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by Barbara Sheridan
Leslie Tramposch: Managing Editor - Sara Reyes: Marketing and Publicity
To submit articles of interest to our readers Email Barbara.

June 2002 Issue

Special Feature!!!
WisRWA 2002
JUMP START YOUR CAREER
Wisconsin RWA Conference May 17, 2002

By Cy Korte

PNR members are encouraged to share events they attend. Recently Cy Korte, our Reviews Editor, attended the 2002 Wisconsin RWA conference.

LISA JACKSON, guest speaker, was pleasant and candid about the difficulties and rewards in her 20 year career as a writer. When asked to join the panel discussion on agents and contracts, her initial response was "get one and sign one!". She acknowledged that working with an agent is a very personal relationship and should be a carefully chosen.

Lisa, whose legal name is Susan Lisa Jackson, became a writer at the encouragement of her sister (Nancy Bush aka Natalie Bishop) who was considering a career as an author. Lisa writes for Zebra, Silhouette Special Edition and NAL. In the past she also wrote several historical romances under the name Susan Lynn Crose. Lisa's favorite authors include Pat Conroy, Nelson DeMille, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and Dick Francis. Her newest book to be released in June 2002 (written as Lisa Jackson) is COLD BLOODED, a romantic suspense sequel to HOT BLOODED.

During the luncheon, Lisa Jackson stated that you must "make your writing passionate" and that the best stories are about the "triumph of the human spirit" and she feels that she gives those who read her books that sense of triumph. Her readers agree.

The organizers of WisRWA were excited and attendees appreciated the response of those who generously sent books for use as door prizes. Michele Patrykus was one of the door prize winners and was happy to receive some new books. We were also happy to bid on many of the items donated by authors toward the Silent Auction for Literacy.

We are happy that Jane Toombs is now healthy, happy and among the cancer survivors. Her hair, formerly straight, has come back curly after chemo. Also a very pregnant Ann Voss Peterson attend the conference. It is only weeks before due date but happily she has turned in her newest manuscript to Harlequin. No telling if baby will follow the mother's example and arrive before her deadline (due date), but we wish her the best.

Among the many authors attending, several participated in panel discussions including Jane Toombs, Will Hix (aka Anna Schmidt), Ana Leigh, Judith Lyons, Isabel Sharpe, Linda Devlin & Carrie Masek.

Authors Christine Desmet, Liz Hunter & Peggy Daniels encouraged published authors who wished to enter contests and discussed how to narrow a book to a synopsis.

Meanwhile, authors Jaye Roycraft & Barbara Raffin were speaking to unpublished authors on how to "Flesh Out" a synopsis of their story.

Lori Handeland & Katherine Garbera gave a well attended session on targeting your manuscript to the correct publisher and using a synopsis as part of the query letter to the editor.

All which showed that book promotion is a matter of perspective and presentation either with editors to get published or with booksellers -- both share the author's wish to reach readers. The bookseller's panel included Cindi Striecher, Waldenbooks (Greenfield, WI), Paula Jones, Barnes & Nobel (Wauwatosa, WI), Jody Allen, Reviewer, and Cy Korte, Book Isle (Stevens Point, WI).


Here's what Cy had to say:

Let's start with an introduction. "Hi, I am Cy Korte and I am ….A wife, mother, grandmother, romance reader and a New & Used book seller.

Note that when I think of myself, that my business comes after personal things. That explains best why Independent and particularly Used Booksellers are different than "Retail Chains". There is a personal touch to every store. Resellers can be rummage sale category up to collectible antique dealers. There are mixed reactions to resellers compared to retailers and again, personal preferences will effect how you as an author will interact with Independent store owners.

When I first started online with BOOK ISLE, I was working in an office where they sent me to Covey Training. I highly recommend this program or at least reading the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". For those who have not read it, Dr. Covey took age-old principles and used some catch words like "paradigm" and "think outside of the box" and made a million. But for those of us who think 12-steps are too much, a 7-step program is good… particularly since you don't have to have an addiction to implement it.

One of the 7 Principles is "Put first things first". You will find that although we may occasionally be caught up in the work world, our personal commitments have priority. A benefit of being self-employed is that we can and will arrange our business life around our personal life. On our web page, the announcement of my grandchildren's births and my husband's retirement had equal footing with announcement of contests and new book releases. I believe one thing Independent sellers have in common with authors is this personal touch.

So, the first thing I would suggest is that you be sure when you are sending information to Independent stores or resellers is that you take a moment and look at them. If it was Mike, another bookseller in Stevens Point, he wouldn't even look at your newsletter as Mike sells only hardcover books and no romances. So, for initial contact or a blind mailing, keep it simple and allow a way for those who are interested to contact you for more information. You can build your contact list from the response. Example: Send a short introduction letter with a couple of bookmarks or postcards and include self-addressed postcard for store to request bookmarks, coverflats, press package, etc. [Note: This was stated as preferred by Cindi from Waldenbooks although a press package was necessary if requesting Signing.]

Next thing I think Independent sellers and authors have in common is that our promotion budget is often a wish and a prayer. This may look like a paperclip holding a penny, but it is really a self-employed person's money clip. We have to pinch pennies. Our work is done for LOVE, not money just as authors mentioned feeling about their writing. This is an area that we can work together "creating a WIN/WIN situation".

BOOK ISLE has a review section… nothing better than having your name associated with an award winning author… so write a review of J.D. Robb's newest or Lisa Jackson's newest and 'Voila!' readers will associate you with them. So review books similar genre as you have written and build your name recognition. Send EBOOKISLE.COM your review and we will place it online. We announce new reviews listed in our customer newsletter - BI NEWS. Also, I know the reviews editor for (ParaNormal Romance) PNR Reviews, so often as a courtesy author reviews sent to Book Isle are also placed on their reviews site as a GUEST REVIEWER. PNR is a group of over 850 members... and I confess, I AM their Reviews Editor.

And speaking of reviews, yes, we at BOOK ISLE do review ARC's as well as current books. We do ask that you first email or mail us asking if we wish to read/review your book. Knowing time is not always a friend, the sooner available for review the better. We can review within weeks if necessary, but prefer 2 or more months if possible. Often Cy will read electronically, but Michele does not read eBooks; so galley printout is necessary.

For an idea of timing for promoting your book, May 15 we received cover flats from Harlequin releases for November, 2002. Our personal schedule for planning contest gifts is usually 3 to 4 months in advance. BUT, ALSO REMEMBER, Used book stores have no date limits. After your initial book promotion - you can still promote to UBStores to build your name recognition.

Another opportunity for name recognition is to be part of our Author Gift Giveaway. BI Staff usually read and reviews contest books and we make every effort to make gifts as attractive as possible for surfers and customers who visit eBOOKISLE.com. As this does not require purchase or other customer effort, contests are mainly to introduce readers to authors. [Yes, we do give BONUS ENTRIES for purchase or charity donations.]

That is another thing authors and resellers like myself have in common… we are doing something we like so are willing to give a bit extra to accomplish what we wish. I am not just a bookseller; I am a romance reader; so I am happy to do that little something more. It is done for LOVE, not money.

All panel members agreed that we wish the author to include what genre/sub-genre the book is when telling about their book. Tell if it is humorous contemporary or has a touch of paranormal. ISBN's are imperative even for reviewer and cover art is preferred whenever possible.

When asked about BOOK SIGNINGS, Barnes & Noble Rep, Paula requested a 3 month advance notice from Authors. She requested a publicity packet with as much information as possible. [during the discussion of what to bring to a book signing... One author quipped "other authors!" General agreement was it was better not to be alone to face the crowds -- or lack of them.] Barnes & Noble has a coordinator for promotions, but Waldenbooks recommends you contact individual store managers.

While preparing for this discussion, I asked others their thoughts on effectively promoting a book or author, I received varied answers.

One of the main replies from online readers was "an UP-TO-DATE web page".

BOOK ISLE's first web page was done when I set up a page on ANGELFIRE, and later on TRIPOD. These are free sites and have easy to use templates to make your web page look professional. Keeping a web site 'up to date' takes some effort, but if you do a basic site, there is little maintenance needed and it will be a definite advantage to your book promotion. Fans have stated that they like excerpts (online readers) on author's web site. Also, the offer of sending bookplates and other promo items with SASE on web site was a popular reason to visit author's web site.

Book reviews was another top answer. Another comment on book reviews was that they tended to be a bit more accurate than cover blurbs in letting a reader know what to expect from a book.

Yes, WORD OF MOUTH is still the #1 method of promotion. Be involved in your preferred chats or groups, but always remember, gossip spreads… your reputation will follow you and it’s that one moment you made your worst mistake that will haunt you seemingly forever.

When asked the most preferred promotion, I was not surprised to 'hear' that readers wanted free books. What reader doesn't! An autographed copy of a book by the author is a very popular request.

But another voice was heard… those who already had a copy of the book. Yes, they would like an autographed copy. Also, they liked the idea of gifts that tied in with the book. For example: Ann Lawrence's book had heroine who made soap and Ann gave gift of home-made soaps and it was quite a hit. So, a 'tie-in' gift can be as attractive to customers as the book. This is particularly good for a later promotion where fans may already have purchased the book.

Present yourself in as professional manner as possible… so be yourself but be professional. Do not invest more in promotion than is reasonable, but don’t come off looking cheap. A well done newsletter or flyer is better than a poorly done homemade bookmark.

There is a joke about being self-employed… It’s great… you only have to work half days… and occasionally you even get to choose which 12 hours.

The PNR staff on behalf of the readers wish to thank Cy and Book Isle for sharing this experience with us. ~ See writeup of last year's conference.

Do you have a local event feature for us? Send us an Email.


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