Friday, March 28, 2008

Needs no headline...

here it is!! On the table, at Barnes & Noble. I sent my younger brother out with his camera to give me proof that it's there. I'm on the same table as Lionel Shriver's The Post Birthday World, (the teal cover near the bottom left corner, might be unrecognizable except that I just read it) which I feel honored to share space with. AND I'm right next to a picture of Johnny Depp!!
Other news: this same Barnes and Noble (Gateway Mall) has scheduled a reading and signing for me! Saturday April 12 at 3 pm. I am now busy trying to contact local reporters etc to get the story in the paper to get people to attend. A signing where four people showed up would be very painful. Especially because all four people would already have the book. Even more so because they would have the book because my dad gave it to them. Because they'd all be relatives. And we'd sit in a circle and discuss my brother's baby rather than have a reading, because they've already read it, and the B&N personnel would feel sorry for us but not sorry enough not to boot us out to make room, and then we'd have to go to Hires and drown our misery in root beer.
No, this is what I'm preventing. Utah friends and family, make note...
Saturday, April 12, 3:00 p.m. at the Gateway Barnes & Noble.
Bring your friends! Bring your relatives! Bring strangers off the street! I'll see you there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Raindrops on roses

A few of my favorite things:

rain (when I am inside listening to it)
good hot chocolate while it's raining (or cold)
good chocolate, any time
baking, any time
good books, any time
AND...good reviews! All the time! Find another one here.

Armchair Interviews, another site I found, reviewed my book, and liked it. What a relief. They are a site that also puts reviews onto your Amazon page, so it's good that my pristine page will not be marred by someone who really hated the book. Whew. In fact, they will add a really positive one. Really positive. I am so happy when people get it. (This is not to imply that those who hate the book "don't get it," said with a derisive sneer, but they...well...don't get what I wanted to do. They're not on the same page as I was, I guess. Something like that.)

On that note: I welcome good reviews on my Amazon page! I only have 5 right now, so if any of you who haven't put up a review would consider doing so, I would be much obliged. To those of you who have one up, I am already much obliged. Thank you!

Still making progress with Utah things. I am contacting the local newspapers for stories (I'll let you know if that happens) and am possibly lining up a reading/signing at the Barnes & Noble where the book is stocked, at the Gateway Mall. This is a big deal for me, and for a self-published book. Tell your friends! I'll give details when I have them.

Meanwhile I have to prepare at work for this leave of absence. My boss is very kind, and has agreed to let me go, but he's got a lot of work to do while I'm gone and thus we have a lot of work to do before I go. So I'm off.

thanks everybody.....

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thank you!

Exactly one thing has happened:


Now, this number is fluid and fluctuates a LOT, so by the time you read this it will not be at 8,698. The last time I got really excited about my Amazon number it was right around 33,000 (the day before Thanksgiving), and it remained there for about half an hour and then started climbing upward. The inexorable upward climb, I now call it. And the Amazon number isn’t that informative, because it refers to your position amongst the 4 million–plus other books selling, and doesn’t tell you numbers of copies sold. At Christmastime a low number means more than in March, because everyone is buying books to give away (How many of them get read?? And how many go right to the “garage sale I’ll have someday” pile?) and more books are being sold overall, so you’re fighting and clawing for a higher number. In other days, you can sell two copies and jump a hundred thousand spots. I don’t know what sales are like right around Easter, but I know that when I looked at Amazon this morning my ranking had skyrocketed. Last week it wasn’t selling at all, and on Saturday it was climbing into the 500,000 range.

Bam. 8,698.

So again I ask, is this a one-time thing, or is it starting to catch on?

I know that Trish Browning gave me a whole lot more exposure than I thought I would get (THANK YOU TRISH!!) thanks to her giveaway and having people post about the giveaway on their blogs. (THANK YOU POSTERS!!) My parents’ church group is reading it for their book group, which I will meet with in April, and word of mouth has begun spreading with that; initially my dad sold them six books, and he has since had to place two additional orders, as people have read it and spread the word (THANK YOU DAD!! THANK YOU CHURCH PEOPLE!!). I’ve gotten a date set to speak to the creative writing majors at Weber State University in April, and a date to do a reading there as well, and it’s going to be in their bookstore, and they’re going to hold a signing. (THANK YOU WEBER STATE!) The University of Utah is also putting it into their bookstore, and I think it’s already at Sam Weller’s. My publicists are going to arrange media interviews (or try to) in Utah for the second or third week of April. And it goes into the Gateway Barnes & Noble in SLC ...tomorrow.

Oh, my goodness.

I love the fact that it’s in bookstores, even a small number of them. My cover is attention-getting and beautiful and completely conveys exactly what I wanted it to convey. Susan Koski Zucker designed it, and I thank heaven for her. (I should do a whole entry on the cover. It is a story worth telling.) This is the kind of cover that actually makes people want to read the book, so when they see it on shelves they say, “Hey, look at that!” and pick it up. With Amazon, it’s harder, because you have to find it—and to find it you have to be looking for it. You don’t just look at shelves and notice something. Well, at least one person happened to find it (he left a review: Sir Stephen of Kingsley. THANK YOU SIR STEPHEN!) when not seeking it out, so it’s not impossible; it’s just not usual.

All right, I just looked at the Amazon number again, and it’s back on its inexorable climb. But that’s okay; I’m glad I got to see it at 8,698. Some things are beginning, and I am happy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chocolate bunnies and eggs and chicks...

and a happy Easter to those who celebrate it.

I feel especially grateful today to Trish Browning, whose support has been immediate and unwavering. I haven't even met her! Thank you, Trish, and your readers for your enthusiasm and support. Read a litle more about it here

(Look at me! I did the "here" link! That's a step in the right direction.)

I went to a seminar the other night called "Be Your Own Book Publicist." It was taught by Christopher Lee Nutter, who wrote a self-help/spirituality book for gay men a couple of years ago, The Way Out. He managed to sell 8000 copies of this little book using newspapers, magazine reviews, etc. The dirty secret is that, even though he published through a traditional publishing house, his book publicist did almost nothing of this. He did it all himself.

We had a very interesting conversation that night, with Chris and 10 other authors who attended the seminar. Several of the authors--fiction and nonfiction writers alike--have contracts with conventional houses, and all said that the publicity departments had told them absolutely not to do their own publicity; it would "cheapen" them. Chris looked aggravated and said "But they won't do it! They don't have time! That's the problem!" He encouraged us to work with publicity departments, but really take the burden upon ourselves. He said that he had met an author a few weeks ago who was "just wrecked," walking around feeling awful because he'd been promised so much by the publicists and the publicists couldn't deliver. So this author had put in years of work and anguish (I relate!!) and the book debuted with a big flop.

Now, it's important to know that these publicists are not deliberately neglectful; they're just overwhelmed. They often have outdated media lists, and no time to do research to update them, and they send their books to general addresses at magazines, and at magazines 90% of these books end up on the "giveaway table": extra books that no one wants. They don't really do targeted, customized campaigns, because they don't have time. A women's fiction book like mine shouldn't be pitched to the same publications as Chris's gay men's spirituality book, really, but they don't have time to be discriminating so they blanket all their sources with all the same books.

It was an extremely enlightening 3 hours, and though I walked away feeling a bit overwhelmed, at least I have some more concrete ideas as to how to get my book out there. It's all a slow process, and continues to be slow, but I really believe that if I can just find my audience, it will all be worthwhile. Reading some people's comments about how the book affected them, or how they believe they need to read it at this time because it can help them (someone even wondered if it was a "sign from above") makes me keep on pushing.

Again, to my supporters, a really deep THANK YOU. You just can't know what feeling like my work is appreciated means to someone who's been wondering if her work would ever mean anything to anyone. Thank you, thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day to ye!

Another blog entry, as I eat grapes that taste vaguely like pickles. Yuck. And still I keep eating them. They’re better for me than chocolate, or so I keep telling myself. Maybe it’s time to start on the banana. Or the Twizzlers.

So my March Meet the Mac trip was wonderful. (see the entry below.) Babies are wonderful. Family is wonderful. And then I came back. Sigh. I suspect that if this baby were mine I wouldn’t be seeing things with such rose-colored glasses; after all, every night there I got to go to a hotel at 8 pm and swim in a fantastic pool, as the baby’s parents dealt with his decision on whether or not to sleep. But as it was, I had a fabulous five days with the majority of my family and a beautiful, happy baby who was just learning to smile (it doesn’t get much more precious than that), and cooed at us and made funny noises, and was just starting to see that people were there, holding him, and making eye contact etc. He is a poopy boy (a fact more than acknowledged by his mother), but I didn’t mind changing diapers every fifteen minutes, especially given that, as I said, at eight o’clock I went swimming. For our one touristy thing, we went to the Edgar Allan Poe museum. One word: boring. (and I love Poe!) Oh, and my dad and I also had some terrific crab cakes at the local Hard Shell pub one night. Happy times.

So, for book news. I’ve gotten a new review, this one from Trish Browning’s blog:
http://http// (I’ve been doing a lot of book blog surfing, and this one looked like a good one.) I contacted her and asked her to read the book, and she very kindly agreed. Then she read it in one day! Trish loved the book so much that she is sponsoring a contest for a free copy. Thank heaven for kind and supportive people! And the comments that have been posted so far are just as encouraging. Now I have to say to these people: if you don’t win, you can still have the book. A mere $13.95!!

I mentioned in another post that my magic number is 250. This is not quite the case. 250 is a milestone, but not the milestone. If I sell 250 (no more than 125 that I buy myself, so I can’t inflate my numbers too much) I qualify for “Reader’s Choice” designation, which is another symbol to get affixed to the back cover. On February 12, I achieved this designation. This is more exciting because as of February 12 I had purchased only 60 copies myself; 190 of them were purchased by you, dear readers! Thank you!

At this point, the only thing “Reader’s Choice” does for me is qualify me for their bimonthly marketing emails. I’m doing a whole lot of marketing on my own, so they aren’t that great. Well, I also get another graphic on my back cover.

The real magic number is 500. Again, 250 of them must be purchased commercially. So I could purchase 250 books myself and try to unload them at events and have those books count toward the 500 number, but I really don’t want to do that. I buy about 20 books at a time to send to blogs and reviewers and marketers and my publicists, but I don’t want to have a gigantic box or five under my desk at work. I certainly don’t have room for them at home. But once I sell 500 copies, I qualify for the “Star” program, which puts the book into “regional, and perhaps national” B&N placement. Yes, there’s a “perhaps” there, but...I’m counting on it. I have also been told that if you can sell 500 copies you might get the attention of a publisher. of February 12, we were at 190. Let’s keep going!

For my April Utah push, I’m slowly getting activities set up. I am going to speak with the creative writing majors at Weber State University (which I attended for a year) one day and hold a reading there, either later that same day or the next week. I am going to have a reading at my parents’ home, and my friend Andrea has offered one at hers as well. A dear friend in Rexburg, Idaho, is seeing if her book group wants to read it for April, and I have offered to make the drive up and attend the group, if they do. (You don’t get that same offer with Hemingway!) My mother also got her church book group to read it, again with the tantalizing author’s visit as the reward. The Salt Lake library has decided to stock a few copies, and I spoke with the people at Sam Weller’s, who will also stock it there. (They may hold an event, but not in April. Perhaps when I'm back for my brother's wedding in May or June. They still haven't decided.) The University of Utah bookstore is considering stocking it, as well. I’ll see if we can arrange some more events, also, to make a 3-week visit more worthwhile. I’m taking a leave of absence from work, for heaven’s sake; need to cram as much in as possible.

So that’s all for now. Happy St. Patrick’s day, everyone, and may the luck of the Irish be with us all!

I Met the Mac!

He sleeps a lot, and is happy just to look around a lot too.

And as you can see, he is beautiful ....