Posted in Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok

Plastic Royals

Tomorrow is the big Barnes & Noble book signing event.  I have called and confirmed (because I was having nightmares that I had made the whole thing up, and had arrived for the event, only to be told no such thing existed–having to turn around and tell my friends and family that I had imagined the whole thing.), have all my goodies and table decor ready to go, and am about as excited and nervous as I could possibly be.  It’s weird having a dream come true.

I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores, y’all.  I’ve spent a lot of time in libraries.  I’ve spent a lot of time wishing, and wanting, and trying, and–wow.  Tomorrow, I get to be the person I have always wanted to be.  I get to be the author, sitting behind the table, signing the books.

Of course, because it’s me, I am thinking, “Well, it couldn’t be that big a deal if they’ll let you do it,” and that rains on my parade a little bit, but even if it isn’t a big deal, I’m still getting to do it–so there, nasty voice in my head.  I’m still getting to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

I’ll be there with my books, my bookmarks, my tiaras, and my sash, Sharpie in hand. And I don’t care how hard it rains (it’s supposed to rain), and I don’t care if I’m the only one who shows up.  I am going to have a great time, and enjoy every second of that hour.

Three of the variety of mini-tiaras I have for give aways at the B&N book signing.  I may or may not have ended up with many, many more on my head at one point.
Three of the variety of mini-tiaras I have for giveaways at the B&N book signing. I may or may not have ended up with many, many more on my head at one point.



Posted in A Day in the Life, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok, Tiara Trouble

Sparkle, Baby!

Maybe the best part of writing a series set in the pageant world is that now when I watch Toddlers & Tiaras, I can call it research.  No more guilty pleasure!  It’s research.  It’s for work, y’all.

Maybe the worst part of watching Toddlers & Tiaras is how terribly I feel for some of the children, who are going to grow up to need real therapy.  Not pretend therapy, but reconstructive help to teach them how to feel good about themselves so that they can function beyond just, “Sparkle, Baby!”  No, the worst part is knowing I am watching child abuse for entertainment.  Research.  Researtainment.

Yesterday, I watched an episode with three great sets of parents, and it was as unusual as it was delightful.  The kids were all happy, well-behaved, and seemed quite well-adjusted.  The worst thing the editors could do with the material was to make one mother out to look overly proud of her daughter.  My mother would tell you that there is no such thing as overly proud of your daughter.

Today, I watched a piece of an episode with a mother who made me want to reach through the screen and yank her bald.  The other featured mother was great, and her daughter gave the line of the show.

While she was being interviewed, the little girl talked about raising pigs on their farm.  She said, “We butcher ’em.  Sometimes I’m sad to lose a pig.  …then I’m happy when it tastes good.”  Deadpan delivery.  Didn’t crack a smile.  Kid after my own heart.  BACON!

Meanwhile, I saw my first review from someone I don’t know–a reviewer who has my book as part of an upcoming blog tour.  She gave me 5 stars and I have been squirming happily over it since yesterday.  The first line read, “Ms. Buckman may never be accused of writing great literature,” and went on to glow.  I read that first part before I saw how many stars had been rated, and my jaw dropped.  And I laughed.  Because it is true.  Then, I read the rest of the review and laughed even harder because it was pretty awesome.  I want it written into my will that it is part of my obituary.  “Lane was never accused of writing great literature, but–”

As people who don’t know me, and therefore do not feel obligated to protect my feelings, read the book and enjoy it, I am elated.  When people say they have laughed, I am over the moon.  I love laughing, and I love when I get to be part of making someone else laugh.

So, if you’re local and you’d like to see me laughing in person, join me on October 12, at the Barnes & Noble in Lewisville, TX.  That link takes you to my author event page.  You probably can’t hear the high pitched giggle that accompanies me typing, “my author event page,” but your dog can.  I apologize.

Speechless. Breathless.  Grateful.
Speechless. Breathless. Grateful.
Posted in Advice, books, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok

How to Get a Book Signing

Okay, you are marketing your new novel.  You are an author with an independent publishing house, using POD press.  You want to get a book signing at your local bookstore.  What do you do?

Before you do anything, you need to be prepared.  You’re going to be having conversations with decision makers, and you need to be ready to answer all kinds of questions.  Before you start calling bookstores do the following:

  1. Gather reviews.  Send your book to readers and beg for reviews–honest reviews.
  2. Write a press release.  I say “Write a press release,” because it is ridiculous to pay someone else $300 to write one for you.  After all, you need a press release written because you are a writer. (More on that later–like in a separate blog entry.)
  3. Find calendar dates and times that work for you and write them down.
  4. Know your ISBN number.
  5. Research whether or not your book is available for the store to purchase.  To do this, go to the store website, and search for your book.  If they can order it, it will be in their list.  If it is an independent store with no website, you can always call and ask if it is available.  Helps to disguise your voice, or practice your British accent.
  6. Write yourself a little script, so that when you are put on hold for the store manager and you’ve listened to muzak for so long you’ve forgotten why you’ve called, you’ll be able to read your script and still sound intelligent.
  7. Spend a few minutes in the mirror repeating the following, “My book is good enough.  My book is smart enough.  Doggone it, people will like it!”

Once you’ve done all that, it is time to start dialing.  When you connect with the store, this will happen:

  1. Someone will answer.  It may be someone who sounds like a nitwit.  Be pleasant.  This should go without saying, but you never know.  No matter who answers the phone, or how they answer it, be kind.  Ask to speak to the store manager, bearing in mind that if it is a nitwit answering the phone, this might terrify them.  No one ever asks to speak to the manager because they are happy, do they?
  2. When the store manager picks up, say something like this, “Hi, [store manager’s name].  My name is Nextbig Thing.  I’m a local author and my new novel is available in your list.  I was calling to find out how to set up a book reading and signing event at your store.”
  3. The manager will probably ask you for the name of your book, or your ISBN.  Then, she’ll look it up and see if she already has some in her store, or how easily she can order them.
  4. Your book is POD.  She will say something like, “Oh.  Your book is POD.”
  5. You will say something like, “Yes.  I am published through Awesomesauce Press, and I’m getting some great reviews…

You know that’s not going to cut it, right?  Here is where you need to be able to sell.  You need to be able to tell the manager WHY it is worth their time to have you taking up space in their store.  Let them know:

  • Why you picked their store.  Do you live just down the road, and are all your neighbors excited to come?  Do you work nearby, and your whole office building wants to support you?
  • How you know your books will sell.  Neighbors?  Coworkers?  You are a Duggar?
  • What marketing/promotion/advertising you’ve already done.  Did you have a good signing at Coffee Houz?  Did the Monday Morning News review your novel?  Are you trending on Twitter #YOURNOVEL?  Did JK Rowling write a blurb for you?

Anything you can think of to distinguish yourself–be prepared to say it.  Be shameless.  You already sold your book to a publisher, now you’re just telling a bookstore manager why the publisher thought your book would sell.  Piece of cake!  Very dry, hard to swallow cake if you hate cold calling as much as I do, but still cake.

After that, the conversation can go any which way.  Your job is to keep a positive attitude.  If the manager isn’t sure about the book, at least she’ll be sure about you.  She might like you so much, she wants to help you.

However the conversation goes, make sure to do two things:

  1. SAY THANK YOU.  The manager just took time out of her day to talk to you.  Again, it should go without saying, but it’s important enough to repeat.
  2. Get the manager’s email address.  Tell her you want to send her your contact information.  Then, follow up with an email.  In that email, say thank you again, attach your press release, any reviews you’ve received, and be sure to include your address so they know you truly are local.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Hopefully, everyone will say yes!  If not, eventually, someone will.  Just keep plugging away.

Good luck!

Posted in books, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok, writing

Please Sign my Book

I am adding new dates to the TIARA TROUBLE book signing tour.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 12, when I will be at the Lewisville, TX Barnes & Noble from 1–2pm.  BARNES & NOBLE, y’all!  That’s like a real bookstore and stuff!

I just got official word back on it yesterday, but I spent most of last night daydreaming about what I would wear, how I would do my hair, wondering if I should try to match my outfit to my book cover, or just go all black so that the book cover stood out against me when photographed.  I don’t want to clash with my book!  But I don’t want to look like a ninja either.  Destinee isn’t an all black kind of character, and since I am her envoy to the real world, I need to represent her style as best I can.

I finally decided on wearing a sweater that picks up the color Destinee is wearing on the book cover and black trousers.  So, when photographed, the light background of the cover will pop against me, but will still tie together nicely.  I haven’t decided on my hair, or my shoes, yet.

Leslieann knows me well enough that her first email this morning was to ask me what I planned to wear to the B&N event.  Ha!

I am especially excited for this one because a B&N signing is a hard get for a new author out of a small press.  Most small presses use Print on Demand publishing, rather than offset publishing.  With offset printing, a camera ready copy of the manuscript is printed from plates.  Offset, or Traditional Printing happens in bulk for a much lower cost, and allows presses to make better sales deals with buyers.

Say you are an author on Biggest Publishing House Ever’s list.  When you sell YOUR NOVEL, they will use marketing tools to determine how many of your books they should print, and will do it all at once with offset printing.  Then, they sell those books to bookstores in batches.  Maybe Your Local Bookstore buys 20 of them.

If the book sells well, Your Local Bookstore will keep ordering more to put on the shelves.  If the book does not perform, Your Local Bookstore may do a couple of things.  1.  They might put your book on sale and hope the new, lower price makes it move.  2.  Send it back to the vendor who sold it to them for a credit.

If you are an author with Independent Press House, when you sell YOUR NOVEL, it will likely be printed on demand.  Instead of plates being made, etc, etc, a digital copy goes to the press, and they print each book as it is ordered.  It is a much more expensive way to publish, and that cost is passed along to the buyer.

YOUR NOVEL will be available to everyone on every major retailer’s website, but might not make it into a store because a) A small press is less likely to work with a distributor whose job it is to talk national chains into carrying your books in stores, b) a store is less likely to purchase a POD because they cost more AND they are non-returnable.

Whereas books they buy from offset presses can be returned for credit if they don’t move, POD books cannot.  Your Local Bookstore is just stuck with your books if they can’t sell them.

When bookstores do a signing, they need to sell about 30 books in order to offset the cost of the event.  If your book is a POD, the risk on an unknown author is not worth the work of setting up the event.

That’s not to say a bookstore won’t let you come in and do an event if your book is POD, it just means that your sales pitch when asking to hold or be part of an event needs to be that much better.

Some bookstores are sensitive to the plight of the indie press, and they hold semi-annual events allowing a certain number of authors to come in and do signings.  With the larger group, the cost of holding/promoting the event does not really change, but the likelihood of selling 30 books increases.  That doesn’t mean they will order 30 of your books, but it does mean that whatever of yours they have on hand, you’ll be there to sign.  And, in these events, bookstores will often let you bring your own books in to sell on consignment.

The better prepared you are to pitch your novel, the likelier you are to be invited to do an event.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what to do to get prepared.  Maybe I’ll know what I’m doing with my hair by then.