Pub Rants

Category: booksignings

Holy Display Batman!

STATUS: Did some meetings today but don’t have the brain power to write up for tonight’s blog. Stay tuned tomorrow though. I’m going to shoot for the morning.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

20 days and counting down to the release of DON’T JUDGE A GIRL BY HER COVER. Would you say this bookstore is enthusiastic?

All I can say is that I wish every store in America would follow this example! Huge grin here.

Demon’s Lexicon Signing in S&S UK Booth

And here is an extra blog shot of Sarah Rees Brennan’s signing for her debut. As a debut author, she had worried that no one would show up. As you can see, that wasn’t the case. Sarah twittered before the event to get the word out quickly.

On Tour

STATUS: Late night for me! Just got back from having dinner with Jamie Ford and his wife. Their plane was a little delayed getting in to Denver. Everything is all set for the event and signing tomorrow.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WATERMARK by Enya

Considering it’s so late and I’m not sure I’m capable of writing a coherent blog entry (and no, I didn’t have that much wine!), I figured I’d pop you over to Jamie’s blog where he has been talking about being on book tour—13 cities in five weeks.

His blog almost puts you there—except that you don’t have to wait in line or have odd moments with security.

My favorite shot is the Costco warehouse in Seattle. Where’s a soundtrack when you need it?

It’s A Party & You Are Invited

STATUS: It’s early in the day and I’m tackling my To Do list. Woot.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SOMETHING IN THE WAY SHE MOVES by James Taylor

Talk about a rare opportunity! An insider publishing party and you blog readers are invited.

Jamie Ford, author of a debut novel called HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, is coming to the Denver Tattered Cover on Colfax this February 24, 2009.

To celebrate, the Nelson Literary Agency is hosting a pre-booksigning happy hour* at Encore Restaurant, which is adjacent to the Tattered Cover.

And if you live in the Denver Area, you can join us. Click to play invite.

Both Sara and I will be there and we’ll be raffling off two free copies of HOTEL to some lucky guests. All we ask is that you RSVP to so we have an accurate headcount. Please also plan to attend the booksigning that will follow as that is the point. Knowing my great blog readers, I probably didn’t need to mention that.


*Cash Bar. Appetizers will be served.
Also note that the TC has a free parking garage on the west side of the complex.

Click to play Jamie Ford Event
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Book Party Tips From Marianne

STATUS: Rain to start the day but it looks like it might be clearing up. Time to head to the beach!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

Now I have to admit that not many authors have as cool a day job as my client Marianne Mancusi. She’s a TV Producer. So, when she’s throwing a launch party [which she did last Tuesday for her debut hardcover release of GAMER GIRL with author Melissa Walker (VIOLET IN PRIVATE)] she does have access to a variety of contacts that the average author might not have.

From the press release: “Nationally syndicated lifestyle show Better TV was on hand, filming the event for an upcoming segment on Mancusi and Walker and their books. In attendance were media outlets Vogue, Teen Vogue, ELLE, InStyle, Daily Candy, AOL, Parents TV and CNN. Leading authors in both Young Adult and adult fiction also celebrated with Mancusi and Walker. At the party were Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, Bennett Madison, Deborah Gregory, Diana Peterfreund, Michael Northrop, Liz Maverick and Anisha Lakhani.”

Is Mari the gal to friend or what?

From Left: Scott Westerfeld, Mari, Diana Peterfreund, Melissa Walker

Great contacts can indeed go a long way to throwing a successful one, but even with that, she’s got some great tips and I asked if she was willing to share them with you blog readers so here you go!

Being a NYC based television producer I usually attend or cover several events each week. From restaurant openings, to Fashion Week after-parties, to charity balls—I’ve been studying what works and what doesn’t when it comes to throwing a party and used these ideas for throwing my own book party.

Here are some suggestions I used for my own book party, which I threw this week at Butter.

Consider co-hosting the party with another author. One, it’s more fun to plan a party with a partner and two it takes off some of the hosting pressure the night of. You can also potentially double the guest list, increase networking opportunities, and introduce a whole new audience for your books and theirs.

Consider having your party on a Tuesday. It’s a slow day for bars and restaurants and the managers are much more likely to offer up a private room free of charge if you can guarantee them a good bar tab. Offer them prime placement on your invitation (it’s like advertising – especially if you’re sending the invites to the media!) if they agree to host the event.

Invite everyone you can think of – even if you’re pretty sure they won’t be able to attend. It’s a great way to announce your book release without coming off as an obnoxious self-promoter. Also, you may be surprised at who shows up! I invited my friend and fellow author Diana Peterfreund, even though she lives down in D.C. She not only made the trip up to NY, but she brought some A-list author friends with her as well. Speaking of, always encourage people to bring friends/significant others. You’ll get a larger crowd and it will also take the pressure off you to entertain them when you’re trying to work the room.

Create an official invitation with your book cover (if you know a graphics artist, hit them up for help!) and send it to guests by email attachment. (Yes, you can send attachments nowadays. But also put the basic 411 in the body of the email.) This will make your party seem more professional and a bigger deal. You can send this invite to the media as well. Even if it’s your local town newspaper–you never know if they’ll send a reporter to cover the event. Make sure you put “cash bar” discreetly on the invite so people don’t assume free drinks. Send the invitation two weeks in advance, then send a reminder out a day before the event. Ask for an RSVP so you can get an approximate count.

Get creative and make the party fun. After all, your guests are giving up their night for you and probably spending money on drinks and your books—they need something in return. I had the restaurant put out some of their signature homemade chocolates to nibble on—lots cheaper than doing open bar, but still adding value to the event. I also, to go with my “Gamer Girl” book theme, purchased a bunch of fun kids’ games like Hungry Hippos, Connect Four and Operation and put them on the tables. Guests really got into them! You could also bring in a makeover artist or a fortune teller.

Gift Bags! Take a page from red carpet events and make up gift bags for each guest. You can solicit companies to donate products—it’s much easier than you might think! We got Clarins, for example, to donate self-tanning lotions for the bags. Another company donated free yoga class coupons. It’s good advertising for companies and brings added value to your party. Don’t forget to include bookmarks or postcards for your own books in the bags, too! This way the guest will remember you the next day, even if they didn’t buy a book at the event.

Bookselling. We used a traveling bookseller, but if you don’t have one of those in your town, find an indy bookseller and ask if they will come the night of your event and bring books. This way you don’t have to deal with monetary transactions when you’re trying to socialize with your guests. Offer to buy remaining books at cost so they don’t get stuck with extra inventory. Make an announcement once the party is in full swing to let people know they can buy books.

Work the room. The night of the event, don’t linger with your close friends. Try to talk to everyone who showed up. Think of it as being like the birthday girl. Everyone came to see you and should be given appropriate face time.

Follow up. Over the next week, email your guests and thank them for coming. Especially the new people you met at the party. If you have a photo with them in it, send it with the email. And speaking of photos – upload them right away and put them on your blog, MySpace, Facebook, whatever. People who attended want to see themselves and people who didn’t get to go want to live vicariously. But you lose your momentum if you wait a few days.

And lastly, while this isn’t an official tip, make sure you have fun! A book party should be a celebration—don’t get all stressed out with planning that you can’t enjoy yourself at the event. It’s not worth it. Not everything will go right. Not everyone will show up. But just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

Report From BEA (Part Two)

STATUS: It’s always a crush when I’ve been out of the office for a week. I’m proud to say I’m now finally seeing open spots on the desktop for the first time today.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BACK HOME AGAIN by John Denver

Here’s how I can sum up my BEA. With the exception of the Graphic Novel Author Breakfast on Saturday morning, any event I had planned to attend was a bust—real snoozers.

And the one panel that was a spontaneous choice was the one I enjoyed the most—and that was the panel discussion on Hardcover versus original trade paperback for a debut novel.

Basically there was no consensus on whether it helps or hurts an author. Several examples were given for both—of how a trade price point really helped to break out an author and how an author got sunk by the hardcover pub with the higher price point.

There was even mention of my larger concern about not getting the audio deal and foreign rights for an original trade pb (although I have to say that foreign publishers seem very flexible with what they buy and the format doesn’t seem to impact too much).

My hope was that the discussion could veer into new territories, like setting up the possibility of rethinking how original trade paperbacks are bought, their marketing/promo plans (because let’s face it, as agents we are mostly worried about original trades not getting the love from pr and marketing and the reviews needed to really succeed as those aspects have been slow to evolve), and perhaps discuss new trade original royalty structures if more and more books are pubbed as original trades and not hardcovers. Those percentages haven’t changed in a hefty while

I don’t care if something is going to pub in trade pb if I know I can get the support, the backing, and that my author could earn as much via that medium than through hardcover as the original format.

Lots about pubbing original trade make sense and yet, there’s still those possible issues that make it hard not to be hesitant. Still, I see it’s where the industry seems to be leaning so I’d just like to see some other aspects about this format embraced.

But back to the Graphic novel breakfast.

From left: Jeff Smith (author of Bone), Jeph Loeb (producer of Heroes and currently writing Hulk for Marvel), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), and Art Spiegelman (Pulitzer Prize-winner of Maus)

Here’s what I learned. Folks who write and illustrate comic books are passionate about them and a lot of writers have been doing this for some time—long before it was popular.

1. They all were slightly amused by the term graphic novelists.
2. They are, and always will be, comic book writers, thank you very much.
3. They are all slightly amused to be considered “cool” now as well.

The tipping point for comic books happened, for some reason, about 4 or 5 years ago and they knew it when librarians started coming to them with “no need to sell me on the format, I get it but what should I be buying? What’s Good?” That’s when the format had arrived into the mainstream. It’s also not just about comic book publishers anymore. Many traditional publishing imprints (like S&S and Random House) are buying comic books and positioning them like traditional books (for lack of a better word).

I found the whole breakfast, and especially Spiegelman’s visual presentation about the history and the how and why of how he go into it, particularly fascinating.

I certainly can’t say that I’ve been a long-time fan or anything like that but I’m interested. I certainly had a bunch of comic books when I was growing up (boy did this bring back memories) and many of my college buddies wrote, illustrated, and collected comic books so I was certainly exposed to the medium. Now I just need to get back in touch with those guys and say, “hey, your time has come. Maybe we need to dig out those works.”

Last but not least, I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing the author autographing stalls. One author called it horse racing in reverse. It does rather mimic that!

A Lesson To Be Learned from Popular Books?

STATUS: It’s late and I have lots to do tomorrow. Still, I had a fun evening.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHEN YOUR MIND’S MADE UP by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Even if you are a successful writer, you can still just be a fan. Tonight I attended the Stephenie Meyer event (hosted by the Tattered Cover) with my assistant Sara, Ally Carter, and Ally’s good friend Beth. All three are huge SM fans and of course were delighted to meet Stephenie (and Elizabeth, if you are reading this, huge thank you for the backstage passes. I owe you the Gallagher Girl book #3 ARC!)

It’s amazing to attend a book signing where the fans scream before the event begins—to be in a crowd where readers are palpably excited about books. That in and of itself made attending the event worthwhile.

But that’s not what I really want to blog about. While at the event, all four of us got to talking and my author Ally Carter had an interesting observation that I thought was worth sharing.

When books are as successful as THE HOST and the TWILIGHT series (or say, for instance, the Harry Potter books), there is often a focus (by aspiring writers) on whether the books live up to their popularity—whether they are worth all the hype. Writers tend to focus on their own opinions about whether they like or dislike the books rather than what they should be paying attention to which is what they can learn from books that have captured such attention.

Books are popular for a reason. Trying to put your finger on that “why” could potentially teach you a lot about your own writing.

Now of course everyone has an opinion and all those opinions are certainly valid but what I’m getting at is this: Even if you dislike a popular book, try and see past that opinion to the “why” behind why devoted fans love it so much. You might just discover something that could take your writing or your next project to the next level. It might not but that “why” is certainly worth contemplating.

More Than Just A Signing

STATUS: TGIF! And what I have in front of me to do so I can head out of town for the Thanksgiving long weekend on next Wednesday is a bit frightening. I’m determined to plow through and finish though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HARD TO HANDLE by Black Crowes

Agents are book fans too. Bella Stander (book publicity consultant and friend) had mentioned that a fellow Backspace member was going to be at the Tattered Cover this week and did I want to go. I’m always up for supporting fellow members so I said yes. We were off to see John Elder Robison’s reading for his memoir LOOK ME IN THE EYE.

I also had the unexpected pleasure of having dinner with him and his wife Martha before the event—compliments of Bella—but that’s not what this blog is about.

I want to revisit the topic of authors being strong public speakers and if they aren’t, to get savvy at this skill. And I know I’ve blogged about this before (and received a wide array of feedback after the posting) but John’s terrific presentation just reinforced again for me how important it is for an author to be a good presenter—to make the event more than just a book signing.

John didn’t just read from his memoir and open the floor to questions. He engaged us in his passion—which is to make the world more aware and more understanding of those with Asperger’s. I have to say it was very powerful and in doing so, made everyone in that room a lot more interested in buying the book right then and there. I know I got in line and got an autographed copy.

And let me just point out one more thing, John has Asperger’s. If you know anything about this disorder, most folks who have it don’t really like talking and interacting with a lot of people. Hence the title. John named his book that because all his life he heard people say, “look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.” Communication can be tough for an Aspergian.

So just imagine what public speaking might be like. It’s not often an Aspergian strong suit. John didn’t let that stop him and he got savvy at public speaking because he was determined to share his story and his passion—just in case that in doing so, it made a difference.

I can’t stress it enough. If you are an author, master this skill because you never know when you might be presented with many opportunities to share your book, your passion, and your vision with the world.