Fall Festivals and Small-Town Charm: The Author's Life
I'm a small-town girl with a heart for the small-town kind of world. Sure, I've been dazzled during trips to New York City. The rush of people and the constant thrill is exciting.
But I wouldn't want to live there... because I'm a small-town kind of girl.
I like the simplicity of walking down my empty street, waving at a few friendly faces. I like the sometimes humdrum pace of our town. I like walking for breakfast to a tiny cafe down the street, and ambling to a school event on a weekend. I love the friendly, familiar faces at our local haunts. I love the lack of traffic at intersections and the easy pace of our Pennsylvania town.
So, this weekend, when my husband and I were invited to a bookstore in a small town in Pennsylvania for the town's fall festival, I was thrilled. These are the kinds of places I feel at home.
And you know what?
It was one of my favorite author events so far.
It wasn't my favorite because we sold hundreds of books (we didn't) or because we had lines of people waiting to meet me (we also didn't). It was my favorite because of the atmosphere, the people, and the small-town charm that just made me feel at home.
Watching children laughing as they visited the petting zoo and ate way too much caramel corn. The smell of fried foods and the simple chatter around. The dog costume parade and scarecrow contests. It was an afternoon of warmth and simple, true fun.
Sometimes as authors, we lose sight of the journey. We are always wanting bigger, better, faster, more. We are always measuring our paths by how many books we sell or how much money exchanges hands. We try to collect awards and fame. We become so focused on these things that we lose sight of the simple fun, the beautiful memories, and the days like today.
Today, I'm thankful for a chance to meet new readers and to explore a new town. I'm thankful my author career has led me to new places and small towns all over our state. I'm thankful for an afternoon in the sun with my husband, laughing and having a simple, small-town adventure.
The author's life isn't always about big cities and huge tour stops. Sometimes, as I've learned, the best days and events are the ones that make us feel right at home, that remind us what genuine fun is all about, and help us see that the memories we make along the way are so much more important than anything else.
“I’m really done this time,” I bellowed through snot and tears as my husband drove us through the infernal rainstorm toward home.
We were soaking wet, freezing, and most of all, disheartened. As a small-time romance writer, I’d set my hopes and dreams on this book festival. I’d prepared for months for what I imagined was my chance to breakout and meet new readers in a different state. I’d printed my handouts, gathered giveaway supplies, and advertised. I’d found a new sense of positivity and founded my hopes of growing as an author on this weekend event set to draw in thousands.
In short, this was going to be my moment to shine and to get my career off the ground.
Instead, after hours of driving, we arrived at a festival quite literally washed out by an all-day rainstorm. Rain pelted us from every direction as we lugged our supplies into the “rain or shine” event. Under a rickety tent in the back corner of the festival near the bathrooms, my husband and I sat in the midst of a barren wasteland of a literary festival. We spent our entire day shaking from cold and watching a few stragglers wander by our leaking tent.
We watched my dreams wash away into the overabundant puddles. We only sold two books that day, one being a fellow author who took pity on us in our own tent.
In my mind, the day was symbolic of my writing career—a wash. I’d been through a roller coaster of emotions as I navigated the sometimes-hopeless publishing world. My passion for writing was threatening to fade away. That literary festival only underscored my beliefs.
Thus, on the way home, tears mixing with rainwater and the feel of failure weighing heavy on my shoulders, I turned to my husband and vowed I was done. I was putting down the pen, stowing away the unfinished manuscripts, and quitting writing.
Calmly, with a strength in his voice, my also exhausted husband turned to me. “No, you’re not.”
The tears quieted, and confusion took over the sadness. How could he say that? He’d also spent the entire day in the torrential rain, had spent his entire weekend on yet another failed author event.
“Today was a waste of time. I can’t keep doing this,” I uttered.
“It’s not a waste of time. It’s your passion. It rained today and we didn’t do as well as we hoped. So what? Someday, you’ll look back on this and laugh. Just keep going.”
It wasn’t a well-written monologue with fancy sentiments. My husband uttered a few lines that to anyone else would have seemed meaningless.
But to a writer struggling with confidence and resolve, these were the words I needed. They kickstarted a drive in me to keep going and to smile through the journey. They made me realize that overnight success wasn’t the goal. The goal was to learn and grow, to appreciate every step and misstep along the way.
Now, a year and a half later, I look back on that rainy, gloomy day and realize it wasn’t a waste of time. That day was the day I realized no matter what types of deluges I had to sit through, my husband would be by my side, cheering me on in this journey to chase my dreams.
For every writer, this is the most important thing to find—that one person who, even in a rainstorm, will be your cheerleader and motivation.
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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"You can't measure love by time put in, but the weight of those moments. Some in life are light, like a touch. Others, you can't help but stagger beneath."
Once and for All is a beautiful, engaging young adult romance about moving on, tragedy, and hope. I adored the overall plot and the beautiful weaving of two different timelines together.
Louna's mother and godfather run a wedding planning business, so she's grown up around love and talks of forever. However, because of a serious tragedy, Louna doesn't actually believe in forever. When Ambrose is hired by Louna's mother to help out with the business for a summer, however, everything Louna thinks she knows about life and love might change.
Louna's character is the perfect balance of quirky and hesitant. I loved how dynamic she felt and how she changed through the book. Although this is a young adult novel, I felt connected with her character because she felt very mature. This is probably because at a young age, she experienced tragedy most adults couldn't even begin to imagine. This maturity allowed me to connect with her even though she is in her twenties.
I loved the supporting cast of characters in this book as well. They are all well-developed and memorable. The story moves at a perfect pace, allowing you to languish in the beautiful prose but also to feel like the story is filled with events. Sarah Dessen incorporates flashbacks seamlessly that help explain who Louna is.
This is, by far, my favorite young adult romance because it has the depth and sincerity of an adult novel while dealing with the unique issues of teenage romance. Sarah's writing style is gorgeous and captivating. There are so many beautiful lines in the book.
I wish the bonus scene had been more in-depth because I wanted to hear more about the story and where it went. However, this book is definitely a five-star novel and, in my opinion, flawless.
View all my reviews
Inked Hearts releases October 21, 2017, with Hot Tree Publishing. This contemporary romance is set in Ocean City, Maryland.
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“Six years, a complex about my freckles, a love for pastrami, and a fear of failure.
That’s what he gave me before slaughtering my heart and my faith in men.”
Suffering from the sting of betrayal, twenty-eight-year-old Avery Johannas quits her job and moves hundreds of miles away to Ocean City, the beach town of her dreams. With the help of her zany roommate, Jodie, Avery finds a new career, home, and freedom. Throughout her self-exploration, she makes only one rule: She won’t give her heart to a man again. She’s living for herself this time.
But then she meets Jesse.
A tattoo shop owner, the green-eyed Jesse Pearce is wild with a touch of mystery. As Jesse and Avery explore Ocean City and their friendship, they’ll have a hard time drawing a line in the sand between their hearts.
When summer nights get a little more heated than either expected, they’ll have to ask themselves: Can they let go of their notions of love, or will their hearts be permanently inked by past pain?
Changing Our Minds: It's Our Prerogative
Sometimes it seems like society tells women we have to have every single aspect of ourselves 100% together. We must be decisive and focused when it comes to our goals. We must have a set plan for our lives and not veer from it. We must be steadfast go-getters who have their eyes locked solely on the prize.
As I approach thirty, though, there's something I've come to learn: This idea is garbage.
To live is to inherently accept that we never quite know what's happening. Life is a jumbled, crazy journey filled with twisting and veering paths. Some paths intersect. Some loop back on themselves. Some bring us to crossroads filled with choices.
No one can be certain of every step.
Plus, there's the fact that we must allot for change. We are dynamic beings. We grow and learn. We develop and change our vantage point. We do not stay the same.
As women, we are complex being with choices, regrets, confusions, and questions. We don't have everything figured out, no matter how old or wise we are. We change our minds. We get lost sometimes. We lose sight of who we are or what we want to be.
Life isn't always filled with simple, two-answer questions. Life is murky and confusing. We get misled sometimes, and sometimes we simply have trouble listening to our gut.
The thing I've come to realize, though, is that literature for women should reflect this in order to give us permission to be okay with this.
Literature Reflecting Life
Too many times, I've seen the ridiculous standard held for women in real life held for fictional characters. Female characters, especially in romance, are expected to have all the answers, to make the "right" decisions, and to play by the rules all the time.
Just like in real life, I don't agree with this.
When I set out to write romance, I knew I wanted to write for the real, modern woman. I wanted to write for the woman who changes her mind, her heart, and even herself. I wanted to write for the woman who doesn't have every answer and who doesn't know exactly how many steps and turns she'll take in her life. I wanted to showcase women who were courageous enough to not only chase happiness at all costs but who also weren't afraid to make mistakes.
I wanted to write about perfectly imperfect women who got confused, got down, got lost, and got broken. I wanted to write about women who were far from perfect...but perfectly fine with that.
The women in my books change their minds. They get confused about their hearts, and they get confused about themselves. Just like us, they make choices only to regret them. They make choices they are sure of only to go back and change their minds.
Like in real life, the women in my books are just trying to survive this crazy, turning path called life with a sense of purpose and a sense of joy.
The women in my books aren't perfect, and that may bother some people. To me, though, as a perfectly imperfect woman, I wouldn't have it any other way.
To learn more about my perfectly imperfect female characters, click the Books link above.
S.Valentine – THE BLACK DOOR TRILOGY – available in a box-set!
Amz US: http://amzn.to/2tRK3m3 Amz UK: http://amzn.to/2styPTC Author page: http://www.facebook.com/SophiaValentineAuthor
HIS CONFESSION – BOOK #1 When Gabriella Woods finds matches from a gentlemen’s club in her fiancé’s pocket, her suspicions require a search for answers… At the club, she realizes it’s not her fiancé’s fidelity that can’t be trusted. It’s her own. Darion Milano is daring, intriguing, and unpredictable… Unable to get him out of her head—and against Darion’s explicit warning— Gabi begins a torrid affair. No longer fighting the urge to enter the depth of his dark and mysterious lifestyle, she indulges in his most intimate desires. They become the most exciting, wild, infatuated couple everybody knows. Until his confession changes everything… Her heart is telling her to stay. Her instinct is telling her to run. She can never match his outrageous ex-wife and become the fun, fearless woman he craves…
HER CONFESSION – BOOK #2 Gabriella Woods is adapting to Darion Milano’s daring world… As Gabi tries to break down Darion’s defenses and help him move on from his damaged past, she hopes he can offer her the love and security she desperately requires. Darion likes that Gabi is pushing her boundaries, but he has his own dilemmas… With his outrageous ex-wife in the picture, a constant threat, Gabi finds herself agreeing to Darion’s open-minded adventurous fantasies. The bond they share appears stronger than ever. Until her confession changes everything. Is Darion pushing Gabi to her limits—and further away from him? Or is Gabi in too deep to give Darion up, regardless of her identity that he’s slowly stripping away?
THEIR CONFESSION – BOOK #3 Gabriella Woods eventually wants it all—love, passion, marriage, a family. With the sale of the club, she feels closer to Darion Milano, and believes his dark sexual desires are behind him. A reunion at The Black Door to celebrate the opening awakens the past. Gabi and Darion remember where and how they fell in love. Gabi is pleased to see Darion in touch with his old friends, in particular Gina. Until their confession changes everything. The news shatters Gabi’s world. Can she and Darion get through it? Will the link to his past sway him from a life he now leads, to a life he once led? #Romance #Erotica #EroticaRomance #KU #KindleUnlimited
Amz US: http://amzn.to/2tRK3m3 Amz UK: http://amzn.to/2styPTC Author page: http://www.facebook.com/SophiaValentineAuthor
Measure Book Signing Success by Experience, Not Sales
For many authors, the thought of seeing your name on the sign at Barnes & Noble for an author event is the thing of wild dreams. I am no different. From the time I first started dreaming about getting published, I wanted to be on that sign. I wanted to have people coming to buy my books, lining up to get an autograph. I wanted my J.K. Rowling moment.
Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to live out my Barnes & Noble dream (minus the J.K. Rowling status) several times. What's more, I've been able to travel to all sorts of amazing places for author events and get that moment to celebrate my works.
This year, especially I've been branching out. We traveled to Gettysburg Book Warehouse last weekend and are heading to State College in July. We'll also be heading to Virginia for a Book Festival this fall. We're traveling and seeing new places. For my husband and I, who are self-proclaimed Netflix junkies and homebodies, traveling is pushing us out of our comfort zone.
But I've come to realize it's a good thing.
However, there's just one problem most indie authors find with book signings: Sales aren't typically J.K. Rowling status or even close. In fact, for some authors, the dreamed of book signing can become the thing of nightmares, leaving you feel like a failed writer.
So how do you balance your dreams with reality, and are book signings worth the risk?
* some successful. some in a monsoon. Some where I left in tears.
Measure your success by the experience.
Places and met people I'd have never met.
Writing journey isn't all about sales. It's about growing as a person and about meeting new people. It's about seeing how your words can affect others and about meeting new people. Break the introvert mold.
Readjusting Book Signing Measures of Success
I have had plenty of successful signings where I sold more copies than I expected.
I have, in truth, also had the exact opposite. I had a book signing where I sold exactly two copies, both of which were friends. I had a book fair in a practical monsoon where we traveled three hours to sell two books and get soaked to the bone. I've had plenty of tears over book signings that many would deem unsuccessful.
However, two years into my writing journey, I've come to learn that success should not be measured by sales at a book signing. That's not what author events are about.
In fact, that's not really what the writing journey is about. Okay, sure, we all want to sell millions of copies and retire to a private island. However, this shouldn't be your driving force. The writing journey is about growing as a person. It's about meeting new people and seeing how your words can affect others. It's about sharing your story, your characters' stories, and your personal truths. It's about breaking the introvert mold and learning how you impact others.
Book signings are a way for you to meet others, to share your story, and to inspire others to attack their dreams.
Because of my book signings, I've had more experiences in the past two years than I could've dreamed of. I've seen amazing bookstores. I've met new people. I've seen cute shops and awesome attractions along the way.
Most of all, I've had the chance to share in the experience with my husband. The memories we've made will last a lifetime...or at least until the next signing.
So to you indie authors out there wondering if book signings are worth the risk of standing alone at a table with pitying looks from strangers, I can tell you... it is. Because every person you meet can affect your writing journey. Every signing, good or bad, becomes a part of your story.
Every experience gives you the chance to grow, to change, and to evolve into the writer you were meant to be.
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Title: Where Love Went: Holiday Special
Series: Sequel to Then Comes Love
A Where Love Went Companion Short
All platforms: books2read.com/wlwholiday
With the holidays in full swing, it's not long before the drama and hilarity unfold for Charlotte, Annie, and Ameila.
Join the mayhem as this year's festivities unravel.
Where Love Went: Holiday Special is a companion short and is not intended as a standalone. To fully appreciate and understand the events, Where Love Went must be read first.
FREE DOWNLOAD LINKS
- - - - -
OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES
A high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery, Lindsay's the English teacher cliché; she love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.
She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and their Mastiff, Henry.
Lindsay's goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows she's done her job.
Lindsay's hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
You've achieved that goal--you have your first published work! And now, a second dream is coming true--your first book signing or author event.
It's thrilling to see your hard work pay off and your dreams come true. Seeing the sign on the door of your venue or bookstore is surreal. However, once the shock and excitement wears off, you might have one big, daunting question: What the hell do you do now?
I can remember seeing my picture on my local Barnes & Noble for my first book signing. In some ways, I couldn't rationalize that it was actually my picture. It felt like a dream because it had been a goal for so long. Once I got over the initial shock, though, panic set in. I didn't feel like a "real" author. I had no idea what I was supposed to do at a book signing. What if people showed up expecting a "real" author smoothly talking about plot arcs and characterization?
Or even worse, what if no one showed up at all?
Luckily, I had an amazing team of support to quell my fears, to offer me a Pepto Bismol when I felt like I was going to vomit from nerves, and to make sure I wasn't sitting all alone at a lonely, empty table. My first event went so well, and over the past few years, I've found myself getting less nervous for author events.
I'm still no expert. I still have my socially awkward "What do I do?" moments. I still shy away from the spotlight and lack confidence I should have in my salesmanship. Nonetheless, over quite a few author events, I've learned some tips I wish I had known when I first started.
1. Take a team who know your books with you.
Especially if you're on the introverted side, pitching your work to strangers can be intimidating. There are so many sales' techniques that go into a book writing career. You do have to be able to sell your work to strangers. I found this intimidating. Having friends or family members who know your book and can objectively tell others about it will help you out if you freeze up.
My husband is naturally extroverted and has an easier time talking to people. He's always right by my side during events because he helps make up for my shyness. He gets people talking and feeling comfortable; I've found sometimes customers are shy and nervous to approach.
Also, having a team with you is a confidence boost. It helps you to have fun, to realize it's all okay, and to not have to awkwardly look busy if there aren't any people approaching your table.
2. Practice your two sentence pitch.
Your goal at book events is always to gain new fans. If you can sell to one new reader, you've been successful.
Strangers who approach you at signings typically have a few questions in common
It seems crazy, but sometimes as an author, it is so hard for us to boil our stories down to a quick description. We spend so much time elaborating on characters and settings that when we're asked to take it back to the basics, we stumble.
Prepare a few sentences that describe your book. That way, you can give potential customers an idea. Typically, people feel awkward reading the back of the book when you're right there. Having a quick pitch to pique their interest will help you seem more confident. I've also found as a new author it helps to have comparison authors. "Readers compare my work or writing to___insert familiar author name____" can give readers a point of reference. Just make sure you're being honest. I always say my stories are similar to stories in the Nicholas Sparks' genre. I don't claim to be Nicholas Sparks, however.
3. Have attractive giveaways or freebies.
People like free stuff. Period.
Attract new readers to your table with giveaways and freebies. I use Vistaprint to make paper products like postcards with all my covers and business cards. Bookmarks with your book cover are useful; I like Overnight Prints or Print Runner.
Try to have a few unique items to giveaway, too. Make a few grocery totes on a photo website to give to the first few customers. I have had pins made on Etsy shops. I also have made my own bottlecap magnets by printing out pictures of my books and using Mod Podge to create magnets. These were really popular. Get creative. Think about what you would like to use. Don't limit yourself to book covers, either; you can use quotes from your book to adorn totes, bags, shirts, etc.
The goal is to make people remember you.
Tell everyone about your event weeks in advance, and send reminders a few days before. Don't be shy! The best way to ensure a good turnout is to take the initiative to invite people. Treat it almost like a party! Create a Facebook event page, send out flyers, and email relatives. Spread the word.
When strangers see your author table crowded, it helps reassure them that you're a good writer and worth their time. The more people at your event, the more likely you are to sell to strangers.
5. Ask for spellings of names.
When personalizing books you sign, don't be afraid to ask for spellings. I have everyone spell their name just because you never know if someone has a unique spelling. People aren't offended by this; they like that you want to get it right.
Don't know what to write in a book? Come up with a few common sayings you can tweak. I like to write something like "It was great to meet you!" People like the idea that if you get big, they will have a personalized book saying they met you. Also, date every book.
If you are super stumped, ask the purchaser what they would like you to write. If nothing else, just put their name and sign your name with the date.
6. Dress to be confident and comfortable.
You will be standing a lot. Wear comfortable shoes. Trust me.
I usually get a new outfit for each event because I want to feel confident. Find something that makes you feel good so self-consciousness isn't added to your nervousness. I always wear a dress to show readers I'm taking things seriously. I like to dress professionally to show my professional attitude toward my writing.
7. Be realistic in your goals.
Even J.K. Rowling had a few empty book events when she first started. Don't panic if you have an event where you only sell one or two copies. I've had quite a few events where I was lucky to sell two books. I've also had events where I sold over fifty copies in a few hours. All sorts of things like schedules, weather, time, and advertising can affect your turnout. Don't take it to heart if you have a sparse event.
Also, if you are a new writer, realize people are hesitant to spend hard-earned cash on a newbie. With each book you publish, it gets easier. People trust someone with a backlist. I've seen many more strangers willing to invest in my work now that I've released five books versus when I had only written one. Give yourself time to grow a fan base.
At the end of the day, you've done something few can say they've accomplished. Celebrate that. My husband always tells me even if only one person buys my book, that's one person who is reading words I made up. That's pretty exciting.
Celebrate each small victory and appreciate the journey. I know that's easier said than done, but be patient. Your time will come if you just keep at it.
8. Just smile and be yourself.
You don't have to know what you're doing. Seriously. Tell people it's your first event. Tell people you're still getting used to the author title. People like genuine. People like personality. It's okay to not be perfect.
Just be friendly, be yourself, and the rest will fall into place.
Have a question about books, writing, or the author journey? Let it in the comments and I will address it in a future blog post! Thanks for reading, and let me know how your signings go!
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