Publishing Promo

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 8:22 AM | 7 comments »

Good morning everyone,


It's been an interesting month as an Indie writer. My sales were down this month and so I put one of my books, Champagne For Two, up as a free read over Valentine's Day. I had 24,000 downloads!! Woo-hoo. All those potential new readers. I also had 27 returns - lol. How can somebody return something that's free????

Anyway, it resulted in around 400 sales, so that's exciting, plus my other books picked up too.

Now, our dear Mona has had incredible success with this promotional tool. She's kicking serious butt - and I tip my glass of champagne to her! Has anyone else done something promotional that has paid off?



Here's a little excerpt from Champagne For Two - the first chapter. Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE

“Christine, darling, a hairstylist that you know and trust is worth her weight in gold. Won’t you please reconsider?” Emily Perkins, a well respected Palm Beach socialite, had her red manicured claws on Christine’s arm and wouldn’t let go. “I will pay you handsomely to come to my house.” Her perfectly outlined bottom lip trembled. “The idea of some new person doing my hair is frightful. I shiver to think of it.” She shivered, as if to make a point. “I’ll make it worth your while, I promise.”

Christine Bradley shook her head and almost laughed. She’d been accepting small gifts and well wishes from her steady customers all day, but this “grand dame” was behaving as if Christine selling her salon was an act of treason.

“Of course you would,” Christine said, “but that is not the point. I can’t do that for you and not for my other regulars. If they heard I was still doing your hair, they’d all be asking me to do theirs, and then when would I have time to get my new business up and running?”

“The Merry Matchmakers?” Mrs. Perkins had a wrinkle free brow, but a sudden tightness indicated she might have frowned. “Don’t be silly. It’s a ridiculous idea, and I’m surprised a woman as bright as you would involve yourself in it. Besides, if you continued to do my hair I wouldn’t tell a soul. Not one soul.”

Christine laughed gently. “You’re a darling, but once again, I’m going to have to say no.” She walked the clinging woman to the door and held it open for her. “Good-bye, Mrs. Perkins. You will love Amy, I promise. She will take good care of you from now on, and if there are any problems, Amy has my number.”

“I hope this crazy dating service fails,” Emily Perkins snapped, then clamped a hand over her mouth in horror. “What a terrible thing for me to say. I’m sorry; my behavior has been quite appalling. It’s just that I’m so used to getting my own way.” She gave Christine one last desperate glance, then tossed her head as if suddenly remembering who she was and sashayed out the door.

Christine turned the key and took a couple of steadying breaths. All in all it had been quite a day. Emotionally exhausting, filled with highs and lows, and it wasn’t over yet. Behind her she could hear the women who worked for her laughing and chatting happily, and the loud pop of a champagne bottle.

Pushing her melancholy aside, she put on a happy face and returned to the rear of the salon where her former employees were waiting.

“Thank God, you got rid of that nasty woman,” Nora, the receptionist said, and handed her a fluted glass of sparkling champagne. “What was her problem anyway?”

“She’s afraid to let anyone else touch her hair. Amy, I told her you’d do it.”

“Oh, no. Not me,” Amy wailed in false horror. “I’m not good with people like her. They think because they have had money in their family for generations that they are better than everyone else. Give me nouveau rich anytime.”

Kelly laughed. “You prefer crass with no class?”

Both Kelly and Amy were in their mid-twenties, and two of the best stylists Christine had ever come across. They were attractive enough to turn any man’s head, and had way too much fun for any one person. Nora was a woman in her forties, nearly the same age as Christine, and divorced like her too. Jamie did the manicures and pedicures, and was a single mom, struggling to make ends meet. Her husband had left her with nothing but debts, and she’d been pretty desperate when Christine hired her. These women were her closest friends.

“Hey, aren’t we forgetting something here.” She lifted her untouched glass of champagne and waited.

“Oh, yeah. The toast.” Nora raised her glass to all the smiling faces. “We want to wish you luck with your dating service, and free dates all around!” The women laughed, and Nora put up her hand. “No, seriously. We hope your business is hugely successful, but we’re going to miss you around here.”

“Thank you. I’m going to miss you more.” They all sipped their champagne, and she noticed that she wasn’t the only person in the room looking sad.

A flood of emotions welled inside her, and to keep them at bay she focused her attention on the crystal Waterford glasses they were drinking from, which was their present to her. “This was a lovely, thoughtful present, and I’ll treasure them always.” She swallowed a sudden lump in her throat and lifted her head, intent not to cry. This was a celebration and she would not spoil it.

“It’s not going to be the same around here,” Jamie said. “We are so used to hearing about all your problems. They make ours look small.”

She laughed with the others. Three years ago she had had a messy divorce, and around that time her daughter had quit college to live with some artsy guy with a dead-end job, so yes, she had brought her complaints to work. But she knew all their problems too, as did most of their regular customers. While they washed or cut or colored, many secrets were shared at the Sass and Class, as both clients and stylists talked through their troubles. Now, who would she talk to? She would have no one to confide in.

Christine hadn’t realized until today that when she left this business, which she’d worked at and owned for fifteen years, she would be leaving a part of herself behind. It was no wonder she was a little emotional.

Still, she sipped her champagne and kept a smile firmly in place. After all, she had an exciting new business venture to sink her teeth into. Her mother and her friends had started the Merry Matchmakers, a dating service for seniors, and it had been an ill-conceived idea right from the start. They had lost money month after month, and her mother was in no position to throw good money away. Her father had not left her mother as well off as expected, and she needed to be frugal in order to maintain the life style she was accustomed to. Now, with the down economy, her investments were not doing well and she’d been advised by her bankers to restrict her spending or she’d outlive the little money she had. She refused to come live with Christine, not wanting to burden her, so Christine had pretended that the women would be doing her a favor by selling her the dating service. She’d insisted that she was tired of the hair salon and looked forward to a change.

Bailing her mother out of financial ruin was priority number one, but she really did think the business, if done right, could be a worth-while investment. As quickly as she could, she’d renamed it Champagne For Two, and it was her intention to make this the premier dating service on the south-east coast—given time.

“So, Christine,” Kelly said, “how exactly are you going to get people to sign up? I mean, people with money? People who are filthy rich certainly don’t have any trouble finding dates. And normal people can’t afford expensive fees.”

“I know, but I have a plan. I was thinking of a three tiered membership fee. Bronze, silver, and gold. For a thousand dollars anyone single can participate in the fun events I will plan each month. There’ll be nice dinners at different restaurants, single dances, even a cruise.”

“All that for a thousand dollars?” Kelly asked. “Heck, you can sign me up.”

“I would love to.” Christine smiled. “Seriously. But the costs for the events aren’t included in the thousand dollars, and they won’t be cheap.”

“No,” Amy said, “but it would be fun and if there was a chance to meet a really cool guy, I’m all for it. So what’s the silver?”

“Five thousand guarantees a thorough background check, and arranged meetings between interested parties.” Christine checked their expressions to see if they found this a reasonable fee. No one looked shocked, so she figured she was on target.

“And the gold?” Nora asked.

“The gold means I will turn heaven and earth to find that special someone for my client.”

“Uh, that might be a touch difficult.” Jamie hitched her butt onto a corner of the table. “You can’t possibly guarantee anyone that.”

“I aim to try.” Christine crossed her arms and spoke with her usual confidence, determination, stubbornness--call it what you will. “I can’t charge people a fortune and not guarantee results. This is a business. How would people like to buy a Ferrari and have the dealer say, ‘Well, we think it can break a hundred in ten seconds flat. But I wouldn’t guarantee it.’”

The women looked at each other with amused expressions.

“Okay, you may or may not have a point, but we get what you’re trying to do,” Jamie said. “This is going to be an interesting challenge.”

Christine couldn’t agree more. She knew it was going to take time to build a proper database for her clients, but Palm Beach was a great place to start. There really wasn’t any established service like hers in the area, and she expected to do well.

Her desire to succeed was two-fold. One, she didn’t like to fail, and two, she wanted to reimburse her mother and friends for their losses. If there was a deeper reason, like being an incurable romantic, she would take that with her to the grave. Just because she didn’t want to risk her heart, was no reason for others to feel the same. Besides, watching two people fall in love gave her an emotional thrill, without any of the downside.

Perhaps she could find a suitable man for her mother. She was one of those women who needed a good man taking care of her. Many women did. Thank God she was not one of them.

A loud banging at the door made her jump, and she nearly lost her glass of champagne. Who in the world could it be? No outsiders had been invited to this little farewell party. She’d asked her daughter, but Nicole had said she was working tonight.

The banging grew louder.

“Who the hell is that?” Nora asked, stepping into the main salon. The others followed out of curiosity.

“I have no idea. We’re not expecting anyone, are we?” Christine said.

Nora strode over and unlocked the door, opening it wide. When Christine saw a man standing there in a dirty, sweat-stained wife-beater, she raised her eyebrows and looked at the other women. “Girls? You didn’t do something stupid like hire me a stripper, did you?”

No one answered. They were too busy gawking.

In all fairness, the man was worthy of gawking and then some. He had a broad chest and shoulders, toned muscles that looked like they came from hard work, not excruciating hours at a gym, and a face with regular features that was easy on the eyes.

Figuring it was a joke, Christine played along. “Hey, good looking. Are you for me?” She grinned cheekily at the fellow and stepped closer.

“I didn’t hire him. Did you?” Nora asked Kelly, who shook her head no.

Christine didn’t buy it. They were always doing crazy stuff like this, trying to get her to lighten up because they thought she was a workaholic who didn’t make time for fun.

She would show them that she could have as much fun as the next girl. “If you’re going to dance, go right ahead. I’m in the mood for a little dancing myself.” Christine put a hand on her hip, sipped her champagne, and smiled at the hunky guy.

The man looked confused. “What are you talking about?”

“Dancing. Stripping. Whatever.”

He took three big strides and was a hair’s breadth away from her. “You think I came here to dance?” He glared at her, which she didn’t think was very nice, but she kept her cool. Maybe this was all part of his act and he was going to do more than dance. Like drag her body up against his and ravage her mouth with hot kisses. He looked the sort who’d enjoy the caveman routine. If so, she would be a good sport and go along with it. To a point.

“Sure. We’re all waiting.” What was the matter with this guy? If they paid him to perform, then why didn’t he do something besides snarl--and look all hot and manly?

The other women were all looking at each other and shrugging as if they didn’t know who was responsible. That was odd. Normally they couldn’t keep a secret.

Christine noticed a small tick in the chiseled cheek of the man in front of her. The muscular shoulders seemed to flex too.

His lips curled up, but it was more of a sneer than a smile. “Are you the new owner of The Merry Matchmakers?”

What an odd question, she thought, but answered nonetheless. “Yes. But it’s now called Champagne for Two. Much better, don’t you think?”

“I don’t care what you call the damn thing. Least I know I’ve come to the right place.”

“Yes, you have.” Had she been wrong after all? Was he not here as a parting gift for her? “You’re not a stripper, are you?”

“Do I look like a stripper to you?”

She decided she’d better not answer that. Instead she said, “Well, if you’re not here to dance, what are you here for?”

He shoved a magazine in her face, pointing to an ad for Merry Matchmakers that featured a picture of him. “You used my photo without my consent.”

“I did no such thing.” The glossy picture showed him wearing pretty much the same thing as he had on right now, except the body hugging shirt was clean. He was grinning at something or someone, and he looked so at ease in his own skin, and so natural, that she wouldn’t have thought it was a commercial photograph. “But it is a nice picture.”

Christine smiled and decided to tease him a little, just for the hell of it. “You look so manly.” Her mother’s friends must have been responsible. Maybe this was their idea of helping her out after selling her a nearly bankrupt business, but boy, did they have it wrong. This man was not at all what she had in mind for an ad campaign for Champagne for Two.

“If you’re the owner, you must have known about the ad.” He was standing close enough that she could smell his body odor, and it should have been appalling but for some reason wasn’t.

“Do you need some help, Christine?” Jamie asked, stepping toward the two of them.

“No, but thanks.”

Jamie shrugged and grabbed a chair to watch the little drama going on. The other three women were all guzzling their champagne and ogling the guy.

“So, who are you exactly?” Christine inquired. “And how did they get your picture to use for advertisements without your approval?”

“Dammed if I know.” He rubbed a hand over his unshaven face. “Look, maybe we got off to a bad start here. I’m Derek Connors, Mary’s nephew. I guess it wasn’t too hard for her to get a picture of me.” He grimaced. “But why the hell did she use it for some damn fool ad?”

Now that Derek wasn’t shouting, Christine studied his face. He was very handsome, if you liked the scruffy, haven’t shaved today, dirty Harry type of guy. She didn’t, of course. At the sensible age of forty-five, she preferred gentlemen with collared shirts on their chests.

But still, her heart raced as she studied him.

She walked behind the reception desk to put a little space between the two of them. She didn’t want a racing heart to get in the way of her good judgment. She picked up a pen, tapping it against the palm of her hand. “I’m very sorry your aunt and my mother did this without your permission. I’ll speak to them about it the moment I get the chance. You see, they left today for Europe.”

He followed her around the desk and stood so close, his nose was only inches from hers. “Pull all future ads.”

“I can’t. I don’t know where they’ve been circulated, but I will be sure to find out all that I can. As a matter of fact, I’ll put that down as my number one concern. If you would like to leave me your name and number, I’ll call you once I have more information. That’s the best I can do.”

He took a step back, and she relaxed.

“I’m sorry for losing my temper, but this ad has made me a damn laughing stock. Everybody on the construction site thinks I had to resort to a dating service to get a date.” He puffed out his sizeable chest. “I’m not that hard up. I could find a woman if I wanted one. I don’t.” His flush deepened. “And I don’t want my face plastered all over town, like some prissy poster boy.”

“Why not? Most men would love it. Think of all the dates you’ll get.” She smiled, thinking fast. Perhaps he was exactly what she needed to generate business. She needed young flesh and here he was. Late thirties, possibly forty. Put him in a business suit and he would look very presentable. Sexy, even.

“You think this is funny?” He leaned in close again, and the smile slid off her face. “I don’t want to sue Aunt Mary, but I will if I have to. Let’s end this right now. Get on the phone and pull the ads.”

He shifted his feet, moving a fraction in her direction, crowding her space. Still, she didn’t budge. “Could you take care of this while I wait?” he said. “Like now?”

“I’m terribly sorry, but I don’t know anything about these ads and will find out all that I can. That’s the best I can do.”

She took the magazine from him. It was the Palm Beach Illustrated, an upscale magazine that was circulated to doctors’ and dentists' offices, and high-end golf communities. Christine could tell it was an expensive ad, and knew that it had cost the women plenty.

“You must have records or files or something you can check.”

She shrugged. “I have everything in storage. You see I was having the office redone before my grand opening tomorrow and it will take me a few days to sort through everything and pull out the information you require.”

“How many days?”

“Oh, I’m not sure. It may be the first box I get to, or it could be the last.” She smiled beguilingly. “As a favor, maybe in payment, I could offer you a date or two. I have some very lovely women signed up.”

His face flushed to a dull burn. He crossed his arms over his chest, his biceps flexing.

“Date? You want me to date?”

She could see Amy and Kelly nodding eagerly. They were leaning sideways to check out his butt and other areas of his anatomy. She nearly burst into laughter, but bit the inside of her cheek to stop the giggles.

“Yes,” she said. “It’s the least I can do.” She added quickly, “We have many attractive ladies wanting to meet men like you.”

Her gaze rolled over his flat belly, then back up to his ruggedly handsome face. He could generate some business, no doubt about it.

“Are you on drugs?”

“What? Of course not! Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?”

“I’m not here to get fixed up, that’s half the reason I’m here. I don’t date. I don’t want to get hooked up.”

“Well, why the hell not?” Christine had never met a straight guy who could turn down a pretty woman. Then she quickly realized she didn’t know a thing about him. “Oh, you’re married or you have someone in your life. Of course.” She felt a little punch of disappointment. Not for herself, but for all the other ladies out there.

“I’m not married.”

“Really? That’s wonderful. If we have to pull your ads, won’t you please at least be our first male client under eighty? On the house, of course.”

His eyes narrowed. “You don’t get it, do you? I don’t want any part of this. Are you understanding me?”

“I think I am. You don’t want the ads circulated. You don’t want to date. I’m so sorry. I wish I could comply.” Oh, why had she said that? What was wrong with her? She could easily hire a young, handsome model to be the attraction, she didn’t need Derek. And yet, she was reluctant to give up on him.

Derek had something. She wasn’t sure what, but it was something. Besides, his insistence made it all the more amusing. She liked seeing him angry. Hot. Excited.

Whatever.

“If you don’t want to date, you don’t have to,” she said. “Although I think my assistants will be extremely disappointed, won’t you, girls?”

The other women laughed and nodded.

“We can certainly compensate you for the ads,” she went on, “and very handsomely too. I’ll make a few inquiries and figure out what most models make. Pay you the same. Is that okay with you?”

“No, this is not okay with me. I don’t want money. I don’t want dates. And I don’t want my face splashed all over the place.”

Dropping her gaze, she gave him the old up and down. “You’re an attractive guy. You should go for it.”

He picked up the phone on her desk. “I only have to call one person to make this go away. My attorney.”

She bit her lip, thinking fast. “Aw, come on. You wouldn’t want to do that. Sue your poor aunt Mary? The women have already lost their initial investment and a lot more. I’m stepping in to help. Won’t you?” Her eyes beseeched him. “Please, say you won’t do anything rash until your aunt and the others get back. It’s only three weeks. We need you. I need you.”

“You need me?” He stepped away and laughed. “I’m not getting you. What do you want with me?”

“I. . .I, uh, don’t have any male clients. How can I run a dating service without any men?”

“Good question. Maybe you should have thought about that before you got involved.”

“I did. Long and hard. I know I can make this work. All I’m asking is for a little cooperation.”

He eyed her. His lips curled up in a hint of a smile. “Okay, on second thought, I will accept a date as payment. But on one condition--that I get to choose.”

“That’s fair. You should.” She nodded in the direction of the beautiful young women who worked for her. “See anyone here who catches your eye?”

“The only date I’ll agree to is with you. If you want this so damn bad, put yourself on the line.”

A thrill of anticipation skipped along Christine’s body. What was that all about? She needed to nip that idea right in the bud. “No way. I’m not up for grabs. I don’t date.”

He smiled. “That makes two of us. Puts us on equal ground. One date and I won’t sue. Okay?”

“No, it’s not okay.” Her back stiffened. “Choose someone else. I’m recently divorced, and I’m not very pleasant company.” Hoping to put him off, she added, “Never was even at the best of times.”

“It’s you or nobody.” He leaned against the desk, legs crossed, staring her down. “Come on. Do it for the team.” He had the audacity to smile.

She put her hands on her hips, her eyes narrowed with defiance. It didn’t seem to faze him any.

Her shoulders slumped. How could she refuse if he didn’t? He had her and he knew it. “Shoot. I’ll do it. If you agree to let the ads run until the ladies come home.”

“Agreed. So where and when?”

“Tomorrow night. Seven o’clock. CafĂ© Chardonnay. And I’ll pick up the tab.”

7 comments

  1. Pamela Varnado // February 23, 2012 at 6:53 PM  

    Hi Patrice.

    Congratulations on the sales and all the great marketing tips you've shared this year. As soon as I finish my current WIP, I'm writing a novella to self-publish. You and Mona have inspired me to go for it. I've read Champagne For Two and it's wonderful.

  2. Mary Marvella // February 23, 2012 at 10:19 PM  

    Great blog!

    I am thrilled about the sucess you and Mona are having. Keep it coming.

    I have self-pubbed 2 novels and 2 novellas. Each is out of the box and not intended to appeal to a mass market audience. I'll need to do much more blogging and promoting to get to my audience. Many are not readers of ebooks, so maybe I'll need to do hard copies. We'll see.

    I have more books I plan to self-publish.

  3. Patrice // February 23, 2012 at 11:08 PM  

    Thank you Pam, I think a novella is a great idea, and I wish you the best of luck. Another thanks for reading Champagne and your kind comments!

    Mary - I'm still not sure why a book takes off and why another doesn't. I'm sure that any of yours can be just as successful and I hope whatever that magic ingredient is, comes your way soon.

  4. Scarlet Pumpernickel // February 24, 2012 at 12:21 AM  

    How exciting Patrice! 24,000 downloads, wow. You go girl. I think I missed this one. MM ususally keeps me clued in on what's up for grabs, but I missed it. Wonderful news that your career is taking off. 400 sales in less than a month is great. Sounds like both you and Mona are kicking it. Congratulations.

  5. Autumn Jordon // February 24, 2012 at 10:03 AM  

    Congrats, lady on your success. I'm thinking.. thinking hard about taking the leap myself.

  6. Delphina // February 26, 2012 at 11:14 PM  

    I am so glad the promotion worked out so well for you. As a Reader, I can tell you I have quite a few series I have faithfully bought every single book from after reading the first one as a free download. I hope you find a lot of repeat readers from your promotion!

  7. Josie // February 27, 2012 at 1:39 PM  

    Hi Patrice,
    Such a great read you posted. Thank you! As far as your indie success, sincere congrats! I'm thinking more and more seriously about jumping on this Amazon bandwagon.