In marketing, there are certain scenarios and events that make up what may constitute “the perfect storm.” Last night’s book signing at Borders in the Salmon Run Mall, Watertown, NY was just such a case. A week ago I was interviewed on the #1 talk radio station in town (which subsequently ran all weekend), followed by an interview in the local section of the Watertown Daily Times. The day-of the event, Wayne and I did a presentation at the largest Middle School in the county (Indian River), and it was kid’s Trick-Or-Treat night through all the storefronts at the mall. Add on top of all this my “9-5″ job (and then some) of pastoring a modest sized youth group in a very loving church, and you have a monster pre-Halloween book signing (pun most definitely intended). We sold out in the first hour, and resorted to handing out thousands of promo cards to the rest of those in line. Moral of the story? The Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared (because perfect storms do happen). ch:
Two two fun media pieces for you! First off, our first newspaper article on CotSK ran this morning in the Watertown Daily Times. The article, marvelously written by Chris Brock, is pasted below with a link to its home on the interweb. Secondly, I’ve attached the podcast link excerpt from last week’s interview on 790 WTNY with hosts Nathan & Alan. Enjoy! ch:
LISTEN! | Christopher Hopper Interview :: 790AM WTNY :: Friday, October 23rd 2009
Swordplay for ‘the Spider King’
A book signing will be combined with sword fighting and live music Friday at Borders at Salmon Run Mall.
The event, from 4 to 7 p.m., is a pre-release celebration of “Curse of the Spider King,” by north country resident Christopher K. Hopper and Maryland resident Wayne Thomas Batson. They are both fantasy writers and collaborated on “Curse,” to be released Tuesday by Thomas Nelson publishing, the largest Christian publisher in the world.
“Curse of the Spider King” was recently awarded a silver Moonbean Children’s Book Award presented by publishing services company Jenkins Group Inc. of Traverse City, Mich. Jenkins Group has been involved in book packaging, marketing and distribution since 1988.
Mr. Hopper, Clayton, is youth pastor of New Life Christian Church, Watertown. In 2006, his “The White Lion Chronicles, Rise of The Dibor” was released by Tsaba House publishing. The publisher released book two in the “White Lion” series, “The Lion Vrie,” in 2007.
Mr. Hopper also is a musician, a conference speaker and owns a film company specializing in the production of book trailers and marketing videos.
Mr. Batson lives in Maryland where he is a middle school reading and English teacher. He wrote “The Door Within Trilogy,” published by Thomas Nelson.
Mr. Hopper said he met Mr. Batson in 2006 at a book convention.
“It was one of those relationships where we finished each others’ sentences,” Mr. Hopper said.
After deciding to collaborate on a book, besides exchanging e-mails and instant messages where they would share story passages and ideas, they often drove to meet “half-way” from each other, which turned out to be a pub in Scranton, Pa.
Mr. Hopper said one of them would write a passage and share it with the other. “The other person had the option of tearing it to shreds,” Mr. Hopper said. “Then it would be passed back.”
He said that by doing this, both of the authors’ voices found their way into the “Curse of the Spider King.”
“We didn’t want readers to go, ‘This is Chris Hopper’s chapter and this is Wayne Batson’s chapter,'” Mr. Hopper said. “We wanted it be our book.”
The story concerns the elven lords of Allya, who were thought to be dead. “With a glitter of hope in their hearts, sentinels are sent to see if the signs are true,” according to a description from the publisher. “But theirs is not a lone errand. The ruling warlord of Allyra, the Spider King, has sent his own scouts to hunt down the seven and finish the job they failed to complete many ages ago.”
Mr. Hopper said the book is targeted to young teenagers. The main “elven” characters in “The Curse” all exhibit special powers when they reach age 13.
“It’s a great premise that teenagers may feel subpar but they have incredible gifts,” Mr. Hopper said.
The elven lords, Mr. Hopper said, come from all parts of the world, including the home turf of the authors and more far-flung locations like Paris and Scotland. “They are hunted by two different factions; good and evil,” Mr. Hopper said.
“The Curse” is the first of a planned “Berinfell Prophecies” series.
Mr. Hopper said he and Mr. Batson began a “fantasy fiction tour” based on their experiences as traveling musicians and they will incorporate their act into Friday’s event at Borders.
“We developed this little shtick and banter back and forth,” Mr. Hopper said.
There also will be mock sword fighting and discussions.
“We want to inspire young people about the value of reading,” Mr. Hopper said. •
Marketing books doesn’t have to be boring. Swords always help. ch:
While certainly not the most clear picture, I just had to post this moment, captured in the studio of 790AM WTNY in Watertown, NY during my 8:30am EST interview. Hosts Nathan and Alan had a little more fun then their listeners might have imagined. While none of the viewers could see what I had brought, I wanted to be the first person to bring a real sword into the station. Turns out, I was. Thanks for making me feel right at home, guys! And for giving the new book, and our signing at Borders next Friday, some airtime. (Link to the interview forthcoming.) ch:
With the upcoming release of Curse of the Spider King, I’ve had a significant rise in email, Twitter, and FaceBook correspondence with regard to the issue of writing. And it excites me, as I believe we need more authors writing quality material, not less…especially Christ-centered works. Honestly, I simply can’t write fast enough to keep all the moms happy who have children that quite literally devour novels! But more than that, I believe that a very small percentage of Believers who have something worth saying are actually getting published, and for that matter, too many writers, who have already said all they can say, keep having different versions of the same material released simply because it makes money. Both problems are addressed by one solution: you, the future author, getting good at what you do.
In a previous post, I shared a few tips for aspiring authors. (And got some great feedback, too! Thanks!). Today, I want to add to that by including links to two other incredible posts that I think you might find quite helpful.
First is Thomas Nelson’s announcement of starting their own P.O.D. imprint (Print On Demand), West Bow. Presently, POD’s, or “vanity presses,” are frowned upon by industry professionals. For one thing, many are downright scams, asking you to putting up large sums of money and promising big marketing campaigns. First one thing, publishing any book with any publisher requires a HUGE amount of work from the author, and its success (or lack thereof) relies heavily on the amount of time you put into your own grassroots marketing strategies. So beware of lofty promises. Secondly, POD’s are typically used by people who want to “self-publish” a work. Simply put, you are fronting the money for the project yourself. Places like Barnes & Nobles and Borders won’t even crack open a book that is self-published…only because anyone can self-publish, and they’ve been suckered one-too-many-times by terrible writers with a nice cover. Major stores rely heavily on the “filter” of an established publisher to send them only what they trust is a “legitimate” work. This is where West Bow comes in. Essentially, it’s Thomas Nelson using their reputation to connect you with outstanding manufacturing (interior/exterior design, quality control, etc), and then further add options for promotion. Of course, the catch is you have to pay for it, and it’s not cheap. But, I believe, it’s well worth it. For more info, please read the announcement above from Michael Hyatt’s site (CEO of TN). (Additional info: “traditional publishers” [ie. not "vanity presses"] front the money for you when publishing a work, but you take only a percentage of sales in return on their initial investment).
Secondly, on Mr. Hyatt’s blog, he has made room for some guest bloggers, one of which is an incredible woman named Mary DeMuth (follow her on Twitter: @mdemuth). Without getting too much into her entry, she outlines the key factor it takes to become a master at anything…and in this case, writing books. The point here is that the most frequent issue I come up against in people is work ethic. In fact, in some cases after hearing a person’s idea for a novel, and then reading a sample of their writing, I can confidentially say they have better ideas than I do, and may even write better than I do. But there is one thing that separates us vastly. And it’s quite simple. I have written my book, they haven’t. The core concept being this: I meet a lot of dreamers, a lot of brilliant people, but until you actually change your lifestyle to accommodate the work necessary to accomplish those dreams, they will remain simply that: dreams.
What things are keeping you back from starting on your dream? What do you need to change in your life to start engaging with what you desire to do? Make room for “it,” and see what happens. ch:
I once heard Dave Ramsey say, “It is easier and more fun to oversee teams than it is to oversee individuals.” I incorporated that statement into a personal missions statement I made while on a personal advance in Washington State last summer. In it, I said that I wanted to be leading leaders, and overseeing teams, not just “maintaining systems” by myself.
Transitioning from an “I do everything model” in church life specifically, which works fine when you’re talented and swim in a small fish bowl, to a team model, requires a great deal of delegation. And the nature of the tasks, which stem from a core belief that everything needs to be done with excellence, requires that those you are delegating work to be trained sufficiently. As a result, I find myself in the midst of a tremendous personal shift. Here are two major revelations I’ve had along the way (with more to follow in the coming months, I’m quite sure):
1.) The Collective Has Better Ideas Than The Individual: I am a very creative guy. And I’m comfortable saying that. It’s not a point of pride, but of consistency over time. But when placed in a group of creative people, my ideas are mere starting points for others to launch from, thus producing end results that I never could have come up with on my own. There is a certain amount of “loss of ownership” that I had to deal with; but when put in the perspective that no idea is more original than God’s, and that we are to adopt a Kingdom mindset, releasing ownership gives birth to unlimited possibilities. It’s interesting that they very same emotion a creative person feels when they are “in control” of their projects–freedom–actually increase exponentially when they release them into the hands of others.
2.) Train As You Go: As my wife pointed out recently, when I’m confronted with the option of giving a task to a team member under me, I very often don’t. I reason, A.) in the time it will take me to teach them how to do it, I can do it five times over, and B.) my years of experience tell me I can do it better. But both arguments, while predominantly true, reduce the potential for growth in ministry exponentially. The easiest answer, of course, would be to hire qualified people. But in church life, that is most often not an option, because limited budgets do not allow you to obtain the level of expertise you need. Imparting your skills and talent over time becomes the only solution if you are serious about growing. And this, of course, takes time, discipline, and patience. But in the end, the team becomes the key component to productivity, not you as the individual. I’m right smack dab in the middle of instituting this principle, and setting up the infrastructure to facilitate it. ch:
I can’t believe it! Oasis Audio has released Curse of the Spider King on audio book already! And you can’t even buy the printed version yet! But more than that, the reading is done by Greg Whalen, and is absolutely fabulous! He has captured Grimwarden exactly the way Wayne and I envisioned him. If you could only see the wide grin I’m wearing as I type this… ch:
Hey gang! Today, October 7th, is our “let’s blitz Amazon” day. We’re asking all of our friends to rally behind us and pre-order Curse of The Spider King, helping shoot the book up on the national ranking. For anyone that purchases the book today, please email me a digital copy of your receipt (ie. forward the receipt email), and Wayne and I will send you an autographed book plate to stick on the inside of your edition. Thanks again for jumping into the fray with us! ch: