Ideas I tried that didn’t work

(from Michael Stanier’s article)
1. Hiring a PR agency
Ask any author and they’ll tell you what a disappointment PR has been for them. I’d experience that with Do More Great Work, where the PR support I got was random three-minute radio interviews with confused radio DJs who hadn’t read the book and didn’t care.
I was determined not to waste money on this. Until I weakened. FOMO? Perhaps. But I hired a PR person for $3,000 and got the predictably disappointing results. One morning TV show in Toronto (glamorous, but I’m pretty sure none of my target market watches TV at 9:30 a.m.) and a few radio and podcast interviews. One of my most expensive efforts with the least results. Pass.
Cost: $3,000
2. The Twitter Thunderclap
Thunderclap is a clever way to coordinate your social media bang. The idea is that you ask people to sign up to support your campaign – in our case, the book launch on February 29. What then happens is that a message created by you gets sent out at the same time to everyone’s Twitter account. A mighty thunderclap of social media, echoing around the world!
We had a bunch of generous people sign up – 223, with a social reach of 589,000 – and we Thunderclapped on February 29. And it didn’t seem to make much difference. On reflection, I realize now that it gave people a very low commitment option to support the launch. People who might otherwise have mentioned us on Facebook or on their blog or (the best option) to their email list quite reasonably took the easiest way out.
Cost: $0
3. Book-launch bonuses
As part of the launch week, we offered bonuses to people willing to bulk-buy the book.
My vision was that hundreds of teams and organizations would buy copies of the book, I’d deliver one workshop and some webinars, and that potentially we could talk to the others about coming in to deliver paid workshops for them. In other words, a clever way to start some sales conversations while also selling loads of books.
What did work was the PDF giveaway for a single purchase. I know people appreciated that, and I think it was a quick, easy win that encouraged people to buy the book.
What didn’t work were the more elaborate giveaways. As it happened, only four organizations bought more than 98 books (and a big thank-you to them!), and none of them turned into Box of Crayons clients. And we failed to make the most of Lee Crutchley’s fantastic postcards that we commissioned for this purpose.
Cost: A day of my time to run the workshop; three 60-minute slots to run three webinars; $5,000 + printing costs for the postcards.
4. Giving the book away in bulk
One maverick publisher I spoke to (who asked to remain anonymous) said that part of the success he’d had with his bestselling book was due to his commitment to give it away. In fact, he said that in the seven years since first publishing the book, he’d given away more than 50,000 copies, to targeted conferences, to online communities and so on.
I thought I’d try that and so set up a PDF download on Gumroad so that I could offer free and very inexpensive versions of the book. I was speaking at the big ATD conference (North America’s biggest conference for training and development, with more than 10,000 attendees) and paid $5,000 to put a flyer in every attendee’s swag bag, offering a copy of the book. I actually split-tested this: 6,000 of the flyers offered the book for free, and 4,000 offered it for 99¢. Part of the genius of this idea was that the front page of the download asks people to consider giving the book a review on Amazon, so in my imagination, we’d give away a ton of books, resulting in many reviews on Amazon (hello, target of 1,000!) and maybe even some sales inquiries about our programs.
Turns out people don’t read flyers in the swag bag. We had a little more than 100 or so people download the book, equally split between paid and free. And none that I know of turned into clients for Box of Crayons.
I do think there’s something very smart about giving the book away, particularly if your goal (like mine was) is to have it considered a classic. And if, like me, you’ve got a way of earning money that the book helps promote. But I haven’t really figured it out just yet.
Cost: $5,000

The Joes go Ivy League — appear at Princeton University

Princeton, NJ — Joe Farrell and Joe Farley, collectively known as “The Joes,” the authors of the Keystone Tombstones and Gotham Graves series of biographical histories were in Princeton, NJ on Tuesday May 16th, 2017, researching their upcoming book about the Founders, in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the birth of the USA. Seen here before the statue of patriot John Witherspoon, on the grounds of Princeton University, the two said a few words before those gathered (a huuuuuuge crowd of 1 — the photographer). The pair had been to Witherspoon’s grave in the Princeton Cemetery, very near the graves of patriot Aaron Burr, president Grover Cleveland, and novelist John O’Hara.

Also planned is a special edition entitled Murder, Massacres, and Mayhem in the Mid-Atlantic, for which they visited the graves of Kitty and Jose Menendez.

The Joes are always looking for speaking engagements, providing a humorous and informative program about interesting people and their life stories. Contact us for more information at

"Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam" repeats as Sunbury Press bestseller for April

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. —  Sunbury Press has released the bestsellers list for April. Doug Beed’s Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam: My Year as a Black Scarf took the top spot. Living in the Afterlife by Michele Livingston was runner up.

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for April, 2017 (by Revenue)
Rank Last Month Title Author Category
1 1 Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam Doug Beed Military Memoir
2 32 Living in the Afterlife Michele Livingston Spirituality
3 3 Dead of Spring Sherry Knowlton Thriller Fiction
4 11 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, 2nd Ed. Mike Campbell History
5 NEW Had a Dying Fall J M West Thriller Fiction
6 4 American Berserk Bill Morris Memoir
7 8 The Sea is a Thief David Parmalee Historical Fiction
8 The Penns’ Manor of Spread Eagle and the Grist Mills of the Mahantango Valley Steve Troutman Local History
9 Tulpehocken Trail Traces Steve Troutman Local History
10 19 The B Team Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
11 35 Skunks, Nuts, and Other Stories John L Moore Family History
12 Prince and the Paupers Guy Graybill Local History
13 21 The Closer Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
14 Winter of the Metal People Dennis Herrick Historical Fiction
15 10 Wonder Boy: The Story of Carl Scheib Lawrence Knorr Biography
16 NEW The Honey Trap Wade Fowler Thriller Fiction
17 2 Embattled Freedom Jim Remsen History
18 Dead of Autumn Sherry Knowlton Thriller Fiction
19 Prohibition’s Prince Guy Graybill Local History
20 9 The Sign of the Eagle Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
21 The Wolf of Britannia Part II Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
22 28 Planet Jesus #1: Flesh & Blood Doug & Shaun Brode Supernatural Fiction
23 Freemasons at Gettysburg Sheldon Munn History
24 The Wolf of Britannia Part I Jess Steven Hughes Historical Fiction
25 38 That Night at Surigao Ernie Marshall History
26 NEW Tigers by the River Wylie McLallen Sports History
27 17 Seinsoth Steven k Wagner Sports Biography
28 24 Miss Feesenschneezen Is Ill David Parmalee Middle Grade Fiction
29 NEW Keystone Tombstones Battle of Gettysburg Farrell, Farley & Knorr Biography
30 Perilous Journey Ted Brusaw Historical Fiction
31 40 Keystone Corruption Continues Brad Bumsted History
32 47 Messages from Beyond Michele Livingston Spirituality
33 37 There Is Something about Rough and Ready Lawrence Knorr, et al History
34 50 Dead of Summer Sherry Knowlton Thriller Fiction
35 33 Pit Bulls Anthony Julian History
36 6 Tories, Terror, and Tea John L Moore History
37 45 Jesus the Phoenician Karim El Koussa History
38 Home Is a Long Time Ago William F Lee Historical Fiction
39 Ded Reckoning William F Lee Espionage Thriller
40 39 Bows, Bullets, and Bears John L Moore History
41 41 Hour 30 Brandon Musgrave Memoir
42 The Heatstroke Line Ed Rubin Climate Fiction
43 Digging Dusky Diamonds John Lindermuth Local History
44 OneWay: The Oracle Robin McClellan Metaphysical Fiction
45 42 Forts, Forests, and Flintlocks John L Moore History
46 31 Fireproof Moth Mile Thornberry History
47 30 What Waits Beneath Thomas Malafarina Horror
48 NEW A Second Revolution C James Gilbert Historical Fiction
49 Pythagoras Karim El Koussa Historical Fiction
50 Lost in the Shadow of Fame William Lemanski History

Doug Beed’s Vietnam memoir Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam, was #1 due to brisk sales, especially on the Kindle platform, upon its release. Medium Michele Livingston’s Living in the Afterlife took #2 due to her regular media appearances. Sherry Knowlton’s Dead of Spring held at #3 due to her successful Earth Day release campaign. Mike Campbell’s Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last took #4 due to a spike in interest in the aviatrix. J M West’s latest volume in the Carlisle Crime Cases series, Had a Dying Fall was #5 thanks to author activities.

The company released eight new titles in April:

SUNBURY PRESS – New Releases for April, 2017
Lykens Township Volume 2 Gratz Historical Society Local History
Tigers by the River Wylie McLallen Sports History
Chasing Understanding In The Jungles of Vietnam Doug Beed Military Memoir
Keystone Tombstones Battle of Gettysburg Farrell, Farley & Knorr Biography
A Second Revolution C James Gilbert Historical Fiction
The Honey Trap Wade Fowler Thriller Fiction
Miss Feesenschneezen Is Ill David Pamelee Middle Grade Fiction
Dead of Spring Sherry Knowlton Thriller Fiction

Rigors of early automobile travel detailed in Hepzy Moore Cook's Model T travel journal

Vermillion, SD — Sunbury Press has released Touring America by Automobile in the 1920s, William A. Cook’s compilation of his grandmother’s, Hepzy Moore Cook, travel journals.

About the Book:

A true labor of love, author William Cook has reproduced his grandmother’s (Hepzy Moore Cook) narrative of the day-to-day rigors in early twentieth century vacation travel by automobile.  The journals describe in great detail, a more remote, less accessible nation that existed ninety years ago during the dawn of America’s love affair with the car.  The oldest of the two journals written by Hepzy Moore Cook chronicles a challenging and sometimes very hazardous journey by automobile taken by her, the author’s grandfather, Dr. William A. Cook and father, Ralph Moore Cook in August, 1920 from Vermillion, South Dakota to Yellowstone National Park and back again to Vermillion, covering 3,180 grueling miles in the process.


PROLOGUE: A Brief History of the Automobile and Highway in America
JOURNEY ONE: Vermillion, South Dakota, to Yellowstone Park to Vermillion, 1920
JOURNEY TWO: Trip South – Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Return, 1927
About the Cooks

Touring America by Automobile in the 1920s: The Travel Journals of Hepzy Moore Cook

Authored by William A. Cook
List Price: $19.95
6″ x 9″ (hardcover)
Black & White on Cream paper
136 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620068144
ISBN-10: 1620068141
BISAC: History/United States/20th Century

For more information, please see:

Dead body found in a burning kitchen in latest Carlisle Crime Cases

CARLISLE, Pa. — Sunbury Press has released Had a Dying Fall, J M West’s fourth installment of Carlisle Crime Cases thrillers.

About the Book:
In HAD A DYING FALL, a raging fire greets the Carlisle police and fire crew where Detectives Snow and Savage discover a male body splayed across the kitchen island in a domicile on South Street. Their search for the missing wife, Kelly Sims, leads CPD detectives to one of their own: Shannon Mahoney, one of Three Musketeers cycle team. Clues lead to the Sims extended family members, many of whom have motives to kill. As the evidence mounts and suspects multiply, danger erupts, exposing damaging secrets that could destroy them all.

And what happened to Detective Erin McCoy, who was last seen at a Revolutionary War re-enactment rehearsal in Darkness at First Light?

Then another murder occurs on Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg. The victim had ties to Dennis Sims, the Carlisle murder victim. Are the murders connected? Meanwhile, the killer stalks the streets. Where will he or she strike next?

About the Author:
Had a Dying Fall
is the fourth in the Carlisle Crime Cases series of murder mysteries featuring Homicide detectives Christopher Snow and Erin McCoy by Jody McGibney West, pseudonym for Joan M. West, Professor Emerita of English Studies at Harrisburg Area Community College, The Gettysburg Campus. She also taught at Messiah College and Shippensburg University as an adjunct and served as Assistant Director of the Learning Center (SU). She is a member of Sisters in Crime. She has previously published poetry and Glory in the Flower, her debut novel. It depicts four coeds who meet during the turbulent sixties.

She and her husband live near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They have two sons and two grandsons. In her spare time, West volunteers at the Bookery—Bosler Memorial Library’s used bookstore, participates in the Litwits Book group, and reads voraciously.

Black smoke plumed over orange flames from the backyard. Sparks like fireflies flew. The shed’s roof splintered, pieces somersaulting skyward. Flames erupted, feeding on the fuel. The Explorer screeched to a halt in front of a limestone Cape Cod on a corner lot. Requesting fire trucks, the CPD detectives raced around back, waving back curious neighbors. “Stay back! Other explosions may follow!”

Just as the words left Snow’s mouth, a second eruption boomed. Wood and metal spewed from the flames, hot and dangerous. Sirens approached, pump and hook and ladder jutting to the curb, with men jumping off and flying to their tasks.

Dressed in full gear, Fire Chief Lane Rusk jumped down from the cab, motioned his men to hook into the nearest hydrant. Lowered his Plexi-glass shield and raced to the carnage. Water spewed forth on the grass and house while white fire-retardant foam arced over that. “Bet the gas grill blew,” he muttered. The detectives sprinted to the back door, pounding to raise someone. The house sat mute, dark windows shuttered and curtains drawn against Dawn’s fingers of resurrecting light. The light yawned in ribbons, rolling back the grey blanket of night.

“Sorry about Mac and . . . ,” Savage said while he and Carlisle Police’s lead homicide detective Christopher Snow had sped to the suspicious fire on South Street. “We took up a collection for flowers—had them sent to your house for the family plot.”

“Yes, thanks,” Snow swallowed hard and nodded. “I can’t talk about that right now. It’s just too raw.” He scrubbed his hands over his face and shook his head. Swallowed over the lump in his throat.

Reese flipped open his cell, called HQ to find out who owned the house. “Court records list that domicile belongs to a Dennis and Kelly Sims.” Always the first on the job, Sonja Hamilton, CPD admin extraordinaire, had her pulse on the department and its personnel. She hadn’t missed a day of work in five years despite two kids, a husband, and night classes.

“We can’t raise anybody here. Their shed just blew to smithereens, but nobody came outside to investigate. Could be on vacation, but we should notify them,” Savage said.

Had a Dying Fall: A Christopher Snow & Erin McCoy Mystery
Authored by J. M. West
List Price: $19.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
258 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620068243
ISBN-10: 1620068249
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Police Procedural

For more information, please see:…