Sunday, October 21, 2012

5 Steps to an Awesome Book Signing

Last Friday I had my first author event ever. 

A few weeks ago my daughter took a copy of The Secret Underground to school and told her teacher that I wrote it.  Her teacher bought it on Kindle, read it, loved it, and asked if I would like to sign and sell books at the school Read Night. I almost told her no. I'm not the sort of person who loves meeting people, and I get terrified at the thought of having to sell my own books. I worried the night would be miserable.

It wasn't.  In fact it was really fun. We sold a lot of books and I got to meet so many great kids and their parents.  I thought I'd share a few of things that made it a success and might work for others doing book signings.

1. Spread the word.

My idea of spreading the word was putting a little post on Facebook the day before letting people know I'd be doing a signing.  My husband's idea of spreading the word was sending emails to everyone he knew, telling them about the book and how sales benefit Jayden, and encouraging them to come(without telling me).  WAY more people came because of my husband's emails.  He's the sweetest man ever.

2. Have a cheerleader.

My daughter's teacher is my favorite person now. She set up her room for the signing and stayed with me the whole time, chatting when it was slow (which wasn't very often) and talking up the book whenever someone came in. The majority of visitors were people I'd never met before and it REALLY helped to have a respected teacher telling everyone how much she loved my book.

3. Give something away.

I had some bookmarks made with information about how to buy the book, and a little blurb about Jayden.  Since this was a huge school event with at least a dozen activities in different rooms, most of the people weren't coming to see me. There were a lot of kids walking around without their parents, and since I didn't have a cool game or a fun art project for them it was nice to be able to give them something fun.  You'd be surprised how cool a free (promotional!) bookmark can be.

4. Keep it short.

I only signed for an hour.  It was busy almost the entire time.  I've heard of signings lasting two or even three hours.  Those long signings might work for a bestselling author, but for a tiny debut author like me an hour seemed just about right.

5. Give some profits to a good cause.

I'm fortunate that all the profits from this book go to a fantastic cause.  I know many people buy it just to support Jayden. I've heard some authors donate a portion of profits from signings to favorite charities.  I think that's an awesome idea.

I'm pretty sure I was spoiled and I'll never do another signing that's so well attended or fun.

Have you been to book signings?  Have you done your own?  What are some things that made it fun?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not Just Another Pretty Face...

My very dear friend and CP, Karen is showing off her latest cover today. It's SOOOO pretty, I just had to share. I love that it's not the average YA cover--i.e. girl in a pretty dress with (sad) pretty face.

Karen and her cover designer, Alexandra Shostak, worked side by side to create the Taking Back Forever cover. After lots of hard work (and a lot of love) here it is…

Want to know more? Here’s a summary of Taking Back Forever.

Forever is worth the fight.

Maryah erased all memory of her past lives, but she couldn’t erase her soul mate Nathan, or his undying love. Now, Maryah and Nathan have a second chance at a future together, but first Maryah must remember the person she used to be and embrace her supernatural gifts—more than one kindrily member’s life depends on it.

Maryah’s power is Harmony’s best hope of finding her kidnapped soul mate, Gregory. But Harmony isn’t big on asking anyone for help, and she’s tired of waiting, so she’s taking matters into her own hands. Heaven help anyone who stands in her way.

To celebrate, Karen and Alexandra are giving away signed paperbacks of Grasping at Eternity. (Signed by Karen AND Alexandra!)
Contest is open internationally!

 Alexandra Shostak is a writer of dark and fantastical things, mostly meant for teenagers. She is a freelance cover designer, and is available to do covers and interior artwork directly for authors. She is also a former Irish dancer, a guitar player, and the person who can get you through the zombie apocalypse without getting bitten.
If you’re especially worried about the zombie apocalypse, you can find her in one of these places:
or on Twitter as @a_shostak

Karen was born and bred in Baltimore, frolicked and froze in Colorado for a couple of years, and is currently sunning and splashing around Florida with her two beloved dogs. She's addicted to coffee, chocolate, and complicated happily-ever-afters. Due to her strong Disney upbringing, she still believes in fairytales and will forever sprinkle magic throughout all of her novels.
Twitter: @karen_hooper

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Do You Stick to Your Genre?

Over the past few weeks I've been reading two very different books.  Both are by really big, extremely talented authors (and though I'm not going to name them, you can probably guess who...).  

One of these books is a brilliant conclusion to a brilliant series.  The author did what she does best and wrote a book every one of her fans will love.  I devoured every page.

The other book is a complete departure from what the author normally writes.  I pretty much hated it, and even though I'm the sort of reader who ALWAYS finishes what I start, I couldn't plow through this one.  I knew it would be different from what she'd written before, but it was TOO different for me.

A few years ago I went to a workshop about building a successful writing career.  The author talked about how she' never been able to stick with a genre.  She'd bounced all over from children's books to adult literary fiction.  She sold them all to different publishers and thought she was doing pretty well.  She loved each book and was excited to see all of them find places on bookstore shelves.  

She said it was a terrible career move.  The fans of one book didn't like (or didn't read) the others. So even though she had multiple books out, none did very well.  

I've toyed with writing different genres.  I normally write contemporary MG, but I've tried fantasy too. I have a dystopian YA that I think is kind of good.  I once dreamed of writing adults literary fiction.  

There are a few authors who are successful in more than one genre--like Shannon Hale and Neil Gaiman. But I think it's hard to do well.

Do you write in one genre or many?  Will you stick to a genre after you have a book or two published?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Story I'm Afraid to Write

A few weeks ago, my brother asked me why I'd never written a serious story--particularly something about a sick baby.  I have real-life experience (with my little boy, Jayden, and my twin sisters who were born very premature), and maybe I could write something really meaningful.

I told him, I don't write stories like that because I don't want to relive any of the time when my baby was sick.  I've spent two years piling happy memories on top of the ones from the hospital, hoping they'd fade.  I write light, fun stories because that's where my mind wants to spend its time.

My brother nodded and let it go, but I couldn't stop thinking about what he'd said.

Then I had an idea for a book unlike any I've written so far. A serious book.  A book that would challenge me emotionally.

I've barely started and already I've ended every writing session in tears. The research is really, really difficult and the story is the most personal thing I've ever written.  It's likely I won't make it to the end and, even if I do, it would be a miracle if it was the sort of book anyone actually wanted to read.  But it is the book of my heart, and I really believe it's what I need right now.

Is there a special book you want to write someday?  One you're afraid to start?

Monday, October 1, 2012

How Book Sales will Help Jayden

Hi everyone!

It's been quite the weekend.  Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of The Secret Underground or tweeted/blogged/facebooked about it. I wish I could give all of you a big hug! Every single sale makes a difference to Jayden's family.

I thought I'd tell you about just one big expense that Jayden's parents have on a regular basis.

Most parents know that formula can be super expensive, it's not unusual for a family to spend $20-$40 a week just on formula. Jayden's health issues, combined with food allergies, make it difficult to find a formula his tummy can handle.  The only one he tolerates costs between $70 and $100 per week.  That's over $3500 a year just for formula.  This is one of many expenses that make it difficult for Jayden's parents to make ends meet.

My goal for the book is to raise enough money to buy Jayden's formula for a year. I don't have a lot of sales data yet, but I know that during the pre-order period we raised enough to cover ten days, so we've only got 355 to go. :)

I'm going to keep a running total on the sidebar, so you can check up to see how we're doing.

Thanks again for all the support.  I really do believe it will make a difference.

P.S. The paperback is FINALLY up on Amazon!  And the Kobo and Google eBooks are now available too.  All purchase links are on the sidebar.