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.

Solitude

Solitude, please embrace my life.
I need to hide, to step away.
From those who cut me like a knife.
Solitude, please embrace my life.
No more hurt, pain, or tears of strife
In my dark corner I will stay.
Solitude, please embrace my life.
I need to hide, to step away.

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