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. 

What is Go Away Home about? Readers weigh in.

One of my college professors spent much of a semester dissecting T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I must admit, I left the classroom on most days shaking my head in dismay. I saw NONE of what the professor talked about.

Writers, painters and sculptors go about creating art out of their own souls. When they share their art with the world, readers and viewers apply their attitudes, emotions, and worldview to the art and create something new. They may see some, all or none of what the creator had in mind.

Now that my novel Go Away Home is out in the world, I’m seeing this happen. Recent reviews by bloggers on the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour offered these observations:

Svetlana at Svetlana’s Reads and Views suggested this theme: “There is more to life than satisfying self.”

Svetlana draws comparisons between Go Away Home and stories by Willa Cather and Sarah Orne Jewett who wrote on similar themes of responding to societal expectations versus satisfying self. “… the book is a bit of evolution when it comes to the question of “having it all,” Svetlana says.

“Whether or not the reader has familiarity with the era and what was going on, I found the story to be very resonating as well as relevant and modern,” Svetlana continues. To read more of her comments, click here.

The theme of inequality between women and men and the desire for that to change resonated with Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages

“At a time in history when women were made to accept being only housewives or teachers, she dared to be different and want more for herself,” says Darlene of the novel’s main character Liddie. “Go Away Home will tug at your heart and leave you feeling enriched for having read it.” To read more from Darlene, click here.

Midwest Book Review called it, “… a tale of choices, dreams realized and rejected, and how values evolve.”

Readers’ Favorite said, “Go Away Home is the perfect story of coming home.”

With each reader, I learn more about what I wrote in Go Away Home. Sometimes I find myself thinking, “I had no idea!”

Have you found yourself wondering whether what you took out of a novel or other artwork was what the creator intended? If you’ve read Go Away Home, please share what you think it’s about. I’m curious.

My virtual book tour continues throughout July. For more reviews, giveaways and guest posts on writing historical fiction, check in regularly on my blog tour.Go Away Home_Tour Banner_FINAL

Networking to promote online? Six tips

My Go Away Home virtual tour continues with a stop at Closed The Cover where I’m sharing networking tips for online book promotion. Special thanks to Ashley LaMar for inviting me to share these thoughts.

Since I’m learning something new every day, there are likely many more ways to do this. As I say when I talk about “The Big Brain,” someone’s probably already been down this road and come back with an answer. If you have a good idea, I hope you’ll share – here and when you make the jump to Closed The Cover.

Thanks!

Six Networking Tips to Promote Your Book Online

07/10/2014 

 Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.

As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

Generalize and specialize: It may be tempting to go broad and talk to everyone or to go narrow and target only your genre. I find some of both is better.

Generalize and specialize – It may be tempting to go broad and talk to everyone or to go narrow and target only your genre. – See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.QxawI69U.dpuf

To read more, click:
 

 
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.
 


 
As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

– See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.prjraZgn.dpuf

 
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.
 


 
As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

Generalize and specialize

– See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.prjraZgn.dpuf

 
Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner

Guest post written by author Carol Bodensteiner

Social media has created a brave new world for authors to promote themselves and their writing. A new world that is changing by the day.

When I published my memoir Growing Up Country in 2008, Kindle ebooks were brand new, introduced in November 2007, Twitter was two years old, and Facebook was still mainly a platform for college kids. Only innovators and early adopters were stepping into the electronic world of online book promotion. The rest of us were watching and waiting to see if any of it would last.

As I launch my historical novel Go Away Home this month, all doubt has been erased. The world has flipped. Some books are only published as ebooks. Twitter spreads news at lightning speed to people worldwide. Facebook brings together like-minded groups to socialize, support, and educate. Online platforms abound. New ones pop up daily.
 


 
As a marketing professional for most of my career, I’ve watched this media evolution and revolution with great interest. I don’t pretend to be an expert in all platforms, but I have found six guidelines useful in using online media to promote my books.

Generalize and specialize

– See more at: http://www.closedthecover.com/articles–news/six-networking-tips-to-promote-your-book-online#sthash.prjraZgn.dpuf

What were your growing up lessons?

“Tuck in your shirt or you look look like a bum.” That’s a lesson my husband learned from his mom. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s something my mother taught me.

We all carry life lessons we learned as we were growing up. Sometimes those lessons cross each other up because life is seldom black and white.

Lessons of life are one of the things I’m talking about with P.C. Zick on Author Wednesday at her blog Writing Whims. Here’s the start of the discussion. I hope you’ll join us for the rest.

Before you make the jump, what was a lesson you learned from your parents? Please share.

Author Wednesday – Carol Bodensteiner

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Carol Bodensteiner. Carol released her first novel, Go Away Home, this past month, and she’s stopped by to talk a little bit about writing this World War I-era novel set in rural eastern Iowa. Her first book, Growing Up Country, is a memoir of growing up in Iowa in the 1950s. It’s so nice to have you visit today, Carol. Congratulations on publishing your first novel. Tell us about Go Away Home.Go Away Home Revised Ebook Final Cover Medium What’s the one sentence pitch for this work of historical fiction?

Thanks for inviting me to Author Wednesday, P.C. Go Away Home is the story of a young woman’s quest for independence and the right to decide her own future set against a twentieth century backdrop when options for women were limited yet social change was occurring and the Great War was on the horizon.

What is the main message you wanted to convey in this novel?

Go Away Home explores the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as we often hope they are …

To Read More, Click.

And don’t forget to leave a lesson!

Go Away Home – Blog Tour

Go Away Home_Tour Banner_FINAL

I’m thrilled to announce the participants in a blog tour for Go Away Home taking place from July 8 – July 25, 2014. Please join me from the comfort of your own chair as I travel through cyberspace.

  • Tuesday, July 8 – Amy Bruno at Passages to the Past (and organizer of this month’s virtual book tour) shares a Q&A with me about writing Go Away Home.
  • Wednesday, July 9 – P.C. Zick hosts me on Writing Whims for a wide-ranging Q&A on Author Wednesday
  • Thursday, July 10 – Ashley LaMar at Closed the Cover shares my guest post: “Six Networking Tips to Promote Your Book Online”
  • Monday, July 14 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views shares her review of Go Away Home.
    Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages reviews and hosts a giveaway
  • Tuesday, July 15 – Let Them Read Books hosts a giveaway and my guest post “Fact to Fiction – Researching Historical Fiction Just in Time”
  • Thursday, July 17 – Jorie at Jorie Loves a Story invited me to talk about “choices,” one of the novel themes. Read my guest post: “Is that a good choice? Only time will tell.”
    At the same time, a city girl turned goat farmer reviews & hosts a giveaway at Broken Teepee
  • Friday, July 18 – Kathryn Powell posts a review at A Bibliograph’s Reviews
    Back at Jorie Loves a Story, Jorie shares her review of Go Away Home.
  • Monday, July 21 – Kathleen Kelly posts a review at CelticLady’s Reviews
  • Tuesday, July 22 – Caroline Wilson will shine her spotlight on Go Away Home and offer a giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes
  • Thursday, July 24 – Returning to Closed the Cover where Ashley LaMar will post a review and host a giveaway
  • Friday, July 25 – Lauralee Jacks does a book review and giveaway at History From a Woman’s Perspective
  • Friday, July 25 –Returning to Passages to the Past where Amy Bruno closes out this month-long blog tour by spotlighting Go Away Home and summarizing blogger reviews

It’s an honor to have so many authors and bloggers participate in sharing the news about the launch of Go Away Home. These sites are full of information about books and authors, writing and life. I encourage you to check them out.

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 😉

“Wonderful debut novel” – A Writer of History

M.K. Tod started my week off right when she published her review of Go Away Home on her blog A Writer of History. Mary was one of my advance reviewers and I was particularly interested in her opinion since she also writes about the World War One era.

Here’s how she starts her review:

From the very first chapter of Go Away Home, Carol Bodensteiner draws us into the central conflicts of her debut novel: old ways versus new, farm versus city, youth versus maturity, man versus woman.

She continues:

The story flows with excellent dialogue and compelling descriptions, and each chapter ends with a hook that drives the plot forward.

I’m honored that Mary focused both on the story as well as the writing style.

If you like historical fiction, check out M.K. Tod’s novel Unravelled.

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.

How can writing short stories work for you? Six ways

What’s next for my writing? With my novel Go Away Home set to publish in July, I’ve been thinking more and more about where to turn my writing energy next. Short stories have come up with increasing frequency. As if to urge me along, Julie Glover offered “6 Reasons to Write a Short Story” over at Writers in the Storm.

If you’re already writing short stories, what has your experience been? What are the benefits? Have they been a gateway to longer works? Or are the shorter genres your destination?

If you’re a short story reader, I’d like to know what you look for in a short – what works and what doesn’t?

Here’s what Julie says:

6 Reasons to Write a Short Story

*  *  *  *  *  *

My Sister's Demon, paranormal fiction by Julie Glover, @julie_glover

As a novel reader, I always believed I was meant to write full-length books. Yet I find myself entering the self-published market with a collection of short stories instead.

I wrote the first one on a lark—merely a story premise I wanted to get out of my system. But I liked the result so much, I started another. And then I got hooked, eventually completing six young adult paranormal shorts.

6 reasons you might consider writing a short story:

1. Writing short stories hones your skill for writing lean—a skill that will help you craft more effective scenes in a novel.

 Click to read the rest of Julie’s reasons.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on short stories here. Comments?

How did transportation open up your world?

As a farm kid, getting my driver’s license was a huge step. Without it, the bus to and from school was my only option. With a license, I could participate in cheer leading, sports, choir, speech contests, and a multitude of other activities. A license was my ticket to the outside world.

Janet Givens

Janet Givens

Since she lived on the Kazakh Steppe, Janet Givens has been exploring cultural differences and how they are bridged. She’s invited me to her blog to talk about how transportation plays into bridging those gaps as they did for me growing up on the farm and for Liddie, the main character in my upcoming novel Go Away Home.

Transportation: The path between worlds: Carol Bodensteiner

Posted by Janet Givens on May 21, 2014, in Crossing Boundaries, Life, Travel

I’m pleased to have Carol Bodensteiner join us this month. But in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that for nearly the first year I was active in social media, I got Carol confused with Shirley Showalter. They both wrote memoirs of growing up on a farm, both had blond profile pictures, and both were from somewhere west of me. But I’d read Carol’s memoir Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl early on, so when Shirley announced the launch of her book, Blush, earlier this year, and I realized she’d grown up in Lancaster, PA, I figured it out. 
I came to see these two remarkable women for what they truly are: twins separated at birth … (Read more)

How has transportation figured into expanding your world? Or restricting it? We invite you to join the discussion – here and on Janet’s blog.

Transportation – The path between worlds: Carol Bodensteiner – See more at: http://janetgivens.com/transportation-the-path-between-worlds-carol-bodensteiner/#sthash.pVZLCbLP.dpuf