Tag Archives: Linton Robinson

The Power of Group Book Signings — and Birth of a New Literary Series

In this era of extreme tidal changes in the publishing industry, writers, readers and those who love personal author appearances will be happy to know of a great trend: enterprising authors banding together to form group appearances and signings.

The power of the group read, this occurring at Vista Library, site of the North County Literary Cavalcade: Sunset Poets and Hummingbird Review  launch. (L-R) Sunset Poets creator and poet Dick Eiden; "Dances With Wolves" author Michael Blake; poet and musician John Doe, of the legendary group X; Charles Redner, Jr; Hummingbird Review publisher & author Charles Redner; fictionist Alwyn Pinnow; and yours truly

The power of the group read, this occurring at Vista Library, site of the North County Literary Cavalcade: Sunset Poets and Hummingbird Review launch. (L-R) Sunset Poets creator and poet Dick Eiden; “Dances With Wolves” author Michael Blake; poet and musician John Doe, of the legendary group X; Charles Redner, Jr; Hummingbird Review publisher & author Charles Redner; fictionist Alwyn Pinnow; and yours truly


AK Patch, the author of "Passage at Delphi," will appear Feb. 23 to launch the North County Literary Cavalcade series at Vista Library.

AK Patch, the author of “Passage at Delphi,” will appear Feb. 23 to launch the North County Literary Cavalcade series at Vista Library.

Not necessarily. Speaking from San Diego County and nearby areas, I can report that a few enterprising authors are working hard to create more group signings. Kaitlin Rother recently hosted an event at the new San Diego City Library that drew a standing room-only crowd. Author Lin Robinson, one of the most innovative and funniest writers around,  is stirring up the waters for a group signing series as well. “My thoughts are to get some local writers together and do something major and newsworthy, maybe in the atrium of the new San Diego library, or across the street in the beautiful Jing Si Café,” Robinson said.

It goes from there. A genre-based group, the Crime Fiction Collective, has been staging group signings for awhile. The La Jolla-based indie bookstore Warwick’s presents not only national authors, but individual and group signings with area authors — in which the author gets a table and signs for several hours on a Sunday afternoon. Very cool.

Group signings are awesome. Several authors appear together, read from their works, perhaps hold a short panel discussion, and then meet, greet and sign. While every author wants (and should have) the stage to themselves, I can tell you that booksellers and libraries love group signings. Why? They put more butts in the seats — and more buyers, or patrons. Readers feel like they’re at an event, and when you attend an event, you want to take the energy and memory of it home with you; hence, buying a book (that’s why motivational speakers and leaders always sell books at the back of the room). Plus, authors receive the dual stimulation of sharing stories from the trenches with other writers, and engaging with their readers.

We will be actively promoting all group signings on this blog, and on the Word Journeys Social Media Network. If you’re an author, band together with a couple other authors, visit your bookstore or library, and set yourself up. It will be much easier than you think — and you will connect eye-to-eye with your audience. Readers and writers, stay tuned.

 Speaking of libraries, I’m pleased to announce something I’ve wanted to create for a long time: a monthly literary series. This one even gives a naming nod to the Golden Age of radio and TV! The North County Literary Cavalcade will be hosted by Vista City Library. Reference librarian Kris Jorgensen and I met earlier this week, and laid out the plan for a combination of author signings, group reads, student presentations, panel discussions, topical workshops, open mics and festival events that will involve national and area authors, educators and poets. Best of all, we’re drawing authors from all fiction and non-fiction genres, plus young adult authors, sci-fi writers, and children’s writers. No matter your reading preference, you’re going to be up close and personal with a prominent author at this series.

Vista Library is a great venue: We hosted a pair of Hummingbird Review launches there, drawing large crowds in both cases. The secret? Yep — group reads. We had six to eight readers on each occasion.

Our first event takes place Sunday, February 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. Author AK Patch will present the history and backstory of his new historical adventure thriller, Passage at Delphi. This book brings the famous Greek-Persian War (source of the “300” movie series) into modern-day light, as eyewitnessed by time-traveling professors. They are under the influence of the Greek God Apollo, who worries that today’s civilization will go the way of the Ancient Greeks. If you’re a “300” fan, and pacing the floors waiting for the March 7 premiere of 300: Rise of an Empire, this book will not only feed you, but give you a counter-story filled with excitement and depth.

I’ll also be reading, as Dr. Patch’s warm-up act. Kris Jorgensen and I will co-host the event, and we will also present the schedule of Literary Cavalcade events.

Hope to see you there — and at all group signing events.

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Meet Your Greatest Book Promoters: Part 2

TO RECAP: At the final day of a wonderful, lively Southern California Writers Conference steeped with equal parts of “polish your work to the finest shine” and “learn everything you can about promoting yourself and your books,” I had the distinct pleasure of sitting on the “e-NDEPENDENCE” panel with “Wine Lovers Mysteries” series author Michele Scott, BackMyBook.com co-founder GK Parish-Philip, author Gayle Carline (Freezer Burn), e-publishing expert Linton Robinson and memoirist Hyla Molander, who has helped popularize Scribd.com with her personal success (33,000 reads) using it as a promotional tool for her forthcoming memoir, Drop Dead Life: A Pregnant Widow’s Heartfelt and Often Comic Journey about Death, Birth and Rebirth. Internet strategist Jeremy Lee James of AuthorsEdge.com and WriteClickHosting.com was our moderator.)

During the e-NDEPENDENCE panel, we took turns discussing the subjects of the day in the publishing world — and what should be subjects of every day for authors in 2011. We also fielded very good questions from the audience. A few more subjects that were discussed — all of them important for writers and readers alike:

PROMOTE YOURSELF WITH RECKLESS ABANDON: Get used to it, readers and media — you’re going to hear a lot more from authors directly. Some may have publicists, and others not, but the name of the game today is PLATFORM: creating an angle, showing your face, gaining exposure, tying your book’s themes and subject matter into relevant current events, and promoting tirelessly.

Some panelists suggested hiring publicists to help with this, and I agree, with one condition: that you, the writer, learn how to do this yourself so that you can promote every day. That’s what it takes. Learn how to write captivating blogs, press releases, converse with bookstores, libraries, museums and art galleries (GREAT places for readings), and generate article writing campaigns (subject of a future blog). Take a class in public speaking or find a coach. Know all the online media sources inside and out pertaining to your subject. Push yourself forward as the expert and voice of your subject, or the live narrator of your novel or memoir … because, you are. And do something to promote your book for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours every day.

WHEN A PUBLICIST CAN HELP: This was a lively topic on the panel — and it went both ways. Some authors spend thousands on publicists, only to receive little more than press releases and empty promises. Others spend nothing, and wish they had. Still others hire publicists as consultants, fill in their plan with specific strategies and contacts provided by the publicist, consider it the best $1,000 to $2,000 they ever spent. Even on our panel, one panelist, author Michelle Scott, had a negative experience with a publicist — so she learned to do it herself, and very well. Another, Hyla Molander, will recommend her publicist-friend to anyone who asks. Her work was that good.

Let’s solve this dilemma. Assuming my former place as a public relations agency owner for a second, here are the three critical considerations (besides money) for getting a publicist involved — and I suggest face-to-face interview or, at the very least, Skype:

1) Does the publicist know how to publicize books and authors? The PR world is full of great event and corporate publicists who don’t know the first thing about book promotion — nor do they have the right media list to get you there. This alone is a a dealmaker or deal-breaker.

2) Is the publicist passionate about your work — and putting you in print and in front of cameras? She or he must love your book, your story and how the two mesh. And share the love with reviewers and interviewers. Simple as that.

3) Are you one of many — or the main feature? Make sure your publicist considers you and your work vitally important, enough to make you a prime client.

For this final reason, I suggest starting with a consulting relationship. You’ll know whether or not you need to go further. Take notes, listen, participate in your own publicity campaigns, and learn how to act on your plan. This skill is not an option any longer if you want to make it as an author in the 21st century. It’s a survival skill.

4) SELLING BOOK RIGHTS FOR PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED MATERIALS. More and more, publishers and editors read blog material, or postings on magazine websites, Scribd.com or other open forums, and see the potential for books. Or, they read serialized chapters posted by authors and want to buy the full product. How to deal with this? My experience is that, if a publisher wants something badly enough, they’ll buy the rights — even if it’s previously published. When they buy the rights, you may have to take down whatever you posted, unless you can convince the publisher that keeping it up helps promote the book. If you’re selling the work — say, a serialized e-book chapter by downloadable chapter — then you’ll almost certainly be asked to take the material off the market. I know several people who went from being bloggers to authors in the past two years alone by pre-posting material, or originally writing on the subject on assignment for online magazines, websites or blogs.

This is a wide open frontier, and as I tell everyone in every workshop I teach, you never know who’s reading. If you get an online assignment or invitation to post on someone’s blog, offer one-time rights only. That keeps all your options intact in case a publisher comes knocking — or in case you choose to publish a book on your own.

Oops … I just checked the word count. Looks like we’re going to have a Part 3 to this series.

(NEXT: I will discuss how to negotiate e-rights, making social media ROCK for you, and the world of the 21st century writer-entrepreneur.)

If you’d like more specific information or assistance with promotional planning to help with your book or project, BOB YEHLING can be reached at bob@wordjourneys.com.



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