Hey, folks! I’ll make this short and sweet . . . I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Folsom’s 93 over at Goodreads.
This morning, WordPress informed me that my stats were on fire at Folsom’s 93, my other site. Sure enough, the last two days registered quite a jump. I don’t get a lot of traffic at my two sites, so my writer heart was all a flutter when I saw that I had over 500 hits before 10 a.m. Did an exec at the History Channel fall in love with my book? Did Oprah add it to her prized bookshelf? Surely, some influential bigwig is about to make my author dreams come true.
Is it finally my time to break the internet?! *squeals of delight*
No. One of my posts made it onto Reddit. And I immediately knew which one. It appears folks are strangely fascinated with . . .
And people google it. A lot. Because it regularly shows up as a search term on my analytics All. The. Time. Don’t know what it is? That’s okay, you’re not alone. For as many people who are keenly interested in it, there are twice as many who don’t know what the hell it is. In 2011, fellow writer, Jason Brick, wrote a guest post regarding this very topic, thus, illuminating the blogosphere to the act of hiding contraband up your derriere. Little did I know, it would become one of the most popular posts on the site. If you must.
I appreciate the visits of course, but it doesn’t appear a documentary about Folsom prison’s executed men is in the works, nor a spike in Amazon sales. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t as enthralling as keistering. I assure you, it’s even more so. *clutches book to chest*
It goes to show that the interests of the people is vast and varied, so if you are looking for a new book project, might I suggest one on keistering. It’s sure to be a hit.
This Sunday, from 6-7 p.m., Between the Pages, a radio show featuring author readings, news, and music, makes its debut and I get to be a guest! The show is hosted by funnyman, Rich Keller of Wooden Pants Publishing, and I’ll be joined by Northern Colorado Writers Director and founder of Hot Chocolate Press, Kerrie Flanagan. I get to talk about Folsom’s 93 and read from my latest book, Bobbing for Watermelons. Kerrie will fill us in on all the latest industry news and events, so hopefully, you can tune in . . . and given it’s a live show, hopefully, I don’t screw up. But there’s always that chance and you won’t want to miss it. Check out Between the Pages on Facebook and give ’em a Like; they’re good folks.
Greetings from Vancouver. I’m on a bit of a break before the exciting cluster eff of the release of my book and the NCW Conference. This is the the kind of cluster eff I like. Bobbing for Watermelons will be available this Sunday, March 22, but you lucky folks can get a sneak peek at Hot Chocolate Press and read the first four chapters now. Both print and e-versions will be available. I also wanted to let you know that I’m Patricia Stoltey’s guest blogger today, so mosey on over if you have a moment and enter to win a copy of my book.
I also stumbled upon a nice surprise at Chapters’ bookstore in Vancouver . . .
Finding your book in a bookstore never gets old, eh?
A recent post by Jody Hedlund about creating a book launch team, got me jazzed up about getting the wheels in motion for my upcoming release of my book. Last night, I joined several other NCW authors for a night of readings at Bas Bleu Theatre. I read an excerpt from my new book, which is not only great practice for reading aloud, but it generated buzz for my book. My publisher also made up this awfully cute bookmarks to help promote it.
When Folsom’s 93 released, the launch took place at the prison itself. The museum that sits outside the prison walls, provided the perfect venue. For all of the events, I had many of the book’s mug shots printed into foam board, which guests of my local launch had a great time with. It was a great way to get people involved in your book launch/signing.
I also have album with all the mug shot in it so people can flip through them—which is a great icebreaker when you’re at a book signing and people are afraid to come over to the table.
Just recently, I had these cool business card magnets made up with some of my favorite Folsom guys:
These are inexpensive ways to get readers interested in your book, and more importantly, remember your book. Making your presentation and signing memorable is going to draw readers in and chances are, impress their socks off.
Patricia Stoltey went all out for her last signing by providing refreshments and big baskets of giveaways.
Another way to generate an audience, especially before the book launches, is create ads with your book and tweet them. Author Kenneth Harmon used this technique and gained over 10K Twitter followers in a few months time. You can read about how he did it HERE.
Have a launch/signing at a location mentioned in the book
It doesn’t have to be the exact place, especially if it’s not possible to travel there, but think about similar venues in your own city. Consider what your character does for a living; play up that. Think about the various places and things in your book that you can incorporate. Not all signings and launches have to take place in a bookstore.
I got to have the actual gallows trap door for my book launch, which was pretty spectacular, but there may be other (smaller) items that are portable enough to bring with you. One author, who writes about zombies, decorates his table with zombie props and dolls. (I’d think writers of erotica might really garner some attention with props!)
Create ads with book info and include any author blurbs you scored
Like what Ken Harmon did, he added text to pictures he took himself. If he acquired a blurb from another author, he added that. It’s a great way to generate buzz, especially on Twitter.
Bookmarks and postcards
This is another great way to get interest, especially if you do a reading before the book is released. Your audience needs something to remind them of your upcoming book.
Have items such as magnetic business cards, mousepads, pens, and mugs made up using the book’s cover to other pictures that may be in the book.
These are great for including in a giveaway basket or placed on the table. Check out places like Snapfish, Overnight Prints, and Vista Print.
Partner with an organization that your book can be associated with
If your book has an underlying message or theme, or brings awareness to a certain issue, contact organizations that might be interested in partnering up. An author friend is pairing up with her local cat rescue since her book is about a shelter cat.
I realize I’m just scratching the surface when it comes to creative book launches and signings, but I hope it launches some ideas for you. Your branding and how you promote your books is an important part in creating an audience. This may be a daunting thing for a lot of writers who’d much rather spend their time writing than promoting their books and actually talking to people, but that’s why some promotional items can be an icebreaker—both for the author and for the potential buyer. Above all, make it a fun experience.
What are some of your ideas for making the most of your book launches & signings?
I love New York City, but if I can’t be there, at least my book can be riding the subway system, courtesy of Rosy from Books on the Subway. Rosy, an avid reader, heard of Books on the Underground, based in London, and thought, why not do the same in NYC? Isn’t it novel? She calls it a “public library on the go.” The books are labeled with a BOTS sticker, so readers can pick up the book, read it, and then return it to the train for someone else to enjoy. I sent Rosy a couple copies of Folsom’s 93 and she just dropped them off at 28th street station. How cool is that?! I hope my 93 guys enjoy their rides. Look for Books on the Subway on Twitter and Facebook, and check her site to see how you could get your own book to ride the rails, too.
Recently, I’ve had the honor of being interviewed by Emily Wenzl of Literary Fort Collins. Wenzl discusses (as you might guess) everything literary about this fabulous Northern Colorado city. I talk about . . . ah, me pretty much. Okay, a bit about how friggin’ hard writing can be, and I also dote on my critique group a little too. Anyway, check out Wenzl’s great blog if you get the chance.
Happy New Year!
Usually when you hear “Photoshop,” you think of unrealistic waistlines and impossibly perfect skin tone. It’s always nice to see Photoshop being used for good, not evil. A few months back, I came across these remastered and colored Civil War pictures that I felt gave them a whole new meaning. Funny how color can do that, right? I don’t know if they used Photoshop, but you get where I’m going here. My son has been playing around with the program and wanted to see what he could do with one my Folsom’s 93 mug shots.
I think it turned out pretty amazing. I’ve always found this shot to be particularly haunting. His name was William M. Gray, Folsom’s 22nd execution. Given all the research into Gray’s case, I’m not entirely convinced he committed the crime for which he hanged. I’ll leave you with his final words in 1906:
” . . . there could be no God, else an innocent man would not be hanged.”
If you’re able to tear yourself away from The Royal Birth Coverage, I’d love to share with you the equally exciting news of Folsom’s 93 book tour thus far. Check it out HERE. You can see me chat on Good Day Sacramento and if you’re not sick of me by then, you can listen to a public radio interview as well.
(A bundle of nerves before the interview)
Before I head out tomorrow for the California launch of Folsom’s 93, I held a book launch here in Fort Collins in the Tasting Room of the Fort Collins Brewery. The idea was not to sell a bunch of books, but rather, to celebrate with friends and family the long-awaited release of my first book. I guess I’d consider it more of a “book shower” after the birth of the darn thing. I didn’t expect everyone to coo over the book and buy, buy, buy. It’s okay to just hold it, look it over, and hand it back to the parent. Not everyone is into babies like this, especially creepy babies. It’s about celebrating. Having never done a book launch before, I learned a lot, so I thought I’d pass along my thoughts . . .
1.) First, I learned (well, was reminded) that I have the most amazing friends and family in the world. A BIG thanks to all those who came and supported me!
2.) Picking a venue: Free is usually best, but we decided to splurge a bit and rent out a section of a local brewery. Some things to consider: when they require a minimum in food purchases, find out if tax and added gratuity is included. (I was taken aback a little when they tacked on nearly a $100 gratuity to the bill for 2 bartenders even after they had put out 3 tip jars that were already filled). Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with tipping—I insist upon it—just be aware of what will be expected of you in this type of venue. We purchased beer and appetizers for guests, so it was great to see them drinking, eating, and mingling. If you don’t mind paying a little bit, this is a great way to go, especially since all you have to do is show up. I also considered buying a keg and hosting the event at my house, but the added stress of hosting (including cleaning up) just wasn’t appealing.
3.) Invite ’em right: I figured Facebook was a good place to start by creating an event that goes out to the friends you invite. It was probably the easiest, fastest way, but it was the least reliable method. Many people didn’t see that they were invited because FB alerts people once or twice and events are posted in an out-of-the-way spot and can easily be missed. Plus, lots of people use this tool and if you have some very social friends, your invite can easily get lost. I suggest using Evite. It’s free and a lot more reliable. You’ll need everyone’s email address, but for those who don’t post theirs on their FB page, send them a personal message.
4.) Get an “event planner”: This may be your spouse or best friend who’s not afraid to run the show a little. People seemed to show up all at once, so it was a bit overwhelming. I had planned on saying a few words and thanking everyone for coming, but there was never a moment when I could get everyone’s attention. I was in constant greet-mode. This makes it hard when it’s a friends and family event—at a public reading or signing, it’s a lot easier to say your shpeal. Before the shindig, designate someone who won’t be afraid to let loose a whistle or tap a glass to get the crowd’s attention—and yours. Also, have a friend take lots of pictures, because you will not have time to! This reminded me of my wedding reception, so it will be helpful to have others in charge of making sure things get done and go smooth. They also need to make sure you have something to eat and a drink in your hand.
5.) Pass the Buck: If you’re selling books yourself, designate someone to handle all of the sales. My husband, obsessed with finances, was the perfect choice for this job. I suggest getting the Square so that you can take credit cards via your smart phone or ipad. The device is free—they’ll mail it to you—and all you have to do is download the free app. It takes 2.75% of each swipe and that’s it; no additional fees and the moolah is deposited the next business day. This is ideal because you should have a box of books in your trunk. (If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you, or you’re a NY Times best seller and you don’t need to). With the Square, you can take payments from anyone, anywhere, including the barista who you see every morning who you’ve developed a friendly rapport with who will be delighted to now be serving the greatest local author ever. Also, make sure you can easily make change for those paying with cash. For example, I sold the book for $15, so we had lots of fives on hand because people paying cash were likely to pay with a twenty dollar bill.
6.) Say whaaat?!: Most people, when having a book signed, especially by someone they know, hope you’re going to do more than just sign your name. First, sign the title page. Always ask who they want it signed to and make sure they tell you how it’s spelled. (there are those few Apryls out there . . .) Find some signature phrases such as Many Thanks, Best Wishes, Much Appreciation, All the Best, Hope you enjoy the book . . .you get the idea. And think before you write. We had a small gathering a few weeks ago with good friends and one suggested I come up with something that has to do with prison, so I wrote “Stay on the straight and narrow . . .” . . . to our gay friends. After I handed it to them, I realized how stupidly inappropriate that was, but we all had a really big laugh about it.
7.) Get Creative: I had taken in a CD of the mug shots, as well as the book cover, to a print shop to have them enlarged and mounted on foamcore. (Thank you, Megan from Print Cafe. And thanks for coming to the launch!) These were great for displaying on the tables. I propped up the book cover on the signing table. Be sure to bring book stands for stuff like this. (Thanks, Kerrie!) They were a hit, particularly Felix, who made his way around the room . . .
8.) Open any gifts right away: If someone gives you a gift, particularly if it’s from your wonderful sister (who flew in from out-of-state to surprise you for the book launch), open it right then and there because it could be a beautiful, engraved pen that would have been perfect to use for signing the books. Things were busy and I didn’t open it until later. Don’t wait.
Overall, have a good time and enjoy yourself.
The company my husband works for is based out of San Francisco, so I decided to tag along this time. My son and I get to tool around the city while he works, then we’re off to Sacramento where I’ll be at the Folsom Prison Museum from 10-4 on July 20th. Next, catch me at Time Tested Books on July 24th in Sacramento at 7pm. Then it’s back to San Fran on the 25th to Modern Times Bookstore at 7pm. Wish me luck!
I’ve got the blog tour rolling with a first stop at The Death Writer, where I answer questions about Folsom’s 93 and then on to Patricia Stoltey’s blog where I discuss why I couldn’t talk about my book at the dinner table. I hope you can make it over to these great writer sites. Also, Kerrie Flanagan at The Writing Bug wrote a review!
Remember how excited I got when the UPS man dropped by back in April? Well, that was nothing compared to his visit today. Don’t you love the smell of fresh ink?
Not only that . . . my publisher was at the Barnes & Noble in Fresno, CA and sent me this beautiful picture . . .
Not bad for a Monday.
I just took this picture. Seriously, I just picked up my camera, pointed it at my backyard and . . . click! . . . here you go. This is a *little bit* of a freak spring snow storm here in Northern Colorado. We typically get most of our snow in March, but the snow gods decided to put it off until April 15 and it hasn’t let up too much since. When it’s all said and done (hopefully by tomorrow) we should have accumulated a little over 2 feet.
So I have to give a shout out to my local UPS guy who braved the storm and delivered my box of new postcards and business cards that I recently ordered. (He must have known I was ignoring all my other tasks today by sitting at my computer thinking about what my next blog post would be). I also think it was the one and only time he couldn’t wear his little brown shorts. Anyway, I have the NCW Conference next week and unfortunately, I’m not able to get any reader copies of my book by then, so these post cards will have to do.
Pretty snazzy, huh? (Front and back) I keep fearing that as I read them, I’m going to discover a typo—no matter how many times I went over them before clicking the all-powerful and no-going-back order button. Now lets hope I get rid of them all before the release date in July. And it looks like I’m be returning to prison July 20th with an initial signing at the Folsom Prison Museum, that sits just outside the prison. I think, however, I’ll stay on the outside of the prison walls this time. That is of course, if I make it through this blizzard.