Upcoming events

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Hey all, I have a lot of events going on next week – an event bonanza as I’ve been calling it LOL. Where you can find me:

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What I’m reading, writing, and watching this month

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Okay friends, it’s been a while since I’ve done a post like this. My apologies.

What I’m reading:

  • House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier. It’s women’s fiction about a woman who buys Ray Bradbury’s old house in southern California. It’s a great read and can I give a shout out to Nicole here who graciously answered some questions for me recently about her publishing experience! Such a lovely person.
  • My Beautiful Life by Mina Dobic, a true story about a woman who cured her cancer by eating a macrobiotic diet. Fascinating. Thanks, hubby for the book recommendation!
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, contemporary YA about a girl who’s forced to live with her stepmother across the country. Just got this for Kindle on sale for $1.99.

What I’m writing:

What I’m watching:

  • We are binge watching Caribbean Life at my house. It is one of my greatest ambitions in life to live by the ocean one day. When I’m by the ocean I feel like I’m home!
  • I am sad and relieved that the first season of This is Us is over. Tuesday night has been my weekly cry session since this show started. I think it’s because the show feels too much like real life!

Five Keys to Successful Author Events

Or, what I learned from my second event as an author 🙂

This past weekend I participated in a Local Author Fair at a nearby library. I learned a lot and wanted to share these tips in the hopes of helping other writers.

  1. Bring a buddy who is good at pimping your book. In my case this was my mother. She talked my novel up to anyone and everyone who walked into the room and touted my book to the other 14 authors in attendance. I don’t know if that led to any sales but at least she helped spread the word.
  2. Make sure your table looks amazing. Some of my fellow authors had great books, but their displays didn’t convey as much. I brought a tablecloth, giant print out of my cover made at Fedex Office, magnets, postcards, an easel to prop my book on. Your table needs to sell your book. author-fair-photo
  3. Network with other writers. I shared a table with the lovely Lina Chern, a crime writer, and basically interviewed her at length about her publishing experience when not selling my book. I also grabbed a business card from another author who said she might know a good critique partner for me.
  4. A more general pitch is better when trying to sell your book. At the start of the fair when someone stopped by the table and asked what my book was about, I gave them a blow-by-blow of the plot. Heartbroken teen boy meets Elvis impersonator and quirky friendship and adventure ensues. After I said this, a lot of people gave me a blank look. When I generalized my description, though, to: “It’s a YA novel but it’s not too angsty and it has a sense of humor and it’s set in Hawaii” I got a WAY better response.
  5. Remember that it’s one sale at a time. It’s easy to get discouraged when a lot of people walk through the room and only a fraction of them actually purchase. The hope is some of the readers who do buy your book like it and tell all their friends about it. And when a teen girl stops by, reads your back cover and says, “This sounds sick!!” the struggle will be worth it.

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Authors, if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them via comments 🙂

2017 Writing Resolutions

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I’m not usually a resolution kind of person since I’ve had a goal list since I was eight, lol, but I do find it helpful to set writing resolutions for the year. Here are my writing resolutions for 2017:

  1. Find a reliable critique partner. Because of my schedule I am not typically able to meet critique partners in person, however, I am very responsive to email. Even though I have connected with great writing partners over the years, none of those people have been able to commit to more than one project. Or more than one week. Even if all hell is breaking loose in my personal life I still manage to find some time to write and/or edit work. As such, I am hoping for the same from a potential critique partner. I would love to find one who doesn’t fall off the face of the earth.
  2. Produce an audiobook of One Night. A reader asked me recently if I had an audiobook of One Night out. I don’t yet, but think it’s a great idea and will be fun to execute.
  3. Secure a traditional publishing contract. I enjoy independent publishing. I love working with an editor, designer, and managing my own business. But a traditional publishing contract and the distribution power that comes with it would make my life so much easier. I’m still dreaming of New York City validation and am working on getting it with The Other Side of the World.
  4. Finish current work in progress, a new YA novel. This will be done within the next month or two, if I continue at my current pace.
  5. Attend at least one writer’s workshop or conference. I’m a firm believer in working on the craft of writing and find professional workshops are always helpful.
  6. Start another novel. I may be dreaming on this one, but I think it’s doable.
  7. Accept praise more graciously. As a writer who’s been rejected more times than I can count, it’s still hard for me to take a compliment. When people tell me they’ve read One Night and really liked it my usual response is to mumble, “Thanks,” look at the ground, and change the subject immediately. Even though I know I’m a good writer there are parts of me that doubt myself. I would like to change that in 2017.

If you have any writing goals for this year I’d love to hear them! Feel free to comment on this post 🙂

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2016 Writing Accomplishments

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As writers it’s easy to focus on what we didn’t accomplish in the last year. With so many books being released and the amount of competition it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the small victories. Here’s a rundown of my wins from 2016. When I’m feeling unmotivated in 2017 I’ll look back at this post for inspiration!

2016 writing accomplishments:

I hope you all had a nice holiday and wonderful new year in 2017!

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Monthly update

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What I’m reading:

  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. Had the pleasure of meeting her recently at a book signing.
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Love his stand up comedy and really enjoying his book about dating in modern times.
  • With Malice by Eileen Cook. It’s about a young girl who can’t remember something awful that happened on her class trip to Italy.

What I’m watching:

  • Superstore. OMG this show. Thompson in One Night works at Kmart. If he were a real person I’m sure he could relate to this comedy!
  • This is Us. Haven’t had a go-to tear-jerker show in a few years. This is definitely it, lol. This show is a little too much like real life.
  • Narcos (Season 2). This show about Pablo Escobar and his domination of Columbia is kinda violent, but compelling stuff.

What I’m writing:

  • New book description has been posted. So excited about this YA novel! More details coming soon.
  • A new YA novel set in Serbia (mostly). I’m about a third of the way into it. I went to Serbia over the summer and got a lot of inspiration! Plus I’m Serbian by marriage 🙂

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How to Network Effectively (Even If You Hate Networking): Start Close to Home

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If you’re anything like me a small part of you (or let’s be real, a large part) hates networking situations with a passion, especially forced networking situations. There is nothing I dread more than a “networking night” which results in two-hundred people standing around a room talking to the same two people for the duration. One of the reasons I love writing is because it’s solitary by nature; ultimately it’s just you and the keyboard and your ideas manifesting themselves on the page. But if you want to actually sell books and have people read them, you have to meet other people and tell them about it. Since my debut novel was released a month ago, I’ve discovered what the best networking strategies are for people who hate networking.

1. Let your family and friends know about your book, in whatever way you see fit. In my case, I sent all my friends and family members an email. I asked them to sign up for my email list if they were interested in getting further updates from me. One of my uncles, who is very cerebral and who I assumed would have zero interest in my YA novel, bought the book and read it. A few weeks later he cc’d me on an email that he sent to twenty-five of his closest friends. In the message he told everyone how much he enjoyed the book, wrote a thoughtful, multi-paragraph review, and encouraged them to buy it. It just goes to show you never know who is going to be your biggest advocate.

2. Tell your colleagues about the book, in a passive way. Don’t shout it out during a company-wide meeting. Tell your boss in your weekly one-on-one. Send the people you aren’t as well-acquainted with a polite email. Tell them you published a book and provide a link for them to read more about it. From my experience this leads to a spike in sales and unexpected connections. When I told one colleague about my book he connected me with one of his best friends—who happens to be the executive editor of a major review publication and a published author. Meeting up with my colleague’s friend didn’t get a me a review, but it did get me other leads to bookstores and professional organizations I can promote myself to. Plus, he’s become a mentor of sorts who is happy to answer my publishing-related questions and give me career advice.

3. Go to as many writing and/or literary events as possible without any expectations for what might happen. I went to an Indie Author Day event at my local library recently and didn’t find it particularly useful since I’d already published my book and had done research for a year leading up to publication. As I was leaving the event another attendee asked, “Did you get anything out of that?” I told him no, not really. His next comment was, “You know what is useful…” and proceeded to tell me about a local writing group I’d never heard of that hosts guest speakers and workshops on a regular basis.

4. If a reader takes the time to contact you, thank them and ask how they heard about the book. I have found this to be a good way of gauging the effectiveness of my marketing efforts. What’s working and what isn’t? Was this money and time well spent? Nothing is better than direct feedback from readers. And when your next book comes out, they’ll remember you as the author who took the time to email them back. Hopefully they’ll buy your new book without having to think about it.


This post originally appeared as a guest blog on Jane Friedman.com. To receive posts like these first, sign up for my email list.

 

Six things I learned in my first month as an independent author

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In an effort to pay it forward to my fellow writers, here are the six things I learned in the month since One Night was released.

1. Tell everyone you know about the book, no matter how self-serving it may seem. Another way to say this is use your network. Telling everyone you know will definitely lead to a spike in sales and could connect you with some key players in the publishing industry. When I told one of my colleagues about my book he connected me with one of his best friends who happens to be the executive editor of a major review publication and an author. I have no idea if knowing him will help me sell books, but it’s good to know him regardless. The more people you have to bounce ideas off of, the better.

2. Be persistent and creative when it comes to setting up events. When I started trying to plan events before my book was released I was met with more opposition than I expected. Silly me, I thought it would be easy to book an event at a library. Despite some setbacks, I continued reaching out to other organizations: writing groups, independent bookstores, rotary clubs, high schools. Not everyone responds favorably, but when they do it definitely brightens my day. When they offer to pay you it’s even better.

3. Your first book signing will be brutal, even if you set realistic expectations. I told my husband if I could sell one book to a person who didn’t know me I’d consider that a success. I beat my goal by several copies, but still. Those first twenty minutes when no one was coming into the store really sank my spirits for a bit.

4. Try everything when it comes to marketing, within budget of course, and if it works do more of it. That’s really all there is to it. I’ve found that a promotion is only worth my time if it results in sales, reviews, email signups, or significant traffic to my web site. Significant for me is defined as 30-50% more page views and visitors than I get on an average day.

5. If you are mailing copies of your book within the United States tell the post office worker you want to send it via media mail. This is oftentimes half the price of regular postage, sometimes even less. I discovered this on accident when the lady at the post office asked if I had a book in the package I was mailing to a giveaway winner.

6. When you’re doing everything yourself, the wins are that much sweeter. When you get your first five-star review or an email from a reader who doesn’t know you you’ll be reminded of why you decided to do this in the first place. When someone who bought your book online comes to your book signing just to have you sign it (the same brutal book signing mentioned above) you’ll feel like your hard work hasn’t been for naught.

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September Updates

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Okay friends, from now on I’m just calling these posts Deanna’s Updates since they’re not necessarily running monthly lol.

First things first – the ebook version of One Night is on sale for 99 cents! This is a great price if you’re on the fence about trying it and also if you know a friend who might like it. The reviews have been great so far. Here’s a nice write up by Lynda Dickson over at Books Direct.

What I’m Reading:

  • The Memory Box by Eva Natiello. This thriller about a suburban mom who basically goes insane (or does she?) kept me turning the pages. This novel also recently hit the NYT bestseller list. If you love books like Gone Girl check it out.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. This is about a kid who gets bullied on an Indian reservation and later goes to an all-white school. I just started it, but will finish it this week. Can I say I LOVE the title? The drawings in the book are great, too.
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I picked this book up last year when I was visiting the Hemingway House in Key West where EH spent some of his time. I’m sorry to say I still haven’t read it yet.

What I’m Watching: 

  • 90 Day Fiancé. This show. Maybe I can relate since I’m married to an immigrant. The personalities on this show are ridiculously compelling. LMAO during the whole thing.
  • America’s Got Talent. Granted this show just wrapped, but still. I used to be a big American Idol watcher but haven’t enjoyed it much the last few years. Can I just say Simon Cowell and the talent show format are definitely back! Check out the winner Grace VanderWaal here. The way she plays that ukulele kills me! In a good way.

What I’m Writing:

  • I’m working on a new novel set in Serbia. I tend to get inspired when I travel. It’s about a kid named Marko who gets into a strange predicament. I’m not ready to share the plot details yet but will soon!

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