Key Tips for Awesome Book Signings

 

location-162102_640Internet marketing is by far the most targeted method authors use to promote their books today. Tweets and Facebook posts are free. Blogging can be free. And there are many, many direct email promotions that can be purchased for little cost. And yes, it’s true—online sales—particularly for eBooks, have defined the future of the old-fashioned “bookstore.”

But I believe authors are overlooking the good, old-fashioned way of selling books—in person, at a signing. Nothing beats the face-to-face (okay, this is my door-to-door salesman dad training talking here.) But trust me, you don’t have to land a spot in a Barnes & Noble. In fact, a major bookseller signing does not guarantee a successful event. My first two books, a memoir and a paranormal romance novel, both came out in February and March of 2015. (And just for the record? My big, Tampa, Florida B&N signing was a bust).

Since then I have hosted about a dozen signings in various locations. I’d like to share my experiences and what I’ve learned. One tip: LOCATION IS KEY.

  1. Think about where in the world there would inherently be readers who might be interested in your book. One of the best events I have held to date was in a tiny museum in a tiny town in a remote location of upstate New York. Why was it a success? Because that’s where my book was set. Locals love to read about their part of the world, enhanced in a work of fiction. I sold seventeen books (OMG. I’ll bet I captured 10 percent of the population!). And before I left town, I booked a second signing at a local pub up the street for later this fall.bookstore-688461_640
  2.  Don’t overlook your own backyard. There is a small bookstore in the town where I live, and I’ve held four signings there so far, every one of them a success. Plus, the shop owner carries my books on consignment, and is always asking when my next book will come out so she can book me another event. Locals love to meet authors from their hometown, and each time I do a signing, I add at least one fan (in reality, many more) to my reader base.
  3. So there’s no bookstore in your town, or the place where your book is set? Think outside the box. My first book launch was held at a New Age shop—mine was a paranormal romance, and many of the clientele who visit the shop have an interest in the paranormal. Since then the shop has hosted another event for my second paranormal romance. The author also keeps books for sale on consignment. So, what’s your heroine do for a living? Hairdresser? Check out local salons. Hotel desk clerk? Ask about a signing in your local chain hotel—on a big holiday weekend. Find the link—the key to finding your perfect audience.boat-658626_640
  4. My newest series is called the Love at Lake George Novels, set in Lake George, N.Y. Unfortunately, there are no bookstores in the area, nor could I find a library or a gift shop interested in hosting an event. There is, however, a cruise line that does tour and dinner cruises. I contacted the management, and they were thrilled to host a signing on one of their dinner cruises during a very large car show event the village is holding. I then got a call from the gift shop owner across the street, who wants me to do a signing in her shop for that afternoon before the cruise! She also wants to carry my books (both the Lake George book and the paranormal) in stock. “Bring about a half-dozen of the ghost story, but I’ll take a dozen of the Lake George books.” The best part about this is that every time one of the series comes out, I have a pre-determined market.

So yes, travel may be involved. (Caveat: travel expenses are tax deductible.) And what better way to get to know and gather new readers than in the flesh? Telling your story, and your story’s story, than in person?

Camera shy? Get over it. A recluse at heart? Get over that too. The name of the game in today’s competitive market is to show your face. Shake those hands. Smile and mean it. Trust me—in the long run, it will be well worth it.

~~~

Claire Gem write extremely emotional contemporary romance. Visit her at www.clairegem.com or at www.emotionalcontemporaryromance.com

 

Sneak Off and Read: Lines about Siblings, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about SIBLINGS  for a happy start to your week, enjoy!


Sharon WrayThat altar standing between Rafe and his brother Rémy was a good thing. Without it Juliet wouldn’t be planning a damn wedding, she’d be planning Rémy’s funeral.

Sharon Wray

When Next We Meet (work in progress)


a5f296_d80c2117417242208bac0db66fb2a788“And why do you think I don’t live in Glenview, sister mine? I like my bachelor existence.

Marsha West


tlight encoreTy could relate, he had two sisters and a brother of his own, all older and bossier. None that looked like Katy Fowler though.
Jacquie Biggar

Featured Image -- 79Craig muttered. “Sara swears like a truck driver and Aimee looks like my older brother.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


A_Taming_Seasonsmall“Don’t you look at me like that, big sister. I’m a grown man. I can drink as much as I want.”

Claire Gem


ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)We were first cousins, daughters of two sisters who had married two brothers. With such tight interwoven bloodlines, you would think I could predict Sofia’s actions and reactions.

Joanne Guidoccio


Jeannie Hall - book cover - violation of faith She cried out, raising her arms to ward off his blows. The next events ticked by at tremendous speed for Lynea, one thought superseding the rest… You will not harm my sister again.

Jeannie Hall


Gage laughed. “The brothers all got our parents’ height, but Angie and Eve are throwbacks to Annie MacDonald, our dad’s tiny Scottish mother.”

Kathryn Jane 


I didn’t miss the grueling schedule I’d been working for the past five months, but I sure missed my sister. I’d take it all back, if she was still here.

S.A. Taylor
Follow Me (a work in progress)


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So, I’m writing a historical romance

I almost hate to say that out loud. Not because I’m embarrassed, but because many of my favorite authors write in the genre and I feel rather unworthy.

But since my latest romantic suspense is out on submission, I wanted to start something new and stretch my writing muscles.  Cue one of my closest friends who basically dared me to write a “long dress book.” Mostly because they’re her favorites, and partly because she says my heroes are all historical heroes in modern clothes anyway.

To break out of my comfort zone even further, I’ve plotted this using beat sheets and turning points. Me – the eternal pantser and consummate content editor/re-editor, who’s known to over-write everything. I’ve actually spent a lot of time considering this plot and these characters before I’ve ever written a word.

I’m tired already, and I’m only on Chapter 3. But here are a few things that I’ve noticed so far about switching genres:

  1. Tension, not suspense.

No one is running for their life in this book. There’s no threat of a villain in the shadows with a gun, no dead bodies, no mortal fear. This time the villains are armed with words and manipulation. It’s tense. And, because there isn’t an overt threat, there are many more potential antagonists to manage.

Garden graphic2. Research is fun, but such a rabbit hole.

I love finding out those great details about Regency food, clothes, manners, etc. However, it’s easy to fall into the “ooh, what’s that?” trap. And, honestly, sometimes those great details get in the way of actually telling the story.

3. A manageable number of people

One word: servants. And families, and villagers, and  … See? I’ve already gone way past one word. Because most of them are integral to the story (see tension, above).  How on earth do I keep this believable but keep my hero and heroine center stage? It’s a drafting puzzle, and it’s an exercise in keeping the pantsing side of my brain occupied by something new and shiny. (Hello, Spotify.)

I’m going to keep up with my daring experiment and see if I can tell this sort of story – if I can do my characters and the plot justice. I really want to expand my storytelling skills, and my plot bunny – all about English country houses and gardens, second chances, and making your own family – is perfect for this genre.

Sometimes you simply need to try something new.

Stay tuned.

Mia Kay - thumbnailMia 

Find me at:

Sneak Off and Read: Lines about Animals, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about ANIMALS  for a happy start to your week, enjoy!


Wire urns filled with orange heirloom pumpkins, potted boxwoods, and crimson mums decorated the outside of the shop. The scene was complete with her mom’s golden retriever perched outside the door.

S.A. Taylor
A Step Too Close (a work in progress)


Sharon WrayThe shy doe, with delicate legs poised to run and brown wary eyes, reminded him of Juliet. Always alone, unable to trust, ready to disappear.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)

She grabbed her wallet, expecting the paperboy who usually stopped back for his weekly payment after doing the run, but when she opened the door Laurel came nose to whiskers with a bedraggled kitten.
Jacquie Biggar

Featured Image -- 79Both the horse and rider were young and strong, flexing the muscles of their bodies, and no doubt enjoying a heightened sense of freedom with the sting of wind and mist against their faces.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)A large tabby cat purred at her feet, and a small suitcase sat on the floor next to her chair.

Joanne Guidoccio


Jeannie Hall - book cover - violation of faithHe hopped off and on to Brennan’s tall dresser, climbed claw by claw up the bedroom curtains, and chattered at a crow foraging from a nearby tree. He sniffed at each of them, and when he came to Lynea, he wove figure eights around her ankles until she knelt down to pet him.

Jeannie Hall


Cover - KathrynJane_AllSheWanted_1400px“Great.” Dhillon grinned, then lifted the sleepy kitten up so they were face to face. “I hereby dub thee…Sir Roger of Jolliness.”

Kathryn Jane


51wdDRbfbgLA man dashed in front of the car, waved to the driver, and scooped up a small, fluffy white dog. Yips faded away as the man hurried up the street.

Marsha West


Big Summer Book

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We’re Writers, Right?

But frequently in our role as author, we’re asked to make a presentation at conferences, book clubs (which I really like to do), or writing groups. So I thought a quick rehash of some general PUBLIC SPEAKING HINTS might be in order.

The following ideas will, I hope, help you be comfortable when you get asked to make a presentation. Just like with writing, the more you make presentations, the more comfortable you’ll get with it. It’s definitely a learn by doing skill.

Here goes:

  1. Know what the time limit is. (Do not go over one bit. You will throw off their timing. You can go under, but not by a ton. Ask if you speaking before or after the meal.
  2. Know what exactly they are expecting of you. Do they want to know your writing process? Are they more interested in how you do Social Media? Do they want you to talk about how you come up with your characters? Or how you plan for a series? Or maybe they want you to talk about something else you know a lot about: painting, selling, public schools, etc.
  3. Will you have the availability of media? Lots of folks expect a power point presentation of some sort. You need to know if the group expects that. This is not my strength, but I could pull it off. Would just take me a long time. 🙂
  4. Plan what you want to say. For those of you who are pantsers, this might be difficult. But remember you have a time limit. You don’t have to write it all out. Though in the beginning, this can be helpful, and I usually do even now. It helps get make my ideas concrete and keeps me from rambling—something I’m known for. 🙂 Then I can fiddle with the arrangement and examples and make my words more precise. (Oh gosh, this sounds a lot like our edits when we’re writing. 🙂 )
  5. Practice what you’re going to say out loud. Stand in front of the mirror in your bathroom and practice out loud, several times. I promise you, this works. This hint applies to any time you’re planning to read a section from one of your books. The more you read it out loud the better you become. Don’t go too fast or too slow. Vary the rate of delivery and use inflection. Don’t read the words in a monotone—you’ll put your audience to sleep. And make sure you’re loud enough.
  6. Plan for questions. I like people to ask during the presentation. Makes it more interactive. But if you’re not comfortable with that, make sure you tell the audience you’ll answer their questions at the end. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” You can always find out later and let the person who asked you to speak know what the answer is. They can pass it on to their members. Repeat the question out loud, so everyone in the group can hear it.I put this in bold because I think it’s so important. If the audience can’t hear, they will quickly lose interest and begin to chat among themselves. If the question is very specific to the person and no one else could give a fig, tell the questioner you’d be happy to talk to them personally after the presentation.
  7. Last. It’s okay to be afraid, scared, nervous with the butterflies in the stomach.
  8. MC900438743 

    That’s natural. Even professional performers experience a bit of what’s called “stage fright.” Just don’t let it keep you from stepping out and doing.

    Okay, what experiences have you had making presentations? What was the last presentation you made? Do you have hints of your own?

    My next book will release sometime this fall, THE THEATRE. Don’t have the cover, but I love this story of a soap opera star returning to her small Texas hometown to help out the theatre that gave her her start.

    Please sign up for my newsletter http://eepurl.com/bBcimz and follow me on any of my social media sites.

    http://www.marsharwest.com
    https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ for my Blog
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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about Laughter, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about LAUGHTER  for a happy start to your week, enjoy!


Cover - KathrynJane_AllSheWanted_1400px

Her laugh was deadly sexy, and the few brain cells he’d had a grip on went south.

Kathryn Jane


“To never have loved at all.” I finished her sentence and hiccupped, cried, and laughed at the same time. “I know. I just never expected to hurt like this.”

S.A. Taylor
Follow Me (a work in progress)


Sharon WrayTheir laughter eased the pain in Nate’s chest and the pounding in his mind. Calum might be a wealthy, manipulative bastard, but right now he was Nate’s only friend.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)

Jacquie BiggarThe noise from cheap speakers pumped way higher than their tweeters could take competed with rowdy laughter, the slap of pool cues striking balls, and the stench of unwashed bodies blending with spilled beer.

Jacquie Biggar

Twisted Sister (work in progress)


Featured Image -- 79She brought out the best in me. She taught me it was okay to laugh and touch, love and trust.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)It would be easier to tame a tiger than put an older Italian woman on a diet. I did not envy Belinda that monumental task.

Joanne Guidoccio


Jeannie Hall - book cover - violation of faithShe didn’t know why she found it so funny, but somehow the ludicrous nature of the situation overrode all her normal reactions. One snort multiplied to two and soon she doubled over the dashboard, laughing out loud.

Jeannie Hall


Big Summer Book

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A Lucky Eight: Thoughts on the Book Trailer

love-1560817_1280Do you have a trailer for your latest book? And what’s your opinion of the medium, in general? Seems there’s some controversy as to whether book trailers have a place in the market at all. Some sources even suggest that the very notion of a book trailer is in direct opposition to a book’s innate function, that is, to force the reader to use their imagination.

When you turn black and white words on a page into images, combine them with more words and music, does this lessen the value of reading? Is it cheating?

I don’t believe so. Ever since designing my first book trailer, for my debut novel, Phantom Traces published by Soul Mate Publishing, I’ve been hooked. Statistically, my YouTube link has had almost four times as many hits as has the Amazon page. I definitely believe the one-minute, four-second video has helped generate interest in that book, as well as others I have written since. And it’s also a fact that Facebook and Twitter posts with images get many more hits than those without. Adding a video increases that number even more.

Because let’s face it: in today’s visually oriented world, it sometimes takes more than a back-cover blurb to catch a new reader’s attention.

As an author, I must share with you what designing a book trailer does for me. Truth be told? I completed two of my trailers before the book was even finished. And the process of converting a story concept into images, a chosen few words, and adding mood-inspiring music has actually helped me finish writing those books.

To start, I am a visual learner. I absorb and assimilate ideas much more quickly if I’m shown illustrations of the concepts. So when I was having difficulty wallowing through the “mushy middle” of my latest work-in-progress, I decided to take a break and start working on the book trailer instead.

collage-1323417_1280What an amazing writer’s block buster! The same way a storyboard might work, as soon as I began choosing images to illustrate my general storyline, a natural progression emerged. Once I had a sequence of images in place in my iMovie project timeline, the next scene—one that had refused to reveal itself in words on the page—jumped out at me. The process led me to write the ending scene of the book, and once I knew where I was headed, the path to get there revealed itself clearly.

But, what if the book is done, you have your back cover blurb written, and your cover is finished and ready to go? It should be easy to design a book trailer at this stage of the game, right? In designing the trailer for my upcoming release, The Phoenix Syndrome, I discovered it’s not nearly as easy as I’d once thought.

The average book trailer is between one and one and a half minutes long. Much of the clues about the story are revealed in film or images, and it’s true, a picture is worth . . . yadda yadda. But there has to be some sort of script to go along with those images. You thought condensing your 96,000 word novel into a 200-word back cover blurb was hard? Hah! Try distilling it down to less than thirty.chemistry-161575_1280

One thing for sure: I now not only have a book trailer, but I also have that one-sentence elevator pitch we all struggle so hard to develop.

If you do decide to create a trailer for your novel, or hire someone to do so, here are some rules of thumb I have gleaned from watching dozens of trailers, good and bad. And also from designing four of my own, and one for a dear friend:

  1. Don’t make it too long. I have found book trailers that last longer than 90 seconds lose my attention. And if I don’t make it to the end of the trailer, what makes one think I will want to read the book?
  2. Search until you find pictures of your hero and heroine. I know this sounds ludicrous, since they only exist in your mind. But either on a royalty-free site like Pixabay, or on paid licensing sites such as Depositphotos, spend some time searching for your main characters. You will be amazed at how they will be there. And you’ll know, from the first time you set your eyes on their face—he or she is the one.
  3. It’s helpful if, once you identify your hero or heroine (whomever will be the main “star” of the trailer), there are multiple pictures available of this particular person. I haven’t been lucky finding these on free sites, but on Depositphotos you can actually choose an option to see other photos with the same model. This gives you the flexibility to show your character in a few different stages of the story, i.e., varying states of mind.
  4. A word about music—there are several royalty-free sites, like www.bensound.com or www.leefitzsimmons.com, where you can download and use music for your trailer free of charge as long as you make sure to provide a live link in the YouTube description crediting the source. I also mention the source in the last frame of the trailer.
  5. Don’t tell the whole story! What we’re after is breadcrumbs here, Hansel. Lead the viewer up to the point where they’re wondering, “what’s going to happen next?” and end the trailer there.
  6. Ditto for subplots. There’s no way you can cover every nuance of the plot in thirty words or less. Stick to the main conflict.
  7. Begin the trailer with the title and author name, but don’t bother with links—they won’t be clickable within the trailer itself anyway. You can place links in YouTube’s description screen.
  8. End with an image of your book cover, not a reiteration of the title and author. Visually oriented society, remember? If the last image your viewer sees is your cover, they will automatically link it in their minds with the “story” your trailer told, and the cover image will imprint on their brain. Their eye will be drawn to it when it shows up as a thumbnail on Amazon or wherever it’s posted for sale.

So whether you decide to create your own trailer or hire it done, keep these eight tips in mind. If you are a Mac user, iMovie has premade trailer templates as well as a very versatile project program, relatively user-friendly once you get the hang of the software. Should you be hiring someone else, be sure you go into the agreement with your 25-30 word “story nugget,” a main conflict plotline with a list of key scenes. Also, have at least one photo of your hero and/or heroine to provide to the “cinematographer.”clapper-board-152088_1280

And have fun bringing your story to life in a cinematic way!

~~~

Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romance novels, sometimes with a ghostly twist. You can find out more about her work at www.emotionalcontemporaryromance.com, and view some of her trailers here:

Phantom Traces

Hearts Unloched

A Taming Season

Indigo Sky (by fellow author/great friend, Gail Ingis)

 

 

Sneak Off and Read: Lines about Dreams, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about DREAMS for a lovely start to your week, enjoy!


ASeasonforKillingBlondes_w9101_750 (2)“Things have been going too well, Gilda. The lottery win. Your new career. This beautiful office. I’ve had one of my dreams, and you know what that means.”

Joanne Guidoccio


Cover - KathrynJane_AllSheWanted_1400pxDid he dare allow himself to be seduced by something he’d never dreamed was a possibility?

Kathryn Jane


Andie craved silence. Other than the rattle of a car that had survived twenty-thousand more miles than she’d dreamed of, that’s exactly what she got.

S.A. Taylor
Shutter (a work in progress)


51wdDRbfbgLEven after drinking a half-bottle of wine for release, dreadful dreams disturbed her sleep. Sometimes she woke up screaming.

Marsha West


Sharon WrayNightmares plagued her nights. And for the past few weeks, Juliet had been obsessed with a heavy feeling in her chest she could only define as doom.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)

Jacquie BiggarThe woman who had haunted his dreams—or at least her spitting image—stood on his doorstep, a determined smile planted on those kissable lips.

Jacquie Biggar
Silver Bells (upcoming)


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“Kiss Me Like You Mean It”: 3 Tips for Writing a Better First Kiss

“You should be kissed and by someone who knows how.”

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind  


There’s nothing like a first kiss. Right? Especially when it turns out to be everything you’d expected.

But what happens when it falls flat?

When writing my WIP, Follow Me, I wanted the couple’s first kiss to be spectacular. A moment where the reader feels the kiss right along with the characters.

kiss in the rain

Unfortunately after reading the first draft, my scene didn’t evoke any kind of emotion other than BORING.

So before revising, I needed to determine what was missing. I reread the first kisses in several of my favorite novels and found a common theme.

Here’s a list of 3 things that made these scenes memorable.


  1. Setting: The location played a huge role in the entire feel of the scene. It increased the urgency of the kiss, and in some cases, added more conflict for the characters.  Just think about the emotions evoked with a kiss happening in a dark alley, a life or death situation, or maybe in the pouring rain.
  2. Senses: My favorite scenes engaged many, if not all of the senses. The writer described the character’s surroundings, such as the scent of cologne, taste of minty toothpaste, the textures against the skin, or even a song playing in the background.
  3. Type: The best ones didn’t involve the average peck on the lips. The type of kiss had a specific meaning and was packed with emotion, like a passion-fueled “I love you/I hate you kiss” or a sweet forehead kiss.

Bonus Tips:

Videos are a great resource for choreographing character body language during a kiss. Beware. This proved to be really tough work.  Can we stay steamy?

I also found several helpful websites for writers.

https://writeanything.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/how-to-write-a-kissing-scene/

http://blog.xlibris.com/author-advice/kisses-and-their-meanings/


So I’m dying to know, what are your favorite types of kisses to read about or write? What made a kiss in a particular novel or movie memorable for you?


STaylor photo

Find me on the following sites: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Email

Small Doses of Inspiration

While I enjoy attending workshops and lectures, sometimes I need inspiration in smaller doses.

During my teaching years, I would pop my head in a neighboring classroom and chat briefly between periods. Those three to five minutes of conversation would be all that I needed to receive (give) encouragement and support.

As a writer, I have to think outside the box if I want that small dose of inspiration. I could call a friend or family member, but the conversation could easily extend beyond five minutes and derail my daily writing practice.

I found the solution in the most unlikely of places—YouTube. The following short clips keep me on track whenever…

I face a daunting task

Receive less-than-stellar reviews or rejections

Or simply need the kind of inspiration that only David Bowie can provide.

Any other small doses to share?

 

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Where to find Joanne  Guidoccio…

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