Monday, January 30, 2012

Massive Fantasy Novel Giveaway on the Enchanted Inkpot!

The Enchanted Inkpot is moving from Livejournal to Blogger! To celebrate, we are hosting a massive giveaway of fantasy novels for middle grade and YA readers. Just check out these three fabulous prize packages!
 Head on over to The Enchanted Inkpot  for information on how to enter.

Monday, January 23, 2012

If You’d Like Me to Come to Your Town

 I often receive emails, comments and messages from readers asking why I don’t come to their town for an author visit. This especially happens after I post the itinerary for an upcoming tour or I list an event on my blog or Facebook. No matter where I’m going, it seems the people who want to see me are somewhere else.
“Why aren’t you coming to my town?” they ask.
The truth is--I’d LOVE to come to your town—really, I would. I love to get out from under my keyboard and get out and meet readers. But even an author who is lucky enough to be sent on tour doesn’t generally get to decide where she goes.
The publisher makes those decisions.  My publicist will usually ask if I have any suggestions. If I’ve been hearing a lot from, say, Denver readers, I will mention it. Last time, I actually got on my Amazon author page and looked to see where my books were selling the most.
The publisher will also look at the size of the market, what book sales are like there, transportation costs, etc.
Beyond that, bookstores fill out request forms for authors they would like to host. Publicists quickly get to know which bookstores, libraries, and schools host awesome events that bring a great turnout. You will see certain bookstores hosting one event after another—because they’re so good at it. And when I have a great experience in a city or venue, I let my publisher know.
            My tours have been ~ten days long, meaning 8 or 10 cities. Plus some weekend gigs during the weeks surrounding the release. For efficiency and cost reasons, my tours usually focus on one region of the country. We try to switch around year to year.
Finally, if I’m aware of an event that would be the perfect place to showcase my book, I will ask my publisher to consider sending me. Sometimes my travel is sponsored by the bookfest/conference itself. For example, this year I’ve been to  Dragon*Con, The World Fantasy Con, and several bookfests, including Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, The Buckeye Bookfair, in Wooster, OH, the Montgomery County, TX Bookfest, and the Spartanburg Teen Reading Festival in South Carolina. I will be at the TBF Live! Bookfest in Rochester, NY in May.
Cons and bookfests are a great place for readers to meet many authors at once. And it’s a great place for an author to introduce her books to potential readers.
            Is there anything you can do to make it more likely an author will come to your town? Well, first, move to a major market. Sorry, but it’s true. Publicists want the most bang for their buck, so they will send authors where the most people are. If you don’t live in a large town, maybe there’s one within driving distance. Some times, ya gotta hit the road.   
Tell the author you would love to see her, of course. Also let her know if you know of an awesome venue in your town, such as a bookfest or a great bookstore. Offer to make a pitch/introduction. It often means more coming from a reader than from an author.
Speaking of, support your local bookstores. If they close their doors, there’s no venue to host an author appearance. Get to know bookstore owners, librarians, and teachers. Join your community library’s teen board. Ask if they ever host author visits. Tell them you would like to see your favorite author in person. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, perhaps a Skype visit can be arranged.
Many authors are willing to do school visits. Generally, the school pays a stipend and travel expenses. Often schools join forces to reduce the cost. Even a small market can snag an author visit if it’s in conjunction with a paid school visit. I’ve visited very small towns in southern Ohio and rural Illinois where librarians and teachers ganged up together and hosted me. Often librarians and teachers can access grant money to pay for author visits. Remember--one person on a mission can be very powerful. I have had visits happen because of one determined teen. 
What if your favorite author comes to your town? Do everything you can to get the word out. Encourage your friends to go, if they like to read. Attend the event yourself. Support the venue (and the author) by buying books. If the author has a great experience in your town, she will be eager to return. And it’s likely that publisher will send other authors your way, too. For example, I’ve been to Oceanside, CA twice because I’ve had great experiences there. I’m returning to TBF Live! This year because they rock.
There’s nothing worse than finding out your favorite author came to a town nearby and you missed it. Most authors have events listings on their websites, post upcoming events on Facebook and Twitter, or mail have email lists to notify readers. Follow your favorite authors and you won’t be disappointed.
If you want to receive messages from me about upcoming events and other announcements, you can join my Google Group on the front page of my website here  or on my blog here
You’ll find a listing of my upcoming events here
You can find out more about scheduling events with me on my website here. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

When Readers Hate Your Books

I often get emails from people who like my books. It’s still a thrill, even  with six books in print. Hey, I say to myself, this person isn’t even related to me—in fact, he lives three states away—and he likes my book!
Anyone who takes the time to thank an author deserves a special place in heaven. We are needy people with fragile egos (well, most of us) and sometimes that email from a fan is just what we need to keep going when the muse is slacking and the words won’t come; when we find our books on the clearance table and our agents don't return your calls. Opportunities for humiliation are legion. Kind words are treasured up against those days.
My favorite emails are from those who tell me my books made them into pleasure readers. How cool is that? Because for me the notion of going through life without books is horrifying. Because books changed my life.
Sometimes readers will write to alert me to errors in a book. For example, "I’ve noticed that Leesha has different colored eyes in each book. What gives?" Or—“what’s up with the two Christmases in one year?” If the error is serious enough, my publisher can correct it when the book goes back to print.
Readers email comments about what they especially liked (Han is SO hot!) or concrete suggestions about what I could have done differently, e.g. Why did you kill off my favorite character? (or, conversely, why didn’t you kill off more people?)  Or, Raisa should dump Nightwalker.
They’ll tell me that the love scene at the end of the book should have been a lot longer. Or that I should have put in some dragons.
While I can't go back and change the book in print, specific feedback might give me guidance for future books. Of course, some people tell me just what they think should happen in that next book.
But sometimes I get emails from people who basically say, I read your latest book and it sucked. Or--I liked your old series but I don't like your new series. Or--I read your new series and liked it, but when I went back and read your old series, it sucked.
It would be easier if they at least agreed on which books suck and which don’t.
I’m not talking about reviews. Negative reviews can be painful, but at least they serve a purpose. Reviews are intended to help readers find books they might like and avoid the ones they won’t. A public service of sorts.
I'm never sure what I'm supposed to do with this sort of big-bore, non-specific negative feedback. I don’t expect everyone to like my books, but this is like telling someone her child is ugly and stupid, too.
I mean, it’s not like there’s gonna be a do-over.
Should I say I'm sorry? Promise never to write a crappy book again? Get all defensive and tell them that if they think it's easy to write a book, mr. smarty-pants, they should try it themselves? Look them up on Goodreads to see if they give everyone one-star reviews? Google the sender's name to try to figure out it’s really Harold Gallagher from third grade who always hated you?
Hit delete, eat chocolate and drink hard liquor?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Montgomery County Book Festival, The Woodlands, TX

Hope you'll join me, Kristen Cast, and six other awesome authors at the 2012 Montgomery County Book Festival on January 21 in the Houston area. The festival is FREE and open to the public. The fest features author presentations, book sales, and autographing.

You'll find all of the information here!