Shining the Book Promotion Spotlight on Stephen V. Masse

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He wrote his first novelat age 13, handwritten into a school composition book.

Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing, and was author of a weekly newspaper column, “Out of Control.” His first novel for children, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. Short Circus is his second novel for children.

In addition to children’s books, Masse has written A Jolly Good Fellow, winner of the Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, as well as honorable mention in the 2008 New England Book Festival for best books of the holiday season.

Stephen’s latest Book is Short Circus.

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

Short Circus is twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood’s own story about his remarkable adventures with his Big Brother Jesse Standish, and a host of neighbors and friends. When Jem discovers that Jesse’s rented house is about to be sold, he does all in his daring imagination to make the house unmarketable. Summer has never been better, now with Big Brother Jesse to lead explorations of familiar landmarks, museums and beaches. Sadly the city’s swimming pond has been sabotaged, and the city has had to close it to all recreation after two boys are injured. Jem is sure he knows who did it, and helps carry out a plan to punish the evildoer. But Alpha qualities are not always perfectly aimed, and Jem learns about the consequences of jumping into action without sufficient knowledge or understanding.

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

My first priority was to get the book into circulation among major review sources, and second was to get it into literary competitions. Another major focus was the book cover, because once a cover goes online, the book may be forever defined by that thumbprint. The rest of marketing is a mixture of online sources such as blog tours, visits to book promotion and review websites, and advertising; and real-world hustling to get the book into bookstores and get readings in libraries and other venues.

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?

Probably the author reading. It’s a direct sharing of a portion of the book with an audience, and gives a good incentive for people to buy on the spot.

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

I do more promoting online, since there are so many well-defined websites for book promotion. The tracking of sales is a bit elusive, so in terms of sales, I’d have to say I prefer offline since it often involves a personal connection.

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

I do use Facebook, but again, sales tracking is pretty elusive, so I’m not putting much stock in it. I may try something a little more creative on Facebook as time goes on. Twitter I haven’t begun to explore yet.

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?

No blog yet, though I do have an author website.

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

I did use a publicist last year for my other book, A Jolly Good Fellow. The focus was to get product placement in movies and on TV, and for the cost I’d have to give it a thumbs down – unless an author can be assured of getting his book very visibly in Justin Bieber’s hands or on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

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

It’s a daunting task to keep a day job and be constantly promoting a book, but I think it’s a good exercise for authors to keep a foot in the marketing world. Most authors are poor to miserable at marketing, and a little workout of the marketing muscles can be a good thing. Start small, by visiting local bookstores and libraries for readings. Try to get on a local TV or radio show, and work up from there. If you have reasonably good finances, you may stretch into some more aggressive marketing, but try to focus the money on at least a break-even result ( the profit may come later, with the wider exposure).

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

A pleasure to be here, thanks for having me.

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