Book Review: Moonfall by Jack McDevitt

The last two books I read (reviews here and here) left a lot to be desired, so I was feeling a little gun-shy when I went to grab something else from my shelf. I’ve been really trying to get through the massive amount of books I’ve acquired in my Bookshelf Cleanout project!

The universe decided to make it up to me when I grabbed Moonfall by Jack McDevitt. Right off the bat, I got excited that the opening scene takes place during the solar eclipse of April 2024. Our location in Southern Illinois was dubbed the “Eclipse Crossroads” back in 2017, because both that eclipse and the one in 2024 will be fully visible here. To boot, I was even wearing my commemorative eclipse t-shirt!

Okay, personal coincidences aside, it’s important to talk a little bit about the plot (without giving too much away, of course). A comet is discovered, and it’s heading straight for the Moon, where Moonbase has just been officially opened in a ceremony that includes the Vice President of the U.S. The story is told from multiple POVs, just like any good disaster movie.

I couldn’t help but note as I read all the similarities to our current times that McDevitt predicted way back in 1999. The book is only three years ahead of the present, after all! There is talk about increased mileage on electric car batteries, everyone has cell phones, and all the news is online. Unfortunately, Moonfall mentions the Arecibo telescope, which didn’t make it, and yet it predicts that Sears will still be around.

I was definitly impressed with how well McDevitt predicted the divisive political climate that surrounds a global disaster. Some think the coming comet is only a political stunt to gain votes. Those in charge are forced to contemplate whether they should let the populace know just how bad things are and risk panic, or play it cool and risk lives. There was so much more, and it was all shockingly familiar.

Overall, there wasn’t a thing I didn’t liked about Moonfall. The characters were deep and relatable, the technology was fantastic, and I got so wrapped up in the suspense sometimes that I thought I might have a panic attack. 5 stars! While my ultimate goal is to pare down the sheer number of books I have, this one is going on the Keep shelf!

Have you read Moonfall or another book by Jack McDevitt? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Tarot Tuesday! Pick Your Card from The Sacred Traveler Oracle

It’s time once again for Tarot Tuesday to see what the rest of the week holds for us!

This week’s pull is from The Sacred Traveler Oracle by Denise Linn. The bold, otherworldly images on these cards really called out to me, and there’s just so much energy in these cards.

If you’re interested in a reading of your own, please see the bottom of this post or visit me on eBay.

Study the photo below and see which card calls to you (1, 2, or 3). You may want to know what the week holds for you in general, or you may have a specific question in mind. Regardless of what you want to know, let your spirit guide you on your card. You’ll find the cards and their meanings below.

Are you ready? Scroll down to find your card!

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#1 – Impasse: Is something stopping you on the path you believe you should be on? It may seem like a failure to turn back or change course, but that isn’t always the case. There are times when the wisest thing to do is to find a new route instead of railing yourself against a stone wall that isn’t ever going to move.

#2 – Great Adventure: It’s time for adventure! This could mean a literal adventure, like a trip or a business endeavor, or it could be telling you that right now is the time to take risks and expand your horizons. Either way, you’re not meant to stay where you’re at!

#3 – Gates of Triumph: Victory and success are yours! Even if you’ve stumbled a bit on the way there, you’re on the right path. Keep going, and know that everything will work out as it should.

Which card did you pick? Did it mean anything for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment!

Interested in a reading of your own?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading with a deck that calls to me. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com or visit me on eBay (see link below) and we can get it arranged easily. Thank you!

$10.00

Visit me on eBay!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Please note that I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Book Review: The Private Life of The Cat Who by Lillian Jackson Braun

I write a lot of cozy mysteries in my freelance work, so it would only make sense that I also read a lot of them, right? The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun is one that I’ve returned to over and over throughout the last several years. I managed to read the entire series (which at 30 books is no small challenge while working and raising a family). Even though I have plenty of other books on the shelves at home, I’ve gone to the library and turned to the internet to make sure I found every single one.

It seemed only fitting to also pick up The Private Life of the Cat Who: Tales of Koko and Yum Yum from the Journal of James Mackintosh Qwilleran. It’s a slim little volume of what I don’t even think I’d call short stories necessarily. They’re more like reflections of the main protagonist James Qwilleran on his cats. He recalls how he got them and reminisces on some of their adventures.

It’s a very quick and light read, and it serves as a fun refresher of many of the stories I’d already read in the series. While I highly recommend The Private Life for anyone who has read the other books, you may not want to pick this up if you haven’t already come to know Koko and Yum Yum quite well. I wouldn’t want you to spoil the fun for yourself!

Have you read any of That Cat Who series? What did you think? Feel free to use my link to purchase from Amazon, or you can find my copy for sale on eBay!

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Consider making a small donation to help keep this blog going! Every bit helps!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Fountain Pen Review: Pelikan M200 (My First Pelikan!)

If you follow this blog, then you probably know that I collect fountain pens. Although I’ve mostly just been buying vintage pens lately, I’m thrilled with the brand new Pelikan my husband bought me for Valentine’s Day! (Yes, I’m a lot late on getting this posted!)

The two things that first attracted me to this Pelikan M200 were the beautiful colors and the fact that it’s a piston filler. I get annoyed with converter pens, because they often don’t flow as quickly as I’d like them to. I hadn’t tried a piston yet, but I have several lever-fillers and a vac-fill that I love. (Those, however, are all vintage.) The piston is super easy to operate, and it allows the pen to hold tons of ink! The ink window and the semi-transparent barrel allow you to see that you sucked up all that ink. The flow is excellent, and I tend to be a pretty fast writer. I have a broad nib on this pen.

The steel nib felt a little odd at first, with more feedback than I’d expected, but either I got used to it or it got used to me. It’s a dream to write with on either high or low quality paper, which isn’t something I can say about all pens.

The dimensions of the Pelikan M200–paired with the large ink capacity–make it ideal for long writing sessions. It’s lightweight without feeling cheap, and it balances perfectly when posted. The grip is wide enough to prevent cramping, but it’s not bulky. Of my modern pens, this is the one I reach for the most!

Overall, I think this is a pretty great pen. I’ll be using it a lot to write to my pen pals or plot stories, and I’m happy to have it in my collection.

Do you have the M200 or another Pelikan? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Like what you’re reading?

Consider making a small donation to help keep me going! Every little bit means a whole lot!

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I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Tarot Tuesday! Pick Your Card from The Spirit Animal Oracle

It’s time once again for Tarot Tuesday to see what the rest of the week holds for us!

This week’s pull is from The Spirit Animal Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid. I love the beautiful, misty artwork on these cards. And of course I always love anything that has to do with animals!

If you’re interested in a reading of your own, please see the bottom of this post or come visit me on eBay.

Study the photo below and see which card calls to you (1, 2, or 3). You may want to know what the week holds for you in general, or you may have a specific question in mind. Regardless of what you want to know, let your spirit guide you on your card. You’ll find the cards and their meanings below.

Are you ready? Scroll down to find your card!

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#1 – Bat Spirit: This card is about release and rebirth. It shows us that many things come to an end, even things that we feel are good, but that doesn’t mean that all is lost or that our lives are over. Something new is coming, or perhaps something in your life is simply taking on a new shape. It’s okay to let go of the past and of the things that are leaving your life. Trust that it will only get better!

#2 – Bee Spirit: Bees know how to work together to make honey, and this card reminds you to connect with your inner spirit and the greater consciousness of the universe to gather your own sweet rewards! Are you doing everything on your own? Or feeling disconnected? It’s time to join back in! This could be a spiritual journey or one with other people, but you don’t have to miss out on all the good stuff in life. (On a personal note, I love the steampunk elements on this little guy!)

#3 – Beaver Spirit: The beaver is here to remind you that dreams aren’t built on wishful thinking. You have to do the work! If there’s something you want, you have to create the solid foundation to make it happen. While some of our lives is left up to fate, there’s often something we can do to help make it go the right direction. Is there something you can do toward starting that new business you’ve been dreaming of? Do you hate your job, but you haven’t bothered to look for a new one? Or is your goal lingering in the back of your mind without getting any attention? This card says it’s time to do the hard work and make it happen!

Which card did you pick? Did it mean anything for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment!

Interested in a reading of your own?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading with a deck that calls to me. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com or visit me on eBay (see link below) and we can get it arranged easily. Thank you!

$10.00

Come visit me on eBay!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Please note that I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Fountain Pen Review: Vintage Parker Vacumatic

Have you ever seen something so beautiful you just had to have it? Something that just makes your heart stop, something that makes you obsess over it a bit too much, especially once you think you have a chance of obtaining it, even though it’s just a material item?

That’s how I felt about the Parker Vacumatic the first time I saw one. There was just something so Wow! about that stacked celluloid, with bright lines of color so equally interspersed with dark that they look like a skyscraper at night. Of course, on my journey with vintage fountain pens, it’s often the celluloid that gets me. It’s just gorgeous.

I just can’t even show you how beautiful this really is!

I thought about the Vacumatic a lot, watching numerous eBay auctions go to someone else because I wasn’t willing to spend the money. Finally the stars aligned (along with my finances and just the right auction) and a Vacumatic was on its way to me! I should also say here that I was also waiting for just the right pen to be up for sale. It had to be restored and in working order, preferably one of the slightly larger sizes, and definitely at least a medium nib. Check, check, and check. I crossed my fingers and hoped it was as nice to write with as I’d imagined.

This particular Vacumatic is a color called Golden Pearl. It’s kind of a fancy term for brown, but honestly it’s absolutely beautiful. The imprint is clear, with the date stamp showing it was made in 1941. (Thank you, Parker, for not making me guess like I usually do on my vintage pens!) I was incredibly pleased to find that the nib is in better shape than it appeared to be online, and the trim is in great condition. The barrel transparency is wonderful, letting you really see the huge amount of ink this thing can suck up.

I know, I know. But how does it write?

My first dip test was all I could’ve hoped for. The pen was incredibly smooth with very little feedback, which is how I like mine. I did use just a little micromesh to tune it up a bit, and then I was reaching for it every time I needed to write.

I did start to have problems after a couple days. The ink flow wasn’t keeping up with my writing speed, and the tines were constantly picking up paper fibers, essentially clogging itself. I’d filled the Vacumatic with Diamine Autumn Oak. Diamine can be a bit of a dry ink, and I know oranges often crust over. I flushed it out and refilled, but that wasn’t helping. I started to really worry. Was I going to have to send my precious Parker back? Would I get another one for such a good price? Did a pay too good of a price and now I was getting what I deserved?

It turned out the nib and feed were slightly misaligned, a small and simple fix I should’ve found right away. The Vac is now filled with Monteverde Horizon Blue, a lubricated ink that truly adds to the smoothness and makes for a lovely writing experience. I can’t say that I regret my purchase at all, and it’s so nice to see there’s some truth to the hype behind these pens.

Now there are other colors to collect!

If you want to know more about the Parker Vacumatic, I highly recommend checking out this article by Richard Binder.

Do you own or have you tried a Parker Vacumatic? I’d love to hear about it!

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Close up hot cappuccino white coffee cup with heart shape latte art on dark brown old wood table at cafe,food and drink concept.

Like what you’re reading?

Consider making a small donation to help keep this blog going! Every bit helps!

$1.00

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under Fountain Pens and Ink

Tarot Tuesday! Pick Your Card

It’s time for Tarot Tuesday once again! I hope you’re all doing well!

This week’s pull is from The Good Tarot by Colette Baron-Reid. These cards are just gorgeous and have so much energy when I’m working with them!

If you’re interested in a personal reading, please see the end of this post or come find me on eBay.

Study the photo below and see which card calls to you (1, 2, or 3). You may want to know what the week holds for you in general, or you may have a specific question in mind. Regardless of what you want to know, let your spirit guide you on your card. You’ll find the cards and their meanings below.

Are you ready? Scroll down to find your card!

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#1 – Ten of Earth: This card represents material wealth, financial security, wealth, and knowledge. It shows that you’ve worked hard, and it’s time to step back and observe the results of everything you’ve been building.

#2 – The Magician – All things are possible, even miracles! You can do a lot on your own, through your own will and hard work, but you must also bring in the spiritual energy around you to fuel that magic. Tap into your spiritual side and see what happens!

#3 – Hierophant – Commit yourself to a spiritual practice to deepen your relationship to the divine. Prayer, meditation, gratitude, and rituals will only benefit you and help you tap into the goddess you have inside. If you’re considering an exchange of vows, this is a good time.

Which card did you pick? Did it mean anything for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment!

The Good Tarot

Interested in a Tarot Reading?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com or come visit me on eBay (see link below) and we can arrange it easily. Thank you!

$10.00

Come find me on eBay!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Please note that I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Leave a comment

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Discovering the Lost Art of Letter Writing

Or perhaps the title should say Rediscovering, because it isn’t as though I’ve never written a letter before! Anyway…

You never know where clicking that “Accept Invitation” button will lead you!

A friend of mine invited me to join a Facebook group of likeminded women recently. I didn’t have to think about accepting, since I’ve been really enjoying focused groups on Facebook for quite some time. I belong to at least one group for pretty much everything I’m into, whether it’s cross stitch, writing, fountain pens, or bearded dragons.

Soon afterwards, a pen pal project arose within the group where members would be randomly assigned to another member to write to for a couple of months. I didn’t have to think at all about joining the project. An excuse to use my vintage fountain pens? Yes, please! What could go wrong?

Well, maybe not wrong, but it’s certainly given me yet another hobby. I’d forgotten just how much I love writing letters. Even more so, I love getting them! I couldn’t settle for just one pen pal, and so I joined yet another Facebook group which focuses specifically on that. The next thing I knew, I was buying digital stationery to print out on my favorite high-quality paper. That led to envelope templates that I could trace onto scrapbook paper, and these envelopes are way cuter than what’s available in the office supply store. Then came stickers, stamps, and so many glorious rolls of washi tape!

While I really do love using the materials, I have to say it’s also wonderful to find a way to connect with people offline. Especially in a time when we’re all stuck at home more than usual, it’s refreshing to take a short trip downtown to check the post office box, and even more so to sit down with a pen and paper to reply.

So much of our lives happens on a screen, whether it’s a phone, a computer, or a television. There’s no doubt that the digital world has truly come into its own during the pandemic. Zoom meetings, remote learning, online grocery orders. It’s all really fantastic in so many ways. That online world has brought me offline, where I’d much rather be.

It’s also been interesting to find out how many people have never sent a letter in their life, who post in the group questions about how to address an envelope, how to buy a stamp, or even how to use a mailbox. I’ve even met a few who can’t read cursive. I’m not criticizing these people, especially because I know some of them are younger than I am and probably grew up writing emails to Grandma instead of letters. I just think it’s interesting that it’s already something that’s so old-fashioned as to become a novelty.

Have you had a pen pal, or do you now? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Close up hot cappuccino white coffee cup with heart shape latte art on dark brown old wood table at cafe,food and drink concept.

Like what you’re reading?

Consider making a small donation to help keep this blog going! Thanks!

$1.00

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under Fountain Pens and Ink, On Writing

Tarot Tuesday: Pick Your Card!

We’ve made it through the drudgery of Monday, so it’s time to see what the rest of the week holds! This week’s draw is from the Animal Tarot deck by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine. I love all the beautiful animals in this deck and the way that everything is connected to nature. If you’re interested in a personal reading, please see the bottom of this post.

Study the picture below. If you have a question or situation you’re concerned about, hold that in the front of your mind as you choose your card. You can also simply pick the one that calls to you. When you’re ready, scroll down to find the meaning of your card.

Ready?

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#1 – Four of Spring: This card is all about happiness and home. It represents joy and satisfaction that may come from having a happy relationship or having completed a task. There’s a potential for an addition to your home life, which could be a marriage, a birth, or a new home.

#2 – Life Experience: Important changes are coming! These might be changes you’ve been contemplating, or they may be a complete surprise. The cuckoo is known for being a graceful bird who heralds the coming of change, and it’s reminding you to embrace that change. Note the butterflies in the image who look like they’re taking an annual migration. This shows that even the biggest changes are sometimes exactly what we need!

#3 – Six of Winter: Challenging times are over, and brighter days are ahead! Though it may be hard, it’s time to let the past go and breathe a sigh of relief. This card could also signify travel or relocation. The Rescue Cat is the card that I chose this round, and it’s one of my absolute favorites in this deck! The message is obviously a pleasant one, but I also really like that it so closely represents my own rescue cat, Nermal!

Which card did you pick? What did it mean for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave a comment.

Interested in a tarot reading?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com or come visit me on eBay (see link below) and we can arrange it easily. Thank you!

$10.00

Visit me on eBay!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

1 Comment

Filed under Tarot and Oracle Cards

Guest Post: What You Need to Know Before Creating Your Book Marketing Strategy

by Hayley Zelda

No matter how well you write, how many followers you have on Commaful or Wattpad, or how many contacts you have in publishing, your book won’t sell unless you plan a roadmap or a marketing strategy. Before you create your Tumblr content or social media calendars, you should have a solid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You also need to determine the opportunities and threats that await you as a published author. 

There are several steps you can take to ensure you have a strong foundation for your marketing strategy. By being fully aware of your brand, personality, and voice, you can easily step up your marketing efforts. 

We will look at some of the matters you need to address as part of your book strategy and author marketing.

Your goals

What do you want to accomplish in three to five years? Goals are a broader statement that focuses on your desired results but does not yet describe how you will achieve them. Think long term. Aspire and aim high.

Examples of author goals include:

  • Publish the sequel to my novel.
  • Build a strong fan base.
  • Get interviewed on a podcast or TV show.
  • Hire a literary agent.

Your objectives

What will success look like in 6 to 12 months? Write down two goals that you know are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). As you write each goal, try to answer the following questions: What do I want to achieve? When? How do I know when it has been reached? How can I accomplish this goal? Does it seem worthwhile?

Here are some example goals:

  • Submit the sequel’s manuscript to a Big Five editor by December 2021. 
  • Set up my Goodreads author listing within the workweek.
  • Write a compelling pitch letter to my researched list of business book summary podcasters. 
  • Email three writer friends in my niche and ask them about recommended agents on Saturday.

Your value

Marketers often ask, “What’s your unique selling proposition”? To keep it simple, let’s rephrase the question: what do you have to offer? What makes you different from other authors? Unless you can identify what makes you unique as a writer, you cannot target your marketing efforts. Put yourself in the shoes of your reader. What motivates them to read your work? Why should they read your book and not someone else’s? 

Some examples to get creative juices flowing:

  • My screenplay is just like Jane Austen’s “Emma,” only set in Beverly Hills.
  • My novel is Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” meets fuzzy, cuddly kittens. 
  • A newly crowned king must comfort his people during troubling times. The only trouble is, he stutters very badly.

Your niche

Are you a fiction or non-fiction writer? Do you write short stories, poems, or novels? Or do you write how-to books or creative essays? What genre(s) does your work fall into? Does it have a sub-genre or a niche? Here’s a pro tip: If you’re writing in different categories like young adult fantasy and murder mystery, create pseudonyms for each genre. You don’t want to weaken your brand as an author if readers identify you with several but very different niches. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Dystopian science fiction stories and novels
  • Thriller novels with a female protagonist
  • English haiku about life in New York City

Your audience

Visualize who will want to buy your book. Are they male, female, LGBT, or gender doesn’t matter? Are they kids, pre-teens, teenagers, or older? Where in the world do they live in? What are their interests? What kind of websites do they often visit? What are their pain points? Keep these factors in mind as you both work on and promote your book. 

Examples of audience personas include:

  • Mayumi is a 36-year-old wife and mother of two who lives in San Francisco. She is a second-generation Asian-American and wants to know more about her Filipino heritage. 
  • Billy is a 27-year-old computer game enthusiast. He stays up late at night with his roommates playing fantasy role-playing games, rhythm and music party starters, and retro classics on his custom-rigged desktop computer. 
  • Jeannie is an accomplished 50-year-old entrepreneur who co-owns a local chain of healthy lifestyle retail stores. Her day isn’t complete without a cup of oolong tea, a daily phone call with her career coach, and a 30-minute yoga session. 

Your environment

Environmental factors are elements over which you have no control. Nonetheless, these factors still influence the decisions made when creating a strategic marketing plan. Study your writing environment from a macro and a micro perspective. Think of your suppliers, your customers, the general public, other authors. Analyze what’s going on in politics, law, economics, technology, and business that may affect your writing and marketing activities. 

Some environmental factors are:

  • The strict censorship policies in some countries make it difficult for your publisher to distribute your paranormal romance in different parts of the world.
  • The lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic force people to stay home for months. As a result, your audience now prefers to buy e-books.
  • Besides being a creative writer, you are the single mother of a two-year-old boy and write creative non-fiction from the home office.

Getting started on your marketing strategy

If you are a first-time author, a fully documented marketing strategy may seem overwhelming to you. If so, you can narrow down the essential information to drive your approach (which we discussed earlier) to just one page. Planning your marketing strategy takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s best to list all the “materials” you will need before putting everything together.

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Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.

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