Dale Stanten reflects on her dysfunctional upbringing and her determination to overcome it with her book, The Hooker’s Daughter. Learn more about her favorite marketing technique and the most important thing she’s learned about self-publishing.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
In 1950s Jewish Boston, my mother established a home-based business as a prostitute to remedy her husband’s inability to provide for his family. At age six, I was answering the front door for johns. Kids were forbidden to play with me and even the Girl Scouts asked me to leave. What a terrible irony, in a family with so many strange and twisted realities, that my gay sister, “coming out” at age 16, was the only thing my parents focused on as contemptible. My memoir is a story of survival driven by my ability to extract positive qualities from a dysfunctional life. My unconditional love for my mother challenges the reader to examine beyond that which is socially acceptable and identify that which is universal.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
I started writing this book 12 years ago so my children would understand their mother’s background.
This book began with my efforts in a writing group which met in the back room of a local bakery-café. The group was both fascinated and shocked by my story as it emerged, and eagerly awaited each new installment. I was touched by this unselfish outpouring of interest and found welcomed motivation in their support. It was a difficult decision to expose myself by publishing this memoir. What would people say? Am I being foolish? Why am I doing this? I had periods of doubt and anxiety and many sleepless nights. However, making my private life public finally devalued the impact of the gossip and embarrassment and the baggage I did not pack. No nore secrets!
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
Today, a traditional publishing house requires the author to do the majority of the marketing and publicity. Unless you have a platform and your name is Clinton or Bush, it is difficult to obtain any assistance. Ultimately, I decided to self-publish. This gave me more control of the process.
Marketing can absorb a great deal of time and effort. However, I love marketing! I built my original business from nothing and understand that personal contact and follow through are very important.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
The publishing process was easy and quick. I asked six friends and strangers to proof and critique the book. This is a must. You cannot do all the proofing yourself. Every time you read it you find new things. I have done all the marketing work myself.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
The most successful marketing technique, I have found, is making presentations and book signings for book clubs and organizations. This can be a full time job. I have been able to obtain these gigs first through personal contacts (friends) and later by cold-calling organizations (clubs, religious groups, charities, etc). I have determined that there is a symbiotic relationship between organizations and good presenters. The organization has a need for a social program and, in mycase, I have a great story to tell; and, I have been told, I am a very compelling speaker. And, of course, I want to promote my book. Creating the talk can take a lot of work initially, but it improves the more you do it.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Everyone told me to use Facebook since it would go viral. It is true that you do get some response from your friends but the rest of the world is unaware of your posting. The reality is there are a great number of web sites oriented towards books and readers and they seem to generate more responses.
I do post descriptions of my book on various blogs; however, I have not developed my own blog, since it requires a lot of work to keep posting on the blog and trying to increase readership. I would rather put my effort into personal contacts rather that electronic contacts.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
What I didn’t know was that I should have started the marketing at least six months prior to publication. In particular it is important to get a few good reviews under your belt prior to publication.
8. Independent authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie author just starting out?
Since the traditional publisher only performs perfunctory marketing activities, you must do the work yourself. Get educated. There are a lot of books on the subject and various blogs that offer advice. Do not just copy others. Think through the process. Develop a pitch. Try a few techniques. And most important be open to changing your mind as you find out what works and what doesn’t.
Marketing is very time-consuming.
9. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (A. A. Milne)
10. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Wounds and anxieties of the past often leave us scarred, feeling unworthy, and defeated. Our lives are full of pitfalls. However, emotional pain is a phenomenon which can enable us to grow. We can either be consumed by it; or accept the past, seek the lessons it holds, recognize the potential for growth, and become successful because of it. I felt that I can offer something to people who are suffering and struggling. I want to show that it is possible to overcome dire circumstances and inspire people not to be victims.
As the Old Testament says: “If you save one person, you save the world.”
11. How can readers learn more about your books?
My website TheHookersDaughter.com provides a synopsis, bio, reviews and testimonials, upcoming events, and other information.
Print copies of the book can be obtained from my website, or from the publisher (Infinity Publishing), or from Amazon.com. E-books are available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and Smashwords.