Shining the Book Promotion Spotlight on Paul V. Stutzman

Paul V. Stutzman grew up in a strict Amish Mennonite community that formed his views on life and God. When his wife of 32 years died of breast cancer, he gave up a job in restaurant management to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. His book, Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, is the story of both his hike through the wilderness and his journey through grief. He can be reached through his website, www.hikingthrough.com.

Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz, Paul. Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?

The book is the story of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike after my wife Mary died of breast cancer. I’m a hiker, and I’d often dreamed of walking the entire 2,l74 miles of trail from Georgia to Maine. Trying to deal with my grief, looking for healing and some answers from God, I quit my job, strapped on a backpack, and started the hike. The book is much more than a hiker’s journal. It’s really a journal of my own life experiences, healing, and finding freedom.

What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?

Living in small-town America helps tremendously in promoting a book! The community grapevine knew about my book long before it was published. I’d also done a few interviews and the local paper carried the story of my thru-hike after I got back from the Trail.

If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you’ve used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?

Last weekend on my way to a book-signing I was stopped for speeding. The patrolman saw my box of books in the car, and he asked about them. I told him my story and a bit about the book. This week, I received an email from him telling me he’d checked out my website and he’s ordering the book. That’s probably what I’ve done the most of—talked to everyone about the book, whenever I have a chance. Pounding the pavement, doing book signings, speaking to groups when asked. Those interpersonal encounters have probably been the most effective.

Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?

Offline. I prefer that. But I’m really just getting started, so I may find more effective ways of promotion.

Do you use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to promote your books and have you had any success with it?

I’m on Facebook, but I don’t think it’s been much help in promoting the book. In fairness, I don’t use Facebook that much, haven’t tried to use it effectively.

Do you own a blog and how often do you update it? Did you set up your blog solely to promote your book and what is its effectiveness?

I do have a blog on my website, but I’ve been lax in keeping it updated. I’m sure it could be more effective if I paid more attention to it.

Do you recommend authors getting publicists to help them promote their books? Do you have one?

I guess if an author can afford it, then a publicist would be good. I’m guessing that for most self-published writers, it’s not financially feasible.

If an author prefers to do it alone rather than hire a publicist, where should they start?

Local independent bookstores, shops, stores, anywhere people gather, talk to church groups, Boy Scouts, libraries, any group that might be interested in your subject matter. Get press releases into the local papers and set up interviews with the radio stations.

Thank you for coming, Paul! We wish you much success!

Thank you for the opportunity. Visit my website, and if you do read the book, I welcome all feedback.

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