Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Button Hack

Now that I'm back to blogging again, I've decided I want to post about more than just writing. Two major things in my life are kids and sewing. This post is about both. But don't worry—I'm not going to start posting sewing tutorials. There are plenty of lovely blogs out there with brilliant tutorials, so I'll leave that to those bloggers.

My 6-year-old has a few pair of pants that the buttons on are just too darn hard for him. They're hard even for me. It'd be wasteful for him not to wear them. He'll soon be growing out of them anyway. Y'know how kids are. Also, they're really cute.

So I did something really simple. First, I cut the button off. I attached adhesive-backed Velcro to both sides of the waistband as you can see in the picture below. You can use sew-on Velcro, but then you're going to see stitch lines on the side of the waistband that overlaps the other.

Simple, right? But then there's the problem of it looking like there's no button. Okay, so I know that he probably wouldn't care and that his shirt would cover it, but it's like a two second job to put the button back on if you have a sewing machine (if not you can do it by hand). 

If you're doing this, you want to make sure you sew the button on AFTER you attach the Velcro. This is because you're sewing the button on the opposite side of the waistband as you took it off. And this is where the buttonhole is. If you tried sewing it before the Velcro is on, your stitches are simply going to go through the hole.

If you don't know how to use your sewing machine to attach buttons, get out your manual. What you're going to do is lower the feed dogs so the fabric isn't pulled through. Using a zig-zag stitch, you go back and forth a few times. Then presto! You're done. Seriously, I will never sew buttons on by hand again after learning this method.

So now he can wear these awesome shorts to school and mama is happy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Adventures in Book Marketing by Belinda Y. Hughes

Book marketing was the furthest thing from my mind when I was scribbling out my first cookbook while staying warm in the kitchen during a hard winter in the country. Fortunately, I had a little bit of background, an audience and found my way into some wonderful promotional opportunities. In the course of things, I picked up some more ideas. Here’s the story of my book marketing adventure.


Press Release
Prior to my cookbook’s first edition, I was fortunate to have a great relationship with my hometown media, as well as press release training from our local chapter of Toastmasters. The weekly entertainment magazine focused on the romantic backstory of my Angelhair of Forgiveness recipe and the daily newspaper did a feature and photo on the Smoky Sausage Ommmelette recipe. 

Group Sales/Donations, Word of Mouth & Repeat Sales
My mother is a retired teacher who remains active in her professional sorority. When the local goodie bag donations committee for the state convention rang, Mom rang me and placed a special order for several print copies of my cookbook as her donation. The donations collector bought a copy for herself. When she raved to a friend about my One Bowl Frittata, she gave them her copy and came back to purchase a replacement. 

Blogger Reviews & Giveaways
Mom bloggers La-La’s Daycare and Southern Mom of 4 tested my recipes on their families. Kids helped in the kitchen, making Fruity Patooty Burritos, and began eating fruits and veggies with enthusiasm instead of complaints. Their Southern husbands unknowingly ate meatless Smoky Sausage Ommmelettes and boasted about the flavor. 

So Lori Bourgeois and Jenny Blizzard-Moye wrote glowing honest reviews and did single copy giveaways. That led to a giveaway site discovering me and doing a special five-copy promotion, at no cost to me. 

Do a Series & Write the Next Book
One day I realized Confessions was two years old, so I wrote a second edition. The focus was changed from lacto-ovo vegetarian to vegetarian with vegan options. I also added resources and more recipes, like Kiss Your Brain Biscuits for the menopausal set, including yours truly. The original foodie quotes were replaced with tips from international food blogger and nutritionist friends. 

Blogging & Social Media
Confessions 2 debuted with a giveaway and updated widget on my blog. My nutritionist and food blogger friends all helped me promote on social media without being asked. My writing blogger friends hosted me for guest blogging and author spotlight interviews. (See the links below to take advantage of those open-genre opportunities yourself!) 

I used my book cover as my icon on social media accounts, so people began associating me with my book, and added my buy and follow links to my email and post signatures. My interaction as a group member picked up, with #GardenChat, #SocialCafe, #SundaySupper and #Blogchat on Twitter, Feel Free to Promote and ProBlogger at LinkedIN and numerous Google+ groups for bloggers and foodies.

More Reviews & Freebies
A few months ago, I discovered Goodreads, and posted a thread there to exchange honest reviews. The response was incredible! I met other authors in need of reviews, and for some of them, mine was their first review. I got to read mostly magnificent fiction by authors I’d never heard of before, and they responded with Amazon reviews on my cookbook. 

I had difficulty over a few months getting my e-cookbook loaded onto Goodreads, but it’s finally done, so my friends can now post their Amazon reviews there, too. I recently created my Amazon author page, which features my Twitter and blog feeds, in addition to the usual brief bio. So far, I’ve done their free promotion option once and moved over 200 copies in one day with an all-day social media campaign and plenty of help from my friends.

Having learned a few new tricks from R.J. Blain, L.J. Cohen and other successful contemporary authors, some of my future book marketing plans include other bookseller sites, community development, blog tours, conferences, Google HangoutsOnAir, YouTube, TV and radio appearances, live demonstrations, crowdfunding for professional photography (hopefully by H.N. James) and, of course, more books.

One thing I’m exceptionally grateful to my latest reviewers for is spelling out their demand for more scratch recipes and more recipes, period. Read it for yourself, right there on the Amazon Confessions 2 page. They’ve pretty much placed their order, now all I have to do is fill it. Stay tuned!

Thanks so much, Mary Cain, for giving me this guest blogging opportunity to share my book marketing ideas. 

As a thanks to readers, I’m making Confessions 2 free for a day on Amazon. Click here

Please share about your experiences. Which book marketing tips have you tried? Which ones have you skipped?


Belinda Y. Hughes is a cookbook author, blogger, poet, artist and social media maven. She enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, reading, yoga, meditation and communing in the country with her labradachs and wildlife friends. Belinda relies on an alarm cardinal and the sun and moon to tell time. She is working on her first collection of erotic poetry, an LGBT cozy mystery and the third edition of her vegan vegetarian cookbook.


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