Friday, August 29, 2014

Hicklebee's Author Signing & Meeting My Favorite Author

I had my very first official Author Signing at Hicklebee's Bookstores last weekend, and boy was it nerve-wracking. But that is no surprise. (I saw my favorite author, Brent Weeks last night for his #BrokenEyeTour and was so nervous, I was sweating through my shirt.) Right. So…I've come to accept that many things make me anxious. Even other peoples book signings. To my credit, it was a little like meeting a celebrity, got to shake his hand, and take a photo with him and everything, so I was quite nervous the whole time. Anyhow, my natural high-anxiety is why I'm much more comfortable at home, relaxing to a movie, a book, and snuggled in with my boyfriend and cat, rather than being out and about at social events.

I organize events for a living, that's my job to put it simply. And that's more than enough socializing for me. I work with University students, helping them get connected to Tech Startups to hopefully land them a job opportunity. It's so much fun! And it is incredibly emotionally draining. You see, nobody believes me when I say that I'm an introvert. Yep, I can already see your eyes narrowing with doubt. Because I am a cheerful, energetic little busy bee, always smiling, giggling, and getting work done. That's me. So how, you ask? How can I be an introvert and not keel over and die from the stress and anxiety of pretending to be an extrovert?

I recently switched jobs and took a new role at a different company knowing I'd have to be on the phone with different people all the time--talking more than I ever have since I was in high school (remember those days when you'd be on the phone for hours with your BFF talking about…everything and nothing?). The answer to the question above is that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to keep growing and keep challenging myself. And that's exactly what's happened. I'm able to put myself out there one small measure at a time because one experience after another makes it a little less scary.

It doesn't come without a cost. And what a price that is...I am run ragged. All the time. No energy what-so-ever for after-work evening social events, unless it involves a heavy amount of wine, and even then my gaze will avert to my watch knowing instinctively when it's 9pm and that it's officially late. And that one minute more and I will never get enough quiet time and sleep to recharge my introvert batteries.

Well…there's that. Suffice to say that it took me a whole day and night to recover after the Author Signing, spending most of it in solitude so I could gear up for a whole week of my endlessly talking and socializing job. :) It's fun. I swear.

The Author Signing at Hicklebee's was amazing. I was last on the roster (out of six authors) to give a ten minute speech about myself and the book. Talk about sweating bullets. I started off with a firm, "So…let me say that I'm definitely a writer and not a public speaker." To which the audience smiled and chuckled, and the rest is sort of a mystery because my mind went into self-preservation mode and sort of just forgot the whole traumatic event. It went well, so I was told. It was worth the discomfort for all the books that were purchased and all the wonderful people I met. I was most warmed by the mom's and young teenage girls who were inspired by the character Aeva and the story of how she came to be.

Sort of a like a dream come true. :)

I don't really want to willingly do that again in the future. But one does what one must in order to fulfill their dreams.

Here are a few photos of me at the event!

Can you see the fear in my eyes? 

And the rest of the speech went pretty smoothly. I'd recommend folks print out or write notecards to help them with their speeches! It certainly helped me. 

I got to meet so many people who got a copy of Violet Storm!

This is right before I started speaking. A friend told me that the best thing to do is just smile. Keep smiling and the rest will follow. 

Here's a photo of me and author, Brent Weeks last night at Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco. It was such a pleasure. He's written the wildly successful Night Angel Trilogy and the Lightbringer Series. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Reviews & Marketing Ideas for Newbies

Fitz says HI!
Hi All,

I just wanted share with you the ideas and resources I've collected over the months as I took the journey to becoming a self-published author. I wish I knew these before I published Violet Storm, but it's never too late to learn.

It's not an easy workload. The hardest part is undoubtedly writing, editing, and polishing your novel, but after that comes marketing and advertising. Many of us are fortunate to have publishers who can help in this area, but even then, a lot of the work is pushed by the author to help spread the word.

Here are a few things on my massive list that have worked well, including some that have not:

  1. Editorial Review services that I pursued: 
    • San Francisco Book Reviews: (cost $125, 8-10 weeks) - Great service, quick to respond, and the review was amazing. They gave VS 4 stars! See the review here
    • Readers' Favorite: (cost $129 for 3 reviews, 2-3 weeks) - Great service, super fast, and the review was amazing. You can choose to have 1 review for a cheaper cost. I benefited from purchasing 3 reviews because the second reviewer loved my book and gave it a phenomenal 5-star rating! The other two rated it 4 stars. See the reviews here
    • Publishers Weekly: (cost $149, 8-10 weeks) - I would not recommend PW to other indie authors because although you pay to submit your novel, it is not guaranteed that they will read and review it. Which happened in my case. I lost two novels (which the submission required plus a hefty $149). They mentioned VS online here. That was what $149 and 2 books purchased…
    • Why pay for editorial reviews? I found them to be a great way to get renowned editorial magazines to give honest reviews. Plus it also included advertising. Review + advertising equalled a good investment for unknown author like me. 
    • Other editorial reviewers to consider: Kirkus ($425, 7-9 weeks), BlueInk Review ($395, 7-9 weeks), Self-Publishing Review ($59, $109, or $249). I did not pursue Kirkus or BlueInk because they were absurdly expensive and didn't seem worth the cost when considering my budget.
  2. Competitions that I pursued: 
    • Writer's Digest 2014 Self-published Book Awards (cost $110)
    • There are a few others I'm considering for 2015 which I'll list at a later date
  3. Book Signings:
    • These were terrifying and by far the most anxiety ridden. I've hosted two book signings with the help of my family and friends and sold close to fifty books. Plus who knows if it generated any additional leads. 
  4. Bookstores:
    • Some bookstores have programs for local indie authors. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if it feels daunting or embarrassing. I went to a renowned local children's bookstore, Hicklebee's and they agreed to put my books on the shelf. For a small fee they advertise and host a local author event that is sure to generate some buzz. I'll keep you posted on how that goes! The Author Event is slated for Aug. 23rd. 
  5. Blog Tours:
    • I first learned of blog tours through my good author friend, Meradeth Houston, for her latest publication, "Surrender the Sky." After Googling top Blog Tour sites, I decided on Xpress Book Tours. Giselle is great to work with and I feel like my tour is in good hands. 

I have a long list of ideas that I didn't pursue but am keeping on my radar. I'll share those on another blog. 

Other creative endeavors in the area of marketing and advertising:
  1. Author Interview Videos: check out my Facebook Page for examples. They were quick 2-4 min. videos on various topics. They give the readers a chance to get to know the author and their creative process, as well as talk about the novel. 
  2. Promotional material: I used Moo and worked with an artist and a graphic designer to help create polished material. This sounds expensive, and to some extent it was. But utilize your network (friends and family) who can give you a discount on their services. :) It never hurts to ask for help!
    • Flyers and Promotional cards, both of which I try to keep with me at all times and hand out and post them up when the opportunity arises. I was recommended by a fellow blogger and author to mail them to libraries with a personalized note. 
    • Want to work with a great illustrator and/or a graphic designer? Reach out to Kyle Van Meurs ( for great art, and Jason Rought ( for graphic design. Let them know I referred you! I worked with them in individual capacities on my book cover, promo materials, flyers, and even my logo!
  3. Rafflecopter: it has been so useful in engaging readers of my blog and gaining new interest from fellow blog hoppers. 
  4. Excerpts: create short excerpts and even meme's, using a well designed app. I use Chisel, and I love it!
  5. Newsletters: I'm signed up with MailChimp, I haven't utilized it much, but my designer was able to create a beautiful newsletter with the same theme as my flyer.  
  6. Lookbooks: after visiting fellow bloggers SashandEm I was inspired to create my own looks for my characters. Check out: Aeva, Karth
That's my list for now. Check out fellow blogger, Leandra Wallace, who's written a list of creative "Things She Would Do" to market and advertise her current WIP. 

Promo Card #1
Promo Card #2

My flyer (back and front). And of course Fitz wants to inspect them. 
Here's a sample of what I've created using Chisel. It's SO easy. 

Would LOVE to hear from my fellow authors and bloggers on any other avenues that benefited them. I am always on the lookout for new ideas. Thanks in advance! :)