Come join me at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 15th! I will be at booth 148, 12:00-12:45 p.m. Thank you Mostly Books for hosting me. So excited!
So, I know the title of this blog is a little dramatic, but I wanted to sit down and write a few confessions down. I remember going to writing conferences and listening to women in their 60’s and 70’s who had given up on writing due to the demands of life, only to return once retired and regret the years they spent away. At the time, I remember thinking that I would never be that way. Then, I turned 30 and my life became more demanding (and I don’t even have a family yet!). I had no more “time” and writing was put on the shelf.
This happened before when I went to college, but something was different this time. So, here’s my confession. About a month ago I had decided that I was going to stop writing. I wasn’t reaching my goals (which are probably still a little too outlandish). I was struggling to find the time anyway. And, let’s face it, life would just be a little easier. Imagine. No more book signings. No more haphazardly trying to figure out how to market. No more editing and social media. No more writing. The thought used to make me cry, but this year I was ready to give in.
Then, on my long commute, a scene from the novel I had abandoned began to take shape in my mind. I realized what I had already known…I am a writer. That is a part of my design. And it is something I don’t think I can ever “turn off.” I happened to flip to Barbara Walter’s special on the most fascinating people and I saw Michael Strahan. He said something that struck me. She asked if he was a natural talent (in football and on television). He said no. He worked hard. And then he said he thinks so many “natural talents” get passed over by those who work hard.
This really hit home for me. I had always heard that the persistent win. I had also recognized that the world honors those who work hard…most times. But I had never thought of the alternative. Natural talent won’t get you there. You won’t just be “discovered” one day if you patiently wait, because, after all, you’re talented. Why are there so many bestselling books out with writers who are arguably not the best? Because they worked hard. That’s the requirement. So, the reason I gave up is also the requirement for having a shot at persevering.
The question becomes, am I willing to accept that it is just a shot? Am I willing to accept that I may work hard and never reach my full potential? As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, this angers me. And yet, sitting in that car living in a world I created…that is who I am. It is not a choice for me. For me, the question is: can I live with myself if I never even tried? Today, that answer is no. And, I hope that is how it remains.
I have had the pleasure of calling Jude Johnson a friend and colleague. She is a vivacious spirit and is eager to help any writer. Today, I wanted to spotlight an event she’s hosting in Tucson, Az on November 23rd from 9am until 3 pm. I hope you can stop by and say hi to all of the wonderful local authors in the area…and me of course. 🙂
1. Tell us a little bit about Gecko Gals Inc.
We are Gecko Gals Ink, to indicate we are writers. Five sassy, “Differently Expertised” writers who are first and foremost, friends who support one another. We give back to the Tucson community by offering seminars for writers who wish to become published and workshops for teens to strengthen their writing skills.
2. Do you find paring with other authors helps you organize signings, events, etc? Does it help you with sales, for instance? Does it add to or decrease the “time factor” of promotion?
It is said that writing is a lonely business, which is true in the creation process. But marketing and selling your books doesn’t have to be. We’ve found that book signings are often a crapshoot—sometimes the public is in the mood for your stuff, sometimes they aren’t. If you are with an author of a different genre, you increase the odds that one of you will have what the customer desires. At the very least you’ll have company with whom to commiserate if the traffic is poor and sales slow. But quite often I’ve found once the sales ice breaks so to speak, people are more inclined to purchase from more than one author. We’ve also learned we Geckos can be in two or even three places at once with one or two members at one event, one member at another, and still one more at a third. Unfortunately, we each still have to market, which is the bane of authors everywhere.
3. Tell us a little bit about the All-Zona Book Fest. What is it? What brought it about?
This is the Second (Maybe-Annual) All-Zona Book Fest and we’ll be at St. Francis Cabrini Church Hall, 3201 East Presidio Road in Tucson. You could say we’re the Indie Channel for Arizona authors: giving authors the opportunity to shine and readers the chance to find a new storyteller to follow. This year we have forty-six authors involved; some you may have heard about, some are freshly published for the first time. We’ll be working with KVOA Channel Four’s Kristi’s Kids to collect book donations for school-aged children (K-12) which will be distributed through Reading Seed Literacy Volunteers. St. Vincent DePaul charity is also holding a Silent Auction and White Elephant sale and will have refreshments available for a nominal price.
What brought it about? We saw a need. We have some great book festivals in this state that bring in big names and best sellers. Nothing wrong with that at all. Unfortunately, local treasures can get lost in the shuffle. Even with the sea change in publishing moving from traditional large houses/distribution to smaller regional presses, independents, and ebooks, many large festivals still exclude authors going that route from participating in a significant manner. We wanted to showcase those authors and give the public a way to find them in an easily accessible way. The All-Zona Bookfest is also happy to work with and support one of Tucson’s feisty independent bookstores, Mostly Books.
(For more about this event, please visit: http://geckogalsink.wix.com/all-zonabookfest)
4. What is the number one piece of advice you would give to a new author trying to make it in today’s market?
“Drink heavily.” (Ha ha, kidding. Maybe.)
“Close your eyes and jump.” Don’t be afraid to try new markets, new ways to promote, or new events to learn what works best for you. Failure isn’t fatal. It’s a great teacher. We all have so much to learn.
To learn more about the lovely writers at Gecko Gals Inc., here’s where you can find them:
I did a signing in Phoenix, Az this weekend. This got me thinking about something I used to hear about in writer’s conferences: the “elevator pitch.” In other words, if you were stuck in an elevator with one of the top agents and you only had till they reached their floor, how would you describe your story to capture their interest.
This is super hard, especially for someone who has written the work. I’ve created this world. I’ve created these characters and this diverse plotline. How am I going to narrow that down to one or two sentences? Others must struggle like me because writer’s conferences are filled with classes that proclaim they can “perfect your pitch.”
As publication begins to transform, pitching to agents might not be as necessary…but I contend writers still need it. Have you ever gone up to a writer at a book signing? If a reader doesn’t shy away, but venture to the table, they tend to have short attention spans. They want something short and a quick exit without hurt feelings. And, time and time I watch writers dive into the intricate aspects of their novel. They highlight what intrigued them about the story line in the first place. They state where the idea came from and how it is so unique. They basically give the first four chapters and plot outline in their pitch. And they tend to lose—and overwhelm—many readers.
I think writers still need an elevator pitch, only now your audience can escape. How are you going to sell the novel in a sentence or two before they bolt? If the reader is interested, most still pick up the book and look at the back summary. They skim through the pages. This is what a reader does to select a new novel. It’s the writer’s job to capture them and then let them investigate. Kind of like fishing…even though I hate fishing.
Don’t get me wrong. Perfecting the elevator pitch is horribly hard. I still struggle with the art of summary and intrigue in a short space. Most of the time, when I can’t come up with a pitch, it’s because I’m trying to focus too much on the plot. So instead focus on the topic. Lord of Nightmares: Supernatural beings who toy with people’s lives for sport and a girl gets into a game for her soul. It’s so simplistic when looking at the intricacies of that novel. And yet, it does its job. On the surface, what is it about? Then let the book’s summary take it from there.
What’s nice about this type of pitch is that there is a lot of time to perfect it. More people come to my table to hear about my books than agents I was able to meet with. I can gauge their reactions and craft my pitch. Then, when I reach perfection…I tend to forget it the next time and start again. But that’s part of the joys of book signing.