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Using Tech for Book Marketing

Kate Gingold from Sprocket WebsitesKate has been building websites with her husband Don since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Kate is an author herself. She writes books on local history, including the award-winning "Ruth by Lake and Prairie," a fictionalized account of the true story of Great Lake pioneering to the shores of Chicago and beyond to found Naperville, Illinois. 

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Author Tips and Tales

Making the Pilgrimage to Hemingway’s Key West Writing Studio
Kate Gingold Host
/ Categories: Author Tips

Making the Pilgrimage to Hemingway’s Key West Writing Studio

I’ve visited Key West before, but this was the first time that I did what I’m calling The Hemingway Experience. Struggling to get this latest book launched, I thought it would be great inspiration. Which it was, to a degree, but it was also a somewhat amusing reminder of what we think we know about the Writer’s Life vs. the reality. 

Before we went to Hemingway’s house, we were seduced into sampling some rum at Papa’s Pilar distillery, which combines the writer’s nickname with the name of his fishing boat. Papa’s Pilar is produced by the Hemingway Rum Company which was founded about ten years ago. The tasting room, shop, and distillery tours opened in Key West in 2017. 

We didn’t take the tour but we did taste the rum. I’m fond of dark rum, but this time I liked the blonde better than the dark, although they were both pretty good. We have certainly tasted our share of rums, so I think we are fairly well qualified to judge. The woman at the bar said the company strives to make rum Papa would be proud to drink and that they have the blessing of Hemingway’s estate. 

(On a side note, if you aren’t familiar with the history of rum, it’s quite interesting. I really enjoyed reading And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis. You might, too!)

We also enjoyed a couple of mojitos later in the afternoon, which I thought importatnt for the whole Hemingway Experience, but between rum drinks, we walked over to visit Hemingway’s House.

After paying the entrance fee, you are free to walk around as you wish, but you can also join one of the tours. The tour guides are hit-or-miss as far as accuracy and entertainment value goes. Ours was just okay, but I overheard a different guide later that I would have preferred. Even so, the guide’s explanations were useful and you can still explore on your own afterward.

You may have heard about Hemingway’s six-toed cats. While not all of them have six toes, they all carry the gene and there are currently about sixty cats on the property! They sleep all over the furniture in the house and meander around the garden. There is a cat graveyard in one corner and a sort of cat condominium built along one wall. There is also a pervasive cat urine smell in certain areas. 

Hemingway’s studio is in a separate building. It’s bright and airy and is probably a nice place to write. In fact, you can purchase an Evening Writing Experience that gives you private access to the house, grounds, and studio from 4:30p until 7:30p for the bargain rate of $1,500. I personally do not know any writers who have that kind of money. Aren’t you curious to know the people who have chosen this experience?

Hemingway himself couldn’t afford the house when he moved in. It was a gift from the uncle of his then-wife Pauline. Previously, he had lived in Paris with his first wife, Hadley, and her trust fund. So while Ernest was living life to its fullest and all that, he was being supported by the women in his life, moving from one to another for a total of four wives. 

Certainly, Hemingway was a great writer and he did eventually reap the rewards of his own talent and effort. When he died, his estate was worth over a million dollars. I read that in the last five years of his life, he received book royalties that equaled $1.75 million in today’s dollars. Still, could he have reached those heights if he was going to work every day, shopping for groceries, feeding the children, and performing all the other tasks the rest of us do? 

Maybe he would have. He certainly had a genius. Although too often genius seems to be related to illness. Hemingway committed suicide at the same age I am now. I am enjoying my life and have lots of plans for my future, but I’m no literary genius. Would I make that trade --  to be blessed with great talent but cursed by a troubled mind? Would you?

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Marketing Author Interview

Following a presentation for In Print Professional Writers Group, Kate's husband (and publisher!) Don was interviewed by author Louise Brass for WBOM Radio. During the conversation, Don shared many of the marketing tips from his presentation. You can listen to it online here.

The Sprocket Report

The Sprocket Report is published every other week with Internet marketing tips, tools and techniques. The archive features articles from 2011 up to the present. You are welcome to read how business owners are using technology to market themselves and apply those tips to your author business.



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