How State Parks Can Show You How NOT to Sell Your Book


Okay crazy title and I hate it when I see articles titled that way but I’m in a crazy kind of mood so bear with me.

I love national and state parks with a passion—mainly national ones, but if you’re traveling and staying in an area that only has state parks, it’s the next best thing.  National parks have more to offer, of course.  They’re usually bigger, advertised heavily and have more to do.  State parks, on the other hand, do have lots to offer just on a smaller scale.

I recently returned from a trip to the Poconos.  As I wasn’t familiar with the area, I did Google searches.  We were to stay in White Haven, Pennsylvania, because I knew of some really nice state parks I wanted to check out and my sole reason for going was to walk some trails.  The leaves had turned glorious colors (not like back in Virginia where fall has hardly begun) and I knew this was really going to be an enjoyable experience. I did Google searches before I left and had written down my top four parks I wanted to see.

After checking into the Comfort Inn, I asked the clerk, “Where was Hickory Run State Park?” as I had seen pictures on the Internet of it and I really wanted to see this field of boulders that everyone was raving about.  Her reply was, “I’ve never heard of it.”  According to Mapquest, it was less than four miles away and still in White Haven.  Later, my friend went down to the lobby and asked what there was to do around the area and another clerk who had come on said, “There’s not much to do here.”  So much for advertising their area.

Okay, giving both the benefit of the doubt, they lived there and sometimes what would appeal to tourists might not appeal to locals so I let it fly.  I knew there was a Hickory Run State Park there as I had seen images of it on Google.

Our stay was short.  We only had one full day to find these parks so since the clerks were of no help, I copied the directions down on Mapquest and we headed out.  The four main parks I wanted to see were Hickory Run State Park (3 ½ miles away in White Haven), Jim Thorpe (which wasn’t a state park, it was a town but I wanted to see it) (a little over 15 miles away), Bushkill Falls (about 50 miles and was last on the list) and Lehigh Gorge State Park (app. 9 miles away but still in White Haven).  A full day of trails, sightseeing, fresh mountain air and fun, right?

To make a long story short, while you could find out about these parks on the Internet by doing searches, actually finding the darn things in real life was downright impossible.  Oh, you’d see a little sign on the side of the road telling you it was ahead but that was it.  Usually there are signs at the entrance of these places, but there was none.  You either passed it and didn’t know it or it was a ghost park and completely invisible.  Might I say I was enraged.  We had driven for five hours to see a hotel, one McDonald’s, an Arbys, a Long John Silvers and a Wawa?  It was crazy.  I wanted to see a park!

What if you had a book and you knew that the Internet can sell your book like crazy.  Thank God (or whoever you believe in) for Amazon, but what if your book wasn’t even up on Amazon and your reader did find a book there just like yours instead?  Zero sales for you.  But, that’s not my point.  Usually an author does list their book at Amazon so it’s not all about that.  It’s about advertisement for your book.  What if you advertised and no one still can find you?  What if you did post your book cover on your website or blog and there’s no selling link?  Believe me, it does happen because I have seen it.  Crazy, crazy.  But my main point is this.  Don’t let your book become invisible.  Don’t say it’s out there and no one can find it.  I will never go back to White Haven because it made me enraged.  Don’t let a reader hear about your book and it’s impossible to find to purchase.

Here’s another point.  Advertise everywhere.  I remember going down south and there were a million signs on the side of the road advertising a place called South of the Border.  Anyone who drives south from the east coast has surely seen them.  They are repeated about 30 or more times (we counted and we stopped counting at 30).  Your brain is going to automatically register the name because it is repeated so many times.  Some people might think it’s annoying but even so the name is embedded in your brain and that’s what you want readers and book buyers to do with your book.

In my opinion and I know I’m biased but a virtual book tour is the best way to advertise your book on the Internet and the more places your book appears the better.  You may think that it’s overexposure and people’s eyes are going to glaze over if they have to see it another time, but your book cover will be remembered.

Incidentally, we had to ask some poor guy pumping gas into his car where Lehigh Gorge State Park was as we were getting very very frustrated.  He led us there.  As it turned out, it was down a dirt road. If you weren’t from there, you would have never found it.

Here’s a picture:

Lehigh Gorge State Park

Don’t make it impossible for readers and book buyers to find your book.  Don’t let your book become invisible and remember, you are the lifeline of your book.  It won’t sell unless you make it easy for the reader or book buyer to find it and purchase it.

Dorothy Thompson is founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations firm specializing in virtual book tours and social media marketing for authors.  She is also the co-author of the paranormal romance mystery, Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost, editor of the relationship book, Romancing the Soul, lots and lots of ebooks and loves hiking and biking especially in parks she can find.