Confessions of a Late-In-Life Writer

Thanks for reading this. Each person's time is valuable, and if you are so gracious to allot a small amount to me, it's much appreciated and valued.

OK, I've said it. Hey, at the age of seventy-five, following a passion for writing, it's all a struggle. The mind is not as fresh, and all those life experiences seem to press against one another and compress and confound, rather than to expand and refresh. Any writer has to do a lot of reading. For most of us, reading is a window to life and experience.

In terms of "outreach," marketing and promotion that must follow the writing are a lesson in reality. My email list (on MailChimp) currently reaches over 1,100, an "audience" that must be refreshed with new names as some opt out, become disabled or even die, or move/change their email address. Each name must be confirmed (by me) to be someone who has agreed to accept the email, or at least someone I feel will accept if not welcome the intrusion into their daily routine! In addition to MailChimp, my publishing consultants recommended social media, and this resulted in Facebook (I was somewhat active already so this wasn't a stretch), LinkedIn (ditto), and Twitter. This last one baffles me as my original experience was like releasing a high-pressure water hose that pumped in "tweets" every few seconds. I've never gotten the hang of this, and for the most part, ignore it ... probably at my peril. I don't use Instagram and photo sharing sites; my "thing" is not looking at someone else's personal or hobby photos, but these seem to be quite popular. At some point, I've just got to admit I'm an old dog and can not (will not?) learn every new trick.

This brings me to personal appearances and direct marketing. For me, speaking directly to real people is a plus. I enjoy it and seem to do it fairly well. The feedback is quite good, and people tend to purchase the books in a good frame of mind. So for me, that's a slam dunk ... personal appearances. Direct in-person selling at ham radio conventions and the like is good as well, albeit tiring as I'm on my feet for hours at a time. It's expensive as well if travel and hotels are involved.

Direct marketing is another story, albeit one that makes good sense for Contact Sport, which is a general story but one dealing with amateur radio, a unique hobby not well known to many, especially younger people. The theme is timeless in some ways, about real and interesting people, with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Clearly I stole that line from ABC's Wide World of Sports.

My publisher strongly advised me to focus on my "core market," meaning the radio hobby. With over seven-hundred thousand licensed "ham radio" operators in the USA alone, any penetration into that group could translate into big numbers. I did pay for full and half-page advertisements in several national magazines and journals, and perhaps those resulted in some sales, but the uptick was not particularly noticeable. After some thought, I now mail a direct envelope to most every different person I contact over the air. The mailings include the "confirmation card" we exchange with the date/time/etc along with my "gear." It also includes marketing information on both Contact Sport and Reunion along with the URL of my author website:  <>

These have proven to be reasonably successful, at least according to the gurus at the publisher, with nearly 20% "hit rate," using the  book sales number as reported by Amazon compared with the number of marketing mailings. In true confession mode, the marketing material, mailer envelope, and stamp (one stamp as the size and weight are carefully just under the limit) cost is about seventy-five cents, using my own time as free, and the royalties on a book sale average out to about seven dollars since more print books than eBook downloads are the rule. So for every ten mailings, the  cost is $7.50 and the "revenue" is nearly two book sales. Now no one is gonna get rich this way, but part of the financial benefit to me is the gradual decrease of the warehouse stock, which has a stocking cost as well. Note to prospective writers, there just ain't any free lunch.

Sales have been reasonably steady, however I can see why the publishing business for "little guys" like me is described as a way to make a small fortune.... but ya have gotta start out with a larger amount.

Hopefully your 2018 will be safe, healthy, and fulfilling.

J.K. (Jim) George

Author, Reunion and Contact Sport


Please feel free to post a comment here on the blog, or email me directly at <> with any remarks. Also, I'll very much appreciate your recommendation of "Contact Sport" and/or "Reunion" to friends and book clubs. In addition, I'd be pleased to appear at book clubs and/or radio clubs within a two-hour drive of Austin to discuss either book.


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