Glen C. Strathy started writing stories when he was 11 years old and too shy to have a life. He eventually found a life when he started acting in community theatre and met other writers, actors, dancers, and artists. He discovered that the best thing about performing arts (and other arts too) is that they give people more freedom to be who they want to be. After spending time as an actor, teacher, and freelance writer, he returned to his first love, fiction and wrote Dancing on the Inside, a novel for ages 9-12.
Glen earned an M.A. in English from the University of Western Ontario, and graduated from the Artist in Community Education program at Queen’s University, Kingston. He co-authored two non-fiction books, one of which (The Coming Economic Collapse, Warner Business Books, 2006) became a New York Times Bestselling Business Book. He belongs to the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). His website www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com provides advice to budding authors.
Glen lives with his wife, fellow writer Kaitlin Rainey, and their daughter in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz, Glen. Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?
Dancing on the Inside is a middle-grade children’s novel, aimed at girls 9-12. It’s the story of a girl who’s extremely shy and self-conscious. So much so that she cannot participate in a ballet class without getting a panic attack. And this is unfortunate, because she has a burning passion for ballet. In fact, it turns out she has a tremendous gift for inventing choreography. The book tells the story of how she struggles to pursue her dream despite her difficulties, how she finds other ways to get involved in the dance school, the valuable friendship she makes with another dance student, and how she manages to eventually get her work on stage.
What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?
I knew it was going to be a long, slow process – especially since, like my heroine, I am quite shy when it comes to self-promotion. My big fear is that I might do an event, like a launch, and no one would show up. So the first thing I did was to solicit some feedback from readers – people I don’t know. I wanted to reassure myself that I had a really good book before I ventured too far into the spotlight.
After that, what happened?
So far, the comments I’ve received have been consistently positive, which is a big relief.
What did your publisher do to promote your book?
These days, authors are pretty much on their own in terms of promotion, unless they already have a large following.
What’s your opinion on blogging? Do you see that it is helping sell your book or is it not making much difference in terms of sales?
I have a few concerns about blogging. Every writer these days is told to blog, which means they have to be constantly writing blog content, which is time they take away from writing their next book. And if they have a family and a day job, they don’t have a lot of time to start with. On top of that, fiction writers’ primary expertise is writing fiction, so that’s what they blog about. The result is thousands of blogs on fiction writing – which makes it hard to stand out.
Now, I have a website rather than a blog on writing. It’s www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com. I try to present tips and advice on it which you don’t see everywhere else. I’m a big fan of dramatica story theory, which is a powerful tool which few people understand. So I try to present it in a simple, easy-to-use format so beginning writers can get a leg up. The site now gets a good amount of traffic. In fact, my article, “Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps” has been the number one search result for “plot outline” on google for a year or so.
I also have a blog which I started for this book. You can find it at http://glencstrathy.wordpress.com/. But I confess I don’t post as often as I should, nor have I done everything I should to make it an effective marketing tool. (See, I’m much better at promoting things other than myself.)
I understand using the social networks to promote your books is also an effective marketing tool. Do you find it is or isn’t?
I only started using social media a few months ago, so it’s a bit soon to judge. Most experts say, for instance, that you need to tweet for a year or two before it becomes really effective.
I confess, social media are not a natural tool for me. I’d much rather talk to a small number of friends face-to-face than update thousands of people I’ve never met. But I try to post useful information on twitter (@glencstrathy), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Glen.C.Strathy.author and https://www.facebook.com/htwabn), and some of the other media. Klout recently labeled me a networker, which if you know me is actually quite funny.
Besides blogging and using the social networks to promote your books, what other ways are you promoting your book?
I am conducting a blog tour between now and Christmas. And I am investigating various awards my book may be eligible for. But there’s a long lead time for that. I am experimenting with other methods, but I suspect the best promotion will be word of mouth, and that also takes a long time.
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?
You should really ask me this question a year from now. It’s too early to tell.
What are your experiences with offline promotions such as booksignings?
Ah, here’s the rub. This is why I have been collecting reader comments. Before starting to do booksignings, I wanted to have a body of enthusiastic comments from readers so that I can present myself as someone people will want to see. I hope to be doing my first event later this month. Wish me luck.
Thank you for this interview, Glen! We wish you much success!