Posts Tagged ‘Lucy D. Ford’

My presentation to Idaho Writers League went really well. We filled the room. Okay, it was a small room. But still! I spoke for an hour and a half on Readings, Signings, and Book Parties. They were attentive and asked great questions, and I signed a couple of people up for my newsletter. Plus, I got to catch up on news with an old friend. What could be better?

Before I get back to writing posts for my blog tour, I’d like to share a bit of what I presented. First, I made that case that book tables are not a self-created torture and that you can sell some books while having fun. It all comes down to salesmanship, and salesmanship involves a lot of preparation.

Preparation involves asking the right bookstore at the right time. Book stores are best because you know the people are into books. Look for a local book store that already has a calendar of readings and similar events. For a date, I always liked Christmas, but you can look for times on the calendar that coordinate with your book. For instance, a patriotic book around the Fourth of July. Call about 3 months before your date and ask to talk with the book manager. If you’re self-published, you might have to show them copies of your book so they know your book will look good on their shelves.

Preparation also involves pushing the signing table in the same way you push your books. Put it on arts calendars, create a Facebook event if the store doesn’t, tweet it, post it, blog it. Plan some fun table decorations that have a connection to your book. Check your supply of books and order more if you need them.

Pack everything in advance so you don’t stress on the day of the signing. A cute book bag is better than a cardboard box. Show up early, check in your books, and set up your table. Try to get pictures — I always forget. When you’re ready, ask the store to announce you are there. That’s your cue!

Tempting as it is to huddle at the table with your cel phone, you can’t do that. You have to be friendly and approachable, say hi to everyone who comes near. Basic salesmanship, remember? Have a line you can bring out if anyone seems interested. My basic one is “Do you like to read fantasy?” If they say no, “Okay, thanks.” If they pause, “I’m a local author, and these are my books!”

Ask follow-up questions. “What authors do you like to read?” Always agree with them. You know that elevator pitch where you describe your book in one sentence? If the person picks up one of your books, bring that out.
Another tactic I like is to share my table with a friend so I have someone to talk to and if I need a walking break there will be someone to watch things. Also, it you’re having a fun conversation, that’s something that can draw people in.

This is not a lazy day at the bookstore. I takes energy and focus. I usually make my signings 2 or 3 hours, because after that I can’t keep it up. In that time, I usually sell between 2 and 5 books. A drop at a time fills the bucket, right?

At the end, you pack up everything you brought with you. Leave it looking nice. If the bookstore is keeping your books on consignment, they as if you can put down a few bookmarks, too. If they have computerized inventory, they should know how many books you sold and see if they will pay out then or want you to come back. The next day, go back to their Facebook event page and post how you had such a great time and thank them for the opportunity

There’s more to it, of course. A lot of it is your personal style. You practice, you get better, your develop your confidence. I hope this helps, and that you all make book tables a part of your sales strategy.

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Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my cover choices! I’m pretty much settled on Option 1, with perhaps the subtitles moved around.

This brings me to the cover copy, and here’s what I have so far: “As a hunter-guard, it’s Zathi’s job to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into the accursed Hornwood. Together, warrior and mage will battle deadly beasts and face decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten power. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.”

This description packs a lot in, but it may go on too long. My question, bluntly put: would you want to read this book? If not, what would tip the balance? As ever, I look forward to your advice.

One of you sharp-eyed readers also noticed that I’m still trying out variations on the series title. The gist is that these people live in a world after the evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, has triumphed. The mages are trying to bring back hope, and this makes them renegades.

Their powers are based around light, hence I’ve been calling them Light-Bringers, but that title has already been used for a couple of recent series. They travel in disguise as a troupe of minstrels. The name of their land is Skaythe. They spend a lot of time in a dark forest called the Hornwood. So I’m boiling it down to Minstrels of Skaythe or Minstrels of the Light.

What do you think? I really like Minstrels of Light, but I have a hunch it’s already been used by a Christian band somewhere. I also like The Hornwood Series, but I understand there is a Hornwood character in Game of Thrones, and I don’t want to create confusion. More searching to follow…

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Option 1

Here I am with a couple of fairly firm concepts for the cover of The Tower in the Mist. I’d love to hear what you think!

Which font style do you like better? Which color works with the art? Should the sub-headers be placed somewhere else?

I really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Option 2

In other news, I’m being interviewed! Dave Koster has invited me to visit his blog, On Writing Dragons. I get these invitations from time to time, and it’s always a ton of fun. It should go live within the next weeks, so watch this space for a link to that.

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I mentioned that I’m searching for key words and phrases in The Tower in the Mist and The Bitternut Grove. I was thinking of using something like “light bearers” or “light bringers” as a series title, but it turns out there’s some folklore there. Who knew that Lucifer (a.k.a. Satan) is sometimes called a “light bringer?” Doesn’t that seem like the opposite?

Anyway, those have both already been used. In fact, “Light Bringers” or “lightbringers” has been used a couple of times. So that’s still in progress. I may just call it the “Skaythe” series, after the setting, and leave it at that.

Mostly, I’ve been working on my cover layout using Canva. I usually make between three and five designs, to try and find the perfect image. The Tower in the Mist will be the first of a series, so I hope to come up with something that will readily be adapted. Then each e-book will look like part of a whole.

I’m finding a limitation with Canva, though. I can’t seem to make those really big, dimensional titles that will pop from the cover. I’d love any advice you have about other programs that can make that big title for me. Something I can save and then upload to Canva would be perfect.

Thanks for all your ideas, and thanks for reading my blog!

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As I type this, I’m beginning the preliminary process for publishing my novella, The Tower in the Mist. My plan is to get it out by early May. I have a month to put it together, more or less.

Step One will be to design the cover. After much eye strain, I’ve picked the art I want for both this and The Bitternut Grove. In spare moments, I’m browsing the fantasy category on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble to see what kind of cover layouts are popular right now. This should give me ideas as I begin playing with layouts on Canva.

Step Two is to search for unique words and names. It would be awful if one of my titles had already been used! So far I’ve found a book called Towers in the Mist from 1938, and a D&D module from the ’80s. I feel confident there won’t be confusion between these books and mine, so The Tower in the Mist can keep its name.

Unfortunately, The Bitternut Grove may be in trouble. Although I created a fictional bitternut tree for my novella, it turns out there’s a real-world bitternut tree related to pecan and hickory trees. I need to research them. If I can’t say, “yeah, those are my trees,” then I will have to call my trees something else. This would require renaming the book, as well. Win some, lose some, I suppose.

Step Three will be to come up with catchy slogans, tag lines, and gripping cover copy. This novella is complex, and the description will take some boiling-down. At the same time I’m working on Step Four, which is the final revision. I’m hoping these revisions will help me focus my cover copy. Maybe I’ll try out a few ideas here, and see what you all think!

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After all this talk about fates and futures, I just have to share my own thoughts.

That’s it. Nobody else is responsible for your happiness. Go write your own story. And stuff.

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I’ve talked about prophecies that are a Fake-Out — that is, a prophecy is given and does come true but in an unexpected way. But let’s not pretend, there can also be stories where the prediction is just outright False.

Maybe the “seer” is a con-artist, issuing prophecies that get clients to give them money somehow. Maybe the “oracle” is more interested in pleasures of the flesh, and will tell a succession of lovers that they are “destined” for each other.

False Prophets, unfortunately, have lots of usefulness for governments and institutions. A regime facing unrest might receive a “prophecy” of war if the Beloved Leader is questioned. Or a televangelist might proclaim that “God will take him home” unless a certain amount of donations are received. Someone might even (shudder) foretell that the world is ending and persuade their followers to drink poison.

A mistaken oracle doesn’t have to be wicked, though. The “seer” might mean well and believe that they are foretelling truly (whether by a vision or some method of divination) but there’s no actual magic there. Meanwhile, in the comedic fantasy movie Willow, a village priest declares he must consult the Bones, but then whispers “the Bones tell me nothing” and asks the title character what he wants to do. Once the character decides, he proclaims, “The Bones have spoken!”

As writers, we have rich ground to explore with a False Prophet. The evil seer who predicts the death of a rival — and then hires assassins. The wealthy merchant who always receives the best prophecies money can buy. Or the person of good heart who fudges their prediction in order to help someone out.

My prediction: fantasy authors will continue to write about Destiny and those who tell it for many years to come!

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