Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Release Party Part 1

My book release party is tomorrow night and I am FREAKING out, but more on that later.  I've decided to do a two-part post on the book release experience, in order to tell ya'll what I did in preparation for the party and then what actually went down and what I learned from the whole affair.

So a few months ago when I decided to self-publish Harlow 1 I told one of my girlfriends, who jokingly said, "you should have a launch party."  I laughed for half a second and then thought, why the heck not?  When you have any new business or product don't you launch it into the world?  Create buzz?  At the very least tell whoever will listen about it?  So why as an author would I not do the same with my "product?"  I'll tell you why, because books are a strange thing to market, and usually the people that write them hate being in the public eye.  We're the ones that are sitting with our head buried in a notebook or a laptop at Starbucks cramming all our deep rooted desires into characters that will not leave us alone.  So when the idea of planning a party that's sole focus is my work, my private words that convey so much of who I truly am was not my favorite thing but it was a necessary thing if I don't want all my hard work to go unnoticed.  So let's get to it, how to plan a party for your book.

1.) Pick a venue.  If your book has cool theme, try and find a restaurant, bookstore, rentable space, friends house, whatever that adheres to that theme.  If you don't have a theme then just pick a place that you feel comfortable in and where you don't have to spend too much mullah.  After all the point of is to sell some books so you don't want to dish out too much dough.  I luckily had  friend I met back when I was selling wine.  I've always loved her Tasting Room, it's sexy AND cozy and just makes you want to spend money and not even feel bad about it.  Luckily her space was available and just like that I had a release party venue.

2.)Selecting a venue usually gives you the date and time of your launch so now that you have those, put together an invite list.  Think of the people that have helped you on your journey to become a published author and who will be almost as excited as you.  They get invited because you should thank them but also because they're the ones that are going to spread the word. 

"What are doing this weekend?" 
"Oh I didn't tell you, my friend is having a book release party for their fabulous novel, you should come."

(A reason why you shouldn't be obsessed with the guest list, keep it open so that people can invite their friends.  Meeting new people can lead to all kinds of good, like how I just met a copyeditor actually.  Anyway, I digress.)

Also invite your target audience.  I went to local bookstores that are carrying my book and handed out invites, also I contacted my local library's YA club and told them about the launch.  *On my invites I informed folks that they could purchase the book to have it signed by the author at the event-that way you don't have to order a ton of books to sell at the release and if no one show you won't have lug them back home(talk about a walk of shame) and ponder what you're going to do with a room full of books.  (But DO, have a few copies to sell at the event for late invites who couldn't get their books shipped in time, and also, it is your book's party so it should be visible).

3.) Press release.  Inform local newspapers, radio stations, cooperate bookstores, that you have arrived and your book is ready to be purchased. 

4.)Figure out what you're going to do.  Plan on making a toast explaining what it took to get you to this point (publishing your book, writing your book, any fun tidbits that happened along the way).  Acknowledge them for being your earliest and biggest supporters.  Maybe you want to read an excerpt from your book. 

5.)Network, network, network, and mention upcoming events so they can inform their friends.

"What did you do this weekend?"
"I went to my friend's book release."
"No way, that sounds fun, I love things like that, I wish I had known."
"I had no idea you liked to read, well they are having a (fill in the blank here) next month, we should go to that."

See how easy that was?

6.)Enjoy!  This is your party, your big day, you wrote a freaking book and you didn't just let it sit on your PC you actually published it.  Not very many people do that.  So enjoy your book party, this your moment to reap the rewards of all the work you put in to get you to this point.  So have some fun even though you do have to make a public speech.  :)

Sidenote: If you're thinking a book release party isn't for you, you're too shy, or no one would want to come, or whatever, stop it.  This is imperative, creating an Facebook page and embracing other forms of social media is just the beginning.  You need real life connections if you want to really get your community behind your project.  I bought a smoking hot dress with a set of heels to match, do whatever it takes to get you pumped.  For me it's clothes, and also knowing I won't have to stare at my closet for hours wondering what I'm going to wear.  Cheers, and if you're in town join us at the launch party tomorrow night.  I'm thinking of creating an Instagram account just for the event or at least live tweeting it lol.  Okay now I think I just need to go to bed, more tomorrow blogosphere. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shannon Barczak Is Amazing, Check Out What She Has To Say About Being an Author & Super Mom

Everyone once and a while you meet someone that can be your soul-mate, your perfect match, your BFF, well that's what happened when I met fellow paranormal author, mom, and blogger, Shannon Barczak.  She is witty and a great author.  And she is just figuring it all out like me, which is why she will be making this guest blogging thing a regular occurrence starting next month.  I know it's so exciting!  But don't just take my word for it-before you start your happy dance, check out her interview and get to know her a bit :)  Happy Monday!

Shannon Barczak lives in the state of Maine with her husband,who is like her fourth child, hormone fueled teenage twin boys, a seven year old daughter, who thinks she truly is a princess, and a
dog named Ruby, who is so inappropriately friendly it’s almost embarrassing.

When she is not cooking, baking, and doing endless loads of laundry, she enjoys dreaming up crazy stories all while listening to her iPod on the highest decibel level possible. Her other hobbies include painting completely insane abstract paintings that most people don’t understand, swearing like a sailor when her kids aren’t around (ok, sometimes they are) and reading several books at the same time.

Because you're a busy mom of three, who also paints,  how do you find the time to write? 

For twenty years I started and stopped writing a book several times. I used the excuse that “I don’t 
have time for this”. Here’s the thing, when you want something bad enough, you’ll make the time. 
 It’s all about perspective, multitasking, and most importantly believing in yourself.

How long have you  been writing? 

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. It’s funny; a memory came to me the other day. In the 
seventh grade I had written a short story for fun. I put it away, like I did all my writings, and then one day I had to turn in an essay for English class. I panicked because I was late on the assignment and grabbed the story out of my hope chest. A few weeks later, not only did I get an A, I also won an award for it later on in the year.

What’s your favorite book? 

This is such a hard question! I have to say Pride and Prejudice. I adore anything by Jane Austen

What’s your favorite Indie book? 

One of my favorite books is Prince of Wolves ( The Grey Wolves) by Quinn Loftis. Out of Time by Monique Martin is also one of my new favs.

You live in Maine, does that serve as a backdrop to any of your books, even if it is transformed

into a magically world? 

I love my home state of Maine, even though I am moving to Charleston,SC shortly. I guess I will let the cat out of the bag and announce that my next series will be set on the beautiful rocky coast of Maine!

What is your writing process consist of? 

A big bag of Twizzlers and a bottle of Ibuprofen! I start off by writing out a synopsis on good old fashioned paper with a pen. I then write out my chapter outlines and also do any research that will be in the book. A composition notebook is never far from my side when I write. After I have everything written down, I open Word on my computer and let it rip.

What do your kids think of you being a published author? 

They think it’s pretty cool and their really proud of me. Although my 14 year old twin boys keep asking me when the big royalty checks are going to start coming in.

Do you have any advice for up and coming authors? 

Just do it! It’s not an easy path, I have always said, there are many people that say they are writing book but there are far fewer that actually finish it. I am almost jealous of young writers today. Twenty years ago if I had Createspace and Amazon Publishing at my disposal, the process wouldn’t have seemed so daunting.

What is favorite stage of the publishing process? 

 My favorite part is that moment when it all comes together and your finger hovers over the mouse button before you hit Save and Publish.

Who is your favorite character in your trilogy? 

I love them all dearly but my foul mouthed, smart ass heroine Willa is my girl

You’re working on your second book in the Skye Trilogy, any hints you’re willing to divulge?

Isle of Night, the second book is a bit darker and steamier than the first. I tried to continue the
theme of Willa finding herself and figuring out who she is but I also had to add more complex
layers to her story. One hint I will give is this: Mathias and Willa’s scenes were some of my
favorite and hardest to write. I cried at the end.

Need More Shannon:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Marketing and Book Sales

These past couple weeks my blog has been filled with wonderful guests but in the real world my life was also filled with a ton of marketing for my book. In this post I'm just going to talk about selling my book yo a local Indie store.

I decided to include Expanded Distribution (if you self pub via Amazon's Createspace you have the option to include your book in their Expanded Distribution Channels for free, this involves Barnes & Noble, Ingram and a few others) so that my book would be available in some brick and mortar stores. This was exciting but meant that I was going to have to hit up these real life stores and get them to buy my book and then sell it. 

This made me quite nervous. Even though I teach public speaking and even have a unit on persuasion I was dreading having to plug my book. Then I remembered, in another lifetime I had been a wine distributor and I had canvassed this town's local businesses and gotten them to buy my juice so how was that different from now? So I pulled my head out of the insecurity clouds and decided to make my first phone call...

(For the purpose of time and just fun, I am going to outline my first sale to an Indie bookstore with bullet points)

1.) Type up a book flyer. This should include your books title, a pic of at least the front cover, ISBN number, Retail price of your book, and how they can order it (Ingram, directly from you, etc.) short reviews from readers (if you have them). A description of your book (I used what appears on the back of my book) and an, About the Author paragraph that has your contact info.

2.) Be humble. Chances are you're not high in demand, they've probably never heard of you so start off with the simple question of "do you carry self-published local authors?" as opposed to, "how much will you pay me for 100 copies?"

3.) Be persistent. If the person in charge of ordering isn't available when you call, call back. If they miss your scheduled meeting, reschedule. I know to you thus is a huge deal, getting your masterpiece on a shelf in an actual bookstore, but for them it's just work so stay cool and persevere. For my meeting the manager was at lunch so I hung out and perused the shelves dir 15 minutes. (I actually found Albert Brooks' 2030 so win-win).

4.) Be prepared, have a copy of your book ready to show/sell to them along with your book flyer.

5.) Have an infrastructure in place i.e. Have a way of getting your books to the bookstore when sales pick up.

OK, go sell some books! 
To my self-published friends out there, would you add anything else to this list?

Have a good week!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Author K.S. Marsden Agreed To An Interview & It Was Delightful

I know I said this would be a week long thing, (interviewing and hosting guest bloggers) but I had so much fun meeting new authors, and amazing bloggers that I had to keep it up.  This next interview is from fellow writer and blogger, who lives all the way across the pond, Kelly Marsden, who is published under, K.S. Marsden.  Her savvy personality along with her dry sense of humor made this interview a whole lot of fun.  And you're going to die when you find out how her family felt about her writing!!  Read on and enjoy :)

Kelly grew up in Yorkshire, graduated with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, and has spent most of her life trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Sales and Marketing role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
Her first book, The Shadow Rises, was published in January 2013.
Her books include, The Shadow Rises (Witch Hunter) and The Shadow Reigns (Witch Hunter)

First of all:

You mention on your blog that there were two constants in her life - books and horses.  Did you always know that it would stay that way?  

Actually, it was never supposed to be that way.  From the age of five (I was always a precocious child), I wanted to be a vet.  That plan never changed until college.  My only regret was that having such a time-consuming career meant I'd have less time for horses and books.
Luckily, all the Vet Schools rejected me (who knew it was so competitive!), so I was forced to use my back up and went down the horsey route.
After a decade of working with horses and studying them at uni, I have no regrets, and a lot of great stories. After a decade of working with horses and studying them at uni, I have no regrets, and a lot of great stories.

What is your favorite book?
That depends what type of mood I'm in.  But I don't think the books I read now will ever surpass the ones I loved as a kid.  They're still on my bookcase, completely worn, being held together with tape.  "Firebringer" by David Clement-Davies; "The Narnia Collection" by C. S. Lewis; "The Silver Brumby" by Elyne Mitchell. 

What has been your favourite Indie book?
There have been a lot of great Indie books that I have had the privilege to read.  But two series stand out for me: "The Housewife Assassin's Handbook" by Josie Brown; and "The Emperor's Edge" by Lindsay Buroker. 

What piece of advice would you give new authors?

Write a little bit every day.  Even if you don't feel like it; just start.

Who has been your best critic? 

My baby sister always brings me down to earth and gives me an "honest" answer.

What does your family think of you, “the published author,” in the family?

Actually, with the exception on my sister, my family didn't have a clue that I was even writing, nevermind considering publishing.  They only found out with the rest of the world when it was released!

Once the surprise had abated, they've all been very supportive, in their own way.  We're not a very expressive family, I got a pat on the back.

I’m currently reading your first book, The Shadow Rises, what was your inspiration behind it?

It all stems from a long-running family joke that all the women in our family are witches.  It was a subject that interested me from a young age and I picked up a lot of witch-related facts over the years; followed with some serious dissertation-style research into the Malleus Maleficarum when I was old enough to have the patience.  Just add some dry humour, and you have The Shadow Rises.

What are you currently working on writing wise?  Is it still in the genre of Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal?

I'm currently writing the third in the Witch-Hunter series - The Shadow Falls.

There are a couple of other projects in the pipeline, they're all in the Fantasy genre; one is Paranormal; the others... let's see what happens, they could completely change by the time I start writing them!

Which of your characters do you relate to most?

I think I relate most with James - he accepts being the dogsbody and never takes things too seriously.  Also, I am very proud of coming from Yorkshire!

Sometimes I wish I could be more like Mrs Astley - saying whatever comes to mind without any care of giving offence.

You’ve published multiple books; you have a great job in sales, what’s next for you? 

Rio 2016.

Ok, maybe that's a little ambitious, but I have an absolutely cracking dressage horse and I want to see how far we can get in the next few years.  Neo is proof that with a bit of hard work, anything is possible - he was neglected and half wild when I got him.

What has been your favourite review/comment to date? 

Trisha Coombs via Facebook - "Just finished reading The shadow rises, the witch hunter series, by k.s marsden, an amazing read, couldn't put it down I researched the rest of the books and the author, imagine my shock when it turns out to be a friend of mine Kelly Marsden....I nearly keeled over ...I've partied with this book writing genius, I'm humbled ...lolxx"

My other favourite comment came from a friend and client of mine, Ali Steele.  I was her riding instructor at the time and she agreed to the Shadow Rises and came back with the timeless quote: "It wasn't as crap as I thought it'd be."

And that concludes a wonderful interview, if you could hear me typing this I have a British accent, please don't take offense Kelly, lol.  Check out Kelly's series, The Witch Hunter.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Edi Campbell Interviewed Me & This Is What Happened

Computer Crash!

My computer has kicked the bucket! Luckily it allowed me to publish the first Harlow Book and host a couple of guest blogs. I'm already to order a new one but I feel like maybe the computer's death is an analogy for my writing career at the moment, slow down Valerie, life's a marathon not a sprint. So while part of me wants to pay the expedited shipping fee to get my new PC here ASAP, so more writing, editing, promoting, and marketing can commence, the other part of me that is blogging from bed and binge watching Law and Order (it's a classic, come on) is like, the computer will get here when it gets here.
So if I'm MIA for a couple days I'm just refueling.
Happy Sunday Funday or of you're like me, Sunday Do-Nothing Day, for a change :)
Have a good week!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Interview with Fellow Blogger, Edi Campbell

Continuing with my special guest week with an interview with Edi Campbell, who is a librarian, blogger and world traveler that serves as an advocate for increasing literacy in teens of color.
Just like before, my questions will appear in orange with Mrs. Campbell's responses appearing in white.  Enjoy!

1.  Reading your blog, it’s clear that you’re well-traveled, can you talk a bit about having the   opportunity to travel can do for a person?

I think travel is important because it takes us outside our ‘home’ and into the world. When we travel, we mature a little bit more because we realize our way of doing or understanding things is not the only way. We expand our minds. For some, travel may be going across town to a different neighborhood, across the country to a different region while to others it may be going across the globe to a different culture. It’s not about the distance, but about stepping into an unfamiliar place. Travel for me comes solely from a place of wanderlust; getting off the beaten tourist path and being a traveler. I know that’s not for everyone, but I do think that becoming educated is about learning to find our place in the world. No one will find their place with their wings tied to their side.

2.  Your blog, CrazyQuiltEdi is about promoting literacy for teens of color, can you share why this is such a relevant cause?

When I began my blog, I was working as a high school librarian in an urban high school. The students, the school, everything and everyone there was at risk of not acquiring the skills necessary to be successful. At the core of this problem is a lack of literacy: the inability to navigate the world around us. Not the entire world, mind you. Simply the world around us!

My school was 98% African American when I left but when I first began working there, it had a good racial and economic balance with  a fair amount of international students and a growing Latino population. Suddenly, I look up and realize all the students are Black, and less affluent.

All over American, we have racially identifiable schools, economic slums where the students are at risk. What’s the PC term for ‘less affluent’? I can’t say ‘poor’ because that word describes much more than a financial condition. These students lack financial access, but they’re not ‘poor’! They’re creative, cunning and intelligent in ways we don’t measure! They’re joyful and energetic about things that excite them. School doesn’t always excite them.

I promote using technology, travel, books, authors, speakers and whatever else is available to develop young people who are literate in all the ways they need to be to navigate the 21st century and be successful, empowered, joyful and connected human beings. I want these teens of color—whether they exist in economically depressed schools or have access to all a well endowed school can offer- I want all these teens, who are still marginalized, to be able to find themselves in environments that accept them as they are while allowing them to thrive. So, from time to time, I blog about a new tech tool, a summer internship or other things that may benefit teens of color.

3.  When you mention literacy you aren’t just referring to reading and writing, can you explain that further?

I think just about every area of study has its own form of literacy. Scientific literacy has students investigating the world as a scientist would, while geographic literacy has students finding places, analyzing movement and human-environmental interactions.  Reading, writing and computing are core to the other literacies.
I think having worked with older teens as a Social Studies teacher makes me realize there are so many ways we have to be literate to be create our own successes.  As a librarian, my focus is on information literacy, the ability to locate, access, evaluate and share information and I think that’s another core literacy but, but tell an Economist that financial literacy isn’t important!

4.  What’s your favorite book?  Do you remember the feeling you experienced after you completed it the first time?

I think the closest I’ve ever come to having a favorite book is when I totally love the last book I’ve just finished. I don’t know what it means about me but, I don’t have a favorite book, favorite color, movie, place, song… Maybe I just don’t attach to things.
Completed the first time? There are too many books and not enough time for re-reads! There’s only been one book I’ve purposely read more than once and it was such a guilty pleasure that I’ll never tell what it was. 

Such a wonderful woman and I'm so lucky I was able to connect with her.  For more about Edi and her work check out her blog;  Crazy QuiltEdi: Promoting Literacy For Teens of Color One Book At A Time