Online Writer's Conference 2003

Shades Of Romance Magazine

August 3-9, 2003















Phase Promotion



by Tracee L. Garner



Now is the time that you should have at least most if not all confirmations for your tour. More will continue to trickle in, but you should have the majority of the specifics: who/where/what/when, on paper.

Take another look at your schedule and have everything you need to start your travel.

1. Directions to bookstore, restaurant or event venues - please note that if you are traveling to a mall bookstore, ask the manager exactly where in the mall the store is located. Ask for the anchor store (JCPenney, Hecht's Sears, main entrance, food court entrance and etc., then from there, where it is? Ask specifically!! Upper level, lower level. This will help tremendously if you are late and let you park as close to the store as possible.

2. If staying overnight, gather hotel rates, book reservations, book flights (ask friends and relatives for best hotel choices and if you know no one in the area, don't be afraid to ask the bookstore manager about area accommodations.

3. Print out my 2-page "The All-Prepared Book Signing Checklist" only at  (print edition). You must be a Shades of Romance Magazine subscriber to get the print edition. To carry all book related stuff, I'd suggest a tote bag on wheels or splurge and buy yourself some cool-looking luggage, the bold red bag you've always wanted. But if you're going to transport books, they can get heavy so something on wheels, and don't forget something with compartments to hold smaller items, will do the trick for all your "I'm an author" paraphernalia.


Giving Internet interviews (any interview where in responding to questions, you'll type answers). What's below can be applied to over the phone interviews as well:

Keep the responses conversational, but short and concise
Be sure you answered the question, even in interviews one can ramble and while the reader might enjoy it, that's fine, but at some point be certain you actually answered the question asked
Use exclamation points and action words
Don't be afraid to use "um", "well"... this gives a kind of thinking-about-it tone to the reader and don't be afraid to type in caps, (not all caps) but to convey excitement, and try emoticons,  smiley faces, frowns, but don't overdue it and I'm sorry to say, but really, if you have an extensive emoticon vocabulary, don't use it. Most of us know the basics, laugh-out-loud, smiley faces and frowns, not more than that, please. Again, people are reading and while they cannot hear your voice, they can gather what you MIGHT sound like if you were to do some of the above
Over the phone: stand up, and walk around, sometime thoughts flow better and you won't feel so boxed in

Giving in-the-flesh interviews -

Ensure the interviewer has your bio, book information beforehand AND bring an entire press kit copy with you just in case

Don't wear colors that bounce off the camera light, e.g. bright, bright colors and white. Pastels and black (not all black) and browns work good for camera shots

Remember to smile this will reflect your voice but also keep your voice at an even pace and pronounce words clearly (use a mirror and talk to yourself in it -practice-

If you're put in a swivel chair, try to plant both feet on the ground (in other words don't rock, twirl or swivel constantly)

Clasp your hands together if you often move them around when you talk - constantly waiving your hands draws attention to your hands and away from what's being said from a viewer standpoint

Remember to bring a book (an unmarred, unbent copy, un-tattered edges keep a book 'for display purposes only' in a plastic zip-lock bag - or have the cover blown up and laminated for this purpose)

Annual Events -Below is a just sample of some of the larger annual events, some geared toward African-Americans and some for authors of every genre and every race. You can find more information about these events simply by visiting the site provided or using a search engine if I was unable to obtain a URL. Planning to hit a few of these events on your tour will help get your name out there and provide you with the opportunity to schmooze and learn from others in the business. (Please remember you can't go to everything, even if you are financially able, you shouldn't want to attend every event. Stick to your budget, review the details about all the events and decide which ones not only fit what you write but are right for you.)

1. Romance Writers of America National Conference- (RWA National, 2003: NY, 2004: Dallas, TX, 2005: Reno, NV, 2006: Atlanta, GA 2007: Dallas, TX 2008: San Francisco, CA 2009: Washington, DC)

2. Romance Slam Jam - The largest African-American gathering of writers in the romance genre (2002: Durham, NC 2003: March - Atlanta, GA, 2004 Bronx NY, 2005 Texas -10 year Anniversary)

3. Book Expo America (BEA) (2003: Los Angeles CA, 2004: Chicago, IL -June 4-6)

4. Bay Area Book Writers Guild (BBWG) (held in July 2003 -Oakland, CA)

5. Book Beach Bash - (in 2003 held in Virginia Beach, Virginia)

6. Annual African-American Book Club Summit "Summit At Sea" - Literary Cruise

7. Annual African American Literature Conference (March 2003 held in College Park, MD)

8. Annual National Black Writers Conference  - (held in August 2003, Texas)

9. Words Escape Me summit - February 2001 and 2002 Alabama (canceled due to low response in 2003)

10.  Harlem Book Fair (Quarterly Black Review Magazine)

11.  African-American Male Fictions Writers Symposium (2002: GA, 2003: Novem
ber Kansas City, KS)

Again the above is just a sampling. There are too many events to name each one.

Don't forget to check with your local visitors and tourist bureau and find out what's going on in your own hometown. Festivals, arts and crafts shows, food related events and etc., (at these public events, table or booth space is often very cheap) - get together with local area authors, rent a table, throw up a sign that says "Local Author Showcase" and start signing away. Don't forget to publicize your event and make sure you're listed in the program booklet if any are being printed.

Speaking Engagements -

What you can contribute? - Create a sheet - at the top list your profession, list classes you've taken, list topics that are addressed in your book. Ask yourself:

1. Could I speak knowledgeably about this to a group of people?

2. Do I want to? Why?

3. What's in it for me?

4. Will this garner more people who are likely to purchase my book? If not, and that is your sole goal, you probably don't want to pursue this further. If you wish to share knowledge, give others advice, instruct them on how to do something, then speaking is a good option and can provide you with more contacts. But please, speak because you want to and because you enjoy doing so, not solely for the purpose of monetary gain or an increase in your book sales. People will know when you do something for love or money.

5. Are you willing to talk to people further (long after the session is over) about your topic and thus answer any questions they may have?

Lastly, remember that people want something tangible to take away from the session:

1. Can those attending use the information you will share?

2. Can you prepare handouts with resources and further instruction?

Author Chats and Book Announcement Postings - Below are places to obtain chats and/or post announcements about your books  - (remember there are many, MANY more places, but this a short listing below to get you started to you started)

African-American Literature Book Club
A Place Of Our Own Book Club
Black Living
Book Crazy Internet Radio  - on this wonderful new and gaining-popularity-convention, there are many different shows hosted by pioneering African-Americans in the publishing world
Book Remarks
The Good Book Club -
The Good Girl Book Club Online
RAWSistaz (Reading and Writing Sistaz)
Shades of Romance Magazine

General advice about arranging and going through your chat session:

1. Have something to offer -I know you're excited, you think a chat will have everyone bombarding you with questions about your book. I'm sorry that's not the case. Present a topic, and remember there is only so much time (usually no more than an hour). For one of my first chats, I discussed the elements of the romantic suspense. Boy was I glad I'd picked something to talk about as not one person that attended the chat hat read my book or even heard much about me. But a subject I was knowledgeable about and was willing to share gave persons more to know
about me, much better than if I just sat for an hour going on and on about a book no one had yet read.

2. Don't schedule chat's too early if it's your first book: One of the reasons no one had read my book was because I was in a new market, and more importantly, I'd scheduled the chat too early. My book came out in February and there I was the second week of February discussing or trying to discuss my book. Schedule chats approximately one month after the book debuts, late March would have been better for a February release.

3. Tell friends, family and fellow authors (heck tell anyone with a computer) about your chat and get them to log on. Give them some questions to pose if things get too lax

4. Relax and have fun - some say that you should have something ready to go and you should, have your info before you and if you're a slow typist, ask people to bare with you and beforehand ask the chat moderator to put up your first introductory paragraph for you

Send your electronic newsletter - You've read it, checked it twice, edited, had someone else look at it, compiled all the addresses and now it should be ready to go: now read what's below and check your e-newsletter again

A word about electronic submissions:

1. They should be short as I mentioned earlier. That's the number one problem: they aren't short enough. I myself am guilty of going on and on.

2. Don't interject your text with too many things you feel will break up the text, use a dotted line --------, asterisks ***** but not much else. By the time all the different Internet Service Providers (ISP) convert your text, it will look like one jumbled mess that people won't read and all that time and energy was spent for nothing.

** Find some way for your ISP not to disclose ALL the recipients of your e-mail. Most providers have a way, you just have to find it. Why? For one, readers don't want to have to scroll through a ton of e-mail addresses before they get to the reading content you've worked so hard to put together. Secondly and just as important, you don't want others lifting addresses from your hard compilation work and send your friends, readers and potential fans of your work, junk mail or add to their own mailing list. Compile and find your own addresses, man!