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Monday, November 29, 2021

Tips for Authors

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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Ruth By Lake and Prairie

Author Tips and Tales

The Day We Visited 40 Little Free Libraries
Kate Gingold Host
/ Categories: Author Tips

The Day We Visited 40 Little Free Libraries

On July 15, 2021, my husband, Don, and I visited 40 different Little Free Libraries in our town to drop off copies of my first book Ruth by Lake and Prairie. I was surprised to find them all so unique and creative! We even had a chance to talk with one youngster and her Dad who hosted their Little Free Library in a decorated fairy garden. It was started only last year as a COVID project. But as much as I loved seeing all the different libraries, I was equally enchanted by the books people left inside them. 

Let me quickly explain why we went on this excursion: Ruth by Lake and Prairie recounts the journey of a number of pioneers from New York and Ohio who spent somewhere around three weeks in a two-masted schooner and then three days in a wagon train to settle the town of Naperville, Illinois. Ruth was the twelve-year-old niece of Joseph Naper, the ship’s owner and the town’s founder. It took me almost two years to research the book, which was published in 2006 for Naperville’s septaquintaguinquecentennial, that is, the 175th anniversary. 

While the exact details are not known, their journey seems to have started in late May with a late June or early July arrival. There is a plaque on the Dexter Graves monument in Graceland Cemetery that says he arrived on the Telegraph (Naper’s schooner) on July 15, 1831, so that’s the day I commemorate. 

The book’s been out for fifteen years and there are many new children in town who haven’t heard the story. So we decided to donate copies to as many Little Free Libraries as we could to try reaching new readers. 

The Little Free Library has a website with tips for building and stocking your own library and it also a map of where to find Little Free Libraries. Not every LFL is registered and documented on the map – and some are no longer at their locations – but it was a great starting point. 

Several LFLs are at grade schools, most of which are closed during the summer. These libraries have some adult books, but they are mainly colorful children’s books. I saw a lot of Junie B. Jones (Barbara Park),  a perennial favorite, and some copies of Captain Underpants (Dave Pilkey), a more recent favorite. 

I also found a book whose existence I have never heard of before: The Day My Butt Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths. In his native Australia, Griffiths’ title uses “Bum” instead, so this “based-on-a-true-story” tale has Zack go on an “epic journey” after his bum runs away. I imagine it appeals to a certain demographic. 

A copy of Eragon also popped up, which was a coincidence as I was recently reading about how Christopher Paolini and his fans are trying to get Disney to do a video version after being disappointed by the film made a few years ago. You may remember Paolini as the wunderkind who first self-published before fame and fortune arrived. He’s 37 years old now! How did that happen?

For more adult tastes, I saw quite a few “beach read” types such as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares and some Jodie Picoult books. In one LFL, I saw several Mary Higgins Clark thrillers. I’ve read a few of those myself during some long-ago summers when there were lazy afternoon hours and nights without curfews. This summer it seems I only have time to read what I must for my day job and for research. Those are also interesting, but they certainly aren’t thrillers! 

Some weightier reading could also be found in the Little Free Libraries. One had Margaret Thatcher’s autobiographical The Path to Power which tells of her life up until she became Prime Minister. Another autobiography I saw was Brian Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I had never heard of it, so I looked it up online and it appears that as of late last year, the book is being developed as a film. Good for Finnegan, I guess, but I don’t think I’m the right audience for his book or his film.

Of course, there were copies of John Grisham and Michael Crichton novels. I’ve read a couple of those myself over the years. Seeing them prompted me to look both authors up online since I really don’t know much about them. I was surprised to learn that Crichton was born in Chicago, was six-foot-nine, and died in 2008. I also don’t think we would have been friends as he seems to have been a difficult man. 

On the other hand, I think I would enjoy conversing with Grisham. He is southern, a lawyer, a politician, and deeply religious – all of which can be stereotyped in unattractive ways – but he also sounds like a smart and reasonable man. 

I also saw a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I already have on my shelf, and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which I thought I had but now can’t find. It was one of those “I should read this” books that I never got around to reading so it may just be misplaced. I just watched a 2016 BBC mini-series version of Collins’ The Moonstone and feel inspired to try again. While researching Agatha Christie over the past year, The Moonstone kept popping up because it’s considered the “first modern detective novel.” 

Ruth’s story, my first book, was written to build a bridge between Naperville’s children today and Naper Settlement’s children of the 1830s. Knowing and appreciating history is so important and it was my goal over these past fifteen years to make history fun and interesting so folks will want to learn more. I do hope that some children and their parents will find Ruth by Lake and Prairie in these Little Free Libraries, take the book home, and enjoy learning a little bit more about their hometown. 

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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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