My Christmas Writer’s Miracle

It just struck me that my life changed one year ago today.
One year ago, I checked my email before bed, and discovered that my life had officially changed. I read the email, I screamed, and I read the email again. I had began one of the best stages of my life. One year ago today, I received the best surprise Christmas gift of my life. I learned a year ago, that I had received a book deal and become a published writer.
That one email made me feel that I could take on the world. Someone thought that I was talented enough to say they wanted to publish my work, and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity.
In this past year I have met new people that have expanded by views on writing and on life. I have been inspired to tell my story to others and hopefully give them the will to try to put their words on paper. I have done a book signing with over 30 people, taken pictures, signed books to leave smiles on others faces, and received praise in striving to live my dream. Being an author for the past year has been nothing but amazing.
At times it has been humbling. The times I have sat at signings without a single visitor, the times that people have avoided eye contact me with in fears that I would ask for something or beg for them to buy my book. It is not an easy life, it is filled with humbling experiences and people who do not want to believe in your talents. But that won’t stop me. Nothing will stop me, because the positives of receiving that email and having such blessed experiences out way the bad. I love being an author, and I will continue to write as long as I can breathe.
For those thinking of writing: Do it. There are no excuses, pick up that pen, place your fingertips on the keyboard, and tell your story. As I say in engagements for those looking for advice, “Everyone has a story to tell, but most are not strong enough to actually tell the world.” Be that strong, be that bold, and be that example for those to follow. I believe in you, and you need to believe in yourself.
So, as I think about the books that have been signed, the people who have said that they are proud of me, and those who share my dream, I can’t help but to be happy this holiday season.
Merry Christmas, friends, and may you receive surprises that change your life in the future.

The Waiting Game

Another book signing, means another round of “The Waiting Game”. I have learned that being in the world of writing is filled with times of waiting for people to give some kind of reaction to you. Waiting for a response, waiting for people to notice you at a table, just sitting and waiting. I feel like Dr. Seuss, when he wrote one of my favorite books, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”. 

He spends quite a bit of time discussing “The Waiting Place”. Where people wait for busses to go, for hair to grow, and for a second break. As he stated, “Everyone is just waiting..”

I have found that even if you have a go-go attitude, and want to get your information and writings out there, sometimes you have to wait because other choose to wait. It’s a hard thing to do for people like me. I like to keep busy, to share my story, to make appearances flooded with people, but in the real world of being an author, that often doesn’t happen.

Just now I have three people walk by me and try their best not to look at me. I fear that they think that I am a telemarketer, waiting to demand money from them. Of course, I should take it personally. But you find yourself watching the clock at times, watching the seconds tick away and your mind begins to wander to others things you could be doing.
So, of course, the ultimate questions comes to mind. “Why keep doing it if you spend so much time just sitting there?”
Because when you find your passion, you are willing to wait for others to realize your talents for the world. Because, one day, people might think back at the time they walked passed you in the cafe, in the crepery, in the book store, and they will think back on your face. They will say, “I remember seeing that author before! I should have stopped! I had the moment to share a conversation with that person and to learn their views!”
See, the loss is not of the authors. The loss if for those who didn’t stop. So, for those authors who do book signings and feel the loneliness resting on your shoulders as other avoid you while you struggle to get your words into their hands, I understand. I am going through it once again right now, with the cold air of Michigan swiping across my face each time someone opens a door, walks in, and rushes quickly past me.
But, as Jimmy V said in his memorable speech, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

Losing My Book Signing Virginity

Dated March 24, 2013-Delayed Post

Yesterday, I had my first book signing. It was an eye opening and amazing experience. So, for those thinking of joining the literary world and writing their own book, this post is for you. Read, learn, and enjoy:

Lesson #1: Your idea of the quanity of books will not match your publisher.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that your vision and focus will differ for your first signing. I had a vision of there being a line near the door for people to want my book. A publisher will have a cautious view on your book sales. I learned this difference of opinion two days before my book signing. I had an idea of a number of books for the signing, and my publisher had a different number in mind. There was much discussion on what the correct number should be, but untimately, if you don’t self-publish, the publisher has the final word. If you are a new author, you need to learn the word “compromise”. Later on, I will discuss how my publisher compromised for me also.

Lesson #2: Putting the Word Out Works

You have to use all the different avenues out there for you to talk about your book. Almost every medium that I chose worked to bring people in. Use social networks like crazy! I posted on Facebook often, especially the week leading up to the signing. I made an event for the book signing, I wrote about it all the time in my status updates, I made an account just for the author side, and I created a Twitter. You have to post all the time, but you have to find a way not to be super annoying. You have to post with fun words and in different ways, but you have to always post. Most of my friends are on Facebook, so I posted more there, but my students do Twitter, so I posted more trendy there for them. I made posters, I posted where to find me on social networks in my classroom, and any opportunity that people gave me to talk about the book, I did. And it worked for my first signing.

Lesson #3: Find the Right Outfit for You

I wandered around the mall for two hours looking for my signature style. Everyone has an idea of what they would like to wear on their big day. It ultimately is up to your style, but once you find it, buy it. I was looking of a diva shirt, something that would stand out to people without looking tacky. I found it in the last store, just before the mall closed. I decided to buy a black shirt, with a beautiful white tiger on it. It jumped out at the book signing attendee, and let you know that I was trying to stand out in a cool way. Every author should go out shopping the night before their first signing and find that amazing style just for you. Keep some of your style classy, and wear something that is comfortable. You will be walking around, and sitting, and hugging people, and getting as low as you can to talk to children. Your outfit has to be something you won’t sweat in, something you that no matter what you are doing, you are looking great and comfortable. If you are female, don’t go overboard with your make up, or overdo your hair. Be classy, but not flashy. Oh, and don’t do scented things on your body, people might be turned off by it.

Lesson #4: Bring an Author Kit

Bring the following with you: 1. Good ink pens: Most people tell you to do traditional black or blue ink. I chose purple, because it is my favorite color and the cover has that color. Your pens have to be able to flow quicky and neatly. Pay the extra money to have a set of good pens (have more than one, people will take your pens). 2. A bottle of water: You will need to sip on water often because people will talk a lot to you. Everyone is excited to speak to you, and you should speak back. 3. Mints: Your mouth will get hot because of all the talking. Don’t take the chance of having breath problems. Keep mints on you, so when you have a break, you can pop one in your mouth. People can’t get mad at you for taking care of your breath. 4. An extra pair of shoes. After all things are done, you want to relax. I brought along a silver pair of converses, which were chic and trendy, and changed shoes as I walked out. People noticed the silver shoes more than my glittery wedges that I struggled to wear while reading my poetry. 5. Treats for attendees: This one is a debated topic, and I totally understand why. If you don’t bring things, you look cheap. If you do bring goodies, there will be people just there to eat your free food and walk out without buying the book. So, here is my suggestion: Find someone who is just starting in the bakery business. Someone who is working at home, and trying to get his/her name out there. Have them bring goodies to the book signing, and advertise their business. That way, you don’t spend your money, you are helping someone else start his/her business, and building up good karma. It’s a win-win for everyone, plus you aren’t loosing money. 6. Book marks and business cards. You need to have these at both front corners of your table. People will pick these up like crazy! Save some bookmarks for kids who come. Make sure to speak to the children, and to authograph the bookmarks for them. It will make their day. If you write his/her name, a small message, and an authograph, the kid will be overjoyed. Other items to consider: A table cloth, tape, paper, a emailing list clipboard, extra books, a picture of yourself and a picture of the cover. Bring along a friend or family member to introduce you (thanks Carrie Shay), and bribe someone to be your photographer so that everyone who purchases a book gets a picture with you (Thanks Shelby).

So, I bet you are thinking, how did it go?

For me, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Due to all the hard work of emailing my publisher, the location, and getting the word out, I had an amazing turnout. I sold out of my books…twice. The compromise with the publisher lead to her bringing more books than she originally agreed to, and those sold out in 30 minutes. She apologized to me, and said she didn’t really know how serious I was about being successful in writing. I understood, most people are all about talk in being a famous writer. I am not. Do to putting the work in with all the things above, I sold around 40 books in my first signing. I took lots of pictures, talked to many people, and now know this is what I want to do with my life.

Last bit of advice, you need a tagline as a author. I leave you with mine:

Simply Love Life!

If you have questions, feel free to email me at authorjessycamathews@gmail.com

The Sultry Lyricist is Now on Your Internet Radio Dial!

I had yet another amazing experience, being a guest on Indy Radio. It was an opportunity that I could not refuse. Come on, all male panel, talking about poetry, going through the lightning round of random questions about life with thousands of listeners? How could a girl turn that down! It was a great time, loaded with surprises and fun for everyone involved. If you didn’t hear it, take a listen at the link below. Let me know what you think of my radio debut, supporters!

 

I experienced my first author interview on the microphone recently. It was a great experience! To share my story and to encourage others to take the step in becoming authors is quite the blessing. Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Listen to my story, along with two other authors of the Flint area, and be inspired to pick up that pen, scribble on that paper, or tap on those keys.

http://manasunriser.blogspot.com/2013/06/authors-discuss-writing-and-their-books.html

My First Book Signing

This past weekend, I did my first book signing for my new book, “Simply: A Collection of Poetry”. I had mixed emotions leading up to the big event, but I must say that having a book signing was one of the best moments of my life. I have never felt so free, so admired, and so empowered.

I learned a lot from the whole process. So, for those who are thinking of joining the literary world, this posting is for you:

Lesson #1: You and your publisher will have different ideas.

Please note that I did not self-publish my first book. I won a contest, and received a book contract, e-book, and two-year marketing campaign for my work. So, I didn’t have the liberty of picking the number of copies for my book to be at the book store. I wanted a larger number, my publisher wanted to keep it small. Both sides had good points on the issue: My idea was that I would market my book like crazy and have a packed house that everyone would buy my book. My publisher was focused on not wasting money and having the right amount of copies. That way, they wouldn’t be out of money with my signing. ultimately, the decision belongs to the publisher if you don’t self publish. I didn’t know that ahead of time, but I have learned from the experience. We did come to an agreement on the number of copies. So the word with your publisher has to be “compromise”.

Lesson #2: The More Marketing, the Better the Turnout

I was a marketing fool for my new book. Don’t think that the publisher will do all the work for you, because they won’t. I set up my book signing and I did the majority of the leg work for everyone to know about the big day. I made an event on Facebook, and I created a Twitter. I posted about  the signing every other day, not to annoy people, but to keep them informed. I found creative ways for me to post about what was going on, and the more likes for your comments, the better. I had a countdown, I made comments about my emotions while waiting for this opportunity, and I entertained people up to the book signing day. It was the best choice for me to take on the “selling myself” role, because without it, I wouldn’t have had the turnout that I did. I sent out emails at work, to my friends, and asked others to post my statuses on their pages. I made flyers to hang up in the area where my signing would be, and posted it around work. If you want to sell books, you have to put in hours of marketing. It will be worth it.

Lesson #3: Bring a Book Signing Kit With You

The following things need to be in your kit:

1. Extra copies of your book: Even if the publisher is wrong on numbers, make sure to take care of yourself so that you don’t disappoint your fans. Unfortunately, if the book is sold in the establishment, you will lose some money, but at least the book will be in a reader’s hands and they can show and tell about it to others. Loosing a little bit of dough will pay off in the long run. I sold out of my book…twice (I will explain later) but having the extra books made me look amazing to those who really wanted it.

Mints and Water: You might end of talking a lot, and there is nothing worse than a dry mouth/throat or bad breath. Keep the mints in your pocket, and the water on the floor next to you at all times. Both saved me.

A good pen: Most people will tell you to use black or blue ink. I chose to use purple, but I spent the money for a great flow writing pen, and one that wouldn’t smudge. It looked great in the books, and has become my signature color. I won’t change my purple notes for anything. And bring a Sharpie with you also, you might end up signing other things that are listed next.

Bookmarks, a picture of yourself, and a picture of the Book: You have to have these items. I found a great bookmark maker online for free, make my bookmarks, and laminated them (luckily, I received the color ink and laminating for free…use the sources that you have). I made around 50 bookmarks and 45 were gone when I finished. The left over five I put my autograph and left them on the cashier’s stations for some random person to have. On the bookmark, make sure to have your name, name of the book, your ISBN # and where to purchase it. Lastly, have a picture of yourself or of the book cover on the bookmark so that people recognize you or your work. Have a picture of yourself and the book cover on an easel for people to see right when they walk in, it makes you seem and look like a celebrity.

Snacks: I read many sources that said this is a good and a bad idea. I came up with a creative way of getting your snacks for the big day. Ask around to see if someone is starting a new bakery business and wants to advertise. If you find someone, tell them they can set up a display and have samples of their treats for attendees. They can not charge for the snacks, that would make you look bad. That way, you aren’t loosing money, and they are gaining business. You won’t have to worry about people coming over just for your food, because, it isn’t your worry or your food. It worked great for me, and the girls who set up the snack display received an order for a cake just for being there!!!

Other things to consider: a photographer (I bribed a soccer player to do it, and my publisher liked her photos so much they paid her, not me), business cards to have all over your table, and grab a Square (if you are at a place where you can sell your own books, the Square will take credit cards).

Lesson #4: You are What You Wear
Pick an outfit that you are comfortable with. Everyone is different. I do suggest going shopping and getting something new to wear because you are a new person after you become published. My style was a little different, but I liked what I picked to wear. I had black pants, black shirt with a white tiger, and black wedges with glitter on the heels. The only thing that I would change would be to wear All-Stars instead of the heels. I am not a heel wearing girl, but I wanted to look fancy. I will say to you, “Just Be You”. Make sure that you are comfortable in your clothing, because you will be running around quite a bit, and will have to stand for hugs, handshakes, and get low if small children come to talk to you. Plus, you don’t want to sweat all over those who are there to meet you. I wore moderate make-up, because I didn’t want to look like someone in a beauty pageant or a drag queen, and no perfume or cologne. Someone might be allergic to you.

Lesson #5: Have Fun!
Whatever number of people who attend your signing, have a great time. Be social, talk to anyone who comes in. Have your photographer take pictures with each person who takes time to buy the book. Post the pictures on social networks for the world to see. And always sign each book with a nice message. It is the least that you can do for people who purchased your writing. I had a blast with my signing. The bookstore sold out of the books they had, my publisher came later with more books, and they sold out too (that is how I sold out twice). Everyone left happy, but not as happy as I was in having the event.

I can’t remember the last time I was that happy. I now know that I am meant to be a writer. So, I am on the marketing trail again, looking for the next book signing location. Happy times, happy times. So, in closing, make yourself a tagline, and here is mine:
“Simply” Love Life!

You can see more about my first signing on my Facebook and Twitter pages: Jessyca Mathews

Simply A Great Video

A great video about my book. A special thank you to Christina B. who is a student in my Senior English class. Sometimes, you can make simple request, but receive an amazing gift. This child is talented beyond measure, and took a easy extra credit assignment and made it incredible! Look at the talents of others, and give them praise if they include you in their displays of greatness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMExJOMwb4