Getting Educated on Marketing

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

As a writer there are two things I truly suck at, punctuation and marketing.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to work on both.  So when an on line course I had been eyeing was offered for free for one week only I signed up.


This was my first experience with an on line class and how they work.  I knew each day of the Book Marketing Summit I would receive an email with links to the days segments.  On day one I learned there would be 4 or 5 segments each day.  Each link was accessible for 48 hours and then it disappeared.


The segments consisted of interviews with a knowledgeable professional about a specific aspect of marketing; most of them were an hour long.  That’s four or five hours a day, add in my part time job, laundry, meals, etc, etc.  I would not be spending any time with critters that week.


At the end of the seven days I had worked 26 hours and traveled close to 400 miles to do it.  I had completed all 28 segments and had 40 pages of notes. 

I have now sorted my notes into categories and have a game plan.  The first order of business for me is to start building my list.  What list you ask, why my e mail list of course.  This list will consist of people who want to follow the progress of my publishing journey with my new book. 

On a bi-weekly, or possibly monthly basis I will e mail each of them an update on my progress, and offer a free look behind the scenes every now and then to keep them engaged.  Once the book is released they will get an e mail with a bonus if they purchase the book.   .  If this sounds like a journey you would like to take with me just E mail me   Feel free to share this blog with others that may also be interested.


The timing on this marketing summit couldn’t have been better. I am in the final stages of finishing a book my sister and I wrote together.  The working title of the book is simply “Sisters”.  It is a memoir that takes the reader through 12 years of our lives as we become adults.


As I build my list I will also be putting together my launch team. What is a launch team?  It’s a group of people that are super interested in this process.  The launch team is my sounding board for decisions on things like the book description, the cover,  keywords, what freebees to offer (launch team members get all the freebies)   categories and more. The launch team members will have first access to the book and I am hoping most will write reviews. 


There is still a lot to do before we go to print, but I have learned a lot about on line marketing and I am hoping my new found education will serve me well in the future.  What are your marketing secrets? How will you apply them to your next project? 

Thanks for stopping by.

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Picture This by SJ

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Recently I was asked to give a talk about using photographs when writing. As a wildlife photographer photographs are an intimate part of my writing. I begin with the image, then write the words. With the aid of the internet you can literally have any type of image at your fingertips. Images can be part of anyone’s process. 

All Writers strive to create an image in the minds of the reader. By using photographs your description can help the reader visualize the subject, the setting, or set the mood.

1 Scenic

By noting the bareness of the trees and the ice on the water in this image you can add to your description and not use the word cold.

Having an image in front of you helps add subtle details to round out the surroundings in your story. A butterfly can convey a peaceful scene, or a warm day.  

2 Butterfly

Viewing photos can produce a chuckle, and calm you down so you can get in the mood to write.

3 Lemur

It doesn’t matter what genre you write images can play an important part in your process.

If you are writing a memoir Family photos are important.

4 Family

If you are working on a historical piece or western having an image can help tell the reader about the personality of a character. Weather the horse is well feed or groomed says a lot about it’s owner.

5 Horse

Suppose your story might benefit from the addition of a vulture, but you have never been close to one. A photograph could give you a close up view.

6 Vulture

The most important image to any author is their book cover. Don’t just gloss over this part of your book. It is important!

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This cover grabs peoples attention, It says look at me. The fact that it my case it is a photograph and not an illustration says something too. This is the readers first impression of your work. It has to say take me home.

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S. J. Brown’s book Close Ups & Close encounters contains over 50 images along with the stories behind getting those images.  It is available at

Her children’s picture books are available through her website at

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The Unexpected by SJ

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Recently I was reminded life rarely goes as planned. Sometimes you just have to go with it. Like the bride & groom that had an extra thousand or so people at their wedding reception. They waved to the crowd, toasted one another and smiled for the cameras. Like when Hubby and I bought a new house and couldn’t move in until six months after settlement. We did a little remodeling and relaxed on our new deck. Making plans are good, but you should always be prepared to tweak your plans just a bit when the unexpected happens and makes life a bit more interesting.

The unexpected is pure gold to a reader. The plot twist they didn’t see coming, the well laid path that leads them to a surprise destination, or the killer they never suspected.

As a wildlife photographer, I live for the unexpected when I am out in the field. A chance encounter with a surprise critter is always a plus.


These meetings can have a variety of results. Those results are what drive the stories I write. The seemingly simple photograph that took hours to get, the friendly looking critter that wasn’t all that friendly. Being close enough to a wild animals to hear their breathing. These situations are all part of the life of a wildlife photographer.

Bighorn Sheep

Weather and terrain are also factors when I am in the field. A cloudy day often is more photo friendly than bright sunshine. Rainy days are always a challenge. But if I am there and the critters are there, I cover the camera, put on a poncho and keep shooting. Did you know cold weather kills the camera batteries? They need to be kept warm between shots. Time in the field teaches most wildlife photographers how to deal with this issue and many more.


Standing ankle deep in muck to get just a bit closer to the subject isn’t uncommon, neither is climbing trees, over rocks or laying on the ground.


For me the ultimate shot is achieved when a critter pauses, and looks right into the  lens. When viewing a photograph do you consider the angle it was taken from? When reading a murder mystery story do you consider the amount of time and effort that goes into that unexpected ending?


Fiction writers test the limits of their imagination, while wildlife photographers test their limits of observation.

On November 29th I will be joining a number of fellow authors at the Berkeley Springs WV Book Festival. If you are in the area stop by the Ice House on Mercer Street between 10 am & 4 pm. I will be giving a presentation about wildlife photography. Also I will be sharing photographs and autographing copies of my books. I always enjoy chatting with people about their favorite wild critter. What’s yours?

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Close Ups & Close Encounters Available through CreateSpace, Ingram, Baker & Taylor,,, and Everywhere Fine Books are Sold

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S. J. Browns Children’s books are available exclusively through S. J. Brown.  at

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Blog WaterfallThe world is filled with photographers each with their own specialty. Some enjoy  getting that perfect scenic shot that places the viewer at the location. The shape of a majestic mountain, the trickling liquid that cascades from a water fall, or the subtle shades that enhance a sunset is what prompts them to click the shutter button.

Blog FlowerOther shutterbugs frame in bright colorful flowers. Focusing in on the intricate lines what enhance the petals. Just the right amount of sunlight is needed before they click the shutter button.

Blog JaySome photographers enjoy images that evoke emotion as told by the expression on a person’s face. These expressions are fleeting and they need to click quickly to capture their desired image.

Architecture is another popular subject to record. The sleek subtle lines that piBlog Lighthouseerce the skyline or highlight the craftsmanship that goes into a building command some to click the shutter button again and again from varying angles.

As a wildlife photographer getting close to a wild animal and capturing it on film is my objective. This isn’t always an easy task. You can’t ask your subject to move a little to the left or look this way, can you? I can and do.

When I am in the field these types of comments evoke a chuckle from my spotter, but I chat with my subjects anyway. A calm reassuring voice lets my subject know I am there. This reduces the surprise factor and flight or fight response to my presence.

Blog HawkA raptor in hunting mode perched on a tree branch often has it’s back to me. A short conversation will prompt him to turn to see the source of the noise. Click , click goes my camera. Further chatter often turns him around to access the threat. That is when I click, click, click the shutter button.

Blog FoxFinding my subjects is also a challenge. They could be in the woods, along a river bank, along the edges of a field, or standing along the road. Some animals are use to seeing cars drive by. However when a vehicle stops that is totally foreign to them. Some stop and ponder the situation for just a moment. That is my opportunity to click away.

For me photography is as much about the experience as it is about the resulting image. The challenge of finding my subjects is something my spotter Jay takes very seriously. While I view our excursions as relaxing and fun he is serious and tense until I click the shutter button a few times. Then he relaxes a bit and enjoys his surroundings.

Blog TurtleMy endless quest for new subjects to photograph has led me to explore a variety of locations. I have met some charming people, and look into the eyes of fascinating creatures.

        When viewing a wildlife image do you consider what it took to get the shot? Do you simply enjoy the image? Do you have a preference for scenic shots over architecture, or are critters your favorite?

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Go into the field with S. J. Brown and see what develops.

Read Close Ups & Close Encounters.

S. J. Brown’s children’s picture books introduce children to wild critters with photographs, not illustrations.

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