Tuesday, November 13, 2007
SECOND WEEKEND: ON TO DETROIT
I returned from the "Essence of Motown" in Detroit and a book signing in Plymouth yesterday and was pretty wired from the drive. So, last night, I spent two hours sleeping, the rest, going back and forth between emails. From 300 something, I'm down to eighty-four. Not bad.
I have some thoughts and hard-boiled facts to relate that I thought you should know.
Writing is a hard business. (Thought you already knew that? Hmm. So, did I.)
So far, the ol' ego has been shot to the moon and barely made it back to earth.
Why? Because I figured out that writing is a schizophrenic venture that requires the author to have enough ego to see him/her through the depths of the story and have the self-confidence to finish. The other part-the business part, the ego needs to be left at the door along with muddy shoes and umbrellas. If you're (we're) going to succeed, we need to be open for criticism--self and other wise. And we need to be sales reps for not only our book, but for the company that publishes us.
I went to the "Essence of Motown" where most of the writers were self pubbed and, guess what? I felt outclassed. Not by my writing. But by my presentation. by all the things I FORGOT along the way. Granted, there are so many things to remember, but --
Us authors, published with Light Sword are very lucky. We've been embraced by a publishing company who believes in the talent of its writers, has put its money where its mouth is and has put out a quality product. When it makes a mistake, it acknowledges its mistake and moves on -- that's why the books at our table were beautiful. The pages within were lovely, not the white flimsy stuff we see in so many published pulp fiction type stuff. We have a heavier quality paper in a cream.
So, if we had such quality at our table, why did I feel outclassed? Because I'd forgotten my PSA. Do you all remember what that is? Linda (CEO) and Jane Ellen's (author of the children's novel "Room for One More" were lovely. where was mine? In my ego basket. I had a gorgeous flyer with synopsis, front page, back page and a few lines of a wonderful five star review. But, where was my PSA? And why were all those customers looking at Linda and Jane Ellen's?
And, where was my book stand? "Uh . . . at home on my TV," I said. Wrong answer.
And where were my props that would make someone look at my table and realize that this was a GOOD book that took place at a horse ranch? Luckily Bonny had a shirt with horses that she folded in such a way that it resembled a table cloth. We put it under my computer. Oh, you ask, why my computer? Because somewhere, on there, SHOULD have been a teaser or something that catches the eye.
Overkill? Don't think so. Do you know how many of those Detroit authors had teasers on their computers and had them playing? Luckily Linda had our teaser for "Arms," and I was able to upload it onto my computer. I also realized I already had a copy in my car along with the CD's I listened to on the four hour drive to Detroit. Jeez. Am I stupid or what? Stupid? No. Naive? A bit scatty with some disorganized thinking? Perhaps.
Presentation is everything. Exposure is the world. I was depressed at my lack of sales going into this weekend. some million or other ranking at Amazon. By golly, by the time I got home yesterday, it had shot up to 400,000 something. Not a great ranking. But, still, it had shot up. I'll try not to look at it every two hours.
Some authors have publicists--some have publishers who have their own publicists. But, if we self-market (don't confuse that with self-pubbing)one thing we all have to do as authors is realize we're representing ourselves and our company. If we want to stay part of this literary world, we have to remember we're sales reps as well as authors. We need to dress the part. Motown authors? Ladies and gentlemen dressed in business attire. I repeat. Business attire. Pant suits, dresses, skirts and heels. Gentlemen either in business suits or looking arty with a clean turtleneck and yep, business-like pants and sports jacket.
Along with what we wear is what we carry. Our easel that supports our lovely posters. (Yes, I had it along this weekend. Wish I'd had it in Texas) I might have slammed that woman who put her water bottle on my books over the head with it--or not. That's not the appropriate way to act. And the way we act is every bit as important as the way we dress.
Linda pointed out: One "author's bag." Filled with what you might need. Books, an appropriate table cloth that reflects your book. Props. Mine? I'll find a horse statue. I have spurs, a south-western table cloth or saddle blanket. My book holder. My computer with teaser. Linda had a lovely framed picture with both her books. A copy of Affaire de Coeur turned to the page with my review. The other side blocked the other page with my flyers. I was starting to look pretty good by the end of the weekend.
LSP has made it possible for us to do our own promoting. They've given us the tools--that others pay lots of money for--for free. Okay, so we have to pay for the printing by Kinkos or Staples. If we're lucky and have a printer that is less expensive to run, great. This isn't completely free. Just mostly. We still have to do our part.
We have to call those independent book stores and let them know we're alive. JA Konrath, a well-known local author has three pages of acknowledgements in his books of the names of book store owners who took their time to talk to him and display his books. You can all check on Google if you want to know who does what in the publishing world. You can hire a publicist. Ummmm..... love to afford one. Can't. they cost half my yearly salary as a teacher (at least the good ones) So, what's left? LSP has done quite a bit getting us/and inviting us into festivals and the "big time" events. We still have to do the selling. Remember Nora Roberts sold her first books at garage sales and flea markets. Whatever it takes.
As soon as I find some photos, I'll put them up on the blog. These two past weekends have been awesome.