Barnes and Noble






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    Entries in On Publishing (13)


    How to schedule a book signing and not screw it up

    I'm not terribly shy, but walking into a HUGE Barnes & Noble with thousands of books and poking around the shelves until you find your own is pretty intimidating. Realizing you left your phone at home and can't even take a photo of your book to prove to everyone it's really there is just plain irritating.

    Nevertheless, I came, I saw, and that was the easy part. By the way, that's my local Barnes & Noble to the right.

    Next came the procrastinating.

    I handed my book to someone browsing in the aisle and said, "This is a really good book. You should read it. It's mine." She politely smiled and took the book.

    Then I took a couple more of them off the shelf and moved them to a "Noteable New Paperbacks" table where I felt they belonged and where MAYBE they would stand out a little to shoppers in the wild.

    Then I wandered around the store a bit, hoping to see this young male salesclerk who looked pretty approachable when I came in. When I didn't see him, I decided to leave. It already looked like I was casing the place.

    Once outside, I chided myself for being such a coward. I didn't come this far just to sit on my hands while my book sunk into obscurity, so I turned around and marched myself right back into the store and up to the information booth and asked for the Events Manager.

    When she came downstairs, I introduced myself, handed her a business card with my book on it (a sample I ordered for free from [very cute card]), and smiled. She asked if they had my book on the shelf. I said, "Yes. Six copies." She said, "Really. We don't usually order that many titles from a new author. It must have gotten some really good reviews." I said, "Yes, actually, it has."

    The next part is where it gets a little tricky.

    She asked if I'd like to sign the copies. I said I would love to. So upstairs we went to retrieve the four on the shelf, and, um, the two I had moved to another table. "Oh, look!" I said, slightly red-faced. "Here are a couple more right here." (Did I mention the book I handed that lady was back on the shelf? Hmph.)

    Anyway, as I signed the books, she suggested I do a book signing, pulled out her calendar, and gave me the whole run down on what the store would do, what I needed to do, and what to expect. 

    A few minutes later I strutted out of that store like I owned the world. (That might be a slight exaggeration, but at least I didn't feel the need for self-flagellation when I got home.)

    So, based on this ONE experience, here is my list of do's and don'ts when trying to schedule that first book signing:

    Don't be chicken. They want to know you.

    Don't move your books before you introduce yourself. Get a friend to do it afterwards.

    Don't sign your books before (or unless) they ask. That would have been really embarrassing.

    Do bring a bookmark or a business card with your cover and other important info on it. It gives you something to hand them and makes you look legit. 

    Do smile and be friendly (and I suggest confident but humble).

    Do bring the pen you want to sign with or you'll end up having to use one of theirs (in my case, a fat Sharpie).

    That's it! Good luck.

    Oh, and you should really buy my book! It's good. Very good.

    And if you're in the neighborhood, stop by Barnes & Noble at The Woodlands Mall on February 18 between 2 and 4 and say hi. I'll be the one with the pen.


    2011 wrap up

    I borrowed this list from my friend, Laura at Refuge. Looked like fun, so here goes!

    1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

    Published a book!

    2. Did anyone close to you die?

    My sweet lab/border collie Sam. We had her nine years. She was a mess, but we loved her.

    3. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

    Consistent, reliable internet service. Truly, this has been a BIG issue in my house.

    4. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

    Completing my next book--Where You Are--and knowing when I finished that I'd grown a lot as a writer. It's coming out in late 2012.

    4. What was your biggest failure?

    Like Laura, it's keeping up with this blog. Ugh. There are just so many hours in a day!

    5. What was the best thing you bought?

    A Macbook Pro for my daughter (a Christmas present). She cried. How cool is that? Usually, the only one who cries when I buy things is me.

    6. Whose behavior merited celebration?

    My friends, who are kind, generous, and open. They've really supported me. And they make this world a better place. And my son, who accepted his gay sister without even blinking an eye.

    7. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

    Republicans. (Sorry if I'm offending anyone.) I don't truly believe that they are all as mean and cold-hearted and ignorant as some of their positions suggest. So I don't understand their rigid adherence to the party line. I still love you guys, but you're making me crazy.

    8. Where did most of your money go?

    My kids spent it. Enough said.

    9. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

    There's a long list this year. My daughter came out. My son started driving on his own. I met David Levithan. My book got a starred review from Publishers Weekly and other outstanding reviews from some pretty big publications. I did some cool interviews, including one with Publishers Weekly and one with my good friend Brent Taylor for Lamba Literary. And I've gotten to know some pretty amazing people on Facebook.

    10. What song will always remind you of 2011?

    "Low" by Flo Rida. I've discovered a deep-seated love of hip hop. Don't know it? Check it out. Come on, you know it makes you want to dance!

    11. What do you wish you'd done more of?

    Read, write, walk. I did a lot of the first two, but I still feel like a slacker.

    12. What do you wish you'd done less of?

    Wasting so much time obsessively Googling my name! 


    What about you? 


    Bad words don't hurt kids

    I just read this terrific article in The Huffington Post by young adult author Chris Crutcher--"Young Adult Fiction: Let Teens Choose." He wrote something that I have often thought about and even posted on once. Unfortunately, that post offended people and out of self-preservation, I pulled it. What resonated so much with me is his comments on profanity in young adult literature:

    Bad language doesn't hurt anybody. It might make a few -- mostly adults -- uneasy, but it doesn't hurt anybody. Words can hurt. Name calling hurts. Oral bullying hurts. Humiliation hurts. But bad language doesn't do shit.

    YA author Catherine Ryan Hyde made a similar argument in a 2009 blog post--"$@%*!!!":

    For those who would make the argument that words are powerful, and can hurt, I could not agree with you more. But, now, here's my question: Are you sure that those seven words are the hurtful ones? Are you sure there aren't far more powerful and far more damaging words that fall into the category of socially acceptable?

    Check out her post for the four words she believes should never be used in polite company.

    Two very powerful arguments. I encourage you to read them in their entirety.


    Love stories about two teenage boys--the rarest genre

    I love this promo for Martin Wilson's interview on Stonewall Live. His book, What They Always Tell Us, like mine, falls into this rare genre. I'm in good company, don't you think?


    Timeline of a Book--from manuscript to ARC

    With the ARC of Don’t Let Me Go out, I will soon be focusing my posts on the big ideas in the book. But I wanted to do one more post for my aspiring writer friends. I thought you might be interested in the timeline of my debut novel—from draft to ARC (because that’s where I am right now). So here goes. I hope it demystifies some of the process for you. I know I would have loved such a timeline when I was just getting started. Some of the dates may be fudged just a bit, but most are exact.

    • June 31, 2009--Completed first draft of Don’t Let Me Go (not the original title).
    • August 31, 2009--Completed first draft of a sequel to Don’t Let Me Go.
    • October, 2009--Began querying.
    • Late October, 2009--Received a request for a full from a top agent.
    • December 1, 2009--Manuscript rejected with a nice note and some feedback that I used to rewrite.
    • December 31, 2009--Yes, New Year’s Eve. I began to query again in batches of 15. Received quite a few requests for sample chapters, partials, and a couple of fulls.
    • February 5, 2010--Offered representation by a new agent in a New York agency.
    • February 16, 2010--Signed agency contract (which fortunately only required a 30-day notice to terminate.
    • April 10, 2010--Gave 30 days notice to terminate said agreement. No forward movement whatsoever in the two months since I signed contract. Got a bad vibe.
    • April 23, 2010--Sent out 7 queries on sequel. Decided this was the stronger of the two manuscripts. One query went to Stephen Fraser at The Jennifer De Chiara Agency in New York. Steve and several other agents and editors were featured in a Writer’s Digest article on "What it Takes to Make it in YA" (I think that was the title). I emailed Steve at 5:14 in the morning. He requested sample chapters at 7:20. At 10:15 I sent the chapters. At 11:06 he requested the full and made a couple of suggestions about pacing.
    • April 26, 2010--Mailed the chapters after taking the weekend to address the pacing.
    • May 20, 2010--Steve emailed and offered representation.
    • May 24, 2010--Received the agency agreement and couldn’t sign it fast enough.
    • November 1, 2010--After some outright rejections and at least one near miss, Steve called to tell me Kensington Books had made an offer. I, of course, accepted immediately.
    • November 8, 2010--Editor called to discuss novel. Asked me to combine both manuscripts and gave me a January 1, deadline.
    • January 1, 2011--Submitted the combined manuscripts.
    • January 18, 2011--Editor requested an author bio, cover suggestions, and also asked that I complete an author’s questionnaire. Sometime shortly after he asked me to write discussion questions and put together a playlist.
    • January 20, 2011--Submitted requested material.
    • January 24, 2011--Received 9-page editorial note from editor. Gulp.  Gave me an April 1 deadline.
    • March 1, 2011--Editor emailed to ask if I knew any authors in my genre who might be willing to read my manuscript and offer an early blurb. We came up with a few names.
    • March 14, 2011--Returned edited manuscript to Editor.
    • March 28, 2011--Editor said they picked a cover photo the week before. I hadn’t seen it.
    • May 24, 2011--Received hard copy of manuscript via FedEx. The manuscript had been marked by my editor in red, the copyeditor in green, and the typesetter in brown. I had two weeks to approve those marks and make any of my own. For two weeks I practically gave my editor a heart attack because there was so much that I felt still needed to be changed. Mostly cuts. I did only what I felt HAD to be done and tried to pretend everything else was perfect.
    • June 7, 2011--Returned manuscript on time—FedEx overnight $100.00. Yikes.
    • June 9, 2011--Editor sent cover art. Loved it!
    • July 12, 2011--Noticed that book had shown up on online bookseller sites. My name was wrong. As of today, it hasn't been corrected despite my publisher's repeated efforts. Grrr.
    • August 2, 2011--Received hard copy of galley pages from production editor. Given just over a week to make any final corrections. Pages were also being read by a copyeditor. Instructed to return only those pages with corrections. Um, that was 51. Hope nobody got too mad.
    • August 12, 2011--Returned page proofs. UPS, two-day delivery, 51 pages plus a note: $30.
    • August 19, 2011--Received an email from the publicist with the press release for my review and a request for additional media people who I believed should receive an ARC.

    And that brings us to today! I’m eagerly awaiting my ARC, and keeping my fingers crossed that DLMG will be reviewed by lots of people. Oh, and during all that time, I wrote two new novels. In late July my agent struck a deal with Kensington on those two books as well. Very exciting.

    Hope my timeline gives you a clearer idea of how the process works. If you have any questions, post them in a comment. I’d be happy to try to answer them.