Monday, July 23, 2012

Writing Anxiety

by Barbara Claypole White

When Luke Skywalker tells Yoda he’s not afraid, the Jedi Master replies in a voice that sounds more appropriate for an Exorcist movie, “You will be. You will be.” Fear—it’s an inescapable fact of being book pregnant.

As the mother of a teen who has battled OCD for most of his life, I’ve learned a few things about diffusing fear. OCD, an anxiety disorder that can feed off anything, is Doubting Thomas on speed. While the fear it generates is irrational, the anxiety one experiences is real.

The hero of my debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, is an obsessive-compulsive entrepreneur who’s terrified of everything except snakes. Which gives him one up on Indiana Jones. But the brain tricks James deploys against OCD can be used to defeat any anxiety—real or imagined. Here are a few of my favorites:

Boss it back: This is a staple of cognitive-behavioral therapy and can fry those niggling doubts. Re-label an unwanted thought as junk mail and imagine tossing it in the recycling.  Say aloud,  “The doubt’s not real; I’m not going to listen. Ha.” (Ha is vital. It’s a battle cry.)

Logic is your friend:  Yes, you will get at least one lukewarm or negative review, but reading is subjective, and you’re still going to write. Nothing is going to change those facts.

Laugh like you mean it: Have you ever tried laughing when you’re worried? Watch a silly video on YouTube and giggle like a preschooler with Tickle Me Elmo. Now tell me you’re anxious.

Pick a calming phrase and practice: Inspired by the aging rock star and ex-heroin addict in Love Actually, my son and I use “shit, f**k, bugger, damn,”  as our om phrase. You’ll have to trust me on this one…

Tinker with the worry: Dress up the worry, put a hat on it, turn it into a slapstick movie. I had a nightmare that I was going to spend launch day tearing my novel off bookstore shelves, screaming, “I can do better.” So I turned it into a romantic comedy with George Clooney.  It’s my party—why not?

Two can play the what-if game: OCD is all about what if, but when fear strikes, ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen. Yes, I could stand up at my first reading and develop a severe case of late onset Tourette’s, but really, what are the chances?

Mindfulness, man: In my OCD support group, we talk about mindfulness. Truthfully, I never believed I was the meditative type. Then one day I was watering my garden, a chore I denigrated as a total time-suck, when I realized my mind was still. Now as I water, I consciously listen to the hawks, watch the hummingbirds, and enjoy the moment. I’m in the zone…

And we’re breathing: Sometimes it really is all about the breath. “Slow the breath, and the heart and the mind will follow,” my yoga teacher used to say. Inhale to the count of four, hold to the count of two, exhale to the count of four.  Repeat. Feel better?

Think small: Don’t focus on the big picture. Create a mega marketing plan but break it into manageable chunks. To avoid freak-outs, I concentrate on my daily goal: the page count for novel two plus one promotional activity that can be as simple as emailing my pre-order link to an old friend.  Fear is all about control. By thinking small, you can take back your universe. 

Expose yourself to fear: Full-blown fear is like grief. Avoidance is bad, very bad. So when your first bashing on Goodreads drives you to imitate Howard Hughes—who lived naked in his screening room for months, peeing into bottles—read and reread that silly review. At some point, your mind will get bored and wander off to the grocery list.

Give in to the dark side: If the anxiety keeps rising, let it blow. Fear can be graded on a scale of one to ten, ten being pray-the-tornado-passes-quickly. Hitting a ten, however, can be liberating. Logic tells you there’s only one way for the fear to go—down; science tells you the human body can’t sustain a high level of anxiety for long. Bingo.

And finally, guard your writing time well, young padawans. Writing is the best therapy I know.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to Staunch Voice Bleeding

by Mindy McGinnis

I've coined a new term that some of my fellow writers have latched onto - voice bleeding. It exists. It's a nasty little burrowing virus that will slide inside your brain and infect the gray matter with the voice of whatever writer you may be reading at the time. The voice bleeding virus thrives on creative minds, reducing us to a toxic replica of whoever we happen to be reading at the moment, especially if they hail from the same genre as our own.

How do you combat this virus? Is it something you will never be free of, like herpes? Is this a long-term infection requiring dose after dose of antibiotics? Should you lie quivering in fear under your blanket whenever a tasty looking bit of fiction tempts you?

Don't worry, my friends. There is an answer.

You CAN read while you're writing. You CAN free yourself from the scourge of voice bleeding. You CAN indulge in some published pages while whaling on the WIP.

It's called non-fiction.

Now don't get me wrong, non-fiction requires voice as well. But the chances of a well-styled narrative NF voice sliding into your YA paranormal are significantly less than if your brain is munching on the latest urban fantasy beach candy.

I hear your cries of pain. But non-fiction!!! It's so.... true. And... boring!!

Not so my friends. Hit up some of these titles if you want to learn more about why we're alive, what happens when you're not, and how to avoid people, places and diseases that might make you that way:

WATER: THE EPIC STRUGGLE FOR WEALTH, POWER & CIVILIZATION by Steven Solomon - So you're aware that we need water, but do you know the ins and outs of the political maneuvering, wars, and untold deaths of millions that is intertwined with the story of water? Prolly not.

STIFF by Mary Roach - You're dead! Great - now what? You'd be surprised how many options you've got. Mary Roach explores the myriad of choices your corpse has. Me? I'm going with composting.

THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larsen - Wanna know more about America's first serial killer, and how he used the World's Fair to his advantage? Sure you do.

THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL by Daniel Stashower - Mary Roger's murder in 1841 was the first instance of a media frenzy, and it had the makings of a blockbuster. A renowned cigar-peddling beauty with a checkered past winds up dead... and nobody knows who did it. The murder got under the skin of New Yorkers, including one troubled genius named Edgar Allan Poe, who was inspired to write "The Mystery of Marie Roget."

THE LOST CITY OF Z by David Grann - A mysterious city in the jungle, explorers disappearing into thin air, obsession and madness. You're interested, right?

THE SPECKLED MONSTER by Jennifer Lee Carrell - Read this history of smallpox and the people who willingly infected themselves with it in order to create a vaccine and you'll never be more thankful for the CDC.

And while I'm sharing, there's currently a voice bleeding related post over on my personal blog, along with a giveaway!

Mindy McGinnis is a YA author and librarian. Her debut dystopian, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, will be available from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins Fall, 2013. She blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unconventional Book Marketing: Outside the Reader Box

by Lydia Netzer

That's me with Keith, who won my book!
Selling to book clubs, book blog readers, book social media users, and bookstore goers is a science. Authors all over the place are pitching to bloggers, interacting with Twitter followers, and reading in stores. I am too. I also find myself looking for weird, off-the-beaten-path methods of promoting my book and others' books. This summer I found one in an odd place: a bike race.

In June I read an amazing book: The Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson. It really struck me how wonderfully Joinson portrayed the experience of riding a bicycle, and how elegantly she connected it to the female identity in the early 20th century. I mean, just the tag line, "Mount and away" sort of thrilled me and I can't ride my bicycle more than 16 mph. Just imagine, I thought, what the female cyclists who race around here in Virginia will think of it. They'll love this book! I thought.

My husband is a cyclist. We know lots of cyclists. He's been racing for years and I've been traipsing around to races with him, meeting cyclists and hanging out. Cyclists are literate, educated, interesting people. They've also got enough cash on hand to drop ridiculous (debatable) amounts of money on knobs and pipes (or whatever) so they can be reasonably expected to spend $25 on a hardback (or $12 on an ebook). I thought I'd mention the book to some cyclists I knew. 

Jr. Champion with Gold in his prize basket.
Then another book struck my eye. My novel shared Amazon's Editor's Picks List for Summer with a book by Little Bee author Chris Cleave, who has written a new book about Olympic cyclists called Gold. What? Another cycling book? And while I hadn't read it yet because it wasn't yet out, I knew based on Chris Cleave's other work that it was going to be fabulous. 

Coincidentally (yes, it is pure coincidence!) my own novel has a cyclist in it! In fact, the male main character rides a road bike, is familiar with Tegaderm, and follows the Tour de France by running around France dressed up like a microchip! Three cycling novels in the same summer... it was an opportunity for cross promotion that my guerilla-marketing brain couldn't pass up. When it was time for my husband's cycling team's annual race, The Franklin Omnium, I knew we had to include these books somehow. 

Simon & Schuster and Bloomsbury Press were kind enough to contribute copies of The Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar and signed copies of Gold, and I tossed in signed copies of Shine Shine Shine, three days before the release. We included novels in the gift baskets for the overall winners, gave them away as prizes in the individual races, and put them on display at the registration area so we could chat them up all weekend to the riders. I was so pleased and happy with how these prizes were received and thrilled to see riders talking about the books with each other, promising to spread the word and let other cyclists know about these books. I really hope our attempt to connect books with target readers they might not otherwise have found will be fruitful for all the authors.

When you're thinking about marketing your book, let your mind go down tangents as you brainstorm where your readers might be. Maybe they're at a sporting event, a concert, a charity event, a farmer's market? A garden store? The history department of your local university? Don't be afraid to look outside the traditional book markets to connect. 

Check out this photo set for more pictures of books in the bike race, and if you're a cyclist, or a space nut, or a mom, a student of Myanmar, a parent of an autistic child, please visit my web site to check out my book. It launches today!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Live Author Appearances – They are not the marketing mainstay they once were, but if you are going to do them, do them right!

by Sophie Perinot

Once upon a time when a writer sold a book author appearances of some sort were pretty much a given. Writers, from newbie to veteran, gamely piled into their cars (or got on planes if their publishers would spring for airfare) and traveled through a wide swath of  bookstore-land, giving readings and signing novels. Nobody questioned the wisdom of the live author appearance as a way to sell books and generate buzz.

But the times, they are a-changing.  It is increasingly unlikely, oh-book-pregnant-one, that your publicist will be planning live events for you.  The question then becomes--if you must plan them and bear the costs of them, how important is it for you to make live author appearances?

There are probably as many opinions on this as there are authors but here is mine--not veryIn a world of “virtual bookstores” and lively, on-line reader communities the internet provides authors with many new and efficient ways to connect with potential readers.  Ways that don’t involve spending a fortune on gas, shirking your day jobs or suffering from jet lag. For example, in conjunction with the launch of The Sister Queens I did a blog tour that took me to more than 45 blogs, most catering specifically to readers looking for new and notable historical novels. My name and my novel were brought to the attention of thousands of book fans while I remained comfortably ensconced in my home-office.  So, If your budget or your "real life" don't lend themselves to a fifty-store swing through your home state, no sweat.

If, however, you do want to do a handful of live appearances (and, squee, even I couldn't resist): 1) keep your expectations realistic; and 2) arrange and execute your author appearances in the manner most likely to maximize their sales impact.

About those expectations . . . If you are a newbie author and you expect a reading or signing to draw an audience full of book-buyers, you are likely to be disappointed. Oh you may have a super turn out—particularly if the event is close to home. Your Aunt Tilly and the cousins will pile into the front row, the book club from your church will wave to you from the “cheap seats.” Folks from the office might even drop by. Everyone will be there to celebrate your success. That’s a gratifying feeling—pretty damn gratifying. Enjoy it. But recognize those full seats probably won’t increase your over-all sales numbers by much. Why? Because these attendees are folks you should be able to count on to buy your book even without an event. I mean, does Aunt Tilly want to stay on your Christmas card list for next year or not? Your friends, your relatives, your colleagues, are BUILT IN sales. You don’t need an event to woo them.

This does NOT mean an event can’t sell books. But you have to PLAN IT CAREFULLY, AND you need to THINK BEYOND THOSE ACTUALLY IN ATTENDANCE.

“What’s your advice Sophie?” So glad you asked!

The banner I created for my novel displayed by B&N
in their front window ringed with copies of the book
Plan a “value added” event to get the biggest interest and attendance from potential buyers. A signing is easy. You show up, sit at a table surrounded by piles of your books, talk to anyone who approaches, and sign books they purchase. Not much prep on your part. But not too exciting for readers either. Give potential buyers of your book original content—something they can’t get from your book itself or your website. That will make them turn out.

My favorite author event thus far was the panel discussion (billed as a historical fiction triple-treat) I did with a pair of fellow historical fiction authors. We prepared a discussion called “Sex, Lies and History: A Literary Threesome.” Those who turned out had something more to see (and hear) than authors sitting quietly at a table, or reading text they could just as easily read themselves (which, after all is what a traditional reading is). They witnessed a lively debate on, among other things, common misconceptions about women in history and the trend towards more sexual content in mainstream historical fiction. The audience was also able to participated during the Q&A—and believe me they did, enthusiastically. Every seat was filled, and many of those bodies were people none of us had met before. These were people turning out to be entertained and educated, not just to support a friend or family member.
Promote your event—tweet it, blog about it, put announcements in your local paper and in on-line sources for local events and entertainment. Consider having a banner or foam-core poster made that you can use to promote a variety of events (you can see the one I created in the picture above). Often you can get the venue hosting your event to display this for you and that can really pay off (see below). Even if the people who see your announcements or poster don’t show up for your actually appearance, this type of publicity increases name recognition for you and for your book. The more often potential readers run into your work the more likely they will start to have the feeling your book is “hot.” That’s a sale waiting to happen.

If you are lucky, the bookstore hosting your event will promote it as well. This, in my opinion, is what really distinguishes the super-worth-while event from the average appearance. The Barnes & Noble that hosted the triple-event mentioned above gave each of our work a prominent window display—dozens of copies of our books right in the front window with huge banners showing our covers super-sized. You can’t pay for that type of exposure if you are a debut author—literally. Your publisher may buy coop placement on those coveted front tables (“New Releases” anyone?!) but the chances of you being in a front window of a major chain bookstore—let alone for a full week—are pretty slim. Now THAT’S the type of exposure that sells books because it makes you look like one of the big dogs.

Be gracious and friendly to the bookstore staff, whether in you are stopping by the store to discuss details of your upcoming event or during your appearance. I recently did a signing at a nearby bookstore. Unlike my panel event, there were no chairs sent out for an audience and I gave no presentation of any sort. The entire event was just me, chit-chatting with shoppers and hoping some of them would buy a signed copy of my book. And some did—but probably not enough to warrant two hours of my time.

When I wasn’t talking to customers, however, I was chatting with the staff.  I made sure to meet every person on duty.  I answered their questions about my book.  In the case of those who were also writers—lots bookstore staff members are also writers—I made sure to ask about their work and recommended my favorite on-line writing communities and resources.  Now I am a very outgoing person and would likely have done all this anyway.  But even if you are the hermit type I still strongly recommend this level of cordiality, because these are the people who recommend books to buyers.  If they connect with you they will make an effort to hand-sell your book.  Before I left I signed all the remaining copies of my novel (more copies than I’d sold) and the store manager helped me create a little display with them (on my own separate table) right at the front of the store.  Again, priceless exposure.  I whistled on my way back to my car because I knew the manager and his staff are going to see that those signed copies find good homes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why Not All Books Should Be Fifty Shades of Grey

image via
by Priscille Sibley

This morning I heard on the news that the Fifty Shades books are on their way to breaking another record. Frankly, I don’t care which one. People like sex. People like reading about sex. And when everyone is doing or talking about something, people stop being embarrassed about it. I’ve heard people say they are reading the Grey books because they love the characters. To me that sounds a little like how men used to read Playboy for the articles, but to be fair, there are other steamy books and they haven’t caught on the same way this series has, so there is something in the books that has latched onto readers’ imaginations. Again, I won’t hazard to guess what. Wink. 

But that’s not where I was going with this blog post. My book has hardly any sex in it; at least there is nothing graphic or intentionally titillating on the page.  I was reaching out to show an emotional connection between the characters. And my book is not a romance.  When one of my day job coworker’s asked me what my book was about, her primary interest was to find out if my novel was like Fifty Shades. (She’s the wife of a minister.) Ah, no, I said. That’s not my story. Well, she said, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s part of life after all. Sure, sex is part of life. BDSM? Whatever.

My characters have sex. They just don’t do it on stage. Why don’t they? Should they? I don’t think so, and not because I’m a prude, and not because I’m a mother and don’t want to set a bad example. My characters don’t have sex on stage because my narrator would not choose to share that information. My characters don’t have sex on the page because the she in my story is gravely ill. Her husband is devastated because he is in love with his wife, and he is a private person. He had to be a private person for other reasons. Their situation, a right-to-life, right-to-die trial, is being played out in the front of the media, much to his chagrin. While that may sound like a squirrelly way to avoid writing about THE DEED, I can honestly and unequivocally swear, sharing the details of their lovemaking would not advance my plot or add to their characterization. It would not impart more information about their relationship. I sincerely believe that by the end of the book, the reader will have a sense of who they are and the tenderness and passion they share. It is a love story, but not a sexy story. There is a difference.  And in this one, graphic sex would detract from the emotional arc.

Sometimes less is more.

Not all books should be Fifty Shades even if readers are clamoring for it. What do all people (except maybe nuns, priests and monks) have in common? Sex. Yes, it’s how we are all created, and most adults engage in sex. But graphic sex is not necessary in all books. Let’s face it folks, sex is not the only part of a love story.

In other words, adding graphic sex to my novel would have been gratuitous. Why not put a little gratuitous sex on the page if that’s what readers want? Because that would be another book, a different book. And maybe I’ll write that book someday, but not this time.  

Follow me @PriscilleSibley

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stop Writing!

By Erin Cashman

I am a person who loves making lists. Sometimes I add things to my list that I have already finished, just so I can cross it off. I love finishing things. I love painting rooms in my house, because in the course of a couple of days I can start and finish it. I can walk into the room and see that it was green, and now it is yellow. It is tangible.
While I write, I am not someone who feels terrified by the blank page. Once I have an idea for a book, it takes all of my self-control not to start writing it. I literally have to force myself to wait, take some notes, and let the idea germinate inside my head for a while before I start writing the story. I also never get writer’s block. If I can’t think of what to do next, I write in caps PUT SOMETHING INTERESTING HERE or FIGURE THIS OUT. And then I start a new chapter, or I write another part of the book. I am so eager to finish the book once I start it. I always know generally how it will end, so I want to hurry up and get there!
But as all of you writers know, writing a novel is neither a quick nor an easy process, and when I try to make it one, it shows. During my journey from aspiring published author to published author I have learned so much. For me, the hardest lesson has been this: when you aren’t sure where your story is going, or how to handle a character or a relationship, STOP WRITING. Shut your computer and walk away. Literally. Take a walk, take a nap, go for a long drive, bake cookies. Do something that does not require thinking at all. Don’t go on the internet, read a book or watch television. Let your mind wander. I find my best ideas almost always come when I’m walking my dog. I usually start out thinking about an issue with one of my kids, or a problem with work. But soon into the quiet rhythm of the walk (no ipods!) my mind wanders. Within a few days of NOT thinking about my book, the solution almost always simply comes to me. It may be on the walk, or it may be as I lie in bed somewhere in the never-land between dream and reality, or it may be as I’m driving alone in the car (no radio or cell phones!) In our very busy, hectic lives, we have so few times when we allow our minds to wander freely. And yet -- at least for me -- these are the times when my imagination takes over and inspiration hits me like a lightning bolt.
If you’re like me, and you set goals for yourself like x pages a day, or so many words a week, or a first draft by a certain date, my advice might be hard to take. It will take you longer to finish that first draft -- to cross it off your list. But sometimes the best ideas come not when we are sitting in front of the computer screen, or with a pen perched in our fingers, but when we tune everything out and listen.
Inspiration often whispers softly in our ear, and we may need to tune everything else out to hear her.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Can I Write Naked When Everyone’s Watching?

by Melanie Thorne

Writing used to be easy.

Are you laughing yet? If you’re a writer, you know that’s a load of crap. Writing is not easy; it never has been. What’s that Hemingway quote? There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed. It’s funny because it’s true, and most of us are familiar with the pain, the gutting open of ourselves, the pouring of our hearts and stories onto the page. I’m a writer; I can take the abuse. I bled onto my keyboard for years. But it seems that ever since I sold my novel, writing has gotten even harder.

When I wrote Hand Me Down, it was just me at my computer, alone in my office. Just my voice—and, Liz, my narrator’s, of course—in my head shaping the language, telling the story for an anonymous, would-be, someday, maybe-in-my-wildest-dreams-will-someone-else-actually-read-this-whole-thing potential reader. I wrote for me. I wrote because I had to tell my story, had to understand the hard truths of my childhood by twisting them inside out and rearranging them in an order that made sense. I could write like I was naked—bare my soul completely with words—because no one was watching.

I knew people would read my stories, sure, but they were my professors, my classmates in workshops, strangers at a conference, a very limited, very supportive audience. Back then I felt free enough to write honestly. No one knew the things I called fiction were true. No one cared if my work was good enough to publish—in fact, it was expected not to be. We were all learning; criticism came with the intention of improving the work rather than with the judgment that comes once a piece is finished.

Years later, after I sold the book, my editor had very few suggested changes, but we all agreed that the ending could be improved. I needed to write an entirely new climax scene. And I choked.

I couldn’t write anything for weeks. The pressure of creating something brand new that was going to go into the finished book was overwhelming. I had spent the better part of the previous five years reading and rereading and revising every word of my manuscript over and over and now I had mere months until a deadline that carried the weight of a paid, binding contract for an editor who represented a big NY publishing house. It was enough to strike me dumb, and I became paralyzed by these new real-life demands on my creative process. My bare-soul writing had gained a VIP audience and I felt fully exposed. I froze in the spotlight and it was like I was five again, running offstage to puke in the wings during our church play, incapable of performing.  

Near tears, I finally had to call my editor and tell her I was stuck. I couldn’t admit that I was a fraud, but I knew I was. These people had invested in a lost cause; the whole sale had been a mistake. I had managed to fool us all by pretending to be a writer and my house of cards was about to crash.

I'm so lucky I have a fantastic editor. She talked me off the ledge, said we had a little bit more time. She said the words I most needed to hear: give yourself a break. She made me feel safe enough to risk being uncovered again, like I was back in workshop, writing for myself, writing to tell the best story I could tell, to understand, to discover truths. I convinced myself no one important was watching and I took off my writing clothes, spilled more blood onto my keyboard.

But my relationship with writing has changed even more dramatically since then. Not only did my editor read my book, but then the marketing and sales teams, my publicist, my family, booksellers, industry reviewers, media reviewers, bloggers, and then, the general public. Now, anyone who wants to can pick up my book, read my blood on the page, read the product of my emotional sweat and literal tears. Not only that, but they can respond to me directly, tell me how much they loved Hand Me Down and can’t wait for the next book. It’s so wonderful and gratifying to hear that, to hear that people are responding to my words and my story, but it also reminds me that there are now people waiting for me to write. I feel like everyone is watching, and I don’t want to let them down.

I’m trying to work on my second book, but I’ve found that it’s not me alone at my computer anymore. It’s not just my voice in my head, but also the negative comments from readers (even though they are few), the positive comments from readers and reviewers (what if I don’t live up to the praise?), statistics about sales figures and sophomore flops, the VIP audience of my agent and editor that are now among my earliest readers instead of the last, the knowledge that this book needs to be written more quickly than HMD, that it needs to be saleable, publishable, in order to keep my career moving, the nagging doubt that I'm capable of writing a second book.

If I can’t even be alone in my own head, how can I possibly get to that place where I can gut myself open?

There is no simple answer, or not one I know of. (If you’ve found one, please share!) I’m doing my best to work my way back to that safe space I started out in, the frame of mind that I’m only writing for me. I need to learn to protect myself from those outside voices, pretend that I’m invisible. This book does need to be publishable, eventually, and I can only get to publishable by writing those shitty first drafts, so that’s the place to start. The public doesn’t exist for this second book yet, and though my agent and editor are supportive readers, I need to kick them out of my brain for the beginning stages as well. I’ll put blinders on and earplugs in and focus on the writing, the storytelling, the characters’ voices, not the ones beyond my office. I’ll hang dark curtains over all my windows, and while I know the world is still out there, at least they won’t be able to see me.

It’s like that saying: Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one can hear. I also love Jennifer Weiner’s addition from her BEA speech: “Tweet like your mother’s not online.”

Write like you’re naked. It’s not easy, but we knew that already. We wouldn’t have made it this far if we couldn’t take the pain.

Melanie Thorne is the author of Hand Me Down, a debut novel that is the story of a girl who has never been loved best of all. Find out more on her website, follow her on Twitter, or say hello on Facebook.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Street Teaming

by Brenda Remmes

During the weekend of October  19-21, five members from Book Pregnant will be participating in the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop in Myrtle Beach. Book Pregnant ( is a group of thirty on-line authors who came together to support one another as their first book publications become a reality.   Each author already has a contract signed for publication. Fifteen of their books are in publication already. They are pregnant, so to speak, with the anticipation and challenges of the editing, the launching and the marketing of their first book.
A street team (as defined in Wikipedia) is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who 'hit the streets' promoting an event or a product.  Most debut authors are finding that regardless of whether they are published by a small or large publishing company or self-published, the industry is passing on most of the marketing requirements to them.  Whether or not you have a “platform” developed that can highlight your book, often determines whether or not your book sells the needed number to merit a second contract.  Street teaming is not just about Facebook and the internet.  It’s about how do you build supportive teams for both marketing and your own mental health.  David, Lydia, Barbara, and Anne will discuss what they have learned about book promotions in advance of and after their debut novels hit the market in 2012: what has worked and what remains to be done.  Information  includes insight, not only with on-line connections, but also  making connections for blog tours, book signings, media events, and how to get the most bang for your buck.  During the next three months you will see blogs from each of the  authors as they give you a bit more detail about their part of the program.  They all plan to remain through the three day conference and are willing to discuss individually or during meals their personal experiences. 

For more on-line information about each of the panel members search: Lydia Netzer (  author of Shine, Shine, Shine, published by St. Martin’s Press, July 2012;  Anne Barnhill ( author of At the Mercy of the Queen published by St. Martin’s press, February 2012,  Barbara Claypole White (  author of The Unfinished Garden published by Harlequin MIRA, August 2012, David Abrams, (  author of FOBBIT, published by Grove/Atlantic, September 2012, and Brenda Remmes, ( author of The Quaker Café, (publish date 2013 by Viking/Penguin).

For more information about the workshop in October, go to  The conference provides, not only  workshops, but agents and editors who are available to critique small pieces of work submitted by attendees.  Anne Barnhill found her agent at a SCWW conference.  Barbara Claypole White was a winner of the SCWW Carrie McCray Awards, and Brenda Remmes has been a former board member of SCWW and credits her success at finding an agent to what she learned at SCWW conferences and critiquing groups.  The price of the conference is well worth the time and money spent.We hope to meet some of you there.