Articles

Emma Straub’s How To Be an Indie Bookseller’s Dream

Emma Straub has worked for independent booksellers for three years and in a recent Wall Street Journal article brings home some hard cold facts on what to do at your authorial appearances:

1. Try not to read your material, or at least not much of it. What? This is your chance to share with the world! Yes, you might have hours to fill, depending on what you’ve been allowed to schedule, but if people wanted their first impression of your book to be that of someone reading it aloud, they’d buy or rent the audio book. So unless your book is hysterically funny or you have it memorized and are prepared to act out scenes, keep reading time limited to 10 to 30 minutes. And if you’re going to read aloud for thirty minutes, have it be your most exciting scene ever or you’ll look up at the end to a slumber party. One neat idea I’ve heard for reading from your work without spoon feeding the audience something you want them to buy is to read a scene you’ve cut. Remember all those beautiful darlings? Find the very best, polish them and read them. Then you can have a question and answer as to why you cut them.

2. Fill up the rest of your time talking about things related to your book. For instance, I will probably discuss history, martial arts, research and possibly computer game and movie versions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, since that’s what my book is based on. I hope to also do some talks demonstrating self defense simply because it’s an active, audience-participation-based thing to do and has value to them. I have one friend who comes to her talks dressed in the period costume she made. She talks about the wool industry and how it changed the English countryside and how that shaped the making of her book. Her talks are informative and interesting and bring out details in the book you wouldn’t otherwise catch.

3. Come prepared to be outlandishly helpful to the booksellers. These are the people you want on your side, suggesting your book. Bring treats (if possible, ones related to your topic) and share with the booksellers and the crowd. (I plan on bringing Chinese sweets mentioned in one of my scenes.) Write down the booksellers’ names, complete with correct spellings and send them individualized Thank You notes after the event. If possible, remind them of a specific thing you’re thankful to each person for. Yes, I’m terrible at Thank You notes, too.

4. After you’ve sent your Thank You notes, do NOT forget about these places, though they be across the country. No. You tweet them. You friend/like redirect buyers to them. You continue to care about them and send all those new friends in the city (where you met and made friends, right?) to the bookstore with gift certificates.

So even if you’re unprepared for publication right now, think about how you might promote yourself and drive business to your friends, the local indies. What are you planning to do? Whatever it is, just remember, keep your audience involved or you might as well bring out the pillows and blankets.

2012 Sandy Writers’ Conference

Many of you know I placed second in the Sandy Writers’ Contest two years ago. (That’s me in the photo, I’m the one in the middle with the red shirt.) I also had a fabulous learning experience at the Crested Butte Writers Conference, which sponsors the contest. I wanted to let you know, I received word from the contest administrator that 1. There are only six more days for you to enter this year and 2. There are few entries in almost every category!

This contest is so worth your while. It doesn’t cost much for the opportunity to have professional and semi-professional judges critique your material. Of course, if you get to the final round, you will have an agent or editor read it and, if you go to the conference, you can pitch to that agent or editor.

The 2012 Sandy Final Judges are:
Romance – Sue Grimshaw, Editor at Large & Category Specialist for Ballantine & Bantam Dell
Mainstream Adult Fiction – Kevan Lyon, Agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Suspense / Thriller / Mystery – Kat Brzozowski, Assistant Editor at Thomas Dunne Books
Fantasy / Science Fiction – James Frenkel, Editor at Tor / Forge
Children’s & YA – Mary Kole, Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency

So will you enter?

Merry Christmas!

Sorry, folks, no post this week, but MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wow, new blogger interface is really weird. We’ll see if I stay with it, but honestly, I’ve been contemplating making changes here anyway. This may just be the (invisible to you) beginning of them. Well, I wanted to let you all know I won’t have a real post today, but if you come back on Wednesday I’ll have a review of Jeannie Lin’s “The Dragon and the Pearl.”

We Apologize For the Inconvenience

Sorry, folks, no blog today, I’m busy fighting Ninja. However, I will have a review of an outstanding boy’s book on Wednesday, so please stay tuned, true believers! 😀