Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Book that Launches a Career by Karen Rock



I had a dream. And that dream was to become a published writer. It’s funny how dreams always end before they really ‘end’. You’re left wondering… what happens next? On July 2nd, I’ll realize that dream with the release of my first novel, my Young Adult romance, CAMP BOYFRIEND. Even better, I know how it ends- or doesn’t, rather. In other words, what my nightly imaginings (and daytime ones as well) failed to consider is that the debut of a book, whether you are a new author like me, or a veteran, demands time and care. Shepherding a novel into the world is like having a child, once it is out, the responsibility, the worry, and yes- the joy- really begins.

Having published over fifty books, my young adult writing partner, Harlequin Blaze author Joanne Rock, is extremely knowledgeable about this process. She’s been such a blessing in organizing the many tasks and details involved to ensuring the book is properly launched. Here are a few from our cheat sheet:

Write four weeks’ worth of blog pieces for our “Camping Out” tour and give them to our publicist. 

Craft a book trailer for a YouTube channel we created for the book.

Make a playlist for the novel and share it on iTunes.
Create contests that will promote the book and traffic on our website, Facebook page, Pinterest boards, Goodreads page, Tumblr account using Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. (We are currently running five contests- maybe six- I might be losing count!). Here's a picture of one running on our current " CAMP CRUSH CONTEST"  on Pinterest. If interested in the contests, the link for all is ow.ly/mp9kG

Promote said contests daily- sometimes multiple times.

Reach out to communities we belong to that would be interested in knowing about the novel’s release such as discussion groups on Goodreads, library associations, camp groups, and bloggers/reviewers who enjoy contemporary YA.

Get a cover blurb for the novel (We got a fabulous one from NY Times Bestseller, and awesome human being, Carrie Jones, author of the NEED series. She was kind enough to say, “Fun, romantic and giddy, Camp Boyfriend brings real romance to summer camp with grace, humor and passion” WOW!

Create a unit plan (actually I made two) that was aligned with the new National Core ELA standards that demonstrated Best Practices for educators. As a teacher, that meant creating handouts, assignment task sheets, directions for the lessons within each unit and so on… and all of that needed to be burned to CDs that we could put in folders with copies of each unit plan to hand out at conferences and signings

Attend conferences. Joanne and I attended BEA in New York a couple of weeks ago, we fly to Chicago on Friday to attend the ALA (Librarians Association), and then leave for RWA in Atlanta to sign CAMP BOYFRIEND there as well. Each conference means promoting and signing.

Plan and attend launch parties, readings, and signings. We have a book signing event in Larchmont, NY on July 13th, a themed book event party, reading, and signing here in our home town thrown by our wonderful council of the arts on July 15th, a book launch party thrown by our publisher in partnership with a respected, dedicated children’s bookstore in Burlington, VT on July 16th. We fly to Atlanta the next day then come back and have another book signing.

Sign books in advance of our July 2nd release for a bookstore that ran a pre-order promotion.

Take pictures, organize, and mail out prizes. In one case, Joanne and I spent a fun morning picking and choosing just the right items to put in our basket for the RWA raffle.

Ensure that book reviewers have received ARCs of the novel and follow-up to see if they’ve been kind enough to post a review.


Express our deep gratitude to the incredibly generous people who have helped us along the way by hosting us on their blogs, sharing our facebook posts, retweeting our Twitter posts (thank you so much, Aimee!),  entering our contests, and last, but definitely not (so far from it!) the lightning bolt of support that came from YA and adult romance author Rachel Harris’ Flirt Squad. Despite having an upcoming contemporary romance release of her own on July 8th- TASTE THE HEAT- she’s gone out of the way to rally the amazing friends on her street team to help out Joanne and I by throwing her own promotional contest for us. She is the definition of a supportive writing friend, and an incredibly talented on at that if you’ve had the chance to read her YA romances such as MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

Finally, listen carefully to the sage advice given by those who’ve done it before and done it well. Thank you so much to Tara Randel, Roz Denny Fox, Muriel Jensen, Syndi Powell, Aimee Thurlo and Jennifer Snow who are always wonderfully quick to shoot me an encouraging email when I’m lost. It means so much to write with such a supportive, savvy group of women (and David!) and I cannot wait until my Heartwarming release, WISH ME TOMORROW, in September to try this out again… lol. It is truly a labor of love.

If I’m still dreaming, please don’t pinch me. I want it to go on and on and on and on…
 
This week, I'm giving my appreciation and love away instead of a prize... I think the internet would explode if I added one more contest. But I hope it's valuable still :)

25 comments:

  1. Karen - I'm sure you're headed to Superstardom! What a plan - I'll bet General Motors isn't that well organized. The energy, enthusiasm, and belief that fueled you through the writing will certainly power you to make a great impression everywhere! I'm not even familiar with half the e-venues on your list, but it's a new world and it sounds like you're ready to conquer it. Go girl!

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    1. Thank you, Muriel :-) I'm not even sure if I understand all of the e-venues either, but it's fun trying! It is a new world out there, but what has always worked, crafting good books, reaching out to fans in genuine ways, making lasting connections with other writers, still holds true and you've been such a grounding force to keep me focused on what matters most- between your notes of encouragement and your wonderful posts that always seem to speak to me so personally. Thanks, Muriel.

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  2. Was happy to help out via the Flirt Squad to help promote the book. I'm excited to read it!

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    1. I can't thank you and the wonderful Flirt Squad enough, Arlette!! Rachel is an amazing person and she surrounds herself with equally fabulous people like you. I'm so lucky that you've helped with CB- but most of all, I'm so glad that we've met :)

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  3. Wow... is it true we did all this?? The fun of the shared experience made all the work a pleasure! It's pretty amazing to see the list though as it's something to smile about as the book finally arrives in stores. As my sports-minded husband would say, when the game is over, we can at least say we gave it all on the field with this book ;-). Congratulations, Karen!

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    1. haha- I love that, Joanne! Dean always has a great way of saying things- that's the talented writer in him. He's right, when the dust settles, we can say that we gave it all on the field... but boy has it been fun to play. Congratulations to you as well, Joanne!

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  4. What an impressive list!! I can't wait to read all your books, Karen <33 And believe me, it was our pleasure to host you on the Flirt Squad!

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    1. Thank you so much, Rachel! Your awesome talents go beyond your writing (which I adore!) but extend to organizing such an amazing team and connecting with others in a genuine and real way. You take the extra time to make all that know you feel very special. It's a gift, Rachel. I'm so very glad we met. We clicked immediately and through the years we'll always have each other's backs- even if that back just needs a hug :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Tara :) You've been such a good friend through this all and I'm thrilled we get to share a Harlequin line and a blog day together as well. Your emails have meant so much to me. xo

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  6. Karen, I know every step of your career will be the dream you dreamed. You are talented and organized, two of the most important parts to staying in this frantic business. I hope you savor every step of the way, because there is no high like watching the first sale work through its process.
    Wish I was going to Atlanta to stand in your book line.

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    1. Thank you, Roz! That was beautifully said- but then again, I know I can count on you for that!!! I'm doing my best to take moments to take it all in and writing this post was one of them, reading everyone's beautiful comments in another. It touches me so much. If you were going to Atlanta, I would bring the book to you! I hope we do get to have a Heartwarming retreat so we can spend what would be an unforgettable and magical week or weekend together.

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  7. Such great advice, Karen! I'm so excited for you as your career is officially launched, and I look forward to reading more of your work!

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  8. Dale, you have been with me from the start and the most supportive and caring friend I could ask for. You are such a talented writer and I've adored reading your WIPs such as MONTE VISTA and cannot wait to support you when your wonderful novels hit the stands!

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  9. I'll be ordering the book via Amazon. I can hardly wait to read it. And, I'm exhausted just reading your list of things to do. I'm planning to start pinterest. I think I'll save the rest of what you do and tack it to my goals board (Yes, I really have one).

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  10. Hi Pam! I'm so excited for you to read CB! Thank you so much :) It was so much fun to write using a setting I love- camp- and tap into those awkward first steps to your first love :)

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  11. I am so glad you've managed this! i'm looking forward to reading your work, the pimping makes me antsy to see it! I myself wish i could bring all my many ideas into the world and make them into books. i have over 7 including one a series of 4 books and one that is leading to a series but all i have are titles for them. that are sitting on my computer. *sighs* i start writing and it flows and then suddenly for some reason I get blocked. i can't think at all of anything to do with what i was supposed to be writing on.

    you've managed to over come this, Kudos to you! and I can't wait to read the book

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  12. Thanks so much, TI, and keep going! I have lots of stories on my computer waiting to be told and you'll know when the timing is right. The main thing is that you are a creative person with gifts to share. Trust that when you are ready we will be thrilled to receive them :D

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  13. Wow, you've been busy...but good busy :). It's clear your heart is behind it all. I'm so excited for you!! Release day is around the corner!

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    1. Thanks, Rula! It is the best kind of busy to be and I wouldn't wish a minute back :)

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  14. Loved your post today, Karen. Inspiration + determination,+ a hide like a rhinocerus = an author

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  15. Hahaha! The first time I read your post, Aimee, I wondered, "why is she telling me to hide like a rhino?" Then I got it- lol. Your equation seems spot on to me! Especially the Rhino hide!!

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  16. Karen, are you tired yet? Because I think I am after reading your list. I can't wait for your book!

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    1. I am tired, Syndi, but that good tired after an honest days' work :) thank you so much for your enthusiasm about CAMP BOYFRIEND. It's very romance driven with a coming of age twist you won't see coming!

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  17. Thank you so much, Karen! Have a great time at ALA13!

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