Sunday, August 23, 2015

Winner Dinner!

We're all Too Blessed to be Stressed! 
One of the best - and certainly the most fun - book promotions I've ever done was to host an adoption fundraising dinner for my daughter's family.

What in the world does that have to do with promoting a book, you're probably wondering.

Well, everything!

Three months before my daughter's baby boy was due and simultaneously two months before the baby girl she was adopting was due, she and I spent two solid days in her kitchen preparing meals that kind-hearted folks traded for donations to help raise the thousands of dollars needed for steep adoption fees.

Chocolate Eclair Cake for dessert
The literary connection? All meal recipes came from my upcoming Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook. We got rave reviews for the Baked Spaghetti, Parmesan Nuggets, and Mudbar Ecstasy. Some excited folks even called the next day begging for more.

Hey, what better way to tease palates and evoke passionate interest than to provide samples of delicious food?

Everyone who bought a meal was included in a drawing; five lucky winners received vouchers for autographed copies of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook when it debuts Nov 1, and the grand prize winner received a homemade dinner with the author (moi).

Chili Dip for a zesty starter
So last night was the big Winner Dinner and we had an absolute blast! (See photo of winner Donna and her husband Ish above on far left holding Baby Boy, I'm in the middle, my daughter and son-in-law on right holding Baby Girl.)

Once again, the menu consisted of ... can you guess??? ... recipes from the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook!  We feasted on Teriyaki Pork, scalloped potatoes, Spinach-Broccoli Surprise, mixed fruit, and for dessert, none other than my ooey, gooey Chocolate Eclair Cake. Oh, mustn't forget the delicious Chili Dip with Frito Scoops we scarfed as an appetizer.

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It was hardly any trouble at all, because every recipe in the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook takes less than 20 minutes of hands-on prep time. The hardest part was deciding which delicious dishes to serve.  

Yummmm! At the end of the evening, in one accord, we all said, "Let's do it again!"

So not only did we help a family, we had a fun evening with some great folks, and made solid inroads into getting word of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook out throughout our area (the local newspaper even did an article on the fundraising dinner).

As a result, we now have salivating people standing in line for their copies two months before it comes out.

It pays to think outside the bookstore. What creative book promo's have worked for you?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hangin' in Papa's Waiting Room

Stay busy in Papa God's waiting room
I recently read a blog post by an author celebrating her breakthrough into a national magazine review column that's sure to bring her wide exposure. She's hit the big time:

  • Magazine editors approach her for articles
  • # of guest blog post requests increased
  • Reviews from major media venues
  • Speaking gigs easier to find

And it only took her seven books to get there.

Seven books? you wheeze. But I'm only just now finishing my first book and it's taken me a whole year!

Yep. I feel your pain, writer buddy.

My first book, The Distant Shore, took two years to write and another year to find a publisher (a small press in South Carolina). I thought it was the crowning glory of my writerly life, but in reality, it hardly made a ripple in the publishing pond.

So I wrote another. And another. And then with three good quality small press books under my belt, I was able to find an agent to represent my fourth book, this time a different genre, women's inspirational humor.

But alas, that poor, wonderful, overlooked book - Mom NEEDS Chocolate - was destined to release during the direst time in publishing history, 2009, just after The Crash (recession) hit and before Publishing World figured out where it was going with the digital era. Newspapers were folding everywhere, respected publishing companies were going belly up, and no one was buying print books because the media proclaimed that e-books were the wave of the future and print would soon be obsolete. Since very few people owned e-readers yet (they were still a brand new concept), nobody bought any type of book, print or electronic for a period of about two years.

Just long enough to maim the success of Mom NEEDS Chocolate. In fact, not long after that, the publisher (Regal Books) was sold to another publisher who somehow had managed to stay afloat in the turbulent waters.  

While I was languishing (or so it felt) in Papa God's waiting room, I kept writing - magazine articles, a newspaper column, essays, blog posts, new manuscripts that I kept sending out. And one of them caught the eye of a traditional publishing house editor named Kelly.

It turns out Barbour Books was interested in publishing more women's humor nonfiction, and wha-da-ya know? They were willing to take a chance on my book, Too Blessed to be Stressed.  It had a slow start with only modest sales at first (readers were rediscovering books again) but after it had been out a year, sales took off.

To the surprise of the publisher and myself, it spawned a very successful Too Blessed to be Stressed line of books and book products (14 at last count) and has become my personal brand. My writing bank account is finally seeing a ray of sunshine after a decade of cloudy days.

You read that right - it took ten years. Ten years. 

So you see, I have to agree with the seven-book author and the celebrated children's book award-winning author who said, "Want to be a successful author? Give it at least six years to get off the ground."

After you pick yourself off the floor and wipe your eyes, hear me out: There's some good news hiding here. You'll be able to hone your skills and build a very sturdy platform during your time in Papa God's waiting room. As long as you don't drape yourself over the plaid settee and vegetate.

Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep growing.

Because the writer's creed is not good things come to those who wait, but good things come to those who work while waiting.