Thursday, February 22, 2007

Like Sobol . . . except $99,000 short.

Hey, looking to chuck $100 in the street? Wait! We've got something far better: The 2007 Hollywood Book Festival.

That's right for $75 (sound familiar?) you can enter a contest where the grand prize is . . . $1,000.


That's right, give them a hundred and you might (but probably won't) get $900 as a reward. If the entry fee is $75, why am I saying it will cost $100? Because you cannot submit your book electronically--meaning you need to print off a copy ($15 or more) and ship it out to Los Angeles ($10 or more).

It actually makes me long for the days of Sobol.

Oh, they also say the winner gets this: "We will also distribute your book to our Hollywood Book Festival mailing list of agents, producers, directors, content coordinators and developers for further consideration and provide marketing materials to winning authors and publishers to spotlight your triumph."

*double yawn*

Who are these industry people? How many have "assistant" in their titles? Has this award ever generated any noteworthy film or TV products? Or even a boost in book sales?

What is this (publishing) world coming to?

The best things in life are free. The worst things cost $75.


On a certainly relative note, Henry Baum has a new and improved version of NORTH OF SUNSET out. You can get it here. Why is it relative? NORTH OF SUNSET was a previous grand prize winner of the above mentioned contest. Looks like someone got his $75-worth!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The price of getting read.

Thanks to all for the kind words regarding my book signing. And no, I'm done giving away my books. Though I didn't come out terribly short because:
  1. I drank approximately $13 in coffee and consumed a $2.50 brownie gratis;
  2. The bookstore manager, paying it forward (at his personal cost, I'm guessing) allowed me to select a book in a genre I loved by an author I had never read (ELLA MINNOW PEA by Mark Dunn) for free.
  3. It was a lot of fun--the kind of fun you can't get at a movie or a basketball game. So I consider what I spent the price of admission.

And for all who are not in the know, this is a neat way to get free books otherwise.


Also on the horizon is a new POD Reviewer--this one actually coming from the world of publishing ("currently the lead editor at a small publishing company in New York ") who can really offer some great insights. Well worth checking out if you are a PODer or someone who wants the lowdown on more books struggling in obscurity. Check out the first book reviewed (received only one star out of four) and see why there is no amount of Excedrin on the market to cure my headache.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If you thought paying to publish was bad . . .

This past week I did the most unusual book signing. It wasn't supposed to be unusual, but it certainly turned out that way.

Last Wednesday (the wreckage of the ice storm that hit my area was at its peak) I was supposed to do a signing at a book store a few blocks from where I live. At first, it seemed pretty obvious the signing would be canceled, considering the power had been out most of the day. But when I got a call from the store manager asking if I wanted to reschedule, I thought . . . why? What else am I going to do tonight?

So I made my way to the store, drank lots of (free) coffee drinks, chatted up the store employees and basically made a general nuisance of myself. Torqued on caffeine, I made my way to the table where a few small stacks of my most recent hardcover novel (coming soon to a remainders table near you!) were posed hopefully toward the entrance of the store. I stared aimlessly out a distant window, watching the plows impotently remove ice from the parking lot. The store (a large one) had maybe 12 customers milling about.

Finally, an older gentleman came up to my table and stared at the cover of my book, picked it up and gave it the most cursory of interest. Finally, he shrugged and said, "These free?"

I stared at him, tapped my fingers, squinted. "Nothing in life is free, especially fine literature."

"This is fine literature?"

I sighed. "That's what my mom tells me." We stared at each other for a moment, and my mind began churning.

"I'll tell you what," I said, "I'll give you this book for free on one condition: you pay full price for a book in a genre you love by an author you've never read."

[Note: The store manager heard what I'd said and caught my eye, gave me a look asking me if I was serious. I told him I'd pay for my book with my credit card and that I and another staff member would assist the gentleman in finding a book he would enjoy. Everyone shrugged.]

"Okaaay," he said, still suspicious of my intentions.

"What do you like?"

"Mysteries. Some thrillers, I guess."

I took a copy of my novel to the counter, paid for it and put it aside with a stack of the gentleman's other purchases, then we (one of the sales reps and I) went to the mystery section and fought over which hand-sell to push on this guy. The winner: FORCING AMARYLLIS by Louise Ure.

Shortly after the man departed from the store, a young lady (about my age) came up to my table and asked if I was still doing the free book promotion.


I ended up pulling out my credit card seven times that day. What was I really buying? The chance, I guess, that a new type of reader would try my work--but even more so, opening the door of lesser-known writers to people who usually look no further than the bestsellers on the front tables. And I'll tell you, the booksellers said, hands-down, it was the most fun they ever had a book signing. [Note: the sales folks and I managed to really dust off some great books for these buyers--stuff they never would have found on their own, with one exception: the last lady, who clearly was paying attention enough to scam me, convinced us all she was really curious about that new Rachael Ray cookbook.]

I should also mention that I sold eight books on my own, by people who were specifically interested in my novel (including two, at whatever discount he gets, by the store manager.)

Will I be doing this again anytime soon? You've got be kidding. It was a difficult thing to explain to my husband when I got home. Though I wish, like those trite MasterCard ads, I could say the whole event was priceless, I can't.

It cost me $175.