Wicked Wednesday- Author Events

Jessie- In NH where the crocuses are blooming and the robins are frolicking with abandon!

In a rare turn of events all the Wickeds are together today for two author events. We will be in Nashua, NH for both, first at Rivier College for a R.I.S. E. presentation at midday and then at the Barnes and Noble in the evening. We are ridiculously excited about gathering together for these two occasions and would love to have you all join us. It promises to be memorable. Which got me to wondering about memorable events the other Wickeds have held. So, any favorite memories you’d love to share?

maxwellEdith: Other than my double launch party a couple of weeks ago, I’d have to say my first launch party was an unforgettable evening, for all the right reasons. Speaking of Murder had just released in September 2012 (written as Tace Baker), and I’d invited everyone I knew. The young man managing the Newburyport bookstore had set out ten chairs. I said, “Um, I think you’re going to need more chairs.” I was right. 55 people were there from all different areas of my life: church, work, town, family, and Sisters in Crime, including several Wickeds. The bookstore sold out but I had a box of books in the car to supplement their order. The whole night was touching, exhilarating, just perfect.

Liz: I have to say my first launch party, for Kneading to Die, was also my most memorable. Full of family, friends and dogs, it was held at The Big Biscuit in Franklin, Mass. Shaggy even got her own doggie cake for the occasion!

Sherry: I’ve had so much fun going to author events that it is so hard to pick one. The first time I was on a panel as an author was at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California in 2014. The women on the panel with me have become friends — Lori Rader-Day (doing a post here on Friday), Carlene O’Neil, Martha Cooley, and Holly West. I was so nervous I don’t think I said much. Afterwards we had a signing time and this was the order of the table Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Jan Burke, then me. I didn’t even have a book out yet, but a couple of people had me sign their programs. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and Jan Burke was very gracious the one second she didn’t have someone in front of her.

Barb: I enjoy author events, too. Most memorable was the launch of my first book, The Death of an Ambitious Woman. It seemed like everyone I’d ever mentioned I was writing a book to came. Porter Square ran out of books. I did a little talk and a reading and thanked my friends and family. My sister-in-law pointed at me and said to my daughter, “This is what it looks like when your dreams come true,” which is such a lovely, heartfelt sentiment.

CAKE KILLERJulie: My launch party for Just Killing Time was a blast. Friends and family packed the New England Mobile Book Fair. Three of my mentors–Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kate Flora, and Hallie Ephron–sat right up front, and cheered me on. My friend Courtney made me a cookie cake decorated to look like a clock. It was just lovely. This year Liz and I both have August and September books–2 women, 4 names, 4 books, 2 new series being launched. We are going to do something to celebrate, so stay tuned.

Readers: Do you like to attend author events? What’s your most memorable one?

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Pen Ready, Smile Bright: a practical guide to book signings — Guest LynDee Walker

lethallifestyles-front-smWe are so happy to welcome back LynDee Walker, the Agatha Award nominated author of the Headlines in High Heels Mysteries. The sixth book in the series Lethal Lifestyles came out in September 2016!

Lyndee is giving away a copy (paperback or ebook) of Front Page Fatality – the first book in the series to someone who leaves a comment!

Here are some of LynDee’s experiences at book signings:

Hey, fabulous writer friend, congratulations are in order: your book birthday is finally here! This calls for a celebration—and what better way to celebrate a new book than a bookstore signing party?

But but but…signings are scary! People! Sales! Pressure! What if it bombs? Or what if it doesn’t (especially if you write about fictional people because real ones make you want to run screaming for a safe room)?

Here’s a secret from six books deep in these trenches: nobody ever really knows what to expect from a signing (okay, I bet Stephen King and J.K. Rowling haven’t wondered if anybody will show up in a pretty long time. I also bet neither of them is reading this, so if you are, take heart), and there’s fun to be found in every book event.

Another secret: it’s always a crapshoot. You can prepare for a signing at the same store on the same Saturday of the year the exact same way, and you’ll speak to a standing-room-only-all-the-way-to-the-back-of-the-shop packed house the first time, while the second, balloons and cookies will only manage to grab the attention of three people in two hours (one of them might actually buy a book, too).

In this relatively solitary pursuit, it’s easy to let that second scenario punch a double-wide hole in your self-confidence. Take it from someone who’s been there: it’s not personal. It’s not a reflection of your talent. And the very next signing you do could be a blowout.

Let’s take samples from the events I’ve done in the past four years, shall we?

lyndeeMy debut’s launch party set my personal bar pretty doggone high: we had it at the most adorable bookshop, in a part of Richmond that featured prominently in the book, on a Saturday in February. I fretted for weeks over traffic and parking. I watched forecast models like I’d suddenly been hired by channel 8’s storm team. Tuesday that week it was sunny and 70 degrees. Yes, in Virginia in February. Saturday morning it was gray and frigid with ice pelting anyone who stepped outside.

“That’s it,” I told my husband. “This is over before it starts. Who’s fighting Shockoe Slip traffic in this mess?” (And I’m an optimist, y’all.)

Pretty much everyone, it turned out. I am blessed with a wide circle of friends, and they turned out en masse—plus, the first two rows of chairs were full of people I’d never set eyes on who just came to hear about the book. The store was packed from stem to stern, we sold a bajillion books (well…more than 50), and I signed stuff until my hand cramped. Fabulous day.

In 2015 when my fifth book launched, I put all the same care and planning and broadcasting and inviting into a launch at my local (awesome) Barnes and Noble. The manager had signs all over the shop for weeks, I was on TV talking it up, and I was pumped.

The day before the event I got frantic call from the store: the books had been ordered but had not shipped.

How the heck do you have a book signing with no books? I grabbed the five copies I’d gotten from the publisher in the mail a couple days before and went to the store hoping for the best.

The cool spin on this news: we sold out of books!

The not as cool honest truth: I sat at the table for two hours and sold exactly those five books. There was never anything that could be called a line. Every single cookie was eaten by a child who walked up and said “can I have one?” while their parent stood far enough back that they didn’t have to talk to me. BUT. One woman drove almost 100 miles round trip to get me to sign her book. See? There’s always something fun.

Like that time I went to sign books at Bouchercon only to find myself right next to Charles Todd. The only time it could possibly make anyone feel self-conscious that there are ten people in line to get their autograph is when there are a hundred in the next line over. BUT. Charles and Caroline were lovely people (most book people are), and he leaned over at one point and whispered “you’re new. You’ll get there.”

Fast forward to September 2016, the launch event for my sixth book. Same Barnes and Noble, same wonderful store staff, same 2 p.m. Saturday time slot. I did the same PR, I sent cute wedding-themed invitations, and I crossed various appendages.

The books (big stacks of all six titles) arrived a week in advance. Everything was set and ready. I worried that we’d only sell three this time and they’d never ask me back.

I ran into the store right at two (small child emergency on my way out the door, naturally) and plopped into the chair. By the time I sat up from bending to pull pens from my bag and tuck it under the table there was a line the likes of which I hadn’t seen since…maybe ever. It took almost two hours to get to everyone (full disclosure: I did chat with anyone who wanted to chat, because that’s my favorite part of this gig. I’m that woman who makes new friends in the grocery store checkout line). And while a few of my girlfriends were there, by the time you’re on book six, this whole “LynDee wrote a(nother) book” thing is old hat to your circle and they have their own stuff to do and will download it to their iPhone later, thankyouverymuchandcongratulations. Most of these people didn’t know me for anything but my work. And that was pretty darned fun, right there. I kept glancing to the back of the line to smile a “please don’t leave,” at whoever was last.

At the end of the day we’d sold out of four of the six titles, the store manager was beside himself, one of my readers had brought me (amazing) home-baked pink high heel cookies, and my face hurt from smiling.

I had no idea when I left for the event that it would go that well. And I have no expectation that my next one will do the same (but I can hope).

So readers, know that we love you even more when you drop into events to say hello, and writers, walk in with your pen ready, your smile bright, and your best “I got this” attitude. Whether there are two people or two hundred, something fun will happen. Pinky swear.

frontpageReaders: Have you been to a fun book signing? And authors have you had a good/bad experience you want to share?

Bio: LynDee Walker is the author of six national bestselling mysteries featuring crime reporter Nichelle Clarke, beginning with the Agatha Award-nominated FRONT PAGE FATALITY (2013).

The newest book in the series, LETHAL LIFESTYLES, was published on September 27, 2016.Before she started writing mysteries, LynDee was an award-winning journalist. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the U.S. She adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is either playing with her children, working on her next novel, or admiring beautiful shoes she can’t wear.

Wicked Wednesday: Post-release Promotion

It’s Wednesday. Let’s talk craft again today. Last week we talked about what to do before the book comes out. What about afterwards, from the book birthday onward? Wickeds, which post-release strategy do you find most successful in getting the word out about your book? Have you ever poured a lot of time/money/energy into a strategy that bombed? How long do you keep promoting one book before turning to the next one?

Jessie: I like to have launch parties. Mostly because I love to throw parities in general. I pick a theme and then I go a little crazy. My first book, Live Free or Die, has a fire chief as the protagonist and I centered the menu around foods that were smoked, charred and melted. And I held a New Hampshire trivia contest with local wine and a fire extinguisher as prizes. Such fun!

Edith: You gave away a fire extinguisher, Jessie? That’s fabulous! One of the things I like Namingrightspictureto do post-release is donate naming rights for a character in my next book to a charity auction. A couple of years ago they put the offer in the live auction and brought me up on stage to introduce it, and there was a real bidding war, finally raising something like $350 for the name. It raises awareness of me as an author and all my post-release books, and also lets people know more books are coming. People seem to really like the idea of their name in a book. I do state it won’t be the name for the protagonist, the villain, or the victim. But I don’t think we ever stop promoting our books, do we?

Barb: One thing I advocate is careful tracking of the publicity your book does get. I have a Google alert on my name (practically useless because my name is so common) and one on my title (much more useful) and on “Maine Clambake Mystery” (most useful of all). That way, I do find out about most of the blog reviews and other stories about the books on the Web. I link to them from my website (for example, you can find the reviews of Musseled Out here and other articles about me or the books here), but more important it creates a record of who reviewed the book for next time, so I can approach people about Advance Reader copies or let them know NetGalley previews are available. Fans are the most precious thing an author has, and it’s important to reach out to them if you can.

IMG_4597Sherry: Barb, you are so good about tracking! Like Jessie I’ve done launch parties for my first two books. But I look at them more as a celebration than marketing opportunity. The last one I did with Maya Corrigan — we share an agent, publisher, and this summer a release date. Barb Goffman interviewed us and it was a lot of fun — see the picture to the left. I’ve done a number of books signings and average selling 15 books. I have a love/hate relationship with these events. I meet new people who might not have heard of me otherwise but I always feel like a wet noodle afterwards. When I don’t want to do them my friend/publicist Mary Titone always says: It’s your job!

Liz: Since I’m lucky enough to be part of the animal community and my books strongly feature animals, I try to have events and parties at animal-related places. The launch party for my first book was at a doggie bakery and it was tons of fun! Shaggy even got her own cake 🙂

Fellow writers: What works and doesn’t work for you? Readers: Has something an author done helped you find her books?

Favorite Malice Moments

Malice27We are very excited that Malice Domestic 2015 is just one week away, and it’s in its twenty-seventh year! So today we will share some of our favorite Malice moments — take it away, Wickeds.

Edith: Wow. So many favorite moments. I roomed with Sherry my first Malice, and stayed at her home the night before and the night after (watching the royal wedding on TIVO, I might add). I didn’t have a book out yet, but I loved being immersed in all those authors and all those fans! In 2013, I was a debut author with Speaking of Murder, and hosted a table at the New Authors’ Breakfast. What a treat to have Catriona McPherson at my table – Catriona wguppiesboasho had just won an Agatha award the night before. Afterwards she pulled me aside and said she also held a PhD in linguistics. Man, this debut author was SO delighted. Then last year at the Sisters in Crime breakfast, the number of Guppies present, most wearing boas, took two photographs to capture us all. But this year, being an Agatha nominee for Best Short Story? I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle the excitement! At least I’ll have my lifeboat with me – the other five core Wickeds and all three of our Accomplices, too.

Barb: My favorite Malice moment involves a core group of the Wickeds and accomplices. My first book, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published in hardcover by a small press. Of course, I was thrilled to be on a panel at Malice and to have a signing. HOWEVER, at the signing, I was seated next to Maggie Sefton, who had a line that trailed off the signing platform, down the stairs and out into the lobby. Some of the Wickeds–Sherry, Kim & Edith–loyally went through my signing line–even though they already had my book. Then, they took one look at me sitting all alone while Maggie Sefton signed and signed–and they went through my line again! And again!  Such loyalty. Such sisterhood.

Edith: Aw, total no brainer, Barb! And what goes around, comes around.

IMG_4737Julie: At the risk of being a sap, my favorite Malice moment was that I met Sherry Harris. I was at the banquet, and was the table host. Sherry was seated at my table. If you have had the pleasure of meeting Sherry, you know that she is one of the loveliest people around. She mentioned that she was moving to Massachusetts, I told her to join Sisters in Crime, and the rest is history. I have many wonderful Malice moments (it is a great conference), but I suspect that sitting at the banquet with Sherry this year will be another one–so happy for my friend, and her well deserved Agatha nomination for Best First.

IMG_2063Liz: Last year was my very first Malice (unless you count the prior year when I went on a stick) and all I remember is what a whirlwind it was! Kneading to Die was a best first Agatha nominee, so it was like induction by fire. All the Wickeds being there together was awesome and so much fun. Meeting some readers who are regulars on my Facebook page was very cool too. I can’t wait for this year!

IMG_4579Jessie: My favorite moment occurred last year when I was able to thank Dorothy Cannell for being so kind to me when I met her years earlier at an author event in Maine. I stepped up to the front of her book signing line to ask her to autograph her latest mystery and then managed to gather all my courage in two hands and choke out the news that I had written some books of my own. She was, of course, gracious, and  generously asked me to autograph one of my books for her. I was so touched! I think one of the very best things about the mystery community is how supportive and kind everyone is to each other.

IMG_4701Sherry: I went to my first Malice in 2003 so I have a lot of favorite moments! In 2004 I was checking in at the same time as an agent and she told me to send her my manuscript. I did and it was rejected but still… And who can forget the year Louis Farrakhan was staying at the same hotel! As Julie said our meeting was momentous and life changing for me in so many ways. I blogged about it when I talked about the importance of networking. I’ve met so many wonderful people at Malice and that is really the best part about going.  Last year I moderated my first panel — that was so much fun — thank you Barb Goffman for trusting me with the Here Comes the Corpse panel! It will seem as if my Malice life has come full circle having Julie next to me at the banquet this year. Being nominated for an Agatha Award is like the icing on the Malice cake for me.

Readers: Any favorite Malice moments of your own? How about questions on the order of, “What the heck is Malice? And what do you do there?”