January 29, 2015

Book Promotion in a Niche Market

A writer who is determined to self-publish his book, can bring out the best and worst in his readers if he doesn't have luck on his side- and some background knowledge of how self-publishing works. He can use CreateSpace, but that won't help him if he doesn't know how to promote his book. This is even more true when it comes to self-publishing in a niche market.

As writers, we put ourselves out on a limb each time we publish anything- online and offline. There is the fear of creating something that won't sell, besides it's sometimes about the money. There is the fear we don't know enough about our subject to make a go of it as a writer, and there are people who might know more, and then there are people who don't know as much.  Which group you should promote to is equally as important as the promotion itself.  You have to know your readers, and if you don't, in a niche market, this is fatal. I write about Transylvania, Romania, but that doesn't mean I can't learn more about the subject.

Writers have pointed out that there are always going to be people who like, love, or hate your writing- and in a small market this is even more pronounced. As writers we all want to be loved, and have our byline in the literary world, and have a bestselling book. A blog with many people going to it. Writing awards. A name in the publishing industry, the moon and the stars.

Publishing books is a goal, but there is one large mistake many writers in niche markets make when planning to publish. This happens with either traditional publishing or self-publishing - more so if you self-publish where there aren't any checks and balances to your writing. This can mean the difference between being a successful published author or not.  Small details such as the year Transylvania became a part of Romania (1919) become vital.

There is also another important detail writers make the mistake of not doing or not doing well, because they want to make money writing. They might overlook it thinking that they have a well-written book on their hands, and surely people will read the book they have published. After all they've had success before. Even if they are self-published authors the key they are missing is important, and it can become a big mistake.


This is a big one, but it is a common mistake that self-publishers make. Sometimes it just looks so easy, and there always seems to be that one person who will comment "I published a book (insert name of book) and I hardly even promote it, but I get a lot of buyers for this book (insert name of book). It's about Transylvania and it will go well with this other book."

Most readers don't get the "trick" the writer has pulled to help sell his book. The author has inserted a comment to potential readers, and this is where he hooks them. The readers might not remember the name, but they will remember it's about Transylvania.

 Not only has he established his book, but he's made a recommendation to potential readers who might not buy his book, but will remember the ever-so-helpful author.

He is using a subtle trick of book promotion.

Most readers don't see that there is promotion going on with this sort of comment. The writer might have a blog or employ some form of social media to promote his book. It gives a strong sense of "I am not marketing or promoting, but it still sells." This does give the impression that people don't need to promote their books. The opposite is true. An author needs to promote his book at least a little, but being subtle is an art.

The writer might not understand right away that he is promoting a book. Some authors do this for many of their books or will mention a part of the title, The German Soldiers of Transylvania in the Second World War and Their Stories, to interest the reader. In the niche market this matters.

Authors promote. You need to do this as well, as no one will buy a book no one has heard of.  The best way is to establish yourself in the niche you're in long before you have a book published.

January 27, 2015

Transylvania and Romania in the News

The Black Church is once again mentioned in an online article.  This is a gem of an article, one you will miss if you skip by it.  This is because it talks about the Bulgarian centre of culture, but then at the end goes on to talk about the Black Church and the tourism opportunities in the city of Brasov.  Brasov is made famous because of its location close to Bran Castle, but this shows there is  much more to Transylvania, Romania than Dracula.  The importance of this city and this church is not to be underestimated.  It is a tourist draw in its own right both because of its location and because of the history behind it.

I knew a bit of the history of the Black Church including the mentioned fact of the fire in 1689- which gave rise to the name, but I found it interesting how the article goes on to describe the area and the people. You get a bit of the history of the area, and this goes a long way in letting you know about the people and Romania before 1919.  The black Church is mentioned in one small paragraph, and it does do some justice in explaining the importance of people seeing Brasov.

It goes on to describe the Roma of Romania and it does mention the Romania of King Carol I.  Carol I did not rule over Transylvania, but the summer castle close to the border.  The article does not mention much on the history and politics between Romania and Hungary.

The more interesting aspect does come from the fact that it was in Brasov that the German Saxons of Transylvania had the most success in the time of the Protestant reformation.

In a more recent article a lot is mentioned about Romania and Transylvania, although you will have to read to the end to find out about Transylvania.

Transylvania is generally not in the 'news', but Romania as a country is.  Romania, which is part of the European Union, faces challenges in trade and building its economy beyond tourism and natural resources (of which oil and gold are most commonly cited.)  However, it does have a growing middle class which keeps it in the news, and allows for more writers to write about- beyond simply Count Dracula.

January 24, 2015

Maps of Romania Pre 1919 and the Paris Peace Conferences

Romania is a wonderful land to visit and to learn about.  Transylvania plays a very strong role in it, and because of its history, Romania has played an important role in Transylvania.  There has always been a large group of ethnic Romanians who have lived in Transylvania, and they have made important contributions to this area.

However, Transylvania itself was not a part of the country of Romania at the start of World War I and the borders of Romania were much smaller than they are now.  The Transylvania that was in Hungary was dominated politically by the Hungarians and the Austrians.  The majority of the population in Transylvania was of Romanian origin.  This would prove to be important at the conclusion of the war.  In Alba Iulia the people voiced their choice to unite with the country of Romania.  This was not surprising considering the territorial gains and greater power for the Romanians who lived in Transylvania.

The Saxons and Romanians voted for unification with Romania, but the Hungarian people did not vote.  Alba Iulia had a strong part to play in the history of Romania, it was where Michael the Brave first united the three principalities which became Romania.  The first two: Wallachia and Moldavia united in 1859, as the United Principalities. Under control of the Ottoman Emprire, they would not become independent until 1887- when they would become the Kingdom of Romania under Carol I (he was the uncle of King Ferdinand, his wife Elizabeth and he did not have any surviving children) until the end of World War I and the Treaty of Trianon.

The Paris Peace Conferences would cede Transylvania to Romania, because of Queen Marie of Romania's insistence.  She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and first cousin to the current King of Great Britain- George V. Had fate been with them, she might have become his wife.  However, she was married to the Crown Prince of Romania, and would live an extraordinary life, which included living in Bran Castle and writing about Romania.

Queen Marie used her networks to provide income and more power to the peoples of Romania.

January 18, 2015

Twitter, Passion and Social Networking

social networkingWhen it comes to books a niche market can be anything, but the best definition is a book where your potential market is small. It can be writing a book for a golden wedding anniversary where 10 people will buy it. It can also be a small community of people whose links to your book is simply The fact they grew up there or know of people who lived there. Whatever it is a niche market has a limited audience and you will have to focus on that audience first. You also have to be passionate about your subject- the next step is networking.

Networking begins well before you publish your book, either online or offline. This begins by understanding the community you are writing for, and what they expect from your book. Your readers are here to read a book you tell them about. You might be writing your book, but this will be read by others- and you have to tell them about it. Also, you will need to know what other books or booklets have been published before yours, and get your hands on them to see what others have said. Networking with these other authors is a great way to learn. Many of them also use twitter. Although some might not have a book published themselves, they will know more than you do on the subject. In a niche market you will have to be certain that your facts are correct, even before you mention you are writing a book.

Letting people know that your book will be out on a particular date is one thing, but you will also have to rely upon social networking to have your voice heard beyond this limited network of people whom you know personally. The use of twitter and Facebook expands your reach beyond the smallest niche, or ring or network.

For example, my first book is about Transylvania during the Second World War. It has a focus on a small community of German people living in Transylvania, known as the Saxons, who lived there during this time period.  This would be whom I would focus on first because I have a connection with them.

This community and subject - Transylvanian Saxons - make this a niche market: I would estimate that if I was to market and plan my sales based on this market I would possibly sell about 50 books- and one would argue that it would be based on family and friends. Most buyers would either know of the people I interviewed or would expect a free copy. Because of this small market, to sell more books I will need to expand to the next level of networking- or build an interlinked ring of people.

In a niche market you are only able to expand and sell your book to so many people, but there are other ways to overcome this challenge. You need not only to know your market but you will need to find a way to get more readers outside of that market.  This is where twitter and Facebook and other social media sites help- but you have to first have an idea of who to talk to - I like to think of it as a "ring of people."

The first step is to find out which target market towards which you will focus your initial effort, then find a way to promote to a second market which might be interested in the book in general. The third ring would represent readers who have an interest in the subject area.

My book caters to three markets, or rings: My first "ring" is the market of the Saxons (ethnic Germans) from Transylvania, and based on the area in which I live, it wouldn't be hard to imagine that with the connections these people have a good deal will be sold to them.  They are also part of the second ring.

The next "ring" are the people who lived or still live in Transylvania, Romania and who are interested in the area.  They are also connected to the people of the largest ring.

The last ring is the largest, and this "ring" is made up of the people who want to know more about the Second World War, and are interested in Central and Eastern European history.

While the first and second rings are my main focus in terms of marketing, it is not a good idea to build your business based upon your two smaller rings. You should network based upon getting some sales from your largest ring of readers.  This is where connections I make with twitter and other social networking sites help.  However it is important to remember one thing.

If you haven't had the chance to think about it, acknowledge that it is still your book. If you self-publish your book, then by default you will need to build your network so that the next book you publish will see more success- my own In Search of The Lost Ones is helped by my blog and networks outside of the efforts I make selling my book. The law of averages is solid, most new authors don't sell a lot of books, even when they have a traditional publisher backing them. The more network you have the more likely you will have sales.

When you have your next book, and you have a team, there is more of a chance that you will create something special. If you sell 41 books with a small group of people and they like it, then your next book will have the backing of 41 buyers, and a few more, but you will still have to create tweets and update your Facebook page and blog so that more people will come and read your book.

Don't be afraid to create or expand your rings- if you find that Twitter and other networks are helping,focus on them as well as gathering passionate people around you- just be balanced in your approach. Think logically about how this extra "ring" can help you, because while using social networking sites is important, it's also important to follow and interact with the right people. If you're only on twitter, but have a lot of friends on Facebook, you aren't building your readers, or expanding your network properly. Feeling uncomfortable is okay, and that is the only way you will be able to sell a niche market book.

January 15, 2015

What Age Did Queen Marie of Romania Marry?

Queen Marie of Romania was married to Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania on January 10, 1893.  They were married in Germany at the Sigmaringen Castle, which was the ancestral home of the King of Romania.

The couple had three ceremonies: one civil, one Catholic and one Anglican.  Marie was nine years younger than her husband.  The marriage was rocky, but they would go on to have six children. (Although many people agree that the youngest may not have been Ferdinand's)

How old was Marie at the time?  She was born October 29, 1874, and when she was married she was only 17.  The engagement was in 1892, when she was still sixteen, but according to an aunt of Marie's the wedding itself was delayed due to her age.  Her outlook was partly Victorian, and partly Russian and this is well documented in The Last Romantic: A Biography of Queen Marie of Roumania which recounts her life in England, Malta and Romania.

Marie would grow to love Romania, but in the beginning she was very lonely, and this has much to do with her young age.  However, she faced those challenges very well.  As a side note in 1892, there was a strong push in Transylvania- known as the Transylvanian Memorandum to give equal ethnic rights to the Romanians in the area.  This failed to occur, and later this would help Marie's cause in 1919.

January 12, 2015

What Made Bram Stoker Successful as a Writer?

There is a lot of luck and timing that go into becoming a successful writer.  There needs to be a market for a book, and there need to be readers who "talk up" the book for you.  With the advent of social media, it is both easier and harder to find success as a writer. There are simply too many ways to be "seen" and too many people who write.

This was not the case when Bram Stoker was alive.  Dracula, which gave Stoker the success he wanted, was written and edited and renamed (Before it was Dracula it was "Un-Dead") before it got to the publishers, fortunately, it became Dracula.   His own grand-nephew would name his book, Dracula the Un-Dead- an interesting twist in the mythos of Dracula. Timing was everything again, because there was an interest in the area, and people wanted something different- this didn't mean money however.  This was during the Victorian Era, and many people wanted to read horror fiction.  Along with many other authors Stoker filled this niche- just not when he needed it most.

It is also the mark of a successful writer that even when the genre was fiction, there was a good deal of fact added in.  According to some, Stoker based parts of the book on interviews from people he met, and also on places he went to for visual ideas. Some suggested that he based his Dracula castle not on Bran Castle- which he had never seen- but on New Slains Castle which he had been a guest at. This would help people see a "clear" picture of Dracula's Castle. Most people now associate Bran Castle as the famous place where Jonathan Harker was introduced to one Count Dracula.

What made Stoker such a successful writer was his patience with a book. Dracula was not a bestseller when it came out, but most people found it very good. What made it successful was word of mouth, so that by 1899 sales were slowly growing- but Stoker was still very poor in terms of finances.  By the time of his death, "Dracula" still needed much work in order to become a good seller.  This was where luck, timing, and technology met.  Stoker wrote many other books, but none were as 'known' as Dracula. The Complete Works of Bram Stoker is an quick read which give you an idea about how this man wrote.  It was not Stoker who would initially make Transylvania, Romania famous.  It would be another British writer who would do this, although they would not be seen as a writer like Stoker.

Transylvania was at the time of the movie a part of Romania, and the person who had a hand in bringing people to see Romania was Queen Marie- a British princess by birth.  She also wrote many books to promote Romania, which helped plant the seed for people wanting to learn about the area.  A German movie did the rest.

The movie, "Nosferatu" and the legal battle which ensued, made people want to read the book which the movie was loosely based on.  This made the news, and made it possible for Dracula to see more success. In this case, it was not Stoker- who made the book a success but his widow and the battle with a film that created the mythos of Dracula.

January 8, 2015

Queen Marie of Romania and the Royal House of York

The Royal House of York is a part of England's fabled history of Royalty-- several kings came from this Royal House, among them were the famous Princes of the Tower. It was a major part of the Tudor Dynasty, and was also the competing house in the Wars of the Roses (Which was the civil war between the house of Lancaster and York). Even today there are people with links to the house of York. The present Queen is a descendant of the House of Tudor, and York, whose founder, Henry VII was married to one of the women from the House of York- Elizabeth. His mother was Margaret Beauford, who was of the House of Lancaster, and these were the two houses of England who fought in the Wars of the Roses. 

Elizabeth of York, after giving birth to a daughter would die from childbed (Puerperal Fever), but not without leaving a lasting legacy, one which would later ensure that most of Europe would have links to either England or Scotland in some manner.  Her eldest surviving son became Henry VIII of England, and her eldest daughter would also have some important direct descendants affecting Romania, and later, Transylvania.

 One of the more famous people of the 20th Century, outside of the United Kingdom, is Queen Marie of Romania, and she is a direct descendent of the House of York- through her grandmother Queen Victoria, and her links to the Tudor dynasty- through the Scottish Royal family, whom Margaret Tudor married into (Margaret's mother was Elizabeth of York, who was herself famous for being the wife, sister, daughter and niece of Kings of England).  It is through this line that the Romanian Royal Family is linked with the Royal House of York, which included the famous Mary, Queen of Scots (she was beheaded by order of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England) and her son, James VI of Scotland, and I of England.  

The woman were linked by Elizabeth Stuart who was Queen of Bohemia for a winter.  She was the great- great- granddaughter of Margaret, Queen of the Scots.

Queen Marie of Romania would be born in England, the eldest daughter of the second son (Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh) of Queen Victoria, who would become one of the most memorable figures of the 19th century.  Queen Marie would leave England at the age of 17, married to the Crown Prince of Romania.  This way, Romania would have a Queen consort who was a direct descendent of one of the famous members of the Royal House of York.  

After 1919, when Transylvania became a part of Romania at the end of the First World War, this was true as well.  King Carol II and King Michael I of Romania are, because of her, direct descendents of the Royal House of York.

January 2, 2015

Writing and Publishing About Transylvania, Romania

Why do writers write? Why do we writers feel the urge to publish our work beyond simply getting paid- it's not about the money it's about our books and our audience.  It's even about the subject. It's a small world and there are a lot of writers, so why feel anything for what we do? 

Our readers want to know about facts and figures, but there is always more to writing than just the facts.  There is always more when it comes to places and people.  The hard truth is writers also need income to continue writing.

I sometimes think all we want is money, but really it is to give something back, to advise, or to help others with relationships, or foster a relationship with readers.

I admit sometimes it is about money-- earning a living with our writing. Sometimes it is about improving our own writing, gaining some clarity in it. But actually most people write and begin to write better, because there is an important reason for it. They learn about the things they love, and in this case writing about Transylvania and its culture is important to continue, building on the history of the people who loved there.  It is about money, but there is more to it when it comes to passion.

Publishing means what you love is not about nothing: Only on TV can something so popular as a Seinfeld episode be about nothing. But your writing must be, for the online world, about something, and this is about what you love. It's okay not to have all the answers, but it's important to show some passion for what you are writing about. The same is true of the "normal" reading world, or with touring and learning about Transylvania and Romania. It's about connecting with people, and they are your reason to publish a book. It also means that you are thinking about what the reader wants, or what your audience wants- if they love Dracula, find out more. If they love Transylvania and want to know how many castles there are, find out more information for them.  ESP is helpful to a writer, but not necessary. Readers review with their comments, and their time. Understanding what you love, and what your readers love is far more important. 

A good author shares many things, and it is the small pieces which can make a difference, The Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania, is a good example of a book I found useful, only to learn this author published more books.  I am passionate about Transylvania, and want to share it with my loyal readers.  An important aspect of Transylvanian history, as depicted in the most recent movie- Dracula Untold made me want to write more about this area, and its history.  It is about money, but it is more about being passionate about writing and publishing on Transylvania.

There are many wonderful authors to explore, and many great Facebook sites which Things about Transylvania has the opportunity to connect with. Now it's time to write and to publish more about Transylvania, and share what we love.