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Wendy Jones

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Every book is different, but I thought it might be helpful to you,

my fellow  writers and independent publishers, to come on this journey with me.


I feel as if I am perpetually falling behind schedule in doing what’s needed  to get The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones into the hands of readers who will be uplifted by it.



Since  here at aalbc.com you have been surrounded by advertisements,
a description, and a review about the book,

I won’t take too much time talking about it.


But here is a summary in one place.


The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones
where art and food intersect.


Neither a cookbook nor a how-to-book , the book is a portfolio, with ready-to-frame prints, of the culinary art created by Josephine E. Jones with photography by the late John Turner. Opposite each photograph is text, which includes the ingredients, the process used, and a story about my mother’s  culinary art.


My illustrator, Natalie Marino, gets the credit for suggesting that the photographic pages be perforated, so they could be framed. The text pages on the left hand side remain even after the photos on the right hand side have been removed. This results in periodic blank pages, but they are there by design.



First, I researched the promotion schedule by reviewing archived articles from ibpa independent, the Independent Book Publishers Association magazine that comes as part of membership, researching online, and reviewing the IBPA webinars I took that covered the subject.


I  usually attend them in person so I can ask questions, but all webinars are recorded. IBPA offers monthly hour-long webinars for $19 each if ordered singly and 50% off if ordered annually. I order annually.  


There were 9 month, 6 month, and 3 month deadlines.



Nine months in advance, I  researched and wrote to two well-known people in the subject area of the book. I already had two friends lined up to write the other two endorsements.

 One was a culinary historian and the other was a professional cook whose radio cooking show-- with the original host--our son and I had listened to for years. In fact, it was our son who had first recommended the program to me when he was in grade school.


I genuinely enjoyed reading the culinary historian’s books. And I had a fine time listening to the show with the new-to-me host of my favorite cooking show, as well as researching the host online.


Neither person responded to my painstakingly-written concise emails.


This highly-touted practice is a waste of time.


Writers should stop doing this unless they know someone who knows someone who knows someone.


My guess is that in a traditional publishing situation, the agent or editor has a contact who is a friend of the well-known person.


That well-known person then writes the endorsement as a favor to the friend of the  agent or editor, not because s/he knows the unknown writer.

I don’t blame the well-known person. S/he is inundated with requests from people s/he does not know asking for endorsements.


However, when I wrote the late Maya Angelou years ago for an endorsement for a novel I was writing, I did receive a response.


Her assistant sent me a note politely declining, explaining that Ms. Angelou had too much to do. The tone of the note sounded regretful, not haughty.

Now it is true, a few years before, I had bumped into the late Maya Angelou  in Charleston, S.C. when she was somewhat lost, a situation  which accidentally graced me with her presence.


But I doubt if she remembered me. I just think she was more considerate than most people.




Moving on to the six month deadline.


I still needed two more endorsements, but now it was time to consider an IBPA review program I knew nothing about.


I researched NetGalley. The program allows you to send your digital galleys to be reviewed by librarians, reviewers, and book buyers.

With the IBPA discount, I paid $400 for six months on the site.


Since my book has three main potential audiences: food lovers, art lovers, and black history lovers, I listed the book in those three categories.

IBPA administers it, so you need to email them if you need anything changed or to request reports, but they are quite efficient.


No more than a day or two elapsed between a request and completion.


The monthly reports  give details about the reviewers: emails and affiliations.


Early on--with information from these reports--I contacted two reviewers who had given the book highly positive reviews.

I asked them for permission to use review excerpts on the Praise page.


They both agreed.


I now had my two missing endorsements. I didn’t need any quotes on the back cover, because I was using a photo on the back.


Altogether I received 23 reviews, most of them favorable.


Several of the reviewers had their own websites or were also sending the reviews to Good Reads.


One reviewer even showcased the cover and her review on her cooking blog.


The last time I checked, last night,  there were 11 reviews on Good Reads.


I still have lots of work to do with these reviews now that the program has ended. Sending the reviews to libraries and potential readers will get the word out.


Lessons learned: I should have scheduled NetGalley for three months before the book’s original publication date–May 20– and three months after.

I scheduled for December 2 to June 2.



Just by accident, I stumbled onto the Books Coming Out Soon
section. I was delighted to find out that it was free.


As soon as I had a cover image, I sent it along with my codes that
give the data about the book and a description.

Here at aalbc.com, I made a better decision about scheduling.

I scheduled the ads from May through  July.

Troy advised  me to move the requested date for the book review a little later to give the reviewer time to read the book and write the review. It worked out just right.

The aalbc.com review link will go to my email list with a request for friends and family to send it to people they think would be interested.



I started the three month deadline a little late.


In February, I signed up for the Media Kit Program, which is a digital press kit. It includes a cover photo, a description, the story behind the book, an author bio, and an author photo.


Once I completed the kit, my materials were sent out in March.


I used this program for my first book, An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones


As a result of that Media Kit mailing, I was interviewed for the online edition of Black Enterprise, which led to an interview with a journalist writing a book about Black women in corporate America.


That journalist recommended me for a discussion on the  NPR affiliate in Boston. The magazine interview , the journalist’s book interview, and the radio segment all resulted in book sales.


In the Media Kit Program, you can choose which categories of online newspapers, blogs, and online magazines to send the kit.


My choices: Women, African American, Art, and Food.


I received 10 review requests. So far, I have had  one interview for an Art blog, which will be posted soon.



I had a fine book launch with wonderful sister and brotherfriends from several decades of my life,  as well as a couple of people I didn’t know.

With the technical and creative assistance of my life partner, I presented a slide show of the  pictures in the book, which took about 10 minutes.


The rest of the hour was spent answering insightful questions from the audience  and the librarian.

 At the end of the hour, I offered bonus materials to anyone who ordered that night.


People who had pre ordered or were “makers” (developmental editor, copy editor, illustrator, volunteer publicist friend, copyright advisor) also received bonus material.


The librarian kept the online room open an extra ten minutes so everyone could  order their books.


A malfunctioning printing  press delayed the publication until June 4.


But now, a little over a week later, nearly all the pre orders have been sent out.





I am $1,000 over my $5,000 budget, which includes the print run,
but most of the spending is behind me.


I still have to place ads in the Black newspapers and decide which awards
programs to enter.


Awards programs are expensive, but I can put aside money monthly to cover the costs.


The radio programs I am considering cost nothing and are excellent for selling books.


While working on this book, I have appreciated  all the people who have given me discounts on their services

or volunteered their services because they believed in the book.  


It has been an uplifting experience.



Even though states are opening up,  COVID-19 is not completely over.


I don’t feel comfortable indoors  with large crowds even though I am fully vaccinated.

So, I will figure out how to promote the book during this transitional period.

My fellow writers and independent publishers, I hope even some of this has been helpful.                          


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Troy, I am so glad that you found this helpful.


I don't see independent publishing as a competitive business, but a collaborative one.

And so many people have given me suggestions and information, I am compelled to return the kindness when I can.


Also, if I have made a mistake, there is no need for others to make the same mistake.


I appreciate your company on this journey. I will keep aalbc.com posted.

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