Thursday, January 12, 2006

Advice from the Trenches

The below is just in from two-time Book Promotion 101 alum Kathryn Jordan, author of HOT WATER (Berkley), a novel about a Minnesota housewife who sneaks away for a weekend at a Southern California spa with a rented red Lamborghini and a male escort. I usually can't abide "women's" and romance novels, but this one had me rapt. It's not too often you get a book with hot sex, humor AND a philosophical discussion of Hannah Arendt.

Kathryn Jordan writes:
A year ago I hadn't heard of a launch party, but when Lynn Isenberg (THE FUNERAL PLANNER, MY LIFE UNCOVERED) told about hers at the workshop, my mind got busy. Next week, I will speak and read excerpts at Two Bunch Palms to an audience standing within yards of where the scenes took place. How amazing. [Sure wish I could be there! --B]

'Til last Friday, I didn't know what the print run was. My editor, Leona Nevler, passed away in Dec., and my publicist moved to Simon & Schuster on Jan. 6th (3 days after the book release). Talk about feeling abandoned! Then my new editor called: the print run was 13,000! Pretty darn good for a first novel, and she indicated they're expecting a second printing before long. You said if an author generates enough interest it could make the publisher increase the print run. I don't know for sure, but maybe that's what happened.

Here's my advice:
  1. Find a niche market, if possible. My publishers were delighted with the spa resort tour idea.
  2. Use the internet - Follow every lead, however small. I took part in a conference call with retreat coaches (found online browsing spa resorts) and several events came from that, including the Hot Licks BBQ & Saloon in Bisbee, AZ (who woulda thought?) which is planning special sexy drinks, a sexy fashion show and belly dancers! An event at La Posada Resort in Santa Fe also came from the call, because I decided to go to a retreat at Ojo Caliente. Only about 20 women will be there, but boy did it pay off. A Borders signing in Santa Fe, and a couple things in Albuquerque too.
  3. Use each success to get more. I used the fact that the book is set at Two Bunch Palms to get local spa resorts to support my booth in the Palm Springs Book Fest (way before the book came out) and to interest other spas in events. I used La Costa (one of the first to book) to get more. I used the signings in Vegas... Well, you get the idea.
  4. Do not let disappointments stop you. There were spa resorts who decided Hot Water wasn't "appropriate" for them. (They'll be sorry!) Sometimes the same day I'd get a rejection, then pick up another venue.
  5. Send lots of galleys and advance copies, join whatever networking groups fit, word-of-mouth, word-of-mouth, word-of-mouth. My continual requests for more galleys--which ran out so they made bound manuscripts--must've registered on the publisher. I've given away maybe 40 copies from my author supply, but women are passing them around. Even some who said "inappropriate" are giving it to friends to read in the closet.
  6. Think outside the box - My "Hot Water House Party" idea (like lingerie or Tupperware, but with me & the book) is actually working. 6 scheduled so far.
  7. Be gracious. What people want is to connect with you on a personal level. They want to touch your experience as a writer. I've actually made friends with many women, talking or emailing about issues in the book, about writing, about events, etc.
  8. Practice. Keep it short.
  9. And finally, the bottom line of Book Promotion 101: WRITE A GOOD BOOK. With an edge, if possible.

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