Blank to 50K: How to DO a Book Signing

Once you’ve written your way to those first magical 50,000 words, then edited & polished to perfection, then published your book, it’s time to market. One way to get your book in front of people is to literally get in front of them.

Do a book signing.

NOTE: I did not say “host” a book signing. I did not say “have” a book signing.

I said DO.

A book signing should be interactive, involving your prospective readers. You will catch more customers if you are active and engaging. Carry through the theme of your book, either capitalizing on the title or a major component of your book. Here are some things I’ve done that worked, specific to my book, Denim & Diamonds:

Prepare: Take a flyer to the location so they can post it in advance of your event. Put your event on community calendars (think TV, radio, newspaper websites). Send postcards out to friends and family inviting them to the event. Notify local reporters – think of a hook they can use to create a story (give them a reason to talk to you!). Put flyers around the community and in your local library and local bulletin boards.

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/Presentation. This means use a table skirt (I bought sparkly denim fabric), have some sort of centerpiece (I used three glass jars covered with rhinestone mesh, which held LED candles), and a display of giveaway items (I often give away items that feature my book cover & website: postcards, bookmarks and bite-size candy bars – more on that stuff later). Of course, make sure your books are prominently displayed. A small banner with your name is also helpful. I used my diecutting machine to make a banner of blue and silver diamond shapes which spelled out my name.

D&D Lisa won penGame. Have a game to draw people in. I made a game called “Pick Beau’s Pocket” with a big piece of core board, with nine back blue jean pockets (thanks to friends who donated their used jeans! BTW – you can see it in the bottom right corner of the pic at the right, with my friend Lisa, who was the first winner of a pen!). I used my diecutting machine to cut out diamond shapes. Some of them were marked “Winner” and some were marked “Sorry!”, then I laminated them, and stuck them in the pockets. I had this set up on an easel next to my table. I stood beside it and asked everyone who passed by if they wanted to play – no purchase required. Simple game – all they do is pick a pocket and pull out a diamond. One of the prizes was a $10 gift certificate to the bookstore (this is a good way to say thanks to the store for allowing you in – and it instantly gives them good vibes when you walk in and buy a gift certificate before you even set up), and I also like to give travel mugs and nice pens (I usually buy from Vistaprint). For those who get the “Sorry!” diamonds, I offer a consolation prize – a full-sized chocolate bar wrapped with a custom wrapper featuring my book cover on the front and my website address on the back.  I created the wrappers myself, and am happy to send anyone who’d like it a copy of the template.http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/ Just shoot me an email and ask for it!

Celebrate Sales. I offer to take a picture of every individual who buys my book, and offer to let them wear my cowboy hat or my giant fake diamond ring. Then I snap a picture on my phone and post it to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #DenimDiamonds #LoriLRobinett. This creates interest on social media, and customers often end up then liking my social media accounts. You can even encourage them to post with a simple flyer on your table featuring the hashtags you recommend, to make them part of the action.Ericca - D&D signing

I create a Pinterest board for each of my books and I include things I want to do for book signings, such as foods, drinks, decorations and games.

Remember, a book signing is as much a celebration of your publication as it is a sales event. Think of this as a party.

Have fun, and success will follow!

Romance Week 2016: Meet Cute

Happy Valentine’s Day Week!

Commercials touting jewelry and flowers as the perfect gift for your love have pervaded the airways here recently. Personally, I don’t go for that kind of stuff.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never turned down jewelry.

But romance shouldn’t be relegated to a day, it’s a lifestyle.

Anyway, thinking about Valentine’s Day naturally has me thinking about my hubs. We’ve been married 21+ years. (wowzers.)

weddingAnd a lot of people thought we wouldn’t make it 6 months. (aren’t we cute? and look at that 1990’s style scrapbooking!)

We met in July of 1994. At a bar. The Silver Bullet. He was there with friends, I was there with friends. He asked every one of my friends to dance before he got to me. We finally danced and he asked for my number. I hesitated, but jotted it down for him. It was a whirlwind romance. We’d both been married before, and talked about things more seriously and deeply than I think most young couples do, because – quite simply – neither of us wanted to go through another divorce. We were married in December of that year.

Crazy, right? (but when you know, you know.)

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/In Denim & Diamonds, Beth meets Beau after she runs off the road in the middle of a thunderstorm. Beau slides down the ditch and rescues her. That damsel in distress bit gets me every time.

So . . . tell me your story. How did you and your significant other meet?

Year End Review: Is Indie Publishing Worth it?

Credit: Prawny - PhotoMorgue

Credit: Prawny – PhotoMorgue

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past couple of weeks. I always do that at the end of the year – review what I’ve done, plan for the upcoming year. This year, I did it under the guidance of the Your Best Year 2016 planner by Lisa Jacobs. It has been fantastic – easily the best money I spent this past year.

As part of my year end evaluation, I was curious about my accomplishments. When I bought the 2016 planner, Lisa included the PDF of the 2015 planner, which I began working through in the fall. One of the biggest a-ha moments for me was seeing that I do the same thing every year, and hope for improvement. Hope for success.

I’ve dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember, and my first book was published in 2014 by a small press. My second book was published in 2015, by my own micro press, Three Creeks Press (essentially, I’m an indie publisher).  As I worked through Lisa Jacob’s planner and reviewed the numbers and what I had been doing (which was essentially writing and hoping folks would find my books), I decided it was time to change – to treat my publishing as a business.

I was inspired to share my results after reading Lisa Medley’s blog post about her experience this past year. (as an aside, I wish more authors, indie and traditional, would share their results.) I met Lisa at ORACon a couple of years ago and have followed her progress, because I consider her a “real” author (I have always been, oh, so jealous, because she got “the call” from Harlequin! <drooling>). I know traditional authors have sharing restrictions because of their contracts, but am glad to see them at least discussing generalities, like Tawna Fenske did on her blog.

As I mentioned, my first book, Denim &Diamonds, came out in 2014. I’ve made about $200 on it, give or take. Yeah, not going to retire on that. I was so excited to get a publisher, and working with CaryPress has been a good experience, so I still consider it a success. My second book, Fatal Impulse, came out in 2015. At the beginning of 2015, my goal was to make enough to pay one small bill a month (I was thinking the water bill, which runs $20 – $25). (Yeah, I know. Not exactly reaching for the stars.)

20160109_132952_resized

Here’s how Fatal Impulse has done this year – these are my royalties for each month:

March: $48.02

April: $18.36

May: $2.04

June: $22.24

July: $4.08

August: $0 (OUCH. this was my a-ha moment – I need to DO something!)

September: $74.49

October: $131.66

November: $224.64

December:  $2594.95

20160109_134026_resizedI know it’s a bit crass to discuss money, but I have to admit, throughout December, I proudly discussed royalties with anyone and everyone who would listen. I caught myself whispering numbers, prefacing it with “I know this is crass, but get this . . . ” To be fair, that money isn’t all profit. I’ve spent over $700 and 25% of those royalties go to taxes, but I’m damned proud of that book. It isn’t perfect, it has flaws, and it’ll never win any literary awards. It’s simply a story that banged around in my head since my first marriage 25+ years ago that I needed to get out. My hope is that it will entertain some folks, and that it’ll provide a bit of escapism for anyone stuck in a bad relationship.

But the fact that I am able to realize a profit from that is very exciting. And now that my next book is in edits, I find myself confident that indie publishing is for me. As my friends and family will tell you, I’m a bit of a control freak, so being able to change the book description and tags is a huge plus. It makes the book responsive to trends. I write the book, then subcontract the graphic design, editing, promotion. The role of authorpreneur fits me very well.

I’m thinking about putting together resources to share what I’ve learned to help others become successful authorpreneurs. If you’re interested, sign up for my newsletter (see sidebar) so you’ll get the news before anyone else.

And if you have tips, feel free to share them here.

And if you’re brave enough to share your own publishing results, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to email me if you want to remain anonymous and I’ll share those results in an upcoming post.

The Ecstacy of The End

I finished the rough draft of Diamond in the Rough last week. This is the second in the Diamond J series, set in Missouri, featuring Aidan and Gina. If you haven’t read Denim & Diamonds yet, make sure you do before Rough comes out next year!

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/It was incredibly exciting and fulfilling . . . an adrenaline fueled push to that last scene. I knew what had to happen, I just had to get there. I took two days off work and PUSHED myself. I wrote over 10,000 words in those two days. Once I got going, the words were flying from my fingers so fast. It was . . . awesome. And I don’t mean that in the overused way that it falls from our tongues these days. I mean it in the true sense of the word. I was in awe of the way the words flowed through my fingers and appeared on the screen, as if I did not actually play any part in the creation of them.

It gives me chills just to think about it.

Now, that manuscript is on the back burner. It needs to rest for a bit. I’m too close to it now. I’d never be able to see the flaws that I know exist, because in my mind, that manuscript is perfect as it is right this moment.

And, in a way, it is.

Simply because it exists.

So, for the month of November, I will escape into another Widow’s Web novel . . . The Danger Within. Sophie Kendrick will be chattering away in my head, as she goes on the run and tries to escape the clutches of Blake Chaney. First, I need to decide . . . will this happen in Maine, Colorado, or Missouri? What’s your vote? Reply to this post (or comment) and let me know where you want it set.

Oh, I can’t wait!

Blank to 50K: How to Plot a Novel

http://lorilrobinett.com

Plotter or Pantser

Writers are generally in one of two camps: Plotters or Pantsers.

Either one is fine. Either one works. But in order to decide what works for you, you need to know a little bit about it.

Think of Plotters as those who create a map before they start along the journey of writing the novel. As you draft your novel, you read your map and follow the directions until you reach your destination: The End.

Pantsers are folks who hop in the car and go, turning right or left on a whim. They may have a general idea of where they want to go, or they may be happy with wherever they end up. Personally, I tend to be a pantser. For me, the true joy of writing is when the characters chatter away in my head and I feel as if I’m channeling them when I sit down at the keyboard. That said, I do more plotting now that I’m more serious about my writing.

Ways to Plot a Novel

  • Outline: You’ve done outlines. Remember those outlines you wrote when you were back in school? Like that. Essentially, think of your novel as a three-part story. I. Beginning – II. Middle – III. End. Simple right? YES! Don’t try to make this too complicated. These are the basics, enough to get you started. Add subsections if you’d like, for the chapters, with scenes under that. My tip? Keep it simple, and don’t get too caught up in this step. You just need a general road map, not a turn by turn with maps. Drawback: this method is a little harder to reorder if you don’t like the way something flows.
  • Sticky Notes: This works especially well if you have a big, blank wall. You can also use the back of a door, or even a big piece of poster board. Think of this as a storyboard for your novel. Again, keep it simple. You don’t need to write a note for every single scene. Just hit the high points. Think about things that move the story along, actions that need to happen to move your story from the beginning to the end. My tip? Use different colored sticky notes to represent different things such as POV.
  • Index Cards: Holly Lisle offers excellent instructions on her website. In short, you will have an index card for each chapter, with different colors representing different POVs. Once you’ve got your index cards, you can move them around and come up with the best chronology to fit your story. My tip? Write how you want the chapter to end. That way, when you pick up an index card to write the chapter, you know where you’re going. See? There’s the map analogy again!
  • PowerPoint: This is the index card method, for those who prefer computers to paper. Each slide will be a chapter. Again, you can move them around to tweak the chronology.
  • Snowflake: This is the brainchild of Randy Ingermanson. The idea is to take the kernel of a story and build upon it, piece by piece, until you have a novel. Take a peek at his instructions and you’ll see that he recommends that you start with pre-writing, in order to lay the groundwork for writing your novel. Though this is technically plotting, it sure makes figuring out your plot a lot easier.

How to Pants a Novel

Okay, technically, if you’re a pantser, you just sit down and write. BUT . . . there are things you can do to make the process go a bit smoother.

Before you begin:

  • Write character sketches
  • Collect inspirational pictures of settings and characters, like this.
  • Know your genre

Once you begin, you need to provide yourself with fuel so you’ll have something to put on the page when you’re able to sit down. Here are a couple of things to try:

  • Talk to yourself. Ask yourself, “What can go wrong today?”
  • Email yourself a few sentences several times throughout the day

Each method, Plotting and Pantsing, has its advantages and disadvantages. Give whatever appeals to you a try, and be willing to trash it and start with a different method if it doesn’t work for you.

If you want to read a book that was done totally by the seat of my pants, check out Denim & Diamonds.

http://carypress.com/denim-diamonds-by-lori-robinett/

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

Blank to 50K: What if I want to do NaNoWriMo?

http://lorilrobinett.comGreat! Good for you for making the commitment! Participating is easy.

  • Go to www.nanowrimo.org and sign up
  • Look for your local region (I happen to be in NaNoWriMo::Missouri::Fulton – and we have a Facebook page (that is woefully outdated at the moment!)
  • Check with your local library for a kickoff or informational session. If you’re in central Missouri, check the library calendar here.
  • Keep an eye on the regional forums of the NaNo site, check your NaNo mail, and keep an eye on your email so you can stay informed about local events, like write-ins and parties.

And if you decide NOT to participate officially in National Novel Writing Month, no worries. You can still participate in Blank to 50K and learn tips to help you finish your first draft.

Blank to 50K: Why write your novel in 30 days?

http://lorilrobinett.comIf you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but can’t seem to get it done . . . National Novel Writing Month may be for you. But there is a caveat to that. You don’t HAVE to sign up for NaNoWriMo. You don’t HAVE to do it in November. The things that make NaNo work for so many people can be tweaked for your personal situation to help you reach your goals.

Quantity over Quality

Don’t get hung up on this point. The idea is to take one month to get your first draft finished. Your goal is to have a beginning, a middle and an end. If you get too focused on crafting perfect sentences, you’ll never reach those two magical words: The End.

Write Wherever

NaNo teaches you to write wherever you’d like: at your desk, at a write-in, or in short little bursts wherever you happen to be. I’ve been known to work through lunch at work . . . but take 15 minutes to send myself an email with a few hundred words for my work in progress.

Support

If you sign up for NaNo, you’ll have overwhelming support from the entire NaNo community – from the Office of Letters and Light, your Municipal Liaison, and your Region. If you don’t sign up for NaNo, you still need to elicit support from friends and family, as well as the writing community. Find a writing group or at least a critique partner.

Take the Time

The biggest hurdle writers face is finding the time to write. Give yourself a deadline, tell others you are writing a novel . . . then DO IT.

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It

Both of my novels were drafting during National Novel Writing Month. Check them out and see what is possible, and support a fellow writer at the same time:

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/

Denim & Diamonds

http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Impulse-Widows-Web-Novel-ebook/dp/B00UB2U7WS/

Blank to 50K: Why you should let me help you write your novel

In the past few weeks, I’ve talked about the fact that everyone wants to write a book, asked why you want to write a novel, and advised you to write what you read. But I missed an important step . . .

Why should you listen to me?

I’ve done it, plain and simple. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month eight times and finished every single time as a winner.

http://lorilrobinett.com

My 8th National Novel Writing Month WIN!!

Even better than that – I self-published my first draft through Lulu and sold twice as many copies as most self-pubbed authors do. Then I took that (very) rough draft, rewrote and polished it, submitted it . . . and I happily signed my first publishing contract with CaryPress. It was released in 2014.

http://lorilrobinett.com

I’ve been published in Well Versed, “The Storyteller,” “The Heritage Writer,” “Writing for Dollars!”, and “Secrets & Strategies.”

I led my National Novel Writing Month region to Top Ten status (number of words / writer) every year I served as Municipal Liaison. I helped others finish the first draft of their novel in 30 days or less . . . and I can help you do the same thing.

Rev your engine up. Let’s go.

Are you ready?

Blank to 50K: Write What You Read

WHAT do you want to write_(1)Obviously, you want to write a novel. And you know WHY you want to write a novel. Now the question is: What do you want to write?

Well, what are you reading? And don’t EVEN tell me you aren’t reading anything because, let’s face it, you can’t be a writer if you aren’t a reader. I tend to be a bit of a book slut. Right now I’m reading a thriller (An Unlikely Hero by Tierney James), just finished a rom-com (Frisky Business by Tawna Fenske) and before that, I read horror (Dr. Sleep by Stephen King). But there are still commonalities in what I read, and I tend to go to a particular section of the library and the bookstore every time I go in – the mystery section.

So, think about your habits. What section first draws your attention?

What about the characters that appeal to you? Do you like strong female protagonists? What about those characters we love to hate? Sometimes I find myself rooting for the bad guy, like in the movies Gone in 60 Seconds and Ocean’s Eleven.

In essence, write the story you would want to sit down and read. Write the words that would draw you in and keep you reading into the wee hours of the darkest night.

If the idea of getting a second chance appeals to you, pop over and check out one of my books.

http://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Impulse-Widows-Web-Novel-ebook/dp/B00UB2U7WS/

http://carypress.com/denim-diamonds-by-lori-robinett/

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

 

Denim & Diamonds: A Book Club Guide

http://www.amazon.com/Denim-Diamonds-Lori-Robinett-ebook/dp/B00M8N210Y/

Denim & Diamonds

Someone I know through work emailed me a week or so ago to let me know that her book club has chosen Denim & Diamonds as their April read. Exciting stuff! I’m looking forward to meeting with the Bookies and talking to them later this month.

When the book first came out, someone suggested I create a book club guide – and now I’m so glad I did! Here’s an electronic version – feel free to use it for your own reading group if you choose to read the novel. If you have specific questions, feel free to email me and I’d be happy to answer or speak at a book club meeting.

Discussion Questions

  • When Beth learns that her father’s Will stipulates that she must move to the Diamond J for a year, she takes the challenge. Do you think she would have taken that challenge if her fiance hadn’t cheated on her? How would things have been different if she and her fiance hadn’t broken up?
  • Beau struggles with his own lack of family (for instance, he wants a relationship with his crazy aunt, but doesn’t trust her). How do you think this affects his relationship with Beth?
  • Beth is bitter about her father’s lack of involvement and support, and is jealous of his relationship with Beau (and, for that matter, other members of the Diamond J family). How does that jealousy color her own feelings about the ranch?
  • What event is the tipping point in the relationship between Beth and Beau? Why?

Questions and Answers with the author

  • How long have you been writing? All my life, but seriously for a little over 10 years.
  • Where did you get the idea for Denim & Diamonds? The seed of the story came from a client at the law firm I worked for. A client wanted to make sure her horses were cared for after her death.
  • How long did it take you to write this novel? I wrote the first draft in 30 days, as part of National Novel Writing Month, but it took years to rewrite, edit and polish the story.
  • Who was the inspiration for Beth? As for her physical appearance, I always pictured the actress Molly Quinn as Beth.

Enhance Your Book Club

The theme of Denim & Diamonds is the importance of family (which doesn’t necessarily mean blood relatives). I encourage you to try one of the following activities after you’ve read the novel:

  • Share a story from your youth with a younger member of your family (like Beth telling about visiting the planetarium with her brother).
  • Write a letter to a member of your family telling them why you value them, and perhaps share a special memory with them.