Readers make novel launch possible

It’s launch day for the new edition of my novel GO AWAY HOME. If you haven’t read it yet, this is an excellent time to snag a copy. GO AWAY HOME is available on Amazon (at a very attractive introductory price) in print or Kindle versions and can be ordered anywhere books are sold.

Go Away Home, a novel

Go Away Home, a novel

If you’ve already read this story of independence, choices and love, set in pre-WWI Iowa, thank you.

Were it not for readers, my novel would not be here today. Here’s how readers played a role in my writing journey.

My writing partner patiently and thoughtfully critiqued each scene draft. Workshop leaders and participants read and encouraged me as I learned the craft of novel writing. Beta readers offered honest feedback as I fleshed out the manuscript. Editors read and helped me polish the final draft. Reader reviews of the first edition attracted the attention of Lake Union Publishing, leading to this second edition.

Readers mean the world to writers. I am grateful for each and every of you.

If you haven’t read GO AWAY HOME yet, now could be the time. Should you choose to read, I will be honored. Readers make my day.

How do you hold on to first-time awe?

My granddaughter started kindergarten this past week. When she told her dad about her first day in school, she could barely contain herself.

  • “Guess what? We played in the gym!”
  • “Guess what? We had music class!”
  • “Guess what? I met new friends!”
  • “Guess what? I ate my lunch there!”

She had a truly awesome, magical first day.

As I thought about the joy and awe with which my granddaughter launched into school, I realized how seldom I feel that sense of magical awe anymore. When you are five, most things in your life are glorious, untarnished firsts. When you are sixty-five, firsts – when I have them – occur in the midst of days crammed with responsibilities and in the context of a lifetime of experiences that tinge awe with reality.

I know I have so many reasons for joy and awe. Yet, often I rush past them, thinking instead and ahead to the next meeting, the calls waiting to be answered, the blogs to be written, the host of responsibilities that crowd every day. As a result, I look past the moments of joy and awe while they’re happening rather than reveling in the moments.

Part of the answer for me, I think, is to be conscious of the need to slow down, to live, to breathe, to take joy in each moment. Then I also need to spend more time celebrating those precious moments.

She lost her first tooth!

She lost her first tooth!

I can learn from my granddaughter. Before school started, she lost her first tooth. She was over the moon. She wanted every picture I took to show she’d lost that tooth. When she visited this weekend, she had a second tooth on the verge of coming out. She is just as excited. We took pictures of the loose tooth, and I know we’ll take more pictures when the tooth is gone.

The launch events last month for my novel Go Away Home were amazing, joyful experiences. I did have to run from event to event, but after the last event, my husband, son and I went out to celebrate. They were so happy for me – I was so happy for me. Celebrating at the moment expanded the joy – and kept me from rushing right into thinking about the next task on the ‘to do’ list.

Holding on to the joy and reveling in the joy, ensure special moments remain special. They allow me to squeeze every drop of pleasure out of those precious moments in my life.

My wish for my granddaughter is to be able to experience that first-day-of-school, first-lost-tooth, first-time awe many, many times in her life.

My wish for me is to remember that there is joy to be experienced if I slow down and absorb it.

 How about you? How do you keep a sense of joy and awe in your life?

Feeling the love – Making the most of local book launch events

As I prepared for the launch of my historical novel Go Away Home, I wondered how much the world had changed. Since publishing my memoir as a paperback in 2008, ebooks have proliferated, social media connects the world. Would local launches even be relevant?

Now that the local events are over, I can say the basic strategies of “events, placement and promotion” I blogged about a couple of years ago for doing local launch events are still sound. I’ve refined a few things, and I’m basking in the glow of a successful launch.

I scheduled four events – three in eastern Iowa where I grew up, an area that serves as the setting for much of the novel, and one in Des Moines where I live now.

Libraries, Bookstores & the Historical Society

Preston book Launch 1

Sharing the history of memoir and fiction at the Preston Public Library.

The library in my hometown hosted a large event where I reconnected with friends who enjoyed my memoir and remembered our family fondly. This was my first change to try out my “Writing History” talk. The book talk and Q&A lasted an hour and a half. Another library event in the next county allowed me to connect with more people and maximize my time in the area.

The Jackson County Historical Society – one of my research resources – invited me to speak at their annual meeting. I refined the talk, read a couple of short sections from the book, and shared tidbits of Iowa history I’d learned in doing research for the novel.

Connecting with friends at a launch party for "Go Away Home"

Connecting with friends at a launch party for “Go Away Home”

In Des Moines, my event was at Beaverdale Books, an independent bookstore that was the first to carry my memoir. This event drew a wonderful cross section of people from my life: neighborhood, church, public relations, reading and writing, plus people I didn’t know who’d come to the event because they’d heard about it in the media. For this event, I pared the book talk to 15-20 minutes. Talking with friends old and new, signing books, enjoying a glass of wine. Wonderful!

Where to buy books?

In addition to having books at the events, I made sure books were available in advance of the events and the media promotion.

My home counties are largely rural, so I placed books with the local pharmacies and the historical society, in addition to the one small bookstore. Many people came to the events having already read the book. In Des Moines, I made sure both independent bookstores had copies on their shelves.

Unlike when my memoir was published, with the launch of Go Away Home, I was already live on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble was able to order.

Getting the word out

My marketing background kicks into overdrive for things like this. I created a media kit and made it available on my website. I started contacting media more than a month in advance of the events. This was important for two reasons. In the rural counties, some of the newspapers are weeklies so the deadlines are further out. In a large city like Des Moines, the competition for space is great and the media book time weeks in advance.

The overall news hook of a woman following her dream is a theme from the novel that is playing out in my life as I write and publish my books. I also added other hooks I hoped would appeal to the media: local author, historical fiction set in Iowa, centenary of WWI, successful memoir.  The scheduled events gave the news urgency – a reason to run the story NOW.

I also increased the sophistication of my email marketing. I segmented my email list, sending out “save the date” and reminder emails to people in each market.

The results?

  • The combined events drew in close to 200 people
  • The major newspapers in Jackson and Clinton Counties carried features in print and online editions. I was interviewed live on radio.
  • In Des Moines, the Des Moines Register included my event in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment section “Pick 6” column; I was interviewed on KCCI-TV at noon, and the Business Record focused on me in their e-newsletter and online editions.
  • Momentum. The buzz around these events has led to scheduling other events. People are reading the book and talking about it on social media. Reviews are getting posted.
  • Best of all? I connected with so many people. After working so hard for so long to bring Go Away Home to fruition, the reward is putting it into peoples’ hands.

Soon I’ll blog about the virtual book launch that’s been going on in cyberspace this month. For now, I’m happy feeling the local love. 

Tips for being in two places at once

The magic of a modern-day book launch.

file0001820510540I’m not in the habit of defying the time/space continuum, but this month I’ll be giving it my best shot. July is the official launch of my World War One-era novel Go Away Home, and the month is packed.

My first event is a library book talk today. The week of July 8, I return to eastern Iowa where I grew up for three events. At the same time, I’ll be zipping through cyberspace making the first four stops on a virtual book tour. The rest of the month repeats the challenge with more blog stops and more in-person events each week. July’s last event (at least that I know about right now) is July 25.

Maybe the best I can hope for is not to meet myself coming and going. I’ve taken these steps to ensure a smooth launch:

  • Written four versions of a presentation that focuses on Writing History. It’s a challenge to anticipate what audiences will want to hear, but my journey from memoir to fiction with an emphasis on the historical commonality seems a good place to start. With four outlines in hand, I can adapt on the go as the presentation evolves based on audience questions.
  • Wrote a multitude of guest posts. Invitations by author/bloggers Shirley Showalter, Annamaria Bazzi, David Lawlor, P.C. Zick (July 9),and Christoph Fischer (Aug 4) to visit their blogs have helped me prepare for interviews, focus my thinking and get the word out. I’m grateful to them for hosting me.
  • Product in place. My eastern Iowa events are in towns without bookstores. Since I know from my memoir experience that people want a local place to buy the book, I’ve arranged with two pharmacies, the county historical society and a library to stock copies.
  • Media outreach. I’ve returned to my public relations roots to prepare media materials and made them available on my website. I’ve targeted pitches to key media for interviews. I’ve made sure local media in the geography surrounding my events have news releases and images well in advance.
  • E-mail marketing. On the theory that people who know me will be most interested in hearing about Go Away Home, I’ve sent a series of targeted e-mails to everyone on my list. The response has been encouraging and sends me forward on a wave of good feelings.

Modern technology is a wonderful thing. Without the Internet, wi-fi, and cell phones, this would not be possible. Time will tell how my body reacts to being in two places at the same time.

No doubt, I’ll arrive at the end of the July exhausted. During the month, I know I’ll have reconnected with old friends, met many new friends, and had a lot of fun.

I think I’m prepared. I hope so. But are there other things I should be doing? If you think of something, let me know. It’s not too late. After all, if I can be in two places, surely three can’t be that difficult 😉

Go Away Home – New historical fiction

Go Away Home Final eBook Cover 4-24-14 Large

Go Away Home – A Novel

Start spreading the news! Go Away Home is now available on Amazon and through bookstores.

I’m excited because of what reviewers are saying:

  • The perfect story of coming home.” – Samantha Rivera, Readers’ Favorite 5 Star review
  • Go Away Home is …  gently compelling and highly believable” – D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
  • Go Away Home is a coming of age novel that is well-written, compelling, and endearing” – Kara Logsden, Iowa City Public Library
  • “… a heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale” – Paulette Mahurin, historical fiction author
  • A poignant, romantic tale …  characters that tug at your heart strings” – David Lawlor, historical fiction author
  • “Bodensteiner … captured the era … with meticulous historical detail” – J.P. Lane, author

Go Away Home – The Story

Liddie Treadway grew up on a family farm where options for her future were marriage or teaching. Encouraged by suffragette rhetoric and her maiden aunt, Liddie is determined to avoid both and pursue a career. Her goal is within her grasp when her older sister’s abrupt departure threatens to keep her on the farm forever.

Once she is able to experience the world she’s dreamed of, Liddie is enthralled with her independence, a new-found passion for photography, and the man who teaches her. Yet, the family, friends, and life of her youth tug at her heart, and she must face the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as she once imagined.

GO AWAY HOME is a captivating coming-of-age novel that explores the enduring themes of family, friendship, and love, as well as death and grief. This novel will resonate with anyone who’s confronted the conflict between dreams and reality and come to recognize that getting what you want can be a two-edged sword.

Celebrate with me at launch events throughout July in Iowa and cyberspace.

In person:

  • July 7 – 7 p.m. – Preston Public Library, Preston, Iowa
  • July 8 – 6 p.m. – Clinton Public Library, Clinton, Iowa
  • July 10 – 7 p.m. – Jackson County Historical Society, Maquoketa, Iowa
  • July 18 – 5:30 p.m. – Beaverdale Books, Beaverdale, Iowa

Follow the blog tour – Dates and link posted in July.

Go Away Home_Tour Banner_FINAL

 

 

 

 

To buy now, click on these links:

Go Away Home in paperback             Go Away Home for Kindle

Thanks for letting me be giddy for a bit. Publishing my first novel is, after all, a once in a lifetime experience. Please share this news with anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Go Away Home – Book Cover & Release Date

World War One-era historical fiction on track for July launch.

It’s been a long journey writing my first novel – somewhere in the four to five-year range – but I’m excited to tell you the writing part of the journey is at an end. The manuscript for my first novel – Go Away Home – is complete. And now so is the cover.Go Away Home Revised Ebook Final Cover Large

The design is the work of Jenny Toney Quinlan of Historical Editorial who also worked with me as copy editor and proofreader. Every cover tells a story, and that is one of the many things I like about about this cover. To me, the curtains, geraniums, and view convey the rural setting of the novel, while the window draws us to look out, hinting at more. The overall golden tone suggests the past without being heavy handed.

I like the cover, but readers will be the real judge. So what do you think? Would this cover encourage you to pick it up?

With the cover and manuscript completed, I’ve chosen July 7, 2014 as the release date. That may seem like a long way off, but I know the days will pass quickly. I’m already knee deep in ramping up marketing for the launch, and I’ll share that journey as we go.
 
Now that I have teased you with the cover, I hope you’ll want more. You can read the first chapter of GO AWAY HOME here.

I’ve added Go Away Home pages here on my website and on Goodreads. If you participate in Goodreads, you can mark Go Away Home in the “want to read” category.

I’d love to hear from you. What story does this cover tell you?

How can you help an author? Here are 11 ideas

Ever wonder how you can help an author friend promote their new book? Chuck Sambuchino offered 11 great ideas in his blog today on Writers In The Storm. His ideas were so good and so easy, I’m re-blogging that post here. 

How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas For You

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By Chuck Sambuchino

 

large_5595133805My Writer’s Digest coworker, Brian A. Klems, recently geared up for the release of his first book — a humorous guide for fathers called OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A DAD’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO RAISING DAUGHTERS (Adams Media). On top of that, my coworker Robert Brewer (editor of Writer’s Market) recently got a publishing deal for a book of his poetry.

So I find myself as a cheerleader for my writing buddies — trying to do what I can to help as their 2013 release dates approach. I help in two ways: 1) I use my own experience of writing & publishing books to share advice on what they can expect and plan for; and 2) I simply do whatever little things I can that help in any way.

This last part brings up an important point: Anyone can support an author’s book release by doing different things to help the book sell and get noticed. 

To read more, click here.

Launching a print book? Think local.

With the advent of e-books and social media book launches, I wondered if print book launches even happened any more. But I’ve seen several indie authors question how to launch a print version, so I’m sharing my book launch experience and hope those of you reading will add our ideas.

Product, Price, Placement, Promotion – These are the starting point for any product launch. A book is no different. Whether it’s an ebook or a print book.

For the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume the book is written, the content professionally edited, the cover professionally designed, and the book priced so readers see a price/value correlation. That leaves placement and promotion. For a print launch, Think Local for both placement and promotion.

Placement – People have to be able to find your book. Seems obvious, but there are many considerations.

  1. When I launched, I sold my book off my website. The plus? I made the most money. The negatives? I had to do all the packing and shipping. Plus, if people didn’t know my name and couldn’t remember the name of the book, they couldn’t find my website.
  2. I walked my book into all local bookstores and gift stores. Indie bookstores like Beaverdale Books were super. The reception I received from them reinforced this lesson: You need to ask. Many authors are shy about this, but it’s time to put on your big girl panties and get out there. Ask if they’ll stock your book. Ask if you can hold an event. And keep asking. It took me four trips into one gift store to connect with someone who had the power to decide. Remember, the worst thing they can say is, no.
  3. Though indie book stores were wonderful and website sales kept me busy, I quickly learned this reality: Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the default book sources for most people. If you aren’t there, people jump to the conclusion that you don’t exist.
  4. Amazon is easy to get on through Amazon Advantage. I chose not to sign with Amazon at first because the economics (they keep 55% and I had to pay shipping) didn’t work with my book price and cost of production. With my second printing the economics worked. For me, worldwide visibility is worth some expense but not if it means losing money on each sale. For my next book, I’ll get production costs low enough to be on Amazon from day one.
  5. Getting books into Barnes & Noble is more difficult because you usually need a distributor, but it can be worth the effort. It’s a matter of scale. Indie bookstores took my book in lots of five or six. B&N took them by the case. When enough people requested my book at their stores, B&N contacted me and walked me through their process.
  6. When you think distribution, think broadly about where your book could go. Gift stores in airports, hotels, restaurants, and pharmacies are a better option than I originally realized, particularly when it comes to smaller towns that don’t have bookstores.
  7. Don’t underestimate libraries. Even though I held my hometown launch event at the library, I didn’t extend that thinking to future events. (Here is where you see me hitting my forehead and screaming, Doh!) Libraries are in the business of meeting the needs of readers so they may buy your book. Libraries like to have authors do readings. Generally they’ll let you sell books afterwards. Double bonus. Since the launch, I’ve done dozens of library readings, connecting with readers and selling books. Next book launch, I’ll do a postcard announcement to all libraries in the state.

Promotion – No promotion. No sales.

Hometown library launch

Here is where a print launch generally varies the most from an ebook launch.  A few ideas:

  1. Write a news release that has a hook specific to your book and can be personalized to each event/town/date. For me the hook was Iowa girl writes book about growing up in Iowa. Email the release to local media along with .jpg images of the book cover and your author photo. Maximize the local angle, i.e. Iowa girl (Preston girl, Jackson County girl, Eastern Iowa girl – ‘local’ can be anywhere, get it?) writes book.
  2. Schedule as many book signing and reading events as you can. Media cover events. Media coverage equals more events and more sales.
  3. Call local radio and TV stations and let them know you’re available for interviews. Again, the local angle: You’re a local person who’s written a book. You’re holding events their listeners/viewers will be interested in knowing about. (I know it’s scary, but ask. They want news. You, your book, your events can be news.)
  4. Hold multiple launch events. 
  • I held a reading/book signing event in my hometown library, arranging to have the local pharmacy stock books on consignment in advance of the event, and sending the local newspaper a release and photos touting new (local) author, new book, local event, where to buy books.
  • In the town where I live now, I teamed up with two other authors who also had new books and we held a reception/book signing for our friends, family and business associates.
  • I arranged book signings at three local indie bookstores and a restaurant gift store. I let the newspaper know about all four events, which caused them to see this as news and run an article. The article was read by bookstore owners around the state who contacted me to carry my book and arrange signing events.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

This is a bare bones outline of what my launch included. And I know it’s only one approach. If you’ve done a hard copy book launch, please share your experiences. If this triggers thoughts, let me know. We’ll share and all hold better launches in the future.