The Idea Shop X CAA – Free Book Marketing Seminar

On Thursday, October 28, 2021 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. EST Via Zoom I will be hosting a panel called ” Book Marketing 101 with The Idea Shop.” Chris Houston, the Marketing Guru of The Idea Shop, has over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. He’ll share his tips and stories about his best marketing campaigns, and explain why it’s important to let the world know that you have a unique book that they need to discover! 

Register for free here: http://canadianauthors.org/toronto/events/

The Idea Shop answers “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on Artsy Raven Eps 5 podcast

Chris Houston, the Marketing Guru of The Idea Shop has over 20 years of experience in book marketing. The Idea Shop is a one-stop shop for fresh new ideas on how to promote creative endeavors of all kinds, from books to podcasts. The Idea Shop can be heard each month on Sauga 960 AM radio.

He answers the question “Why should an author hire a marketer?” on the Artsy Raven podcast, Episode 5. This clip is an excerpt from the episode.

To contact the Idea Shop on how your book can be marketed to the world, find Chris at https://theideashop.ca/

The Artsy Raven podcast about writing & publishing episodes are on Spotify & Youtube: https://jfgarrard.com/arpodcast/

I will be a guest at #FIYAHCON 2021 (#BIPOC #Specfic #con) and speaking on panels about #publishing and #marketing! #diversity #diversityinpublishing

During September 16-19, 2021, FIYAHCON 2021 is happening! It’s a BIPOC speculative fiction virtual convention where writers, artists, publishers, editors, marketers and vendors meet up. There are a limited number of free tickets available, do check it out if you have time!

As a guest I will be speaking at two panels:

Different Ways of Publishing – Saturday, September 18th, 2021, Day 2 – 11:40 am EST, Track B

  • Traditional publishing is often seen as the most common way of publishing, but over time, there are other methods: self-publishing, serial publishing, hybrid publishing, etc. This panel will explore different methods of publishing because sometimes getting an agent or traditional publisher may not be possible if the book is considered “too niche” or “unmarketable”.

Strategies on Publicizing Your Book – Saturday, September 18th, 2021, Day 2 – 12:50pm EST, Track A

  • A book is a baby you need to present to the world that is already filled will millions of babies. How do you find your readers? Let’s talk about Kickstarters, PR firms, paid and free strategies you can use to publicize your books.

For these panels I am also a moderator so over the next few days I will be contacting my fellow panelists to brainstorm and to write up speaking notes for engaging panels.

Hope to see you there!


Tools to make an awesome #lowbudget #video for #socialmedia!

Recently I signed up my indie publishing company, Dark Helix Press, to be a vendor at FIYAHCON, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. (I’ll be speaking about publishing there too, will release details when I have them.)

At FIYAHCON the vendors are setting up a virtual table on a platform called AirMeet which I have never used before. One of the items I needed to upload was a video and I don’t have any book trailers for Dark Helix Press. In the past I made a book trailer for The Undead Sorceress which was ok, but with new tools available, making a trailer now is much faster than ever before! The concept of making a trailer is the same to make any video for social media, once you learn how to make on video, it’s a skill which can be used for lots of creative fun!

The trailer I made below took about three hours, because I was fiddling with fonts/colors/layout and made some custom graphics for the Dark Helix Press Threadless Shop merchandise because I wanted “clean cut” items that would “pop out.” I had to use a graphic editor to do that (did it quick and dirty with the free Paint.net graphic program) because video programs have limited graphics editing capabilities. Note I had $0 budget, but the video looks pretty good for zero dollars!

Steps used to make a book trailer:

  1. List out what you want to put in each “slide” which is really a short video. Pretend it’s a PowerPoint and on each slide think about what message or text you want to convey.
  2. Find videos for each slide. There are a couple of sites you can download free videos, such as Pexels, Pixabay, Mixkit, etc. We used Pixabay.
    • For one video we wanted 14 seconds, but the shot we downloaded was 10 seconds, so we extended the video time by slowing down the speed of the footage.
  3. If you are adding extra graphics to the video, you will need to clean up with a graphics editor such as Paint.net, Krita, Adobe Photoshop, etc. We used Paint.net.
  4. Pick a program to compile the videos – Canva, Filmgora, iMovie, etc. We used Canva.
  5. Upload the videos into the program, add text, music (we used the music provided in the program) and graphics.
  6. In some of the programs you can modify the layout and animate the graphics/fonts.
  7. Upload onto Youtube and publish.
    • Read carefully on the sites where you gathered graphics, videos and music. Some of the licenses ask for attribution in lieu of payment and there may be restrictions on use.

I hope this information was useful to you! After you do it once, the subsequent videos will be easier next time!

#Op-ed “Selling #Diversity to the Reluctant” published @medium – people are scared about being cancelled

Recently I finished an op-ed piece and sent it around to major media outlets. It wasn’t picked up by anyone. Naively I thought that since the piece was about a small press publishing a book by Asian writers and finding it difficult to gather in-depth book reviews, this would be an interesting read since a lot of diversity articles only talk about the good things about why it’s needed or negative experiences. The experience I had was a good one, but in the op-ed I wanted to highlight the fact that people are scared about being cancelled, so they can’t comment on anything, which makes it difficult to move forward. Everyone says they want diverse books, but is this really true? Or are they saying this because it sounds like the right thing to say?

The link to the op-ed piece is here: https://jfgarrard.medium.com/selling-diversity-to-the-reluctant-ce80b5e0ccd8

I emailed The Idea Shop and Josh (One Man Podcast) to make sure they were ok with me mentioning their names in the op-ed and they were both cool. I spoke to Josh on his One Man Podcast about a bunch of stuff and when COVID restrictions are lifted more we will meet in person!

As a writer, I wonder about why this piece was rejected. If you are a successful op-ed writer, perhaps you can send me some tips!

Generally, the message in this piece was: sometimes it’s best just to sit down to have a cup of tea and eat together to build relationships going forward. Basically instead of preaching diversity, let’s talk about what we have in common and be friends!

Belief review on the #RawMikeRichards Show with @TheIdeaShopca this morning! Some thoughts…#Toronto #Vancouver #canlit #youtube #soundcloud

This morning we woke up early to listen to “The Raw Mike Richards Show” on Sauga 960am which caters mainly to the Toronto area. Once a month, The Idea Shop goes onto the show to promote the latest book releases in the Canadian market.

To be honest I was a bit nervous about what people would think about the book because although I think it’s fantastic, I’m also the gardener who helped plant the flowers, so my perspective is biased!

It was wonderful to listen to the opinion that the stories were like a “box of chocolates” which cheered up the readers during COVID and also brought up memories of the host (Mike Richards) being close to an Asian family in the town they grew up in. Canada’s strength lies in diversity and the ability for people to work together to transform society for the better.

Have a listen to the audio here: https://soundcloud.com/ideashop/reading-is-beliving-the-idea-shop-april-2021

Youtube video here:https://youtu.be/Tq-o_7RnXkg

Have a great day, good luck hunting for the COVID vaccine and stay safe!

Making #3d #bookcovers for #free! How to with link…#indie #publishing #writinglife #selfpublishing #marketing

On some sites I’ve seen 3d covers of books and wondered how people did it. Well, I know I can hire someone or buy software. But being a frugal person I wasn’t sure if it was worth the money so I never tried to do this. Fast forward a few years later and I’m talking to a book marketing person who is asking me about 3d covers.

Doing a Google search I found a website which lets you render a 3d cover for free! Of course it’s not the best quality (the graphic is small in size) and for a small fee you can pay to download the better version.

You will need 3 images in hand before you start: 1) Front cover, 2) spine only and 3) back cover. You can use any graphic program to crop your print book image file into pieces and just save as separate files.

For those who want to test out 3d covers, visit Boxshot which offers a free online program for use as well as better paid options: https://boxshot.com/3d-pack/3d-book/

On this website after uploading the 3 images of your book (front, spine, back), you can move the book around until you find an angle you like and then save the 3d image.

I did a test run for the Belief cover with the free option and it looks spiffy!

March 4 Asian Spec Fic Readings

Next Thursday I’ll be hosting an Asian Speculative Fiction Reading event as part of Small Press Fair for Dark Helix Press. All of the authors are wonderful readers and I look forward to listening to them do their magic! Details about this event below!

Also putting together another digital raffle to test how successful it is as a marketing tool. Someone told me that all raffles need to be coupled with Amazon gift cards so we will try that. I do worry about coupling book giveaways with gift cards – do they want the gift card or to read the books? Sigh.

March 4, Thursday, 2021: 8pm EST – 9pm EST
Asian Speculative Fiction Readings panel features Asian speculative authors who will read their stories featured in Immersion or Dark Helix Ezine. There will be a Q & A after the panel.
Authors featured include Vincent Ternida, Carlo Javier, Melissa Yuan-Innes and Lily Chang. Host: JF Garrard

For free registration click here

For more events, visit this link: http://www.darkhelixpress.com/events/

See you soon!

What’s In a “Basket of Ridiculousness”?

Since we are doing a Trump: Utopia or Dystopia book launch at Can-Con in Ottawa this coming weekend, we put together a gift called a “Basket of Ridiculousness” as a free draw prize to attract unsuspecting and sort of innocent future readers!

To get free draw tickets, please find me or Jen Frankel and ask us nicely for a ticket at the Can-Con event:

FRI 20:00-20:50 Panel – Braaaains. Please. Sorry  Salon D (Jen Frankel)

SAT 10:00 – 13:30 Dealers Room Table –The Alternate Reality News Service

SAT 11:00-11:50 Panel – Economics of Traditional Publishing Salon E (JF Garrard)

SAT 14:00-14:50 Indie Group Launch Event with food (basket will be given away at this event)

You may think, wait, what’s in this bloody basket worth hunting down strangers for?
The basket is valued at $50 and we put everything we thought we would want into it. So if no one wins or shows up for the book launch we will divide up the goodies among ourselves! Contents include:
1) A copy of Trump: Utopia or Dystopia to laugh, cry and get angry with.
2) A set of politician masks – Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and Justin Trudeau. In time for Halloween and to re-enact scenes from the Trump book!
3) Lay’s Grilled Cheese chips – it just sounded yummy…and strange…
4) A $10 Starbucks gift card – caffeine just makes the day brighter!
5) Batman Story Cubes – making stories with yourself as Batman, just because.
6) Naughty mug – heck, we’re promoting a Trump satire book!
7) Snickers bars – to eat while watching CNN.
8) Fuzzy Peaches – it’s orange, enough said.
9) Crunch ‘n Munch popcorn – more to eat while watching CNN and Fox News.
10) SPAM – goes hand in hand with fake news.
11) Glow in the dark tie – to transport you to the Oval office.
12) Rubber Ducky Socks – we live in Canada, a tribute to our Prime Minister.
13) Dark Helix Bookmark – to keep your page in the book while you watch the destruction of the free world!
Looking forward to meeting random people in Ottawa and sharing the joy of this Trump book which has fantasy, horror and science fiction stories from writers around the world!

Can Con Planning

The next event I’m attending is Can Con in Ottawa. I’ve never been to this literary conference, but have been told it’s a great event. Since Dark Helix Press never got a chance to launch our Trump book at a Toronto convention, we’ll be launching in Ottawa instead. I’ll be speaking at two panels as well, so it’s a good chance to network with authors/publishers/readers.

For the launch it’s a group event with two other authors for a total of 3 books. We’ll be providing food and drinks since it’s a party! In addition, we’re all doing raffle draws for our books and Dark Helix will be making a “Basket of Ridiculousness” to raffle off specifically to people who will be purchasing the Trump book at the event. We figure it’s only fair to give our supporters extra presents when we can!

indie group lauch FB

Since we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we also mined the inter web for funny images to make a collage for a table display. We had wanted to illustrate that our book was fiction and satire, so we chose images of Trudeau on a unicorn, Hilary saint candles and Trump resembling a Dragonball character.

We’ll have fun anyways regardless of book sales or not as book launches don’t always guarantee sales!

DHP small cancon

collage image credits:

Hilary candle https://www.illuminidol.com/products/hillary-clinton

CANADA IS MAGICAL https://www.lookhuman.com/design/338801-canada-is-magical/tshirt

Donald Trump – And now we will ascending beyond GREAT https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1191009-donald-trump