if you will, continuously swirling in my head, and that was this notion of always working with the most competent professionals you can to get your book published.

Always work with the most competent professionals you can.

It seemed that the workshops, seminars, and publication guidebooks were loaded with examples of why not to go with a novice for all the critical aspects of your book. Rather, authors should isolate those distinct pros or an esoteric group that understands this area most completely.

My experience might be unique in that I toiled away for two decades keeping a secret journal chronicling the journey of our only son, who was born profoundly Deaf. Applying the esoteric group selection theory, I immediately sought out a meeting with a friend, the president of a nationally known and highly respected book-publishing company.

I suppose working with a friend was a violation of the esoteric theory in that there was a chance, given our relationship, that he had no choice but to help me. My question was simple, though. Who was the best independent editor he knew of?

My question was simple: Who was the best independent editor he knew of?

What came back was the name of an editor working in the Washington, DC, area: Katherine Pickett. One call to her and a lunch meeting was arranged. The bottom line for me again was clear. It’s probably not a good idea to go with the neighbor down the block who may have been an English major in college with no other credentials, but instead, get with a seasoned professional for sure.

It only took that one lunch meeting for me to learn that the esoteric theory was valid. Katherine had forgotten more than I would ever know about editing – and I graduated from grade 20.

I made an important decision that day to get a critical, unbiased evaluation of the merit of our book. If it weighed in at the “great” level – and it did – then I would be foolish not to match it with the best ongoing service support.

From there I was fortunate to be able to select a Dream Team in the areas of interior design, video presentation, audiobook narration, and website production.

aerial shot of green milling tractor
Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

With all those professionals working like a combine going through the Midwest during harvest season, the question of our need for a marketing expert remained. After a thorough literature review, it became clear that these services were not inexpensive. Further, questions remained regarding whether this service would actually be worth the money.

Questions remained regarding whether this service would actually be worth the money.

Given the costs, I elected to research a half dozen reputable groups and then interviewed three. Candidly, I thought I would be the one doing the interviewing, but in reality they were trying to figure out our potential as well. It all seemed like asking someone to the Homecoming dance, as I hoped our top pick would accept.

To be clear, I believe the good author marketing groups really have this concept of a campaign down, with the main goal being quality targeted exposure. The best ones also have the area of pitching to the media figured out as a science.

Who would have thought there were so many levels to pitching?

  • We had the prepublication pitching to reviewers, bloggers, and the media.
  • Then there was the local and national media group pitching.
  • The marketing team also surfaced numerous opportunities for speaking engagements.
  • Finally, I received thorough guidance regarding advertising with Amazon.

I would have to say it was worth it.

 In the end, being fortunate to have an award-winning book on my hands, I would have to say hiring a marketing firm was worth it. I would hate to have not selected a marketing expert and then always look back wondering if we could have done better.

Essentially, it takes me back to all the chatter regarding, do you select the friend down the street to do what really is work in an esoteric domain? It seems easy and definitely less expensive to do just that. But you never want to look back and say, “What if?”

 

Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield is the author of the award-winning book Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in the Hearing World: A Basketball Player’s Transformational Journey to the Ivy League. He lives in California with his wife.

 

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

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Guest Post: Remembrances, by Walter F. Curran

This week I am pleased to present the writing of Walter F. Curran, a novelist, poet, and, of all things, the mayor of Ocean View, Delaware. Curran submitted “Remembrances” in response to the writing prompt “Should you ever choose.”

If you would like to receive writing prompts and a chance to be published on this blog, subscribe to The Hop On Newsletter. It’s monthly and it’s always jam-packed with timely and useful information about writing, editing, and publishing.

Remembrances

by Walter F. Curran

You love me and have for forty-seven years.

I love you and have for forty-eight years. It took me a year to convince you.

You are a pessimist. Not just “the glass is half empty” but a full blown “OMG the glass is cracked and leaking” sort of pessimist, a Roseanne Roseannadanna type of pessimist. A flat tire is not an inconvenience, it is a catastrophe from which there is no recovery, until, of course, AAA fixes it. “Never mind!” Your pessimism has increased with age.

I am an optimist. Pretty much a run-of-the-mill “the glass is half full” kind of optimist. I’m flavored with a strong belief that there is always a chance to improve things if you simply hang in there long enough. My optimism has diminished somewhat with age.

You are from East Boston, as Italian as you can get and still be in America. The minute you exit the northbound Sumner Tunnel and take a hard right you can smell the pizza from Santarpio’s. You see the old-timers dunking biscotti into their anisette-laced espresso and watch the stereotypical nonnis scrubbing or sweeping the stoop and sidewalks in front of their row houses.

I am from South Boston, unavoidably, indelibly Irish. A few Lace Curtain types but mostly pig-shit Irish regularly ensconced on their corner pub thrones. A chronic forum for ridiculing the Lace Curtain Irish, claiming disdain but evincing envy. The Lace Curtains in turn behaved the same toward the Boston Brahmins. No one was happy being themselves. Only the Irish!

You didn’t have money. You worked with your father, Mando, part- time at a millinery wholesaler. A mini-sweatshop, minuscule desks loomed over by stacks of boxed hats, compounding the inherently poor lighting. You were stuck in total darkness in the freight elevator with your father on November 9, 1965, the great New England power outage. He discovered you smoked when you lit a match. Scrimped and saved just like everyone else in your neighborhood. The way to get ahead was to work hard and you never shirked. You worked until I forced you to retire at sixty-two. You had earned the right to rest a bit.

I certainly didn’t have money. I started working odd jobs at seven years old and never stopped working. All the money went home to Ma. I hated a lot of my jobs. Laundromat go-fer, cat food plant cookroom cleaner, warehouse mucker, all of which would qualify for Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs. I hated them but I never resented them. Working was the only way to get out of my Irish ghetto world.

You had a baby brother, Joey. Born thirteen years after you and ten years after your sister. He was the long-awaited son. Mando now had an heir. You and your sister Lorraine got even for Joey being the favorite by telling him he had a mystery brother named Gerald who would someday come back and claim his inheritance. It was a running family joke. It’s still running.

I was the baby brother. Twelve-year span between me and my oldest brother Al, but four other siblings were strewn in-between us. I got away with a lot that my siblings didn’t get away with. Staying out late on school nights, not always being there at suppertime, not having to clean my plate when I was there, not doing household chores. The other five had worn down my Ma to the point where she was too tired to chase after me. In a way, I was the family joke.

You were brainy and a goody-two-shoes up until college. You went to public grammar school, got good grades and got accepted to Girls’ Latin High School then got a scholarship to Emmanuel College. All girls there, too, taught by Sisters of Notre Dame.

In your first theology class, the nun asked the girls, “Who went to a parochial school?” Everyone but you raised their hand. “Who went to public school?” Your arm a solitary flagpole wanly poking the air. You could feel the supercilious glances of your peers. “Well for everyone that went to parochial school, forget everything they ever taught you about religion.” Instant gratification! You knew then that you could deal with the bullshit. Your blue-collar foundation was at least as strong as your peers’ silver-spoon upbringing and your drive to succeed far outpaced theirs.

I was not brainy. Not dumb, just not interested in education. Grammar school taught by Sisters of St. Joseph, sadists by any other name, followed by Boston Technical High School, an all-male school. We both escaped the regional high school. The standing joke was that if you went to either East Boston or South Boston High School, you’d enter with an eighth-grade education and graduate with a fifth-grade education. I went to summer school for three years, finally waking up in my senior year. One of my aunts, Elizabeth, a teacher, tutored me for two years. She had more faith in me than I did. I got a political appointment to Massachusetts Maritime Academy, a military trade school for Merchant Mariners. It instilled the discipline that I sorely needed even though I didn’t appreciate it until after graduation.

Your social life through high school and early college years was closely monitored by your parents, Rena and Mando. Rena was the sentry and Mando was the deliverer of punishment. You were sly enough to mostly outwit them with your occasional smoking and drinking but when caught, the punishment was swift.

I didn’t have a social life in high school and for the first two years of college. Socializing took money. Also, I was an introvert and painfully shy. I didn’t smoke or drink because I didn’t want to, so I didn’t need to be sneaky. At eleven years old, I would be out on the street until midnight just because I could. I wasn’t making a “statement” or defying Ma and Dad, that’s just the way it was. Like you, Ma was the sentry and Dad the dispenser of pain, though actual physical punishment was a rarity for me.

You raised the kids, endless hours of tutoring, taking them to sports practices and games, piano recitals. You were the disciplinarian and did a terrific job with the kids. I was the hammer you held over their heads but it never dropped. When our youngest, Amy, started first grade, you returned to work as a teacher. Anything you earned went into either a savings or vacation fund. You took after your mother when it came to handling money, a good thing.

I participated in raising the kids but on a part-time basis, weekend games, a little coaching. I earned the majority of the income but spent a lot of time at work. I was a workaholic. We agreed that we would live on my salary and never live beyond our means. You and I both hated owing money to anyone. Other than the house and a car, we didn’t buy anything unless we could pay cash for it. You and I still live by that rule.

You started as my girlfriend, became my lover and wife and now, in the twilight years, have become my best friend.

I started as your boyfriend, became your lover and husband and have always been your best friend, even when you didn’t know it.

You and I have been “we” (or is it “us,” I’ll have to ask her — her choice) for a long time and will remain that way until the end.

If you should ever choose? I’m thankful that you have.

Walt Curran is a retired maritime executive and the mayor of Ocean View, Delaware. A member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, he has self-published a book of poetry titled Slices of Life, Cerebral spasms of the soul. His first novel, Young Mariner, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions, as well as at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach. He is working on the second of the trilogy, Young Mariner: On to Africa, and hopes to publish it in the fall of 2017.

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Transition, by Walter F. Curran

Today’s post is by Walter F. Curran, a novelist and poet living in Ocean View, Delaware. Curran submitted “Thanksgiving Transition” in response to the writing prompt “Thanksgiving.” My thanks to Walter for sharing his writing.

If you would like to receive writing prompts and a chance to be published on this blog, subscribe to The Hop On Newsletter. It’s monthly and it’s always jam-packed with timely and useful information about writing, editing, and publishing.

Thanksgiving Transition

by Walter F. Curran

Yeah, that’s right, transition, not tradition.

I am from South Boston, unavoidably, indelibly Irish. A few Lace Curtain types but mostly pig-shit Irish regularly ensconced on their corner pub thrones. A chronic forum for ridiculing the Lace Curtain Irish, claiming disdain but evincing envy. The Lace Curtains in turn behaved the same toward the Boston Brahmins. No one happy being themselves. Only the Irish!

Thanksgiving morning was spent at the South Boston–East Boston high school football game, immediately followed by the Southie–Eastie fights in the parking lot. Now that’s a tradition!

Generally, there were only bruises inflicted, rarely anything but fists used in the conflict, and if you got a bloody nose you had something to talk about after dinner. Never during dinner because Ma would “ask” you to not talk about it and Dad would give you “the look,” which was more than enough incentive to stifle yourself. Not much talking during dinner anyway. Everyone focused on the business of eating. When someone did talk, the others listened, almost never talking over one another. Not that anyone got especially enthralled by what you said, it just wasn’t done.

Growing up in South Boston, we had a typical blue-collar Thanksgiving meal. Turkey, potatoes, boiled onions, turkey, squash, peas, carrots, turkey, stuffing (always bread stuffing), and gravy. Did I mention we had turkey? Dad got the thigh (dark meat), which wasn’t a problem because everyone else liked the breast (white meat). The fact that there wasn’t enough of the white meat to go around meant that if you wanted seconds, a rare treat in our house, you ate the dark meat. Immediately ensuing came squash pie, apple pie, or blueberry pie with a dollop of whipped cream. Real whipped cream; aerosol cans didn’t exist back then. The reason dessert immediately followed the meal is that every meal was a race to the finish at our house. I can’t say that it personified an Irish Thanksgiving meal because I didn’t know what a real Irish meal was. It was definitely our tradition.

Southie was an Irish Catholic ghetto. A handful of other ethnicities, German, Polish, Lithuanian, Italians, but mostly Irish. Our unpaved dead-end alley, Pleasant Place, a misnomer if ever there was one, belied the Irishness theme. There were eight row homes, four on each side. Inside of those row homes lived twelve families. Baressi, Maccicci, Fiescanaro, Sulfaro, Rumsis, Tory, Micciti, Fisher, Hendricks, Antonnuci, Landry, and of course, the Currans. Pleasant Place — the United Nations of South Boston.

One of the Italians was Sicilian. I learned that you could call a Sicilian an Italian but you couldn’t call an Italian a Sicilian. The Italians didn’t respect the Sicilian. They’d say, “Lo stivale e calci Sicilia torna in Africa” and then laugh like hell. Rough translation: “The boot is kicking Sicily back to Africa.” I never saw the humor in it, all Italians to me, but they were pretty adamant about it. Nevertheless, if anyone from outside tried to bother the Sicilian everyone on the street would jump to his defense. As likely to say “ciao” as “good-by,” we didn’t think of it as “Italian.” That’s just the way it was.

Thanksgiving for other families could be anything other than turkey. I’m not sure what they were cooking, but the smells were entirely different. After dinner, always served at 2:00 p.m., every Curran would go their separate way. More often than not, I’d hang out with my friends Butchie and Donny and we’d tell each other blatant lies about the fights we got into at the game or other such grandiose things. We never contradicted one another. That would have been a reason for a real fight.

As I got older, into college, Thanksgiving sort of drifted away. Attendance at a military school ensured I had the duty watch a number of years and didn’t get home for Thanksgiving. Christmas either, for that matter. In college I met Marie, my first wife. I say that to irritate her because she’s been my first wife for forty-seven years. Marie is six weeks older than me (and infinitely more intelligent) and for those six weeks every year I refer to her as a “cradle robber.” I have been accused, rightly so, of not having a filter when I speak.

Marie hails from East Boston. As Italian as you can get and still be in America. The minute you exit the northbound Sumner Tunnel and take a hard right, you can smell the Pizza from Santarpio’s. You see the old-timers dunking biscotti into their anisette-laced espresso and watch the stereotypical nonnis scrubbing or sweeping the stoop and sidewalks in front of their row houses.

It was only after we got engaged that I spent a Thanksgiving at her house. Whereas in Southie, we sat down to dinner at 2:00 p.m., in Eastie, the day started with what is now referred to as brunch. 10:00 a.m., here comes coffee and biscotti, maybe a shot of anisette or sambuca and a slice of ricotta cheese pie. They called the pie something else, phonetically it sounded like “pizza doza.” I have no idea how to spell it, but it was damn good. During that time, Marie’s uncles would wander in and out of the house on a social call. Never the aunts because they were at home doing the same thing for their families with their in-laws and neighbors dropping in.

1:00 p.m., Marie’s father, Armando, said, “Let’s go for a walk.” Armando and I hit it off right from the first time I met him. My dad died in my first year of college and Armando had started to fill the void.

I expected to walk around the neighborhood but he climbed in the car and we drove to Shays Beach at Orient Heights that overlooks the runways at Logan Airport. We walked together up and down the beach a couple of times talking, falling silent when a plane landing or taking off flew over us. Abruptly, he turned and said, “That’s enough.” We got back in the car and went home. Not a word was said in the car, either to or from the beach.

2:00 p.m., sitting at the table, the avalanche of food began. Escarole soup followed by pasta with gravy (sauce to an Irish boy), meatballs, sausage, pork, and braciola. Now officially sated, I surreptitiously loosened my belt. That’s when Marie told me that they would take a short break before having the turkey. I thought she was kidding. At his suggestion, I accompanied Armando out to the backyard where he proceeded to smoke a stogie, a small narrow flammable turd wrapped in paper that looked and smelled vile. I settled for a cigarette.

Entering the kitchen through the back cellar steps, I stopped, aghast to see a full turkey dinner laid out on the table. I love turkey but it was a strain to keep eating. I didn’t dare refuse because I didn’t want to offend Marie’s mother, Rena. After all, it’s the first holiday spent together. I did notice that everyone else ate lightly and a quick cleanup afterward.

Another trip to the backyard for a smoke. When I returned, the uncles and some of the aunts had arrived and they were starting on the desserts. Other than a mince pie for Armando (I hate mince pie) I really don’t remember what they had, but it filled the table. This went on until 7:00 p.m., when one of the uncles announced in a booming voice, “I’m hungry.” Instantly everything that had been put away reappeared and the cycle started over. Still in food shock, I managed to nibble and nosh and loved every bite and every minute of it.

Through all the eating, everyone talked at once, loudly. They didn’t consider it talking over someone and nobody thought they were being rude, it’s just the way it was. I couldn’t follow most of the conversation. That’s when I discovered I wasn’t a multitasker.

For a few years afterward, Thanksgiving remained the same, eventually moving to our house in Saugus from Rena’s. After moving to Maryland, we were always the visitor, and it alternated from her mother’s to her sister Loraine’s place. Inevitably, the trip got to be too much trouble, and we had Thanksgiving in Maryland with occasional visits from Armando and Rena. Still a feast but on a scaled-down level.

A few years ago we had a grand crowd when we rented a huge house just outside Disney World and my kids and grandkids, Marie’s brother, sister, and their kids all celebrated Thanksgiving together. Other than antipasto, it was traditional turkey that we bought precooked with all the fixings at the local Giant supermarket. Everyone appreciated not having to cook or deal with leftovers. We were all mature enough to realize it wasn’t the ingestion of food but the congestion of friends and family that made it important.

This year we are doing a smaller version of the Disney World dinner at our house here in Delaware, a tradition continuing to transition.

Walt Curran is a retired maritime executive and the mayor of Ocean View, Delaware. A member of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, he has self-published a book of poetry titled Slices of Life, Cerebral spasms of the soul. His first novel, Young Mariner, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions, as well as at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach. He is working on the second of the trilogy, Young Mariner: On to Africa, and hopes to publish it in the fall of 2017.