This month I spotlight multi-published (mostly traditionally) non-fiction and fiction author, Lilly Setterdahl. Lilly’s latest book is a novel. The action in Second Love After 50 begins with a three-car accident in which Andrea is hurt. When the man who hit her car visits her and gives her flowers, she wonders if he is doing it because he might be made liable. Andrea is attracted to him but she has two other men visiting her, one of whom appears to be in love with her, and the other who is a hot, live wire that she is afraid to touch.
Since publishing her first book in 1981, Lilly says her attitude towards book marketing has changed. “In the beginning of my writing career, I wrote research articles that were published in Swedish and Swedish-American papers and magazines and gave me name recognition. For my first non-fiction books, I depended on the publisher for marketing. Gradually, I began to give talks and book signings. I consigned books to gift shops and independent bookstores but didn’t always get paid. Now, I sell them outright to those outlets. At one time, I was paid to write one large research book, which took me five years.”
As you will see in her list of publications below, many of Lilly’s works cover Swedish heritage. Lilly has been interviewed in local and Swedish papers, gave numerous presentations in Sweden, and appeared locally on Augustana radio and the Paula Sands Live television shows. She sends press releases to Swedish-American periodicals, which has resulted in book announcements and reviews. “My nonfiction books always result in requests for review copies, and I can expect professional reviews to appear in quarterly magazines. Other than that, I rely mostly on sending out emails, the social media, and Amazon.com to market my books. Many of my books are available on Amazon sites around the world.”
Lilly relates that she’d rather spend her time writing and she hates book marketing. She has been surprised that organizations have sought her out as a speaker, thus discovering a talent for speaking to audiences she didn’t know she had.
When asked what book marketing tactics have worked best for her, Lilly said, “Of the marketing I’ve been doing, I think that personal contacts work the best, talks with book signings to the right audience. The individual approach has potential (doctors, hairdressers, exercise friends, etc.). Recently, I’ve created an author’s page on Amazon.com, and I have yet to find out how productive it will be. I also made a video that I uploaded to YouTube and posted on various sites. I like self-publishing with independent online publishers because it gives me control and a decent return. It also gives me free listings on worldwide Amazon.com sites. For me, it’s very important to have my books available on Amazon sites in Europe, and that is seldom possible with traditional publishers.”
Lilly hasn’t used any paid advertising to market her books, but she has used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube as well as Amazon’s author page feature. When asked what advice she’d give to those new to book marketing, Lilly said, “My advice to new authors is to hustle your book yourself the best you can, but also to use social media and the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon.com. Try to get your readers to post reviews. Avoid paying to get published. It is possible to self-publish without paying a cent if you can do all the formatting and electronic submissions yourself. Always set your book price as low as possible. It’s better to sell more books at a low price than fewer books at a high price.”
Her final thoughts for you? “Writing, formatting, and marketing books can be a full-time job. One has to allow much time to the learning process, and there is always something new to learn. Proofreading is another time-consuming task. As a retiree, I devote almost all my time to writing and everything else associated with producing books.”
Lilly’s complete list of titles:
Swedish-American Newspapers: A Guide to the microfilms held by Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center, Traditional, 1981.
Bror Johansson’s Chicago (Lennart Setterdahl, coauthor). Traditional, 1985.
A Pioneer Lutheran Ministry: L. P. Esbjorn and his Family in Andover, Illinois. Traditional, 1988.
Memories Preserved: The Inventing Bostroms and Guide to Interviews with Swedish Americans. Traditional, 1988.
Memories Preserved, Vol. II. Scandinavians in Alabama and Gude to Interviews with Swedish Americans. Traditional, 1992.
A Century of Song: American Union of Swedish Singers 1892-1992. Traditional, 1992.
Rockford Swedes: American Stories. Niel M. Johnson, coauthor. Traditional, 1993.
Minnesota Swedes: The Emgration From Trolle Ljungby To Goodhue County 1855-1912. Traditional, 1996. Second edition revised published as a printed book and for Kindle by Self, 2015.
Minnesota Swedes, Volume II: Trolle Ljungby Families in Goodhue County 1855-1912. Traditional and Self, 1999.
I Emigranternas spår: Människor vi mött, 1959-1995. Traditional and Self, 2002. (In Swedish)
Swedes in Moline, Illinois: 1847-2002. Traditional and Self, 2003.
Growing up in Sweden: In the Shadow of World War II. Self, 2008.
Chicago Swedes: They spoke from the heart (based on oral histories by Lennart Setterdahl), Self 2010.
Not my time to die: Titanic and the Swedes on board. Traditional, 2012.
True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland, Ohio, 1873-2013. Traditional, 2014.
Maiden of the Titanic. Traditional, 2007.
Hero of the Titanic. Traditional, 2011.
Second Love After 50, Self, 2015.