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Author Spotlight: Mike Bayles, Personal Book Marketing Specialist

This Author Spotlight features Poet Mike Bayles, author of four poetry/literary collage books as well as numerous poems in various publications. In the years I’ve known Mike, what has struck me about him is his ability to get out in the world and market his books in person. He’s done well for himself, despite not having an extensive online presence, though it’s something he’s working on. He said, “I maintain a presence on Facebook, and I’ve started a blog: mikebaylescollage.com. There are groups of Facebook I might use. I intend to use Linked In and other media. Otherwise, I’m still learning the process. I like to do radio interviews.”

Mike enjoys doing readings the most for book marketing, “because it’s kind of a performance for me.” He also enjoys doing news releases because it allows him to do a different kind of writing. When asked what has surprised him about book marketing, Mike said, “The biggest surprise I had when selling Breakfast at the Good Hope Home was the support I had from a journal editor/publisher in Wisconsin. He knew families touched by Alzheimer’s and kept ordering copies for the families. It was touching when he had me send a copy to a lady in Virginia who lost her husband of forty-seven years to the disease. She wrote a touching letter back to me.”

Wordsy Woman (i.e. yours truly) helped Mike create a written marketing plan for his book published by 918studio press, Breakfast at the Good Hope Home. Other than his personal appearances, Mike has submitted his books for review and offered himself for interviews, which have been picked up by Rob Kline of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Lynda Lambert of Saturday is for Sharing, Max Molleston, and the WVIK Scribbles radio program.

When asked about his book marketing strategies or tactics, Mike said, “I do public readings, send my book to places for review, and place it in book stores. I have also mentioned it to co-workers, who have bought the book. I talk up my book with friends and at critique groups, and mention it at places where I sing karaoke. I had a website set up. The most tangible results are when I do readings and people walk up to me and purchases copies. Or sometimes someone says they’ll go to a book store, and later I receive a check. I’m not sure that my website generated enough sales to justify the cost of setting it up.”

He hasn’t used paid advertising yet, “but I might pay to network through an online poetry site where some of my poems have appeared. I can get free promotion by sending out news releases about launch parties and events I do. The Rockford Writers’ Guild always does a great job promoting my books and writing reviews. The website for the Illinois State Poetry Society did great promotion when I was a featured poet for its Last Sunday event.”

For new authors or other authors facing book marketing, Mike offered, “Don’t be shy. Get out there and do readings. You completed a book that will interest readers. You have something to say. Get your book out in places where people will buy it. Network. It takes as much effort, or more, to promote your book as to write it. Make sure that you have a good editor help you with your manuscript before you self- publish your book or submit it to publishers. Join a writers’ critique group.” He also said, “Write to your passion, and find an audience who wants to read it. Writing is an act of sharing and making connections. Remember to pay as much attention to selling your book as you give to its writing. Writing the book takes a lot of time, of revisions, to create a product people will value. You have something to say.”

You can find Mike at collagemikebayles.com or on Facebook. You can also learn more about him at his 918studio press author page. He does a lot of events at Rozz-Tox in Rock Island, which you can find out more about on their website here. He plans to release another poetry collection later in 2019.

Mike’s Books:

Breakfast at the Good Hope Home, 2017, 918 Studio Press

Breakfast at the Good Hope Home, a literary collage, uses vignettes, poems, and other forms to tell the story of a son visiting his Alzheimer’s father in the nursing home. The son faces the loss of the father, and of the life he’s known. He turns to memories of better times, and to his friendship with a CNA, for comfort.

The Harbor I Seek, a book-long poem, 2015, Self-Published.

The Harbor I Seek as a book-length poem, to tell the story of a person who lived in his car, seeking to find a sense of personal redemption. The main character struggles to find odd jobs, and misses his relatives, far away. He finds refuge, staying in a parking lot, near a boat landing (or harbor).

The Rabbit House, a collection of small-town poetry, 2014, RWG Press.

The Rabbit House is a collection of poetry about the nuances of living in small towns. The poetry reflects a sense of connection and disconnection found when spending time in small towns, and as a live-in pet-sitter. One of the author’s favorite poems in the collection is a tribute to one of his younger cousins.

Threshold, a collection of poetry, 2013, RWG Press, 2013 RWG Press

Book of the Year The poems in Threshold reflect Mike Bayles’ many connections with Iowa. “Threshold,” the title poem, reflects the author’s hope of peace when a fight breaks out in a parking lot. He also pays tribute to many places in Iowa, love, his father, and people he’s known. A review in The Rockford Review, Summer/Fall 2014 said that this collection was a “must read” for people who loved Iowa.