The Harlem Shake, Indie Bookstore Style

The Harlem Shake, Bookstore Style

Breaking News: It is world wide knowledge that Indie Bookstores go the extra mile to sell books. They have free giveaways, quirky contests, and sometimes . . . ask authors to act a fool while someone captures their shenanigans on film. Cat Blanco, owner of The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia recently did just that, ask me and a handful of others to act a fool.

Younger readers will recognize The Harlem Shake as a phenomenon that has taken over YouTube.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, here’s the gist: as best as I understand. The video begins with a group of people hanging out. These people could be in the Starbucks, college dorm, or in this case, a local bookstore. All of the sudden a kooky person enters, dancing all kray-kray while no one else seems to notice. Then when the music hits a certain note everyone starts dancing kray-kray.

For the record, we realize our feeble attempt is in no way similar to the “Original” Harlem Shake. We’re just trying to spread the word that Indie bookstores are anything but boring.

Cat assembled the group and we picked out our headgear (apparently head-adorning-implements are required for this type of activity). Next, it was time to cue the music.

Law have mercy. It's a good thing none of our parents have internet access !

Law have mercy. It’s a good thing none of our parents have internet access !

What you can’t see on the video are customers entering the store as we’re standing there wearing hats, motorcycle helmets and bunny ears. Cat explained, Don’t mind us; we’re just filming a Harlem Shake video.

She said this like it was an everyday occurrence. Then she asked. . . wanna join us? The look on their faces was priceless. By the way, no one volunteered to join us.

harlemshake1 (1)Cat also pulled the guy next-door from the barber shop. C’mon, join the fun. Here’s a pic of her covering adjusting his silver wig.

As my people would say, They help my time.

It took a couple of takes, before the video was done. Even now, we look at the video and smile. We were supposed to stand in one spot and shake our booty. But there was something about the music, the excitement that filled the room that made up hop around the room like excited bunnies.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited an Indie Bookstore you’ll see that they are, loads of fun. No stuffed-shirts hoity-toity folk in here. Most Indies bookstore owners remember your name, and your reading preferences. They provide jobs for the neighborhood and are far from being extinct. If you haven’t visited The Book Exchange well it just up the road from you on Canton Road.  The address is 2932 Canton Road, Marietta GA 30066. If you’ve got your eye on a new release, or you want to load up on your favorite used books give Cat a call at (770) 427-4848.

Cat is known for hosting fabulous author events that bring New York Times best-selling authors to North Georgia. If you have never attended an author event, here’s a listing of upcoming author appearances:

April 16, 2013 Wendy Wax

May 16, 2013 Charles Martin and Patti Callahan Henry

June 4, 2013 Karen White

harlemshakemyra1I promise. We will leave our goofy headgear and stick pony at home. You will find that we’re just a group of passionate readers happy to support the local Indie, and a group of devoted authors acting a fool all for the love of books.

Please visit The Book Exchange on Facebook and LIKE their Page. We’d hate for all our Tom Foolery to be for naught. Oh, and while you’re there please follow me, or send me a friend request.

And now, without further ado, the video. The Book Exchange’s version of the Harlem Shake. harlemshakeyoutubepix

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at


In the Garden with Billy Book Trailer

Visit to learn more about Billy Albertson. Or on Facebook at In the Garden with Billy

Advice for Authors: How Book Trailers Increase Sales

I must admit, when I first started writing I didn’t understand the importance of having a book trailer. At the time I believed the word trailer and book didn’t go together. Unless I was speaking about Hollis Gillespie’s book Trailer Trashed.

Then I began spending time with successful authors. What I discovered is that most of them have a book trailer that teases readers. Authors offered readers a video snapshot into the story, book characters, or their personal lives as an author. In turn, readers were intrigued with their video and purchased copies of their work. Here are links to a few of my favorites:

Stephanie McAfee

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Karen Spears Zacharias

These trailers, or book videos if you prefer, have one thing in common, YouTube. Each is hosted on YouTube (for free). The challenge becomes finding an affordable videographer. Authors need only look at their local high school and colleges.

I first met Sean Pettit at the Roswell High School during an author signing. I was there listening to the beautiful and talented, Robin Mellom speak about her first book, Ditched. When she finished I noticed a tall young man in the back of the room with a gigantic video camera. At that exact moment by brain went. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Rushing toward him, I pressed my business card in his hand and said, “I’m an author. I’ve written a book about a local celebrity and need a book trailer.”

Sean took my card and said, “I think I can handle that.”

Just to be safe, I jotted down his email as well.

Before you spend a fortune, give local students an opportunity. High school and college students desperately need the experience. They are building their resume’. They need you. You need them.

Next I wrote a short script. Putting voice behind the visual isn’t required. A simple power point presentation will suffice. However, I wanted something that captured the soul of Billy Albertson. I just didn’t know how to make it happen. This was why I gave Sean carte blanche to work his magic. I must admit, giving him unconditional power made me a bit nervous. I really didn’t know how the video would turn out, but I trusted Sean to work his magic. He was the expert. He obviously knew a lot more about making videos than I did.

At this point, let me say that if you want to hire Sean, tell him that I sent you. He will get to your book trailer as quickly as he can. Like most artist with “the gift,” Sean doesn’t say much. He walked Billy’s property while absorbing important facts like lighting, sound quality, things necessary to make a video look great. More than that, he captured the essence of Billy Albertson. All I needed was a couple of children for the video, which I borrowed from my friend, Kelle Mcentegart. I think you will agree that Sean truly, he has a gift.

To view Sean’s creation click HERE. Please share the video and leave comments.

In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes is currently out of print. A few copies remain on Amazon. Or, if you want a personalized copy, please order through my website. For emerging authors who haven’t attended my workshops or read my book titled: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author, all Indie Booksellers can order the book. It is also available on Amazon and through my website. Obviously, a book trailer for that is forthcoming.

Thank you for reading and as always, keep writing.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author. She just finished In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is now working on her first novel. Friend her on Facebook or find her on Twitter at ReneaWinchester.


Book Launch: The Beginning of Your Journey

Many self-published authors fail to understand the impact a book launch has on future sales. Some may not even know what a book launch is (insert gasp!). So let me rewind just a second. A book launch is perhaps the single most important event in the life of your work, a birthday if you will, a coming out party, where you announce to the beauty of your newborn. Please, do not publish a title without first planning a launch.

What do I need? Every book deserves a book launch (or three). This grand event is one of joy, excitement, and of course…sales. Those who have read Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author know that it takes approximately two months to plan an adequate launch. You need to reserve a venue, plan for light refreshments, speak to friends who take photos, and —don’t forget—make certain you have enough copies of your work on hand.

Imagine selling 250 copies of your title. That is what happened during my book launch.

Finding a Venue: Since I am a North Carolina native, and also lived in Tennessee for an extended period of time, and currently live in Georgia, my first title: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes had three separate launches, one for each state. Find a venue that either compliments your character, or the theme of your book. Listen to your characters, they will tell you where to hold their birthday party.

Launching your book doesn’t have to be fancy.

Setting a Budget: Be realistic about sales and set a budget. Notice that the “sign” for the Billy launch is hand-made and attached to his truck. Refreshments were popcorn and lemonade, all perfect for a garden book launch.

Confused?: If all of this seems overwhelming, consider asking an independent bookseller for help. That being said, do not…repeat not contact them two weeks prior to the release demanding that they work with you. Business people need advance notice, and time to acquire your title. If you are self-published you will need to partner with the seller, not try to boss them around (trust me, that happens). Refer to Stress-free Marketing; Practical Advice for tips on how to approach booksellers, and also read these two post about approaching booksellers the wrong way, and approaching them the correct way.

Invitations: Mail post-card size invitations to the list of contacts you have acquired. Include a link to your website, and these important words, copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Standing room only and sell out book launches can happen. I’m living proof.

 Don’t forget: On the day of the event, don’t forget to have change for those who will pay with cash and a way of taking credit card payments unless you have specified on the invitation that payment will be accepted by cash or check.

These are just a few of the things one needs to have a successful launch. Once the day has ended you will also need to use the photos taken at the event to generate publicity to keep the momentum and excitement about your book progressing.

Keep writing dear ones.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author who is currently working on her third book. When she isn’t writing she volunteers at the local library. Visit her at www.reneawinchester. Or Twitter at: Reneawinchester

Fresh from the Literary Festival

by Renea Winchester 

I have just returned from one of my favorite literary festivals held in Canton, Georgia. If you are working on a manuscript, attending festivals and workshops is the best way to meet authors and gather information about how they have successfully marketed their book. Here is what I learned.

While sitting on a panel with Stephanie McAfee, I, and many others in attendance, marveled when she told us that she sold 145,000 copies of her (then self-published) e-book. Not only that, but Stephanie sold those copies during a time when the sale of traditional books fall flat. Her sales came in January and February.

Those who have read my book Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author know that I am firmly against releasing a printed book during January and February. Why? Most people are on a budget and, during the months of January and February, have limited funds by which to purchase books.

The exception… those who receive a new Kindle and gift cards.

Kindle fledglings scour Amazon searching for cheap (or free) books. Stephanie’s plan was simple. Write a book. Release it in January during a time when people were uploading  99 cent ebooks. Then wait. Hope. Pray.

Caveat: what worked for her then may not work for you today. She released her e-book on the cusp of the Kindle explosion. Today, there are literally tens of thousands of 99 cent ebooks.

Stephanie also shared that once the book started selling well, (well above average) she became embarrassed at the number of typographical errors it contained.

“I didn’t have an editor,” she explained to those in attendance at the conference. “So when I started selling a lot of copies I was embarrassed at how many mistakes the book contained. If you are considering publishing, please invest in an editor.”

Today, Stephanie is living every author’s dream. She has a three-book contract from a New York Times publisher. She also has a tremendous amount of work ahead. With three books to write in addition to marketing those books, she spends a lot of time locked inside her home office.

“I asked for my agent for an extension,” she announced at the conference. “I thought the publisher would give me 90 days…they gave me thirty. These are the things new authors learn fast.”

Certainly, Stephanie’s e-books will never again be priced at the bargain price of 99 cents, but for her, the low-price strategy worked.

Thank you for reading and remember, keep writing.

Renea Winchester is currently working on her third book titled: In the Kitchen with Billy. She was recently named the Atlanta Pen Woman Author of the year. Visit her at

To learn more about Stephanie visit her at

Oh the Joy of Radio

Dear Ones,

Today is a short post. I thought you might enjoy this link to Joy Radio. Patti is a wonderful host who has stepped into the world of Blog Talk Radio.

Those who have read my book, understand the importance of radio and how it magically helps authors build an audience. Self-published and emerging authors benefit by reaching out to radio hosts. I hope you will take a moment and encourage Patti by listening to some of her shows. She is a kind soul who loves to support authors.

Here is the link to her other shows.

Blessings and best sellers to you!

Renea Winchester

Name Dropping is a No-No

Name Dropping is a No-No by Renea Winchester

Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect the victims

After speaking with a colleague whom I will call Betsy, I was shocked to discover she has a “stalker” (of sorts). During a conference Betsy met Name Dropping Nancy. The two had a grand time. They chatted as authors do, and discovered mutual interests. As an aside, authors are always eager to speak about their work, share ideas and extend the hand of friendship. Unfortunately, Betsy had no idea that Nancy’s sole purpose for chatting was to gather information.

The problem began when Nancy began contacting publishers saying that our beloved Betsy sent her.

Yes…she did.

The situation escalated when Nancy (who didn’t understand that unanswered emails = “no.”) began calling the publisher.

Yes…she did.

The situation redlined after Nancy received a “no” from the publisher, and instead of accepting the response, continued to press. She didn’t understand that with every dropped-name, sent email and interrupting telephone call she soiled her reputation.


Nancy called, and called, and evidently called a couple more times. Miss Nancy rang the phone so many times that the publisher of a major magazine called Betsy and said, “you are going to have to tell her to stop calling.”

Imagine for a moment Betsy’s surprise. She paused, replayed the conference sifting through the faces she met, uttered conversations and exchanged business cards until she recognized Name Dropping Nancy. That is how well she knew Nancy.

Dear Ones, how do we solve this problem? First, if you are Nancy, or related to her, stop it. Today.

Now Betsy, who doesn’t really know Nancy from —as we say in the south— Adam’s housecat, is in a terrible situation. Nancy and her pushy can’t-take-no-for-an-answer must stop. What is Betsy to do? She doesn’t have time to deal with this, but Nancy is persistent.

Apparently, this happens a lot. Two authors strike up a conversation, share tips, exchange cards and poof, next think you know it’s “Betsy sent me.”

For those new to writing, here is how networking really works.

If, in fact, a colleague has suggested their publisher, agent or hairstylist, they will call or send a message FIRST. After they have opened the door, then you may proceed. Any other contact automatically and immediately illuminates every warning bell and whistle imaginable. Sending an email saying, “I met Best-selling Betsy at a local festival and she said I should contact you,” when Betsy has no idea you are using her name is (blunt warning) professional suicide.

I mean serious irreparable damage to your career.


How many other authors have had this happen? I would love to hear your response. Feel free to post, link to FB and tweet. We all must do our part to silence Name-Dropping-Nancy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author and In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. Her books are traditionally published and available in bookstores upon request, and online through the usual outlets. Visit her at to learn more.