Monday, August 31, 2009

Marketing you can't buy

You publish a book. You get a marketing plan (or not) from your publisher. Now it's your turn to get out there. You do it all: school visits, blog tours, interviews for the hometown paper, drive-by signings.

Yay, me!

Your publisher definitely appreciates your willingness to do the work of getting out there in front of potential readers but honestly, it doesn't affect the bottom line much. All of those things are lots of fun and many are personally satisfying but the amount of legwork involved rarely results in corresponding sales.

But why?

Because you are one person and unless you happen to have thousands of friends willing to buy your book - like tens of thousands - your efforts won't pay off the way you hope.

That sucks.

Yes, it does.

Maybe my book is no good.

Wrong - your book IS good. Your book is great. But what sells books is beyond your control. It's word-of-mouth. It's placement on a list. It's a celebrity bringing a copy of your book to the Academy Awards. I learned this firsthand this weekend when AOL happened to pick up a blog post that discussed my book, ALL ABOUT VEE, and placed it on its front page for about six hours. The post at Lemondrop was based on that awesome article Leanne Italie wrote and was itself amazing, with some tremendous comments from readers about weight issues, books, and my main character, Veronica May.

That alone was fantastic press and made me feel wonderful but AOL added a headline on its page with my book's cover next to it: "Plus Size Book Stirs Up Debate." This got people clicking over to the Lemondrop post, got people talking about the issue, got people clicking through to my website and also clicking through to Amazon. I couldn't buy this publicity!

More than anything, though, was that the post and the AOL headline encouraged people to discuss an issue that is very important to me, important to my book, important to a lot of readers out there. It happens to be timely (even though the book came out over a year ago!) considering the healthcare debate, the Fat Acceptance movement, the HAES movement, and the many new television shows like Dance Your Ass Off and More to Love. It's part of the zeitgeist, I guess, but it's not anything I could have created myself.

I just knew that if people were talking about weight issues and understood where Vee and I were coming from, they would want to know more. But I couldn't prove it until it happened.

Friday, August 28, 2009

People keep talkin' about Vee!

Here's a post by Susan Johnston at Lemondrop, a lifestyle site for young women at AOL. I love that she mentions the cover model for my book:

For the record, though, the girl on the cover of "All About Vee" looks like she had most of her 217 pounds Photoshopped out. Just sayin'.

I know! This is the argument I had with my editor when I saw the cover. As gorgeous as she is, she's clearly not extra-large size. But as my editor told me, according to the modeling world, she is.

Obviously the post was inspired by Leanne Italie's recent AP article which I posted links to yesterday. So cool! And the comments at Lemondrop are quite thoughtful too. I wish more bloggers and journalists would talk about these characters and how positively they can influence readers of all ages!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

National Press for Vee and me!

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for this article by AP journalist Leanne Italie. Leanne is a tremendous interviewer - she makes you feel very comfortable talking to her about all sorts of issues. I'm not surprised she put together this terrific article about plus-size characters in today's teen lit.

Teen Lit Has Positive Plus-Size Characters

And check out the list of recommended books for teens that feature plus-size characters:

Plus-Size Recommended Books

Although these articles are on, they were picked up all over the country on news sites such as the Orlando Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, Newsday, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and many, many more. I'm thrilled to have my book in front of so many people!

If anyone sees the article in a print edition of their local paper, would you let me know? Then I can contact them for a copy. I love the immediacy of digital news but the old-fashioned writer in me wants to hold it in my hand. Thanks!

And thanks also to Harmony (Skyanne) of Harmony Book Reviews who was quoted for the article. I'm always tickled to know when a reader connects with my characters.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fake words I hate

I've talked before about phrases that bug the $*&% out of me. A few more were thrown into my face this weekend and lodged themselves into my brain. I'm hoping that releasing them into the blogosphere will cure me.

1. disorientated - Merriam Webster claims this is a word. Yet my brain implodes a bit when I hear it in conversation. I know I'm not alone in thinking this but I believe this is a word that people have repeated so often that it's become acceptable and commonplace. Still, I can't bring myself to use it.

2. impactful - Not. A. Word. See how the little red line comes up in spell-check when you try to type it? That should be your first clue not to use it. This is adspeak (also not a word), something that's used in business, much as people use nouns as verbs as in "conference me in."

3. for all intensive purposes - The phrase is actually "for all intents and purposes." I'm sure your purposes are intense (and even intensive) but the phrase means, "for all practical purposes" and in fact, should be "to all intents and purposes."

Whew! Okay, they're out of my brain and, much like the "It's a Small World" song, they're now in yours! Thanks for letting me share...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

4 Surprising Things That Changed When I Got Older

1. I got taller. I swear. I used to be 5' 5". I remember my very first driver's license listed me as 5' 5". And now, many many many years later, I am 5' 7". For real. The good thing about this is that - apart from being taller which is AWESOME - when I start to shrink as a little old lady, I'll get back to my original height.

2. My hair got curly. I swear. I used to perm my hair when I was in high school - sometimes curly, sometimes wavy, sometimes just body that would give lift to my flat-as-a-pancake plain brown mane. And now, many many many years later, I have curls, long rolling curls. I never dry it, just wash and let it hang dry - kind of like what you're supposed to do with your bras but I always toss those into the dryer - and voila! Curls.

3. I need less sleep. Used be an 8 - 8.5 hour a night gal but now, 7 - 7.5 is my limit and I feel weird and altogether un-right when I get more. If could just get by on 6, that would be ideal. Maybe in another 15 years? By the time I'm that shrinking little old lady, I'll blink and be well-rested. How amazing would that be?

4. My fingernails are strong enough to cut my skin. Okay, who really cares about this, right? Well, when you're into nail polish like I used to be when I was younger, strong nails are a must. Weak, brittle nails break and chip and you're constantly repairing them with those stupid little glue kits that never really work (come on, Sally Hansen, use that NASA polymer technology for good!). Now that I don't care about my nails and never use polish and wash dishes by hand, my nails are so strong they slice into my middle finger when I snap out rhythm during class.

Weird, huh? Anyone else have weird things changing in their bodies?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just tell me what to think

It's hard to think for yourself. It's hard to gather all of the evidence and form your own opinion. It's time-consuming and complex and usually involves sorting through political agendas and stripping away personal vendettas. It requires that you ask the difficult questions and be prepared to hear the uncomfortable answers.

Can't you just tell me what the answer is? Can't you make it easy for me, simplify all the issues, deliver it to me in sound bytes?

The problem with allowing other people to think for you is that you absolve yourself of personal responsibility. If you vote based solely on political party, if you buy because of advertising and brand names and celebrities, if you choose to live in a way that your parents lived and your parents' parents lived and everyone you know lives, then you get what you get. You can then turn around when things crumble apart or the country goes to crap because no one wants to do anything, and say, "Well, I only did that because of him" or "Don't blame me, I didn't know anything."

More people take time to understand both sides of an argument when they are personally invested. If you have health care issues, you're going to want to know what Democrats and Republicans and the pharmaceutical companies are pitching. If you have a kid in school, you'll investigate where the tax dollars are being spent. But if you think none of this has anything to do with you, then you won't.

But it does. Everything has to do with you. You live in this society. You benefit when it's successful and you lose when it's not.

I laugh sometimes at people who deliberately play Devil's advocate, questioning the general populace, wondering why everyone loves a particular movie or book or Presidential candidate, rather than simply going along with the crowd. That's because a part of me wants to believe in the American public; I want to believe that people have taken the time to thoughtfully consider issues and are going with their conscience. But in truth, those Devil's advocates are right to question the masses. We should be able to defend our positions on issues but in reality, most of us are not. We simply repeat what has come before - clever sound bytes from commercials even if they're flat-out wrong.

Question authority. Question the crowd. Decide for yourself.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

4 Questions I'm Asking Myself This Morning

1. Why did they let Squeaky Fromme out of prison? She tried to kill a President! She's only 60. That's not a life sentence.

2. How can I clone myself so I can be in 3 places at once? Not just two but 3. There's the Leigh who teaches dance, the Leigh who writes, and the Leigh who runs errands - and all 3 of them are busy these days.

3. Is the whole world really that interested in Jon & Kate's disintegrating marriage and the inevitable negative effect it will have on their 8 kids? I just don't get this at all. He cheated; she's a control freak; they are far too selfish to have so many children.

4. Will the summer end without me actually having gone to the beach in a bathing suit? It's impossible for me to believe I live in Southern California and don't have a tan from being outdoors, playing in the sand and surf. That's why I moved here in the first place. Sheesh!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Heehee, I won a book...

Check it out! I never win anything, I swear. I never enter contests or buy lottery tickets because I'm just not lucky that way. But thanks to Liviania's blog, In Bed with Books, I've won 2 books this year: John Marco's "Starfinder" and JK Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

I think the key to winning both books (in separate contests) was not realizing I had entered. I follow Liviania's blog simply because I love her posts so I'm always there to read and comment.

Voila! We have a winner!

And check this out: along with the HP7 book, she also sent a very cool HP 10th Anniversary pin!

Thanks, Liviania!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

4 Things I've Learned This Summer

1. They have monsoons in Arizona. I always associated "monsoon" with a tropical clime like Hawaii or the Fiji Islands. The word sounds so much more romantic than simply "thunderstorm." But when we visited in July to see my brother and his family, we actually witnessed one. Not very romantic, I must say.

2. Clear self-tanners sound like a great idea - but they're not. You can't see where you've put the lotion! Duh! It took me three tries until I got my legs covered and stopped looking like I'd fallen asleep on a chaise lounge with big white stripes across my knees and thighs.

3. My own iced coffee with a touch of sugar and a dash of vanilla soymilk tastes better than Starbucks. And it costs far less.

4. There's no such thing as summer vacation when you work for yourself. Aside from the 2 days I spent in Arizona (and even then I was working on and sending out new outlines), I haven't had any vacation time at all - hence the need for the self-tanner. Dude, I seriously need a break.

It's not over yet! Summer technically lasts until Labor Day which falls on September 7 this year so we all still have time to enjoy it. Get out there and do it and then tell me about it so I can live vicariously through you. Cheers~

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Interview at a new blog!

Can you believe that I - lowly moi - am the subject of the inaugural interview at blogger Reggie's The Undercover Book Lover? Check it out!

Reggie contacted me about an interview last week, telling me she loved ALL ABOUT VEE, and asking me if I would answer a few questions. They were fun questions - and ones I actually had the answers to! But I didn't realize I would be the very first person interviewed on her site. Whoo-hoo Me! She has since interviewed other great authors, so check them out too.

I love her site design. Very pretty and expressive of her interests yet also practical and well-thought out. Easy to navigate and find things. Of course I love that she loves coffee! My kind of book blogger: a reader of great fiction and a coffee drinker. She's a book reviewer too as well as a poet!

What's also interesting to me is that she's located in the Philippines. For some reason, I get a lot of hits on my website from that area of the world and I don't know why. Nothing in my book is about the Philippines. Isn't that odd? One of my very close friends is Filipino but I doubt that has anything to do with it! LOL!!!

Cheers, Reggie, and welcome to the book blogging world! There are tons of great authors, readers and reviewers here that share your passion.

Monday, August 3, 2009

GI Joe waved to me!

Another "Only in LA" moment...

On Sunday, HH and I were relaxing at the Santa Monica beach ( a little chilly but a beach is a beach and you have to appreciate its presence so close to you) when a helicopter swooped by very low and close to the water.

Cops? Nope.

News crew? Nope.

Coast Guard? Nope.

It was an advertisement for the new "GI Joe" movie which is coming out soon! The helicopter swung past once and then away and we said, Huh, that was kind of boring. And I was a tad ticked at the huge carbon footprint the movie studio was making by burning those fossil fuels just for an ad.

But then, about half an hour later, the copter came back and this time, a rope was lowered and a guy climbed down about halfway. Verrrrrry slowllllly, it flew close to the water and we could see the guy waving to everyone on the beach and in the water. It was, to say the least, very odd. I mean, he was far enough away that we couldn't really see who he was or what he was wearing, only that he was waving an arm.

Here it is in video form:

I gotta say, I'm not crazy about the small planes that fly banners over the beaches just to advertise junk but this was at least a little more clever. If you're gonna waste resources, then it might as well be funny or innovative, right?