Friday, February 18, 2011

Hostess with the Mostest

What is a struggling author to do when her book has come out, but no one seems to realize it? Throw a party, of course!

And just in case you think that the publishing company pays for things like that, let me tell you right now that is not the case anymore. A friend of mine asked me once before an author appearance I had in New Jersey if the publishing company was sending me there in a limo. HA!!! That's hilarious. No, I drove myself and paid for my own gas and tolls. I attended a panel discussion of Latina writers a couple of months ago and they spoke about all the challenges they have faced in the publishing business. One of them, who used to be an editor, revealed that the publisher's budget for an author--especially a new, unknown author--is very small. They can spend anywhere from $500 to $5,000 on promoting you. (Most new authors are in that $500 slot, and that includes stamps, labels, envelopes, everything!) And once they've spent that...well, that's pretty much all the promoting they can do. The moral to this story? Authors these days are responsible for their own promotion, and if that means spending some of your own money, so be it.

And so, with promoting my book in mind, I put together a Your Life, but Sweeter launch party on February 4 at Characters NYC, which has a private, spacious back room and the nicest staff ever. Characters provided the mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, vegetarian spring rolls, sliders, and quesadillas. Dylan's Candy Bar provided the fresh popcorn machine. And Magnolia Bakery provided the "sweet" part of the Your Life, but Sweeter party: an assortment of cookies, brownies, and lemon squares, two dozen cupcakes, and a glorious red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. And I bought big swirly lollipops from a tourist shop on 8th Avenue. My mom helped me out by printing out small copies of the book cover so we could glue them to the lollipops. Everything looked mmm mm good.

And my friends at Mobile Libris once again provided the books. Sharon Preiss herself, who runs the company, came this time to help train her new employee, Casey. As always, they set up a great display, using the poster the Columbia University Bookstore had made for my appearance there last month.

A bunch of my friends and coworkers came out, as well as my wonderful parents. Also in attendance, Tonya and her daughter, Bria (whose birthday party I wrote about in a previous blog). We also had a battle of the cute babies going on. My editor, Stephanie, and her husband, Dan (who took the author photo featured in the books), brought their adorable new daughter, Maggie. My coworker Evan and his wife brought their new little one, Caspia. And my best friend brought her one-year-old, Arielle. Cuteness all over the place, I tell you. (I'll add more pictures later.)

It was a short party, but by the end of the night, I'd sold 37 books, all my guests were loaded up on sugar and popcorn, and everybody had a good time. So was it worth the expense? Without a doubt. It felt great celebrating the books with all these people I care about and who have been so supportive of me and my writing. And to be honest, I'm proud of myself. True, I spent almost all of last year working my tail off, but nights like this make it all worthwhile. Thanks for the love, everybody! 

I also found out some pretty exciting news (at least to me): One of the professors at my alma mater, Penn State-Behrend, contacted me to let me know that she is using Your Life, but Better and Maya & Miguel: My Twin Brother/My Twin Sister as part of the curriculum for her English class. How cool is that? She even invited me to come by the campus to speak to the writing students there. I have also been invited to do a book signing at the Montclair Public Library in New Jersey this April or May. I continue to be amazed how one thing leads to another and another. But I'm still learning about how to get my books out there more. I've been told I have to actually contact schools and ask them to invite me to speak. (Who knew?) And I just entered my first two books to be considered for the NY Book Festival this September. Eh, it's worth a shot, right? Bear with me while I try to get myself off the D-list in the publishing world.  

Have a safe and happy long weekend, everybody.