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Between love and lost

If you’ve been following the Chronicles for the last three weeks you’ll know that I’ve been posting a free chapter a week for four weeks as part of an ongoing promotional campaign for my book  Any Color but Beige.

Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. And I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

Exotic Colors is this week’s section, from which I selected the chapter called Chapter 24 It deals with heartbreak and healing. And it was from this painful experience that my book Any Color but Beige came to be. My editor likes to say the best stories break your heart. And she’s right.

photo: © istockphoto.com/VladLo

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If you’ve been following the Chronicles for the last two weeks you’ll know that I’ve been posting a free chapter a week for four weeks as part of an ongoing promotional campaign for my book Any Color but Beige.

Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. And I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

“True Colors,” this week’s free chapter, is all about rediscovering myself and adding color back into my life in ways I could never have imagined. This chapter gave me the ideas for book’s subtitle – Living Life in Color.

Finally, in the last installment you will read all about the Exotic Color that was the genesis of this book.

And so – from the True Colors section, here, for your reading pleasure is Sixty Five First Dates

Next Week: Love Italian Style

photo: © istockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

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As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post I am kicking off this year’s sales and marketing efforts by offering four free chapters (one a week) of Any Color but Beige to my blog readers. Over the last year, readership and subscriptions have increased dramatically. I hope that by giving my new readers a preview of the book I can entice them to buy it, read it, and recommend it to their friends.

The book is closely linked to my career as an international color marketing expert, so I structured the book according to my life’s personal color spectrum. The four colorful sections that make up the book are Primary Colors, Color Blind, True Colors, and Exotic Colors.

Last week, I offered a chapter from the Primary Colors section, and today it’s a chapter from Color Blind. Entitled “Bleeding Hearts,” it focuses on the wake-up call that made me take stock of my life, and then trade in all of the safe neutral tones that colored my existence for a more bold and daring personal palette.

“True Colors,” next week’s free chapter, is all about rediscovering myself and adding color back into my life in ways I could never have imagined. This chapter gave me the book’s subtitle – Living Life in Color.

Finally, in the last installment you will read all about the Exotic Color that was the genesis of this book.

And so – here is “Bleeding Hearts.”   Chapter 10

photo: © istockphoto.com/avdeev007

You know it’s over when you stop talking

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During the course of my promotional year for my book, Any Color but Beige, (I’m nearly three quarters of the way through now), I’ve been invited to speak to a lot of book clubs. And of all of my promotional activities, apart from my book launch, this has been the most fun.

Media interviews are sometimes nerve racking. Public speaking can be a bit impersonal because of the distance between me and my audience. Book signings can be a little intimidating; you sit front and center in a bookstore waiting for your reading public to arrive and snap up your book.

Book Signing at the Twig in San Antonio

But participating in a book club discussion is like having a night out with a whole new set of (café) girlfriends. And because they don’t know me I’m always surprised by the type of comments, questions and suggestions.

 Comments

Like the night I arrived early and introduced myself to the hostess, who was warm, friendly and very welcoming and who said, “You know, I thought you’d be taller.”

I had to laugh. Actually she’s not the first person to say that. In business situations, where I’m meeting someone for the first time after just talking to them on the phone, the “tall comment” is a common reaction. My tall sister, Beth, likes to tease me with, “you must sound tall on the phone.”

How does one sound tall, I wondered? And, how else do I sound?

Well I found the answer to that one just a few days ago on a recent business trip to South Africa. The new client I was meeting for the first time said to me, “I knew you’d be a redhead, and I knew you’d be wearing something bright and warm like red.”

She was right on both accounts. She had even remarked to her boss that this is what she had expected Cat Larose to look like. It’s no wonder he had a bit of a startled expression on his face when we met; it was like he already knew me.

As for me, I’m terrible when it comes to predicting what someone will look like from the sound of their voice. Or what they do by the way  people carry themselves – in this digitally connected world I find people “show better” digitally than in real life where you can’t edit your attitude with a keystroke

My dentist’s receptionist surprised me one day as she assigned me a very “professional” attitude. After ten years of biannual appointments and polite banter,  I finally mentioned what I do for a living during my last visit. She stared at me wide-eyed. And then she said, “You know, I always thought you were a doctor!” I love these kinds of comments because they make me laugh – at myself. And it’s so important not to take yourself or life so seriously all the time.

Many of comments about the book make me laugh too, but all are very gratifying. I’d like to share some of them here with you.

I really enjoyed the humour of the book and the positivism it radiates… An Eat Pray Love meets Sex and the City, with the shopping replaced by color, and Mr. Big by a plane ticket

It made me reflect on my own life, my own writing, and where I’m coming from. You have the power to connect with your readers, you can touch people…even change the life of your readers…that is something really special.

I marked many pages and underlined things to re-read over and over and over. My favorite lines so far are:

• It’s easier to let go of something you don’t want to keep.
• It’s about how you feel and not about how someone else makes you feel.
• The only man worth crying over was a dead one. That’s a real loss. Anything else is a blessing.
• I want to be deliberate in your life.

I love the way you write and I enjoyed hearing your voice as I read it. It was a fast read because I just didn’t want to put it down and on the flip side, I didn’t want it to end. Thanks for sharing your adventures and hilarious experiences with all of us. It was so much fun to read a happy book. I’m really proud of you for having the courage, gumption and commitment to share your life.

At my hometown book club gathering with Freya (left) and Kathy (right).

 Questions

The most common question I get when people do read about my life is, “Are you going to write a screenplay, and who would play you?”

You now know the answer to the first question, and that answer is yes. It’s time to try something new. The answer to the second question is not so easy and so I throw it back at my readers. Who do you think could capture the essence of Cat?

Suggestions

Book club readers have told me they’d like to see a second book involving lots of travel and of course a little romance. All I can say to that is if my recent travel schedule is any indication: Germany, Holland, France and South Africa – I’m well on my way to collecting lots more new travel stories. As for the romance, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Spring is coming and I’ve decided to take a little break.    I’ll be back in April with the Daffodils.  photo: © istockphoto.com/marilyna

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In previous posts I have often drawn parallels between self-publishing and gambling or games of chance. Some gambles pay off better than others do. Take my most recent attempt at a Valentine’s Day public relations blitz. Strategically speaking, I thought my approach was fresh and the timing was perfect. But the media had other ideas when it came to Valentine’s Day features.

In fact, a quick Google search across the Internet seemed to yield surprisingly little that was new or fresh on the subject. Do we suffer from Valentine’s Day Fatigue I wonder? When did we exchange red for green and become so jaded in our attitude to love and romance.

Since I don’t use a clipping service, I conducted my own Google search on Any Color but Beige and found sparse “pick up” by the media. I think that this is an accurate reflection of media interest because no one called requesting further information or an interview. But I wasn’t ready to fold my cards that early.

I made several strategic follow-up phone calls to certain major media. This strategy produced some positive results: these editors requested copies of the book. Perseverance is the key. And that’s important to keep in mind when you’re out there pounding the pavement trying to generate interest.

What follows is list of the coverage Any Color but Beige received during Valentine’s Day week.

Newspapers (online)

The Focus Daily News in south suburban Dallas picked up the release in its entirety. So did The Milwaukee Community Journal and The Moscow Villager. Those three new communities now know about my book.

Radio

Here in Montreal, I was featured on 92.5 The Beat’s “The Brain Candy Podcast” with Shaun McMahon. It was my first time doing an interview at a radio station and it was fun and exciting, made even more so because of Shaun’s enthusiasm.

Book Signing

I was counting on a pre-Valentine’s Day upswing in sales. Chapters Bookstore had me positioned front and center next to a free coffee giveaway at Starbucks. It couldn’t have been more perfect except for the freezing weather that kept store traffic to a minimum. Given the conditions, I sold more than I thought.

What’s next?

I am going to play one last hand and contact the media once more to follow up on the books I sent out. And then I’m going to roll the dice on a cross-promotional sales strategy in March, one that links my book with colorful consumer products like paint, nail polish and hair care products.

Why do I do it you wonder? Spend all this time and money over and above my day job on a long shot of a book. On one hand I believe you make your own luck but on the other hand it’s perseverance that always pays off.

Meet the Author

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Don’t kid yourself. If you thought writing the book was difficult, wait until you have to package it, market it, promote it and sell it.

The writing process by comparison is easy: all you have to do is show up at your desk every day and commit to putting pen to paper. It’s a solitary process that requires patience and discipline, and the only person you can count on or who will let you down — is you.

This is not the case when it comes time to launch your work into the world. There are all sorts of gatekeepers to get by when you start generating awareness and driving sales of your book. And it’s your job to entice, convince, cajole and excite the various publics who can make or break your book sales. Oh yes, and you have to be persistent – one attempt, two attempts, three attempts are not enough. When you’ve exhausted all of the angles (and yourself) – that’s when you can stop.

So here’s how you get started …

First, there is your immediate reading public: your blog readers. They are your first and best resource for word of mouth referrals. I’ve had blog readers surprise me by ordering my book Any Color but Beige and requesting it from their local library. Most libraries will order a book on request. And what I’ve learned is that larger library systems will not only order one book but at least eight copies. This has been my experience with the Baltimore and Cuyahoga County, Ohio library systems. Canadian Libraries will pay royalties based on the number of times the book is borrowed. My thanks to Tamara, BethAnn and Adena respectively.

Second, and a bit more elusive, are the media. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, your pitch has to be both compelling and timely. And sending out a press release is only one-half of the equation – you’re only as good as your follow-up. What you have to do is call each media person personally and ask if they’re interested in receiving a copy of the book or conducting an interview. The media has to do more with less these days so make yourself accessible. The easier you make their job the better your chance at getting coverage.

Third, approach your local bookstores and speak to the promotions managers. Be sure and give them plenty of time to schedule your event. Remember that you’re not the only local author. And if the store is not interested don’t take it personally. I’ve approached three stores in Montreal; one said no outright, that the book wasn’t right for their customers. The second said they only work with established authors. The third store, Chapters on St. Catherine, not only said yes but have been promoting the event in store. I’ve spoken to several staff members pre-event, and their excitement and their pleasure in meeting me was very gratifying. I made sure to pinch myself as I left the store.

Fourth, family and friends are also good resources for book promotions and sales. My mother, Little Lou, carries a copy of the book with her everywhere she goes, whether it’s to the hairdresser’s or bingo – she’s my best supporter. My father, thank god, has stopped short of taking his copy to wakes. But the racetrack is still fair game. If you’ve read the book you already know about my colorful childhood.

Friends have also been big supporters. They’ve organized “Girls’ Nights In,” combining friendship and commerce in an enjoyable and light-hearted environment.

Other friends have used Any Color but Beige as an opportunity to revive regular book club get-togethers that may have lapsed because other commitments have taken over. In fact, I will be the guest of honor at one such book club in Cleveland Heights at the end of the month. In keeping with the spirit of the book, the potluck will be French themed – but of course! I’d like to thank Kathy H,  Freya and the girls for this wonderful opportunity.

Finally, from all of this word of mouth I have somehow found myself as a quasi-expert in the world of self-publishing. I don’t have all of the answers but I’m happy to share what I know – what I’d do again and what I’d do differently the next time. As a result, I’ve been invited to speak to writers’ groups and conferences, and the reaction of the audiences has been rewarding.

In the end, after all of the hard work, effort – and even the occasional let down – I’ve reached an important conclusion that keeps me going: not all rewards are monetary.

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