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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing


Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun


Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Ideas
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry


2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Myths
Graduation


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Jail-Baiting
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Retro-Shame
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido


Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

Shameless Self-Promotion

by Donna George Storey

Publicists, Press Kits and Other P-words

 

Shameless Self-Promotion

I blame Freud for this one. 

That’s because he made such a big to-do about penis envy, which I never quite related to, but was somehow translated by my psyche into a primal longing for something else that began with the letter “P.”  When I published my first novel, I thought I’d found the answer.  Yes, I’d finally identified the P-word of my deepest yearnings:  a professional publicist.  Not just any publicist, but a talented go-getter who cared about my book as much as I did, except s/he had better promotional skills and connections. 

As my fellow shameless self-promoters know, such rosy newbie author fantasies have a way of withering in the cold realities of the publishing world.  Indeed my longing for such a helpmate is as likely to come to fruition as the possibility of my sprouting a penis one fine morning—just because I’m curious to see what it’s like.

With little support from my own publisher, who seemed to think one didn’t promote erotica, I was still curious to know what it was like to have a publicist.  So I spoke with a number of writers who published their novels with “big” houses and learned that most in-house publicists really don’t fit my fantasy at all.  I’ve heard many stories about publicists who merely go through the motions, blame a lack of response on the book’s flaws and only get involved when it’s inconvenient, for example insisting the author clear all readings and book parties with them first.  One notable exception is author Kirsten Menger-Anderson, who talks about her support and very professional in-house publicity team in this interview on the ERWA blog

I’ve also spoken with authors who hired their own publicists, although such freelance services usually run in the thousands of dollars.  However, while the publicists did send out plenty of press releases and arrange a few interviews in local papers, the writers who used their services said they would not spend the money if they had the chance to do it over.  Pricier publicists seem to get a better report card, if you have $10,000 lying around or luck out with an enthusiastic newcomer, but in the end, what you really want is a partner who cares enough about your project to go beyond some standard check-list.

Partly to satisfy my deep-rooted P-complex, I myself hired a publicist for a one-time strategy consultation.  A writer friend told me about an online course in “Innovative Publicity Basics” with publicist Lauren Cerand.  At a cost of $20, I couldn’t resist and the course was definitely worth an Andrew Jackson.  Lauren then offered a one-time consultation at a half-price discount from her usual rates, and I decided to try it, if only to quiet those envious “what if I had a professional opinion?” voices.  In fact, I was very impressed with Lauren’s savvy and got some great feedback and reassurance that I was traveling the right path.  However, I certainly couldn’t afford the full cost of her services, even if she had been taking new clients at the time.

(I have to add here that I’ve heard stories of author’s setting up fake identities and acting as their own publicists.  If you’re a really good actor, you might consider this.  There’s nothing wrong with it, in my opinion, I just know I couldn’t pull it off!)

The truth is, the majority of authors have to do most, if not all, of the promotion on their own, but we have one great advantage in that we do care about our work passionately.  The main disadvantage—besides a lack of marketing budget and business connections—is that shy, dreamy writer types like us have to make overtures to strangers over and over again, rather like attending a nightmarish year-long cocktail party.

Promoting your first book is very much a lesson in self-presentation, and my earlier columns on pitches and bios and websites introduced some of the most basic tools.  This month, in honor of amateur publicists everywhere, I’ll talk about the press kit, specifically, the do-it-yourself version that I’ve used in my own promotional efforts.

Until a year ago, I had no clue what a press kit was and why I might need one.  Then one of my most helpful self-promotion mentors, erotica writer Susan DiPlacido, sent me a sample of hers.  When I first saw the glossy black folder with a large full-color sticker of the Las Vegas Strip on the front with Susan’s name and her motto “Chick Lit Vegas Style,” I was absolutely enchanted.  Inside were more tempting goodies:  her sell sheet for each of her books, sample reviews, press releases, a selection of interviews and two personalized bookmarks, one to keep and one to share.  I knew right away I wanted to create the same appealing introduction for Amorous Woman. My instinct proved correct, because having an eye-catching folder to hand over to bookstore buyers or send off to interviewers has made me feel more confident about presenting myself as a published author.

Even if you don’t decide to invest in a “hard copy” version of a press kit, it’s a good idea to collect the same information for your website pressroom and to use in email queries to bookstores, bloggers, interviewers and occasionally review sites.  Today I thought I’d be very shameless and give you a page-by page tour of my press kit in the hope it will give you some ideas for customizing your own.

First, the packaging.  Inspired by Susan, I went to my local stationery store and found some glossy red 9 x 11 1/2-inch folders that make the perfect complementary background for a 3 1/2 x 5-inch sticker of my Amorous Woman cover (printed on a home color printer on stock sticker paper).  The left inside flap has a place for a business card, which would otherwise get lost in the package.  Be sure to ask about even a small volume discounts—the owner of the store agreed to give me a discount on a purchase of 20 folders (and mailers for my book as well).

Probably most important item in my press kit is my sell sheet, which is a one-page overview of the book.  This takes pride of place in the right-hand pocket.  Again even if you don’t have a press kit, it’s a good idea to create a sell sheet to leave with bookstores and send off with review copies, to book fairs or potential interviewers.  I had mine printed in color on good, although not super glossy paper, to show off the small color picture of the cover of my novel in the upper left hand corner of the page.   To the right of the cover, I list the following information, which is pretty much standard in book catalogs:

AMOROUS WOMAN (in bold letters)
By Donna George Storey
Neon/Orion Publishing
Price: $7.95
Category: Literary Erotica
Pages: 352
Book Type: Paper
Size: 4 1/2 x 7
ISBN: 1905619170
ISBN13: 9781905619177
Date of U.S. Release: May 28, 2008

Below this information on the sell sheet, I include a teaser paragraph similar to what you might find on a book jacket, which includes a brief synopsis, a short bio and a few choice blurbs.  Beneath that I list contact information for the author, publisher, and US distributors.  You can check out the exact wording I use in the sample over at the ERWA blog.

Under the sell sheet in the same pocket as the sell sheet, I include a page of excerpts from my favorite reviews and blurbs.  Getting erotica reviewed is definitely a challenge, and I’ll need to wait until the next column to explore that in depth.  However, it is important to your sales effort to have a few objective testimonials—relatives and friends don’t count! 

Traditionally, the in-house publicist sends out advance review copies (ARC) to elicit words of praise from the most famous people s/he can recruit for the cover blurbs.  Often these are former writing workshop teachers or MFA professors, although erotica writers are at a disadvantage in this area as well.  Of course, shameless self-promoters without ARCs can also gather blurbs after the book is published.  Consider approaching editors you’ve worked with and other writers you admire with name recognition and publishing credits.  Query first, then send a review copy.  Follow up politely after a month or two.  Or ask people who are experts in an area that overlaps with the theme of your book.  For example, Liza Dalby, author of Geisha, is a generous supporter of other Japan-themed writers and gave me a wonderful blurb. 

Also part of my press kit is a separate sheet of paper with a more extended biography and synopsis of the novel.  In may case, I have two versions of each, one for literary markets (which emphasizes my literary magazine publications) and one for erotica markets (which is steamier and goes heavy on the erotica anthologies where my work appears).  If you have a good color printer—alas, I don’t—you can include a photo of yourself on the bio page, which adds a professional touch.

On the left side of the packet, I place a copy of the second most important item in the press kit:  my current press release.  This is a brief (400 words or less) statement about your book that is nominally on some timely topic—the announcement of a reading or book tour or simply the publication of your book as a local writer—that you email to the local press and post online through free press release sites such as www.prlog.org or www.pr.com/press-releases  By the way, don’t bother paying for the premium packages which supposedly get you better exposure.  A press release for an unknown author will need to be targeted to a specific editor anyway. 

I wrote two press releases for myself, one for my biggest reading in San Francisco, “Stanford Ph.D. Tests Boundaries in Amorous Novel Set in Japan,” and one for my New York book tour, “Amorous Novel Examines Sex and the City, Japanese-Style.”  Yes, it’s a bit stilted to “interview” myself, but it beats paying a professional for a lukewarm job.  In addition to distributing the press release with my press kit, I’ve emailed them to newspaper editors and radio hosts.  I’ve also seen them reprinted on Japan-themed web sites.  Remember you can revise your release and send it out again whenever something new and interesting happens with your book.

Behind the press release, I include a selection of printed interviews.  At first I only had one to share—Susie Bright’s interview with me on sex and Japan when my story “Ukiyo” was published in Best American Erotica 2006. But as my promotional activities increased, I added two more to the folder, one from my local paper, another from the online literary magazine, Eclectica.  Sometimes a slimmed down package seems more appropriate, so I omit the interviews, but I definitely keep them in for radio shows or other interview possibilities.

Finally, I slip in a few Amorous Woman bookmarks, which I had made up at Print Place.  On one side is my book cover with three short blurbs about the book.  The other has a traditional Japanese print with blurbs about me as an author and of course, my website URL. (If you're curious you can check them out on my website)

Putting together my press kit the first time took quite a bit of effort, but now I can assemble a package in a few minutes when needed.  As mentioned above, I often use a modified version of the press kit—the sell sheet, three review excerpts, a jpg of my cover, and sometimes a press release--in email queries to bookstores and reviewers as well.  A carefully crafted press kit, even if it is not the work of a professional in the strictest sense, shows people I care about my book—and they should, too. 

Indeed, over the past year or so of book promoting, I’ve learned that the most important “P” word in this business is the passion I bring to my work.  Penises and publicists are strictly optional.

In my next column, I’ll talk more about getting your book reviewed and introduce a few of the infinite ways you can use the blog-o-sphere in promoting your book.  Until then, keep promoting shamelessly!

Shameless Self-Promotion Points for May

ONE: Create a one-page sell sheet for your book.  This is one of the most basic tools for promotion, but the good news is you can easily build on the irresistible elevator blurb and intriguing bio you developed earlier.  No effort is wasted in the business of shameless self-promotion!

TWO: Write up a press release with an appealing angle and post online using a free service.  If you’re new to the press release form, ask writer friends for samples of theirs and do some online searches to get a sense of literary press releases.  You just might get yourself an interview in the local paper!

Donna George Storey
May-June 2009


If you have any follow up comments, questions or stories to share about shameless self-promotion, please drop by Donna's blog or send an email to: donna@donnageorgestorey.com

Read more of Donna George Storey's Shameless Self-Promotion in ERWA 2009 Archive.

______
"Shameless Self-Promotion" © 2009 Donna George Storey. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written.

About the Author:  Donna George Storey taught English in Japan and Japanese in the United States and has finally found the work of her dreams writing erotica. If you're really nice, she'll bake you a batch of her Venetian cookies, with layers of marzipan, jam and chocolate, that take a ridiculous amount of time to make and are (almost) better than sex. Her work has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies including Clean Sheets, Fishnet, Best American Erotica, Best Women's Erotica and Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.
Her first novel, Amorous Woman-a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman's love affair with Japan, Japanese food and lots of sexy men and women along the way-was published by Neon/Orion. It's currently available at Amazon and Amazon UK, and from her web site, DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.
For more of her musings on sensual pleasure and creativity stop by her blog:  Sex, Food and Writing. You can also take a quick trip to Japan with Donna's provocative Amorous Woman book trailer at: www.youtube.com



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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
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Cry Wolf
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Faithless
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Heaven or Hell
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House of Wicked
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The Office: An XXX Parody
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This Ain't The Partridge Family
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'09 Book Reviews

Anthologies

A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Frenzy
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Girls on Top
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In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
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Libidacoria (Poetry)
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Licks & Promises
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Like a Thorn (ebook)
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The Mile High Club
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Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
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Nexus Confessions 6
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Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
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Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Novels

A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

Broken
Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Exposure
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
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Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Faewolf
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Shuck
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Transgressions
Review by Vincent Diamond

Non-Fiction

Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
Review by Rob Hardy

Hollywood’s Censor
Review by Rob Hardy

Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
Review by Rob Hardy

The Other Side of Desire
Review by Rob Hardy

Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister