Two Weeks To Go Before RWA Nationals

Where did the time go?  Granted, RWA hits a month earlier this year, but still, wow.  Time to start packing.

I’m happy to report that Book 1 & 2 of the new trilogy have both been delivered to my new editor at Berkley.  On time.  The books are not bad, by the standards of my first drafts.  But still, I’m already thinking of improvements, connections, and deeper layerings to add to them, when they come back from my editor.  Now onto the updates.

1) Three-Chapter Critique from Yours Truly

On the 13th of June my Crit for Water critique goes up for auction here.  If you need three chapters looked at, by all means bid.  It’s an excellent cause and I am a terrific critiquer.  (You didn’t expect me to say anything else on the eve of the auction, did you? :-P)

And Mary Baader Kaley at Not an Editor was kind enough to interview me about my approach to critiquing.  But basically, I’m a good fit for you if you really need your work looked at by a pair of fresh eyes and you actually want to know what’s not working.  I will tell you what’s working for me too, but I assume that you, like me, are more interested in what can be improved than what cannot be.

2) Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Face

Read more

Just for LOLZ

I couldn’t resist. I could not. Once I saw that the site existed and I could make a three-D video just by typing, well, I couldn’t resist.

I think I went where no romance writer has ever gone. But that’s very likely because I am the frog at the bottom of the well who doesn’t know what’s going on in the big, wide world. So if there are other romance trailers made this way, please let me know. (I still think I must be among the first five, if not the first.) 🙂

So here it is, a talking trailer for NOT QUITE A HUSBAND.

P.S. And I just learned this myself. Click on the little triangle at the bottom right corner of the youtube video. And then click on the little tab that pops up. It will recede the video and reveal both its url and its embed code.

I have it, but what do I do with it?

Typically, I make a book trailer at the very last minute, a week before the book hits the shelves or something like that. Until I learned that for Borders to use your book trailer (a pretty big if), it has to be ready a good two months before the book’s release.

So I went ahead and did it early this time.

Okay, I have it. And it is a very pretty trailer. But what do I do with it?

The ideal thing would be to build an online publicity campaign around it. But I don’t really know how willing people are to host YouTube videos on their blogs, etc. Is it doable? What kind of prize should I hand out? Am leaning toward cash prizes, like prepaid visa cards or some such, but how much and how many?

Also, how do I publicize such a contest? If I just let people know about it on my blog, website, social group sites, etc, would it be enough? Or should I promise an e-reader to get Dear Author’s attention, the way Kresley Cole did?

And what about widgets? I’ve seen promotional campaigns built around widgets here and there. Have you done one or participated in one or run into one surfing around? Do you think widgets work?

I’d love to know.

No Rest for the Deadline-Addled

It’s been a week since I turned in a pseudo-complete draft of NOT QUITE A HUSBAND and I feel completely out of breath. I’ve been running around the house trying to put some organization into our sadly disorganized existence, in front of the computer replying to all the accumulated emails, updating my website, and making a Xmas newsletter, and doing the usual mommy stuff, including freezing my rear off on the coldest day of this season–so far–helping out at the junior kidlet’s school trip.

And after a whole week of rushing about (okay, there was a day of writing in my contemp romp and a half-day of frowning over the next historical project), I look around and these are the things I have not done:

1)Send Christmas presents to agent and editor
2)Read either of the manuscripts I promised I’d read for possibly blurbing
3)Sort and shred the mountain of statements that have been accumulating since I was still in grad school
4)Put up our paltry few strings of Xmas lights, b/c junior kidlet delights in them
5)Laundry (His Hawtness dealt with the previous load, and since I’m not currently on deadline, I feel like I should do more.)

Boy, more and more I’m beginning to think people love historical romance for the abundance of servants! And maybe they read Harry Potter for the house elves. 🙂

Before I rush off to fight the neverending War on Dirty Clothes, let me point you to RT’s website, where you’ll find the video interview I did with the awesome Morgan Doremus during RWA San Francisco. You can also see the videos here and here.

I was rather wondering about the timing of the videos being featured on RT. Morgan Doremus had told me that usually they’d haul out the clips when there’s some news about me or my book. And then Meredith Duran told me that PA has been nominated for a RT Best Historical Debut award. I haven’t seen it posted anywhere so I’m going to have to trust that Meredith wasn’t just having fun with me. 🙂

Okay, off to the seasonal frenzy again.

Dec 10 Update: Sent presents. Put up lights. And did laundry. 🙂

One Last Post Before I Unplug

My wrap-up of my excellent Levy adventure is up at Dear Author.

The ladies at The Romance Roundtable review DELICIOUS.

And on Wednesday, October 1, I will be paying a visit to the Word Wenches, which is where the historical romance goddesses hang out. Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice, Jo Beverley, Edith Layton, Miranda Jarrett, Susan King, and Loretta Holy-@#$% Chase. Yes, I know I’m on deadline, but you tell me you have the will power to say no to THAT. 🙂

And here’s a picture of me signing. I love how harmless I look, given that my new nickname from the tour is the Imp from Hell. Hehe.

The Other September Offensive

Just want to mention that I will be on the Levy/Meijer READ THIS! Author Tour, barnstorming 9 Meijer locations in Michigan in mid-September.

Friday, September 19
10:30am Kalamazoo/5800 Gull Rd.
3:00pm Grand Rapids/Cascade
5:00pm Grand Rapids/Knapp’s Corner

Saturday, September 20
10:30am Lansing/2055 W. Grand River Rd.
3:00pm Ann Arbor/5645 Jackson Rd.
5:00pm Canton/45001 Ford Rd.

Sunday, September 21
10:30am Rochester Hills/3175 Rochester Rd.
12:00pm Royal Oak/5150 Coolidge Hwy
4:00pm Monroe/1700 Telegraph Rd.

Please check here for updates.

Also, for folks who are on Google Read or other blog feeds and wonder why I haven’t been updating on my writing progress, I have. They updates are appended to the original post.

PA Book Release Contest and Pay-It-Forward Contest Winner

Well, there’s a new book in town. 🙂

And to help it along a bit, I’m having a multi-prize contest. To participate in this contest, purchase a copy of Private Arrangements in the first 2 weeks of its release (3.25.08—4.7.08). Send me a scan of your receipt to writer sherry thomas at gmail dot com, with the subject “ARC Contest”, or send me a physical copy of your receipt to Sherry Thomas, P.O.Box 201372, Austin, TX 78720-1372. Three winners will each receive an advance copy of Delicious, my August 2008 release. And three more entrants will each receive, as a consolation prize, a beautiful Private Arrangements t-shirt.

The drawing will be held on May 1, 2008.

And now, the victim winner of the query consultation contest is–drum roll please–CM. Please contact me at writersherrythomas at gmail dot com to claim your prize. (And please be a little patient with me as I must wrap up copyedits on Delicious in
the next couple of days as well as a number of other PA publicity-related items.)

Zen and the Art of Self-Promotion

I hate self-promotion.

I’m not a particularly modest person but I prefer to let people discover my good points over time, rather than loudly and insistently advertise them up front. And I judge others more or less the same way—the braggarts and blow-hards are discounted, while I take time to get to know the more confidently interesting ones who don’t feel the need to tell me right away every last one of their accomplishments in life.

Now square that with a career choice that requires a heavy dose of my loudly and insistently advertising to others just how wonderful my books are. Not only that, but that people should open their wallets and joyfully watch those dollars flow my publisher’s way.


So I made a decision a long time ago that it would not be like that. There had to be better ways to self-promote.

One person who does it particularly well is my agent, Kristin Nelson, whose blog Pub Rants is a daily stop for many writers, both aspiring and published, and industry professionals. Kristin is a very nice person and she used to be a professor, so she genuine wants to impart useful information. But she is also an extremely savvy business woman who knows that a widely read, widely respected blog is a perfect venue to promote her authors—and herself.

It’s no secret that when I queried, I queried her exclusively—I wasn’t going to try any other agents until she’d turned me down. Part of it was Miss Snark’s consistent praise of Kristin as a fabulous agent. The other part was months of reading Kristin’s blog and seeing for myself how she adroitly balances helping others and promoting her clients and herself. The woman presents an absolutely stellar image online—every bit of it backed up by her real life demeanor and job performance–and it didn’t take me long before I decided that I wanted to be on her team.

Another person who does a bang-on job is Bettie Sharpe. The serialization of Ember, how brilliant was that? And Bettie might not have originated the pay-it-forward contest, but it was on her blog that I first read one.

So with all these luminous examples before me, what have I learned and how have I implemented my own self-promotion?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. The Hippocratic Oath of self-promotion: first, do not annoy. Jane of Dear Author scared the living daylight out of me with her sharp-eyed catching of blog comment abusers. Not that I was ever going to do it, but now I don’t even think about it.
  2. If at all possible, make sure others benefit from my self-promotion efforts, whether it’s by dissemination of knowledge, entertainment, or what have you.

Here’s the implementation part.

1) I volunteered to be the PAN (Published Author Network) Liaison this year for my local RWA group. Sure it’s work compiling things like everyone’s release schedules for 2008, and will be even more work when I get around later on to compiling an e-mail listing of local booksellers, but it gives me a legitimate excuse to cold call booksellers, introduce myself, and ask such fun things as whether they might want to join the PAN authors for lunch.

2) I queried and received editorial approval to write an article for the Romance Writer’s Report (RWA’s monthly magazine) on how library systems acquire fiction, particularly genre fiction. I am personally fascinated by how it works and I think a lot of other authors might be interested in knowing how their books do or do not make it into libraries. But it’s also a good opportunity to introduce myself to the adult fiction buyer for the my local public library system—not to mention get some questions answered by Super Librarian, whose blog I enjoy very much and whose purchasing dollars I would not mind coming my way.

3) I got up at the crack of dawn to write a double-review for Bettie Sharpe’s Ember and Like a Thief in the Night. Bettie is one of the fiercest writer to come along in a long time, but I did not actually decide to write the review until I’d read LATITN and enjoyed it—I’m one of those crazy people who take their own credibility dead seriously. But once I decided to do it, I made sure I did it properly. I contacted Jane of Dear Author–she has one of the highest trafficked blogs–and attached a giveaway to the review (which Jane graciously doubled)—who doesn’t love free books? It was for Bettie—especially the getting up at the crack of dawn part, so that I could get the review done in time for a high-traffic day and that she would receive the exposure she so richly merited–but I also knew I was publicizing my own name. I mean would you even believe it if I said that I wasn’t aware that such a gesture would harm me none?

4) Whenever I can, I write blog pieces that, if not useful or entertaining, at least try to be thoughtful. (Yes, I know it’s a disgrace how I’ve neglected this blog again, especially after I made a New Year’s Resolution to be less neglectful. Shame on me.) With a big line-up of guest-blogging spots in March and April, sometimes my head throbs just wondering how am I going to come up with original content for everyone. But I will, because that is the least I expect from myself.

Does any of it work? Who knows? But given all the publisher support that I’ve received, it is incumbent on me to do as much as I can on my end to promote the debut of Private Arrangements. And I can only do what I feel comfortable doing.

So far, I have enjoyed myself: it’s great fun talking to booksellers and interviewing librarians and promoting Bettie; it’s completely liberating to never participate in blog discussion with an eye toward putting my book out there; and it’s amusing to read over old blog posts and go, lol, I said that?

Tomorrow, mutually beneficial self-promotion continues with the Query Consultation Prize finally up for grabs. (It will be a separate post of its own.)