All posts by Beth Kozan

The Importance of Platform

  1. What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform?

Although I believe I’ve made progress in the last year plus, I’m still learning how to grow my platform.

I finally hired someone to build my website, a task I’d sat on for six years. I should be able to do this myself, I reasoned. But I didn’t. I struggled to learn how to utilize the wordpress blog I’d set up in lieu of a full blown website. I knew of ways to drive traffic to my blog, but I didn’t really utilize the knowledge I had.

With the new website in place (www.BethKozan.com), I felt better prepared to enter the Author’s Blog Challenge of writing for 35 days in a row. Now that we’re on the last week of ABC, I’ve fallen behind due to Life’s intervening, but I’ll get caught up, perhaps today.

I started a Twitter account. I have only been ‘on Twitter’ for a few weeks now, and I am astounded at how quickly my contact list has grown. Retweets I’ve posted get retweeted from my site. The potential is mind-boggling!

My webdesigner called me ‘intrepid’ last week.

'I was wrong...you can teach an old dog new tricks.'

I asked, “Intrepid? How so?” “Because when I told you how to use the Publicize feature, you tried it. I tell other clients how to set this up and they don’t try.” With each new post that goes to our common site for posting, it automatically appears on Facebook and Twitter, and I got it the first time I tried!

Not only that but I’ve learned how to Add Media. This old dog is still learning!

 

NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH

DAY 26 What would be the ideal NON-bookstore venue for selling your book? Why? What is your plan to reach out to such a venue to ask about having them carry your book?

Thank you for the prompt that inspired me to go for an activity during November, National Adoption Month.

Pima County (Tucson) has their Adoption in the Park event scheduled for November 7 this year. Their website announces the event:  Balloons

Over 1000 people attend the Adoption in the Park event. This will be the 15th year the event has taken place in Pima County. A collaboration of agencies including Adoption and Foster Care agencies, the Pima County Juvenile Court and the Department of Child Safety work together to provide a fun filled day for all. Ramadas are transformed into courtrooms. There is food, games and jumping castles. The favorite of the day is the cake walk. It’s a memorable and enjoyable day for all.

Maricopa County (Phoenix) has their National Adoption Day Event scheduled for November 21. The press is invited to the event which celebrates by Court finalization of adoptions.

Maricopa County has held a National Adoption Day event since the beginning – we have broken all records the past few years with the number of adoptions we complete on this day – We have games and activities for the children, live entertainment, food and beverages and a professional photographer to capture each adoptive family after their adoption hearing.

I will email both listed contacts for Tucson and Phoenix to see how I can help celebrate adoption with them.  I’ll be surprised if either will allow book sales, but at the very least I can walk the crowd and handout cards and book markers that tell people where they can order the book online.

And if neither works out, there’s always next year, and I will have more time to work on the event in 2016 when I can work on two books on adoption.

Beth Kozan

Author of Adoption: More Than By Chance

 

I KEEP BOOKS ON MY BOOKS

DAY 25 If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

Yes, I ’keep books’ on my book writing business. Excel spreadsheets on my book records sales and exchanges with other authors made on the promise of reviews. I know how many were sold from my stash, and I have a list of people who’ve told me they bought it through Amazon.

Two other different spreadsheets record my book income, and expenses for my writing business. This means that I have an expenditure record since I retired from the world of working for someone else in 2008. I’m serious about my books as a business. I use “Author” as a descriptor. I haven’t had a year where I’ve broken even yet, but I can prove what it has cost me to keep this business!

I do this so that I can be serious about my writing in my head. Others may view their writing as a hobby, but I have always seen writing as a business. I set goals and plan for necessary fees for book marketing. It’s a slim budget, for now, but when business gets better, I’ve got the framework to expand.

The internet offers great opportunity to make connections, and encouraging other authors will pay off as my other books become real entities. I’ve recently started a twitter account, and my goal for this week is to revamp my LinkedIn profile. There’s always something more that I can learn!

When the Author Blog Challenge ends on October 17, I will have built a list of fans that I can send my continuing blog posts to. If you haven’t gone to my website and registered, please do so. Go to  Bethkozan.com. You’ll see the sign-up on the right.

 

MY IMAGINED BOOK SIGNING DID NOT HAPPEN

When I knew for certain that the printed version of Adoption: More Than By Chance  would arrive before the Tucson Festival of Books in March, 2015, I imagined holding my first book signing event that weekend, in Tucson, since many of the stories in the book involve families from southern Arizona and Arizona Children’s Home Association where I started my career in adoption.

Following the suggestion in Laura Orsini’s book Practical Philantpracticalphilanhropy: How ‘Giving  Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You, I imagined pairing a book signing with a fund raiser for Arizona’s Children Association (their current name).

I pictured the co-sponsored event with the attendance of many families I had worked with in Tucson, learning of their now grown children. I knew the setting where we’d have it:  the gym at the Theraputic Center (yes, the copper plate of dedication has a misspelled word on it!) where we’d held annual Adoption Celebration events in the 80s and 90s.

Alas, when I contacted my friend Marcie Velen from AzCA to obtain the name of the current public relations person for the agency, she said she doubted they would be interested in promoting anything related to adoption. After all, they no longer have an adoption program, and they probably wouldn’t support such an event. They do maintain the adoption files (because it’s an Arizona law), which Marcie still updates when called upon.

It’s a sad commentary on the times that traditional adoption agencies like Arizona Children’s Home and Catholic Social Service (now known as Catholic Charities) have failed to support the adoption programs they were once known for.

The truth of infant adoption today is that most placements happen when a pregnant woman finds a profile of a hopeful adoptive couple on a website, and subsequently obtains support from a web-based service (often in a different state from where she lives, and rarely a licensed adoption agency). The traditional agencies, by and large, have refused to enter into this new age of web-based services. When we workers suggested our agencies provide our waiting families with an on-line platform to be seen by pregnant women, our ideas fell on deaf ears. More’s the pity!

So my first book signing has still not happened. It was only a fantasy

COFFEE FANTASY

DAY 23 If you could meet one of your main characters or ideal reader anywhere in the world for coffee, drinks, dinner, or a caramel (tipping my hat to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting), who would it be, where would you meet them, and why?

Since this is a fantasy and a suggested choice is ‘one of your main characters’ (and since I write non-fiction) I think I’ll invite Hollis and Esther, the two deceased birth mothers whose stories appear in the last chapter of my book, Adoption More Than By Chance. I’m asking these two to coffee, because I think they’d like a chance to sip coffee.

(This is not a spoiler alert, but if you want to find out, read the book!)  Hollis put a card into a box along with a cactus plant she sent her mother four years before that box returned to my office containing a present from Hollis’s dad to his grandson. I found the card, in Hollis’s handwriting: Hi Mom! Merry Xmas from Phoenix.  . . .

Me, after settling down with a cup of hazelnut coffee at Paradise Bakery (where else?):  Hollis, did you have anything to do with me finding the card you’d written to your mom that was in the box your dad sent to Jesse for Christmas?

Hollis, smiling: What do you think?

Me: I think you were the one who subtly guided me to open the bottom of the box.

Esther, interrupting: So, do YOU remember the question that got Wanda to meet me?

Me: You mean, “Are you a believer?”

Esther: Well, are you?

Me: I think you’ve both influenced my belief system, and I thank you!

 

HOW I GOT A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR TO BLURB MY BOOK

DAY 22  If you could ask anyone in the world to write a blurb for your book, who would it be? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them? Yes – really!

I took a chance; I had been working on my book for a long time. Adam Pertman, a Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist when he wrote for the Boston Globe, was coming to Phoenix. Author of Adoption Nation was written when he and his wife hit the wall of infertility. His research of adoption resulted in Adoption Nation, a fresh look at adoption. Long treated as a sad shameful secret, adoption has come out of the closet!  Adam Pertman’s book led the revolution!

In 2004, I volunteered for airport duty to meet and greet Adam Pertman, who for the second time was the keynote speaker for a conference for the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program. I’d first met Adam at a national adoption conference in California in 2002, when he was the keynote speaker, and again, when he came to Phoenix in 2003 for the first conference for Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program.

By 2004, Adam Pertman was the Executive Director of the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute. Adam gave a great keynote speech. As I drove him back to Sky Harbor, I told him about my book of adoption stories.  When he exited my car at the airport, I handed him a manila envelope and said, “What else do you have to do on a three hour flight back to Boston? Here’s my manuscript; let me know what you think of it.”

A day later, I got an email from Adam: “Hi Beth. I hope you’re well. I’ve read most of it, I really like it, and I think you write very well. So there. Now what?? adam. I asked for a blurb I could use on the cover and he sent back:

“More than By Chance” brings to life what so many of us in the adoption world feel: that life is not always random, and neither are our families. Its message is affirming and uplifting for us all.”  Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of Adoption Nation.

I’m glad I took that chance and put my manuscript into his hands, and that Adam wrote back!

NICHE MARKET?

DAY 21  Describe the market for your book – to the tiniest detail. Why that demographic? How do you connect with them to market to them?

I admit to writing to a niche market: Adoption, as seen as one way of family building. It includes people who are adoptive parents, adopted persons, or a birth mother or father who placed a child for adoption, as well as adoption professionals who work in the field of adoption as attorneys, adoption social workers, and counselors.

Adoptive parents  Prospective adoptive parents experiencing infertility – grieving the child they didn’t have;  Those in open adoption, and feeling uncertain about continued contact; Those with a failed adoption – grieving for the child they didn’t get;   International adoption – may have already raised children;  Foster care adoption – may have raised children before fostering;  Step parent adoption – whether formalized through the Court or informal, married or not;  Grandparents – who want or need education about adoption;  Transracial families – with unique issues

Birth parents   Pregnant, untimely pregnancy, considering adoption;   Placed, wondering about their child, grieving the loss;   Open adoption, frustrated with the level of promised vs real openness;   In reunion with adopted person; confused feelings – grieving loss of time;  Birth fathers, often intentionally left out

Adopted Persons  Late Discovery Adoptee – Did not learn of adoption until teen years or older;  Growing up with fantasies, wanting to know more;  Relationships with their own children – the first people who look like them;  In reunion unsure how to work out relationship; Sibling relationships from adopted family and birth family

Adoption professionals  Wanting to educate potential clients; Telling their own stories.

New Agers / Seekers of Truth  Wanting to read about synchronicities in Life

People who know me. Home town friends;  Family members, far and wide.

Now that I’ve examined all these potential source of readers for my book, I understand better the popularity of The Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as the reluctance of publishers to invest in initial books of this series. It just appears to be a niche market! It’s really everybody!

 So how do I expand the outreach to find these people? Get reviews on adoption blogs. Do interviews with online radio shows. Feature story in a magazine like Adoptive Families. Do workshops at adoption conferences. It starts with the niche market, but it can grow to include the big wide world.

Have you read my book? Would you write a review to post on Amazon? Or another venue? If you know of a radio station or a Sunday School class that accepts speaker, please write me!

 

I DID IT !

DAY 20  Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing, formatting, recording, editing, and distribution? How did you select them?

I had told people for at least twenty years that I was going to write a book of adoption stories; I was pretty sure that a lot of people thought I never would reach my goal. When I learned I could join in the Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing booth at the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2015, it gave me a deadline. I got ten copies of my book, Adoption: More Than By Chance, the day I drove to Tucson. I ordered fifty books, but a problem in shipping resulted in a short box of only ten.

Ten turned out to be enough books for that first foray into exhibiting the book. In the process of learning how to send the text to CreateSpace, I also learned how to re-format the book for e-book printing, so I re-formatted it myself and sent it to Kindle, also a company of Amazon.

I’m not proud to admit it, but I took the easy way out. I self-published, naming my publishing company after my parents’ song (Side by Side Publishing), and used Amazon’s print service, CreateSpace, to get a book into my hands. I was surprised that it was not as expensive as it would have been just a few years ago. I managed most of the editing of the final version myself and by having friends read and re-read the book. My new friends from the meetup, Eduardo Cervino and Lesley Sudders coached me through the final hours.

I proved to myself that I could do it. Perhaps– just perhaps – I can find a publishing company that will publish my next book, also on adoption. If I have no takers, I’ll go the self-publishing route again.

I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was: I could make my own dream come true.

A True Bibliophile

When this prompt came up, to interview a bibliophile, I could think of no one more fascinating than my FaceBook friend, Debra Reynolds Perri. We met on FB over a ‘correct grammar’ post – auspicious, to say the least. Debra often posts about the book she is reading, and she speaks with reverence of her books. When I asked, she quickly agreed to answer questions for this post. I’m just going to let her answers come in her own voice.

Approximately how many books do you read in an average month? I would say twenty. I used to try and read a book everyday but sometimes that is not possible, i.e. with the length of the book and what else is going on in my life. I don’t feel I’ve had a good day if I haven’t read at least two or three hours – and some days, I read most of the day. My goal is always 500 pages a day but I do fall short of that many days. Not long ago, I read a series of books with about 6000 pages and I read them all in a week’s time – just could not put them down.

Do you keep a list of the books you read? – Last year, I decided to keep a reading journal and be diligent with all the books I read, a description of them – what I liked and didn’t like – and I rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. My goal had been to read 100,000 pages in that calendar year. I fell short – I believe my total was 71,000+. The one thing I didn’t like about that was I felt everyday that I was just reading for the page count and not the enjoyment. I kept thinking I have this many more pages to read today and that took something away from the experience. This year, I did not do it – but I found I missed it – and am going to start again on January 1, 2016.

What is your preferred genre? – You know, I think about that all the time and I can’t pinpoint one particular genre. I used to read history and historical books most of the time – and a lot of novels. The older I get, the more non-fiction I read. There is nothing better than an enormous biography. I do read a lot of books on political campaigns and books like those of the author Eric Larson. I have a collection of books on Theodore Roosevelt, who is the most fascinating man! I have strong political opinions and read about the people I like and admire. Not to be too political but a year or so ago, I read a great book on Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. That was just pure bliss! I read every one of Vincent Bugliosi’s books. My favorite fictions authors are Margaret George and Sharon Kay Penman. It has been a thrill to actually talk to Sharon online. One of my favorite historical characters is Richard the Lionheart and I had ordered Sharon’s book and was expecting it on a certain day. I had a migraine that day and had to go to bed. All I could think of was, when I wake up, I want to find that book on my living room sofa – and it was there. I posted that story on Sharon’s FB page and she sent me the nicest response.

My earliest memory is the Bookmobile. It came to our school every week and there was a limit on the amount of books you could check out. There was a series of history books. The first one I remember was a biography of Martha Washington. They had blue covers. I always took out the maximum number allowed and they never lasted until the next week. When I was in the fifth grade, I had read many more sports books with an emphasis on baseball, than any of the boys in my class and was chosen to lead the panel discussion on baseball. The boys were annoyed. I keep a legal pad next to my computer with a list of the books I “NEED” and it never seems to get any smaller.

Oh, of course, as a girl I read all the Louisa Mae Alcott books and the “Little House” books. I remember going to visit someone at Christmas and, it goes without saying, taking my book with me. A beloved character died and I started to cry. My aunt told me that was ridiculous. I remember calling my mother to tell her why I was so upset and that my aunt was being very harsh. She said, “People like her just don’t understand us.” What a thrill to have a parent like that.

At my mother’s funeral I told the story about reading “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I was a teenager and it was in the hottest part of the summer. No one had air conditioning then and I read upstairs in my bedroom with my canopy bed and a fan blowing right on me. This was a Friday and, as a special treat, our family always went out to eat on Friday night. I explained to my mother that I could NOT put down the book to go out. I had to keep reading. It was, to me then, life or death. My mother left me with my book and brought home take-out for me. What a great story.

With my son, my rule was “If you can read it, you can read it.” His father and his grandmother were very upset with me over that as they felt sure he was reading inappropriate things. I may have been wrong in doing it – but he says it was one of the things that made me such a good mother. Can’t beat that!

Where do you like to read – I like to read at home. I can take books wherever I go and, of course, I do – but I feel most comfortable and happiest curled up on the end of my sofa – next to a table that holds my ginger ale, my pens and journals, a good lamp – and the quotations books. Oh, when I read, if I find something I want to remember, I take a little post-it note and put it in the page of the book and write down page numbers. After I have finished the book, I go back and copy those sections into my quotation books. I have filled quite a number of them and love to go back and read them.

What else do you want to share – I am sure I have said way too much already. Books define me. I cannot be happy until my stack of waiting books is very high. I, actually, feel panicked if I don’t have plenty waiting. I used to tell people, “I would sell myself before I would sell my books.” That raised some eyebrows. When someone asks me what I would like for Christmas or my birthday, I say an Amazon card please. My husband always buys me books – but something else as well and I just think, gosh, think of the books I could have had with all he spent on that!

I am so glad I asked Debra, and that she agreed to answer my questions. I don’t think I know anybody who enjoys books better than she!

Beth Kozan

 

SONG FOR MY BOOK

DAY 18  If there were one song that captured the meaning, spirit, message, energy, and or substance of your book, what would it be? How can you use that song or piece of music to market your book or enhance your readers’ experience with your book?

My book is Adoption: More Than By Chance. This is a collection of adoption stories that all feature synchronicities.

The song that comes to mind illustrates déjà vu, a French phrase that literally means “already seen” and is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced, has already been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not.

The song  is an old one I remember from the romantic movie era of the 40s. Written by Rogers and Hart for the 1937 musical Babes in Arms, it was recorded by Peggy Lee on Christmas Eve, 1941. It’s considered a standard.

It seems we stood and talked like this before

We looked at each other in the same way then

But I can’t remember where or when.

The clothes you are wearing are the clothes you wore.

The smile you are smiling you were smiling then,

But I can’t remember where or when.

Some things that happen for the first time,

Seem to be happening again.

And so it seems that we have met before

And laughed before and loved before,

But who knows where or when.

Enjoy listening to Diana Krall singing Where Or When, recorded in 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGszsPhkrdo Diana Krall.

If I were doing a presentation about the book or a book signing, I could see playing an instrumental version (perhaps the Benny Goodman lead-in to the Peggy Lee version) as a prelude to the speech. I would have a large brandy snifter with a big floating gardenia on the table (an image evoking memories, from a Lena Horne version of Where or When).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbnA78ravpY