Recently, I had the good fortune to do the “perfect” author interview. How can a guy go wrong when he’s asked to chat with five of his favorite writer friends about their recent collaborative book tour? Here’s the result, published in the July/August issue of the Pikes Peak Writers News Magazine:
It’s really no secret to many authors that the oft-undertaken task of participating in
book signings does not markedly increase sales of the books being offered. When you’re
a newly published author, though, how do you make it work for you?
This past winter, authors Janet Fogg, Shannon Baker, and bestselling author and
PPWC alum Carol Berg decided to make their newly released books and the accompanying
tour anything but ordinary. Along with longtime PPW members Karen Lin and Julie
Kaewert, the group of friends, who first met at a writer’s conference in the mid-‘90s,
created a unique book signing experience that celebrated their newfound (and in the case of Berg, ongoing) successes as authors.
“The idea,” said Lin, an author, gourmet chef, and screenwriter, “was to offer something other than just a reading and signing. Julie and I wanted to make it a celebration.” She added, “We’re SO gonna throw a party!”
And that’s exactly what they did.
The authors weren’t the only attraction at the events. Champagne, finger foods and scrumptious desserts rounded out this unique twist on book signings. The idea took shape when the three authors’ books released within a three month span: Janet Fogg’s Soliloquy (Wild Rose Press), a time-travel romance, came out in December 2009; Shannon Baker’s Ashes of the Red Heifer (L & L Dreamspell), a thriller, was published in January 2010; and Carol Berg’s latest fantasy, The Spirit Lens: A Novel of the Collegia Magica (Roc Trade), was released in February 2010.
Berg said, “I had done one joint signing before and it was great fun, so when I heard that Janet and Shannon both had books coming out right close to The Spirit Lens’ release, I tossed up the idea. It worked out wonderfully well.”
Everyone agreed that putting together a three-author tour was much more complicated, and that there was quite a bit of organizational stuff to do. Lin said, “But it was also a lot more fun.”
The tour included a number of retail bookstores in Colorado, ranging from Fort
Collins to Colorado Springs. Fogg prepared the events by handling the marketing and
promotional aspects of the tour ahead of time. Kaewert, herself an experienced author,
said, “One of [Janet’s] creations was a flyer/poster tying all three authors’ books into
one design, with a posting of the dates and times of the signings. This made the perfect
jumping off point for a party invitation, and the authors simply e-mailed the invitation to
their own contact lists.”
Fogg utilized connections to reserve venues like Boulder’s Bookend Café to hold the after-signing soiree. She made profile sheets for the books and their authors, then emailed
a pitch letter to prospective venues and followed up until the locations were set. Berg
created and printed 12×6 cards for each event, “…so latecomers could be brought up to
Berg, being the more seasoned participant, acted as Mistress-of-Ceremonies at each
event. The authors read selections from their work, talked about their books and characters, and engaged in discussions about themselves and their writing. Berg then brought levity to the events by informally interviewing each person on the panel with a set of questions that she composed ahead of time. If there was a drawback to putting
together a book signing tour such as this, it was the expense. However, all of the participants said they’d do it again without hesitation. Baker said, “I didn’t go into this believing it was going to be a moneymaker or a good marketing tool [for my book]. I was just out there to celebrate.”
All five women were quite complimentary about the others, but it was “Carol [Berg]
as midwife” that really made the entire experience work, commented Fogg. Baker remarked, “Carol is so encouraging. She’s been a huge inspiration forever. Carol is a true artist.”
Baker said that her relationship with the others gives her great motivation. “If I didn’t
write, I’d lose these friendships. There’s a lot of accountability with them.” When asked
how the long-term friendships affected the dynamics of the events themselves, Berg
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
You can find the authors online at:
• Carol Berg—http://textcrumbs.blogspot.com/
• Karen Albright Lin—http://www.KarenAlbrightLin.com
• Shannon Baker—http://shannonbaker.wordpress.com/
• Janet Fogg—http://www.JanetFogg.com
• Julie Kaewert—http://JulieKaewert.com/