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 www.reneawinchester.com

My Thoughts on Being Thankful…and Sending Books to NJ

I was recovering from surgery when Hurricane Katrina hit the south on August 29, 2005; physically unable to do anything but weep as men like Hardy Jackson from Biloxi, MS suffered devastating losses. You may not remember his name, but I know you remember his face. For those who have wondered what happened to Mr. Jackson, he has stage IV cancer. View his story here.

I remember my heart breaking, my resolve building that I would do something should another tragedy hit. However, when Superstorm Sandy came to shore on the Northeastern Coast I found myself unable to contribute. The Red Cross won’t accept my blood (I’m too short, and a cancer survivor); and, like many American families, struggling financially. Then a thought entered my heart, you can coordinate a book drive.  The one thing I have plenty of is books, not just the one I’ve written, but stacks of books from bestselling authors. For those who haven’t read the original post about the drive, you can find it here.

Since the original post complete strangers have come together. Authors, readers, book reviewers and complete strangers have sent books to libraries that were severely damaged. I was also shocked at the naysayers who said that the books wouldn’t be wanted. I had spoken directly to the COO of the library who was moved to tears that someone…anyone was thinking of them. I understand that insurance will cover some of the costs. However it is the end of the fiscal year and the particular library chosen was already operating on an anorexic budget. They needed books…now.

I should also mention that I have withheld the address from my blog to protect the library from unscrupulous people who have their own best interest at heart. Already someone offered free books but the fine print read that they expected the library to pay shipping. And, I was discouraged when the United Parcel Service who, when I contacted them via FB, would not issue a call slip for the book reviewer who had several boxes of books she was willing to donate. Still, we pressed on and books arrive at the library every day

In the posts that follow I will include images from those who sent me pictures of books. I know I will overlook or forget someone and I apologize in advance. If you didn’t receive the mailing address of the library, kindly send another email to me and I will  send you the address. Your books bring smiles. They bring hope, and for that I am very thankful.

Below are some of the authors and readers who have contributed with more images to follow later.

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Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Friend Bologna Sandwiches will be released soon. Learn more about her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

Southern Authors Ready to Send Books to Libraries Damaged by Sandy

Images from hurricane Sandy are in and they are heartbreaking. Our Northern brothers and sisters have been hit hard. Homes destroyed. Unimaginable loss. Desperation.  It is during these times that we feel helpless asking, “What can I do?”

Photo credit: Reuters/Adreeslatif

We empathize with those who have lost everything and those working hard to restore the area. We understand that compensation from insurance companies will come, but may not cover all the damage.  That is why many churches and schools are hosting food drives, delivering water, food, batteries and love-filled hugs. The Red Cross is boots-on-the- ground as are our military and regular everyday folk who just want to help. For those who can give financially, please do so either to the Red Crossarchitectureforhumanity.org or Because We Care Ministries who arrived in New Jersey days ago.  I mention these three charities because I personally know people who work there and because there have been reports of people with less than noble intentions are already taking advantage of folk. C’mon now. Let’s work together.

Today I write asking  my fellow authors and readers to participate in a book drive. Realizing that times are tight and some people can not write a check; I urge authors, book reviewers, and readers to give what they already have . . . copies of books. Plenty of helpers will rebuild neighborhoods, but who will help the libraries? Prior to this storm, libraries had already experienced deep cuts; they were doing more than ever with limited resources.  That is why I need your help.

If you are an author, please help me send copies of your work to Sandy victims. If you are a reader or book reviewer and have books in PRISTINE condition, you can help also.  I am one woman on a mission to give books to those in need. This little project is not a quick fix. Yes, I realize that people need homes, but they will also need books. I figure if students can send coats, authors and readers can send books. If we all do what we can then every little bit will help. This book drive is my “little bit.” My hope is that every person reading this post will send at least one book. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

When I mentioned this idea to local booksellers and my NYT author friends, I quickly realized that southern authors and readers were ready to ship tons of books to our friends up North. I have collaborated with George Eberhart, Editor of American Libraries Magazine who kindly helped me locate libraries in need of assistance. If you are inclined to help please send me your information and I will forward the mailing address of the library that is in need. If you’re an author, or library staff, my goal is to build a relationship that benefits readers.

For Librarians and Media Specialists along the coast: North Carolina, New Jersey, Long Island, Delaware.  If  Sandy damaged your library and you would like to add books to your permanent collection, please contact me using the address below.

Authors, readers, and book reviewers: Please follow the instructions and include all information requested  to add your title to the list.

Add your name to the list using the contact information below.

Please email me at: Reneawrites(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE, DO NOT SHIP BOOKS TO ME! Contact me through the above email.

Authors, please include the title, ISBN, CIP, Genre, URL link and, of course, contact information. Readers and reviewers, I just need contact your information.

From my heart to yours, thank you. Remember, every book counts.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes.  In 2012, she was named the Atlanta Pen Women Author of the Year.   She is passionate about literacy. When she isn’t writing, she shelves books at the public library. She is currently seeking representation for her third book In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches, and her first novel currently in progress.  Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com. To learn about Pen Women in your area click here.

In the Garden with Billy Book Trailer

Visit http://www.reneawinchester.com 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.

 

Knowing the Truth about Royalty Checks: Recognizing the Lies

by Renea Winchester

I have been waiting for the right time to address this issue. Hoping to find a way to tactfully deliver the message. Praying I could do so in a manner that doesn’t alienate me, offend newbie authors, and yet deliver the truth. 

Y’all know that some people can’t handle the truth. Right? 

I’ll begin with a story: Recently, I was enjoying breakfast with a friend who works as a publicist/mentor/coach for other writers. She was sharing a success story and said that one of her clients told her, “each week I receive a check from Amazon for several hundred dollars.” 

Poker-faced, I steered the conversation toward his book and his marketing techniques,  all while thinking what is wrong with me? I don’t receive a check from Amazon every week? 

Many self-published authors would have immediately contacted Amazon and raised all sorts of ruckus. They would have accused Amazon of stealing. They would have cited examples of their sales (using Amazon’s own statistical numbers as evidence). They would threaten litigation. They would make complete fools out of themselves. 

Those who have read my book, Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author, (click link to order) understand that monitoring (or boasting about) sales isn’t a productive use of time. Here is an excerpt from my book about monitoring your sales:  Caution: It is easy to become obsessed with online sales. Before spending hours monitoring sales, (which is easy to do) please understand that the ranking system is an enigma wrapped in an unsolvable puzzle. 

Being in the top 10,000 Amazon ranking doesn’t mean your book is selling millions of copies.

Truth: Amazon does not, has not, and will not ever mail authors a weekly check. Any author who tells you otherwise is telling you a lie. 

So much for tact. 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in claiming that good things will come your way. But, I kinda-sorta-believe good things also come to those who tell the truth, not to people who purposely spread misinformation. 

Don’t you?

 A quick visit to Amazon reveals the following: (bold area highlighted by me):

             5.4.2 Payment Terms. Amazon parties will pay Royalties on their respective Digital Book sales approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month during which they make the applicable sale. At the time of payment, we will make available to you an online report detailing sales of Digital Books and corresponding Royalties. All payments will be made via check, Electronic Funds Transfer (“EFT”) payments or other method we designate in the Program Policies, in the Sale Currency or other payment currency we provide for in the Program Policies. If we give you the option to change your payment currency and you select that option using our then-current procedures, the change will be effective on the first day of the calendar month following the calendar month in which you make the change (unless we make an earlier period available). If we pay you in a currency other than the Sale Currency, we will convert the Royalties due from the Sale Currency to the payment currency at an exchange rate we determine, which will be inclusive of all fees and charges for the conversion. We may require you to register in your Program account a valid bank account for receiving EFT payments that is in compliance with the then-current Program Policies, in which case we will not be obligated to make payments of Royalties to you unless you do so. We are entitled to accrue and withhold payments until the total amount due is at least $10 if by EFT or $100 if by check, or for payments in other currencies, at least those amounts we set forth in the Program Policies.

Clearly, the man claiming to receive weekly royalty checks is spreading misinformation. Even if he were selling hundreds of dollars worth of books every weeks, Amazon wouldn’t endure the expense of mailing him a check every week. Their own policy is clear. Authors receive checks every 60 days (or longer). While I do not know the reasoning behind his actions, I know that I immediately felt cheated. I do not want you to feel the same way, hence this blog post.

Hopefully, my message will clear up any doubt. No one receives compensation from Amazon. No one.

Keep writing and looking for those checks. As always, I welcome your comments. I kindly ask you to share my blog with others. In this case, knowledge is power.

Renea Winchester is an 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. She teaches emerging author workshops across Georgia, NC, and Tennessee. Contact her through her website to book her in your state.

Questions from Workshop Participants

The most common question I receive from workshop participants is, “How do I get my book in bookstores?”

While ultimately the decision to shelve your book depends on the owner, here is a simple tip that worked for me.

Send readers to their store.

If you want a bookseller to consider your book, they must know they can sell it. (Step One: Write a perfect-error free book about interesting subject matter). 

An aside: I once visited a pitch session with an agent. A pitch session is where you meet an agent and tell them about your book. If they like your “sales pitch,” they request a copy of your manuscript. Anyway, the woman beside me was pitching her book which featured a talking racoon. After the author described her book as the next Art of Racing in the Rain, the agent kindly explained she wasn’t interested and couldn’t sell the story concept.

“So, can I send you the manuscript?” the author asked.

Dear ones, you will not be like that lady. There is a thin line between assertiveness and career-ending pushy behavior.

All of the booksellers I know have owned their store for years (read decades); this means they knows what their customers read. Take a moment to consider this chart from Publishers Weekly:

Understanding how readers find books is crucial for author's attempting to reaching them.

While I am on that subject let me ask this question, “do you spend money in the store you have approached?” Do you have a relationship with the owner?

Good. Keep shopping at the store.

People also  try a variety of methods to trick booksellers into stocking their books. A common technique is having a friend pose as publicist or agent. This is the BIGGEST mistake an author could ever make. For those who have yet to read my book, you will soon learn that everyone knows everyone in this business. Pretty-pretty please with sugary sprinkles on top,  do not do this to yourself. Do not take your book  into the store, (or have your momma, g-ma, preacher, sister, brother or another obscure relative shove self-published pages under the owner’s nose) and then proceed to tell them you have written the best book since the Bible. Certainly, do not call a bookstore and tell them I sent you. Lawhavemercy.

This is exactly the behavior that will ruin your career, before you even have a career.

You are a professional. You will research and understand how to approach a bookseller before actually doing it. Understand that not every store will stock your book. Not every store stocked my first book. This is the nature of the business. Once you read Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author you will realize the value of their shelf space and the pressure to turn books around quickly.

Dear ones, there is no “fast track” in the writing world. You  must earn your place on the shelves of bookstores with time, patience and a following of readers who adore that perfectly flawless book you have written. Some books never get into the bookstore. They still sell well. They still have a following of readers. Many factors determine the success of your book; professionalism is one of them.

Hope to see you soon.

Hugs,

Renea Winchester

www.reneawinchester.com