Thursday, July 10, 2008

On-Line Synopsis Class


Online class: August 6-31, 2008
"Tips From Madison Avenue: The Selling Synopsis"
by Laurie Schnebly Campbell
Registration $30 at

No wonder so many great novelists have a tough time writing a synopsis -- the two jobs require completely different skills! Advertising copywriters have discovered a variety of techniques that make people want to buy a specific product, whether it's a bike or a burger or a book. So this hands-on workshop teaches those same techniques, including:

* Finding your unique selling points
* Headlines (or openings) that grab a buyer
* Identifying your target market
* When details matter, and when they don't
* Brainstorming a creative plot strategy
* Highlights that sell your product
* Changing format, emphasis or both

An advertising copywriter for 25 years, Laurie Schnebly Campbell was amazed when she realized her day job made it easier to "sell" editors on her books. So far she's sold six to Silhouette, including one that beat out Nora Roberts for Best Special Edition of the Year, and loves sharing marketing techniques with people who DON'T work on Madison Avenue.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Booksigning Woes

Mason, at least, had a good time at the signing last night. I bought him two new Calvin & Hobbes and a new three-pack Garfield. The other ladies were fairly impressed at how quietly he sat absorbed in his books. He got a little squirrely at the end, and, of course, we had to take a break to eat, but I think it was fairly successful given I had my four year old in tow.

I, of course, sold no books.

Before you cry for me, Argentina, I have long ago come to the realization that book signings are really for booksellers and for authors. The booksellers get a stock of signed books, which, according to at least one bookseller I talked to actually sell pretty well off the shelf -- and better than their unsigned cousins, at any rate.

The author benefits the most, I think. The author gets a chance to meet-and-greet the booksellers, who, as we know, are the ones who do any and all "hand-selling," which can be key to a book's success. The author also usually leaves with a sense that many of the books won't end up as stripped returns. (Note: I worded that very carefully, because I'm well aware of the fact that in many cases signing a book does NOT save it from being returned. Plus, sometimes the booksellers will crassly admit to returning as many as possible. It's only crass because all the authors I know tend to take that stuff personally. We know it happens; we just don't want to necessarily hear about it.)

But, back to the positive. Personally, I also really like to do "multi-author" signings, because then the authors also have a chance to catch up on industry gossip and whatnot. Plus, the time goes a lot faster when there's someone else to talk with.

I sometimes wonder why we bother, since, like so many things in the publishing industry, booksignings feel like they come from another era -- one that's being overshadowed by "promotional" opportunities on the that crazy Internet thing all the kids are into these days.

I suspect that book tours -- the kind that are sponsored by publishers for gigantically best sellers (who, in my humble opinion, are the ones who need it the least, but then much of capitalism makes very little sense to me) -- still perform some important function in terms of boosting book sales and maybe even just allowing fans and opportunity to see that Big Name Star is just and average guy who puts his/her pants on one leg at a time... I'm not sure. I just know that I'll probably continue to sit in empty Mall bookstores staring at the wall for many years to come... at least until the bookstores stop asking me, that is.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Brain Dead...

Maybe that'd be a good Garnet book title, eh? BRAIN DEAD. It's actually a description of how I feel today. I'm always a bit stupid when Shawn is away (she's at a conference in Washington, D.C. until Thursday), and today is no exception. I stayed up late working on my small press project, which, I'm happy to say, finally has a little wind in its sails. I need to get one of those progress bars so many writer-bloggers have. But, today was all about sleeping in too late for a school day, getting Mason half way there and realizing we'd forgotten his backpack full of birthday party invitations. Had to turn around and were almost late for school.

I have a booksigning tonight at Northwood Mall, and because I'm minus one babysitter, I'm planning on bringing Mason along. I know that probably sounds crazy, but if I buy Mason a couple of Garfield books, he'll sit quite as a mouse on my lap and read them. And, you know, these things are always dead. Anyway, if you happen to be local and at loose ends for tonight here are the details:

On Tuesday, July 8, 2008 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm I'll be signing at the Waldenbooks in Northtown Mall with Lois Grieman and Michele Hauf. Waldenbooks is located at: 212 Northtown Drive Blaine, MN 55434. For more information call (763) 780-1264.

Also, I need to run off and go work out. I appear to have lost a pound or two, and if that's the case I should probably keep at this whole thing. (I'm only not sure because my scale is really old and not terribly accurate.)