John L. Betcher is a University of Minnesota Law School graduate and has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota. He possesses substantial first-hand knowledge of the Prairie River Nuclear Plant’s real world counterpart, as well as Red Wing’s airport and the flight rules around the nuke plant.
In addition to The 19th Element, he has published a second book in the “Beck” series entitled, The Missing Element, A James Becker Mystery. The second book is available everywhere.
The author has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball in and around Red Wing and has authored three feature articles for Coaching Volleyball, the journal of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. His most recent article was the cover story for the April/May, 2009 Issue.
His book on volleyball coaching philosophies entitled The Little Black Book of Volleyball Coaching is available at www.johnbetcher.com and at amazon.com.
Thank you for this interview, John. Can we start out by having you tell us briefly what your new book is about?
I like the description from the book jacket best. Here it is –
Al Qaeda plans to attack Minnesota’s Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant as a means to return the down-trodden terrorist organization to international prominence.
In addition to their own devoted forces, the terrorists enlist homegrown anarchists, and a Three Mile Island survivor with a pathological vendetta against the nuclear establishment, to assist in the assault.
James “Beck” Becker is a former elite U.S. government intelligence operative who has retired to his childhood hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota – just six miles down the Mississippi from the Prairie River nuclear facility.
Possessing wisdom born of experience, Beck suspects the terrorists’ intentions as soon as the body of a university professor turns up on the Mississippi shore – the clear victim of foul play. He recognizes connections between seemingly unrelated incidents – the murdered agronomy professor, a missing lab assistant, an international cell call, a stolen fertilizer truck – but can’t piece it together in enough detail to convince government authorities that a larger threat exists. Only his American Indian friend, “Bull,” will help Beck defuse the threat.
So it’s Beck and Bull versus international terror.
May the better men win.
More and more authors are realizing the potential for sales that derives from virtual book tours. Can you tell us your personal reasons why you chose a virtual book tour to help get the word out about your new book?
As a self-published author, I didn’t have the same publicity options available to me as a traditionally-published author would have. No New York Times Book Review. No Kirkus Reviews. No Publishers Weekly. I needed another way to let the reading public know that my book is available. Blog touring is one great tool to accomplish that goal.
The main objective of a virtual book tour is to promote yourself and your book to an audience that might not otherwise know you exist, or have any idea what your book is about. When you and your book appear on popular blog sites, the readers who follow those sites have a chance to meet you, as an author and as a person. And they have the chance to get to know your book(s).
I also like the variety of formats that one can use on a VBT to promote one’s book.
Some bloggers want a guest post. In that case, you write a blog post on a subject agreed between you and the host blogger.
Some bloggers like the Q&A format. They ask the questions and you try to answer them in a way that entertains the blog’s audience, as well as promotes you and your book.
Some bloggers are willing to review your book. This is a great opportunity for you to pick up some street cred with your audience.
Is this the first time you have heard of them?
No. I’ve been aware of blog tours since I began writing for publication, over a year-and-a-half ago.
I even considered scheduling a VBT on my own. But when I considered all of the work involved in identifying the right blogs for my book’s audience, and the time involved in coordinating all the appearances, I decided to let Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book take care of all of the set up for me.
What do you hope to achieve through promoting your book through a virtual book tour?
As far as I can tell, there are no real “experts” on how to market books in the current, turbulent state of the publishing industry. So I am using my own common sense and trying to promote my book in every way I can – while staying within my meager budget, of course.
I have my author website up and running. My blog at Self-Publishing Central is garnering followers. My Twitter Following is above 2,000. And my books are getting good reviews from independent reviewers. Doing a book tour was next on my “virtual” list.
Hiring Pump to coordinate this VBT is the single largest expenditure I have made in book marketing to date. But it was time to do the tour. And Pump came highly recommended.
My hopes for the book tour are simply to give readers some additional chances to learn about me and my books. If they find me or them interesting, maybe they’ll buy one – or ask their library to order one.
Do you promote online through other means? Website? Blog?
My website address is www.johnbetcher.com. On the website readers can find a short author bio and a page devoted to each of my books.
On each book page, appears a brief synopsis of the book, a sample chapter or two, a number of sample reviews, and links to places where the book can be purchased.
My blog at Self-Publishing Central is my “give-back” project. There I relay my self-publishing strategies and experiences. I pass along my thoughts on what seems to work and what seems not to work. I also announce breaking news important to self- or indie-published authors.
I have a FaceBook page under “John Betcher” where I keep my FB Friends up to date on activities and events surrounding my authoring activities. FB seems to be most effective for transmitting information to friends and family.
Who maintains your website?
I do. I hired a college student to help me design it. And so far, I have been able to update and edit it on my own.
What are your experiences with offline booksignings? Do you have much luck selling your book through that method?
I read somewhere recently that the average book sales by a new author at a book signing is FOUR. So if you’re looking purely to sell books at the signing, you’ll probably be disappointed.
I have held two book signings so far. The first one was at my local independent book store. I sold 16 books in two hours on a kind of crummy weather day.
My next signing was at the Twin Cities Rain Taxi Book Festival. I sold ten books there – in seven selling hours, plus set up, travel time, etc.
I look at book signings as having multiple purposes. Sales at the signing are nice, of course. But some people you meet may like your book and simply prefer to purchase it as an eBook. Those folks may go right home and buy.
Other people want to hear from their friends about books before they buy. If the potential buyers meet you at a book-signing, your interaction with them may spur them to discuss your books with others – again, leading to a possible sale.
Finally, book signings are a great place to practice your book pitches. See which ones grab a shopper’s attention. And which ones are duds.
I’ll continue to do book signings when I can work them into my schedule, and if I don’t have to travel too far.
Here’s a fun question. If money were no object, how would you promote your book?
Every way possible! With a trailer to be shown in movie theaters. With a trailer designed for YouTube. With television commercials showing my characters doing something funny. With newspaper ads. With a sign towed behind an airplane along Miami Beach. With my own book-mobile to drive coast to coast. With a huge banner ad on one side of the John Hancock building in Chicago. Heck . . . why not all four sides.
Have I wasted enough money yet?
Thank you for this interview, John. Do you have any final words?
I just want to thank you for your kindness in allowing me to visit your blog and share your audience. And I want to thank the readers for reading about me and my books. Cheers to all!
If you’d like to follow along with John Betcher as he tours the blogosphere with more interviews, guest posts and reviews, click here!