Sunday, November 26, 2006


My first two books were non-fiction books on the Holocaust, written as mysteries that defy logic. My third book was a children's fully illustrated hard cover book on the Holocaust using metaphors. My fourth was a detective murder mystery novel, my first novel, nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award in 2002. My fifth was an anthology of 18 previously published short stories in several magazines, newspapers or anthologies. My sixth was the beginning of a three-part trilogy that won the International BookAds Award in 2005. My seventh was the second part of the trilogy, presently being judged for consideration for the Jewish Book Awards for 2006.

The non-fiction and the children’s book has made me a yearly attraction with elementary and secondary schools in the GTA and north. I get calls to participate in either writing programs or to relate stories from the Holocaust. I'm dealing with children and as such do not attempt to sell my books. My fee to the school is that they must stock all books in their library at a cost of $125. This has on a number of occasions resulted in orders coming from the school for my books because several of the students want to buy one. I have had some schools buy as many as 20 copies and made one of the books a part of the curriculum. I am not referring to Jewish schools but to schools that have a predominantly non-Jewish population. The attraction for buying the books is that they are about children.

So I am marketing to children who go home and tell their parents about me. This connects me with adults. I have received many, many letters from children telling me about the impact of my stories. This had to have carried over to the parents. In some cases I have received orders for the other books I've written. Marketing is to make ones self known. The most successful and least expensive method is word of mouth.

I have been asked to speak on the writing game at OISE College. This has resulted in the teacher student who heard me, calling me up later when they are working in a school to ask me to come to their school and talk about writing. Word of mouth leads to speaking at Reading Groups.

I canvass neighbourhood newspapers for reading groups and send a brochure and resume.
I send my brochure and resume to non-profit organizations, churches and synagogues informing them of my background and ask if they would like to have me as a speaker.

I don't charge but require permission to sell my books at the end of meeting. If I have more than 25 in attendance I will sell about $150 in books. Over 40 – more than $250. Over 65 – $400. I have had more than 100 such speaking engagements since 1998. Do this enough times and word of mouth replaces cold calls.

I asked KP if they would finance a mid-western book tour. I had two inquiries: Saskatoon and Calgary to come out and do a reading and be interviewed. They said it wasn't practical. I needed more engagements. I made calls to some organizations that knew me and called KP and said that I now had Edmonton and Regina booked. KP said it wasn't in the budget.

I decided to make my own tour. I bought 100 books from KP at 40% off, packaged them into four lots and mailed them to drops in the four cities. I arranged an eight day tour using my air miles and hired a publicist in Regina where I was staying for three days. By the time I returned, I sold all my books and grossed $1,100. It cost me $300 for the publicist. I stayed in a hotel twice for two days. Two cities I was housed by the host. I was on TV, Cable, interviewed by four newspapers, spoke at six groups, two schools, signed books at two stores and met some terrific people. I returned exhausted and with money in my pocket.

Since then I have hired two publicists in Toronto for my last three books. It costs $1,500 for 30 days. I've been on TV in London, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal and Toronto. I have been interviewed on radio more than a dozen times from several cities in Ontario from my office. I've been interviewed via e-mail and appeared in newspapers in Canada and U.S. I could have gone to Ottawa and Windsor for TV interviews but work got in the way. I've appeared on Mystery TV three times. Twice because of CW and once by personal contact. London TV has asked me back and all because I was introduced to the media by a publicist.

A couple of years ago I was on a Caribbean Cruise. I met by chance the same host from Regina where I spent the three days. I have been invited back to speak on my new book.

Another way I make money is I give my books away to the libraries. I walk in to a library, introduce myself by asking the librarian to call up a book of mine on screen and then smile and say – that's me.

I started doing this six years ago. Are you aware books taken out in a library result in money for you? I go around the GTA dropping off my books. Most took them. The following February I received a cheque for $278.80 from Public Lending Right Commission. The following year, two libraries called and asked if I could replace a book. It had been stolen. I dropped off more books at other libraries. The next year I received $356.04. The following year I received a cheque for $538.75 and a similar amount thereafter. The average the authors receive is $620.00. I've sent my books to Winnipeg and Ottawa. I keep my books in my car so that as I pass a large library I can go in and make them an offer they can't refuse – I hope.

When you are a writer, it is time to set aside modesty and tell people who you are. To do otherwise will make success more difficult; like paddling against the current with only your hands. There comes a time when your arm will get tired and all the momentum will be backwards.

Author of:
The Light After the Dark
The Light After the Dark II
Why, Zaida?
The Unlikely Victim
Stories I Wrote
An Eye For An Eye
The Minyan


No comments: