Amazon Publishing acquires Go Away Home – I’m giddy!

Have you ever thought you were as happy as you could be and then something happens to make you realize you could reach a whole new level of happy? It happened to me this month.

When I completed the manuscript for my World War One-era novel Go Away Home earlier this year, the thought of finding an agent and a publisher flashed through my mind for all of a nanosecond. Since publishing my memoir Growing Up Country seven years ago, I’ve been proud to call myself an indie author and an indie publisher. I didn’t hesitate to walk down the indie road again.

Then one morning – six months after I published – I opened an email from Jodi Warshaw, a senior acquisitions editor for Amazon Publishing. Warshaw said, Go Away Home “caught my eye because of all the rave reader reviews. Then I dipped in and couldn’t put it down!”

Warshaw wanted to talk about my interest in partnering with Lake Union “to see the sales match the review intensity.” She got my interest, all right. There’s no organization that knows marketing like Amazon.

I was thrilled – then skeptical. Could this be real? I contacted my go-to person for all things of this sort. Melissa Foster (best-selling author and founder of the World Literary Cafe) confirmed that, “This is great news.”

Lake Union Publishing

Lake Union Publishing

So I am pleased – thrilled – head over heels – over the moon (all cliches apply) to announce that Go Away Home has been acquired by Amazon Publishing and will be released under the Lake Union Publishing imprint in July 2015.

Between now and then, the manuscript will go through an Amazon team of editors (because good can always be better), gain a new cover, and a marketing team will prepare for the launch. All these people working on my novel makes me positively giddy. Can you believe it? I have “people.”

I haven’t made out a Santa wish list in decades. Even if I had made one this year, signing with a publisher would NOT have been on it. That would have been too unbelievable. While I don’t know everything this new affiliation will mean, I do know I’m excited by the opportunity to learn, and I couldn’t be happier.

I would not be here without all the support and encouragement of readers, of writers, of friends, of you. So, I thank you. And I wish you a joy-filled Happy & Healthy New Year.

Getting it done – Together

Working together for affordable housing

October 15 is Blog Action Day, a day when bloggers worldwide are encouraged to write on the same theme. This year, the theme is “The Power of We.”  In fact, the very act of writing today is an example of the topic – thousands of bloggers all bringing their voices and reader attention to the good that happens when people work together.

As I reflected on the theme, it seemed to me that most of what I do benefits from a group effort.

In May, I took part in my first Habitat For Humanity build. In one day, a group of enthusiastic volunteers and a few staff gathered and helped move another family toward the goal of having their own home. In a few weeks, a once-empty lot held a brand new, move-in ready home. The family had worked hard, but they couldn’t achieve this dream on their own.

In Des Moines alone, dozens of families will move into homes they helped build, that they’ve been schooled in how to maintain, that they’ll pay for, because a lot of folks came together to help make it happen. Here’s more on my Habitat experience.

Another example. I published my first book in 2008. Yes, I wrote it, but it is conceivable I wouldn’t hold that book in my hands today without the support and encouragement of many others. Workshop leaders. My writing buddies. My mother and sisters. Two years ago, I converted that book to ebook format and uploaded it to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Surely the ebook craze would carry my book along with it. Right?

You know what? Not so much.  Because I put it up and I didn’t do anything else. In the best months, a dozen ebooks sold. Most months far fewer.

Then, this spring, in anticipation of publishing another book, and recognizing that social media just probably was here to stay, I reached out to people who knew a whole lot more than I do about blogs and Facebook and Twitter. With the help of groups like World Literary Cafe and individuals like Rachelle Ayala, I learned about social media promotion. And what do you know? When I tapped into the networks of many indie authors helping each other, teaching, sharing, promoting, my life in ebook land took a very positive turn. Not a dozen in a month. Dozens in a day.

Whether I work in an office building, in my home office, or on a community project, for me, there always has been more power in a group of us working together than me thinking I can do it all on my own.

So there you go, The Power of We. If you’re into the Power of We, leave a comment with your most powerful “We” moment. If you’re a blogger, join the Blog Action Day initiative and spread the word about the Power of We.

And the winners are …

April was a month of giving back to readers. And giving back drew me into a month of ‘first’ experiences that were rewarding on every level.

World Book Night: I joined more than 25,000 other volunteers in giving out 500,000 books to light readers as part of World Book Night.  This was the first time World Book Night was held in the United States. I know I’ll do this again–talking about reading and writing with enthusiastic kids was just too much fun to miss. I’m hoping the visibility the event garnered in this first year will encourage more people to volunteer in 2013. Goal: give away 1,000,000 books!

Kindle Free Days: April marked my first ever Kindle Free days. I drew on the knowledge of World Literary Cafe and a raft of Twitter friends to maximize awareness of these days. The result was  a great success as I wrote earlier, putting the ebook version of my memoir in the hands of thousands of readers. All at no cost to them.

Facebook Book Launch Party: Children’s author Cindy Springsteen, writer of just-released WAFFLES & PANCAKES, held a day-long Facebook party and invited authors to participate. I gave away copies of my books as prizes to party goers who participated in what turned out to be an hilarious ‘caption this photo’ contest. Here’s the picture. The winners–both from Missouri–wrote these captions: “Little Molly moo-moo, please don’t make a poo-poo,” and, “Pa said that was a pile of (insert bad word). The kids decided to see just how much a pile of (insert bad word) weighed.” I’m still chuckling!

Goodreads Giveaway: I organized a giveaway of three signed copies of my memoir on Goodreads. This week, I put books in the mail to Canada, Florida and Massachusetts. During the month of April, more than 700 Goodreads members added my book to their TBR lists.

I’ve always believed that the more you give, the more you get, and my experiences in April reinforced that belief. In April I gave away books. I had fun. I learned a lot. I met fantastic new people. The effort was moderate, the cost minimal, the payback: priceless. 

Old dog, more new tricks

“Maybe I can retire before I have to learn this.” That’s a thought that actually ran through my mind in the 1990s when the Internet was new and I was struggling to figure out the brand new technology. 

That memory popped to mind this past week as I struggled to figure out Twitter. I signed up for Twitter because I know social media is critical to effective book marketing these days.

From a book marketing workshop run by Melissa Foster, I learned that effective tweeting requires posts a dozen times a day! And your Twitter effort can be accomplished in 30 minutes a day. Ha! Ha!  Just thinking of a dozen worthwhile things to say in a day boggles my mind. Melissa provided tips and tools (Tweetdeck) and a community (World Literary Cafe) to help make the task doable.

Right now, I’m bordering on overload. I spend more like an hour and a half a day on Twitter, which does not count the time I lay awake in the middle of the night trying to think of ways to fit my normally wordy self into 140 characters or fewer. Egads!

But, I did learn to use the Internet and from there, I set up my own website – a must for any author. Then I learned Facebook. Then blogging. With each new platform came new vocabulary and new skills. Now Twitter. I must believe I’ll learn this one, too. And still find time in the day to write my novel.

I’ve always said that every day that I learn something new is a good day. I guess this has been a really GOOD week!  Now that I have the Internet, I could no more imagine living without it than I could live without breathing. And that’s hardly an exaggeration.

Will Twitter be like that? As I prepare another round of Tweets, I can only hope so.  In the meantime, I’d be honored if you followed me on Twitter – @CABodensteiner

Melissa Foster is a best-selling author of several books, including  COME BACK TO ME. She founded World Literary Cafe, a supportive on-line author community,