Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cheryl Kaye Tardif - Author Interview Part 3

What are some definite no-no's?
Definite no-nos for booking a signing:
  • Showing up looking like you just crawled out of bed. If you can't make an effort to look professional for a meeting with the manager, what's to stop you from looking this way during signings.
  • Not understanding how the industry works, in particular, expecting every store to stock your book on shelves. It just doesn't work this way. Stores don't have room.
  • Showing the manager a book with a terrible cover, typos and spelling mistakes on the back cover and generally poor writing inside. Make sure your work has been professionally edited. Traditional publishers have their own in-house editors who are skilled. If you've self-published you'd better pay an editor if you don't want to be laughed out of the store.
Over the past 6 years I have organized many multi-author events and I've seen some terrible no-nos at book signings:
  • Showing up looking like you just crawled out of bed. Need I say any more? :)
  • Shoving your book into someone's hands and telling them it'll be "the best book" they've ever read. Not only will this turn out to be a lie, it's rude. It's one thing to have confidence, another to sound egotistical. And no one likes to be force fed. Encourage them to look at your book, tell them they can read the first chapter, offer the book to them and let them know they can read the back cover. Or simply offer it to them while telling them about it. Most people will take it automatically if you hold it out. Same with handing out bookmarks.
  • Standing with arms crossed over your chest, sitting with your head down, reading at your table (yes, I've seen authors do this!) -- these are all signs that you aren't interested in speaking to anyone, that you're unapproachable or bored. Watch the body language. Smile, greet people. You're their personal shopper--they just might not know that yet. Sit for a bit but always be handing out bookmarks. Stand, sit, stand...create excitement.
  • Yapping at them while they're reading the back or inside text. If they're reading it, do not interrupt. Hand bookmarks out to others as they pass. When the reader is finished, resume your conversation, ask a question. Right now one of the best questions you can ask is: "Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas or something good to read?"
  • The biggest no-no is having nothing to hand out to people. Bookmarks! Bookmarks! Bookmarks! They are the best investment for signings. Not only do they encourage after sales, they remind people of any other books you might have. I gave up gicing out business cards years ago. They don't work for readers. They'll just file them away or chuck them. Give them a useful bookmark with colorful cover pics and text that intrigues. And of course, have your website URL printed on it.

What mistakes did you make in promotion that you would do all over again if you could?
The biggest mistake I made was when Whale Song was first up on Amazon.com for pre-orders. I thought it would be more beneficial to wait until the launch date to really promote it. I did let people know they could pre-order, but I could have worked that better. It's very important that a new book gets "out of the gate" right away, for Amazon rank averages and for word of mouth advertising.
My other main mistake was that I should have found better ways to contact book clubs--ways that weren't expensive and were more effective. Whale Song is perfect as a book club pick because there are so many aspects of it that a group can discuss, from racism to bullying to death to native legends to belief in reincarnation. There is even a discussion guide available on my website for book clubs that select Whale Song. My thriller The River is also a very good choice for a book club. It really makes readers think about where our technology and science is going, and how far should we go. It also explores a very wild and dangerous area of Canada's north, an area referred to as the "Bermuda Triangle of Canada", so you can just imagine book club conversations. Even my paranormal suspense thriller Divine Intervention makes for a good book club read. Members can talk about their own belief in psychic abilities, whether law enforcement agencies should use psychics, and so much more. I now offer book clubs free bookmarks and signed bookplates (stickers for their books) for their group if they select ANY of my novels to read. And I'll even be happy to participate by phone or email when they're ready to discuss the book. Any book club interested can simply email me with their request.
Do you have any other advice on how to market books?
The best piece of advice I can give is this: identify and really know your target audiences, and then find them! This means thinking outside of the box or doing something new. I recently decided to write a novel titled Finding Bliss, a novel that would appeal to teens and adults, especially females. That's my target audience--anyone 13 to 113, especially female. That alone isn't newsworthy. I've decided to write this novel on my new iPhone 3G and I sent out press releases locally and via the internet. News of my creative endeavor spread fast and on the first day I participated in 3 media interviews. More interviews were done on TV, radio, in newspapers and online. Even now I am still being contacted about my "iPhone novel".
Writing Finding Bliss on my iPhone started off almost by accident, and then almost as a joke. It was my husband's idea. I'm just not sure he expected me to run with it. But run I did. I found a way to create buzz, and the book hasn't even been written. I'm doing something that no one else has ever done. Although a text novel craze started off in Japan, I'm the first author to attempt to write a complete novel using the Notes application on my iPhone 3G, and now the world knows about this. I'm already getting emails from people who want to read it. :) You can learn more about Finding Bliss and how this idea came about at: http://www.findingblissbook.com
News of Finding Bliss led the Founder of Textnovel.com, Stan Soper, to contact me. He personally invited me to contribute a story to his readers and he wrote about my participation on his site. You can read my suspenseful novelette Remote Control or my short story OUIJA on Textnovel.com for free.
Be daring, bold and creative, and carefully consider which marketing strategies are working for you and which aren't. Don't be afraid to try something new or different. You never know where it could lead. :)
Do you have an agent? If so how did you land one?
Yes, I have an awesome agent. Jack Scovil is with Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency in New York. He has been hugely supportive and encouraging and is now pitching my latest novel Children of the Fog. I already have a line up of fans waiting for this thriller, so I'm hoping Jack will have some good news for me in the new year.
I have spent years searching for an agent and have countless rejection letters to show for it. After every completed novel, I'd resume my search, to no avail. Until I met someone who worked on my query letter with me and changed how I'd always viewed them. I always felt I had to stick to the "rules" of the game, which meant sending out one query at a time and including everything possible in that query so that the agent or publisher knew everything about me and my work. I thought I was being helpful. What I was really being was boring. :)
I have since learned that short query letters, ones that inspire the recipient to email back with questions, is far more effective. I used my new friend's query service and the result was truly overwhelming. I had so many requests for partial and full manuscripts that I had to answer them in a kind of "triage" order--ones I was most interested in and who seemed really interested and wanted the fulls first; then the others. I think it was only 1 or 2 weeks after I sent out my query that I signed with Jack. I selected him because he seemed to really understand what my work was about, what I wanted from my career, and he was genuinely enthusiastic about my writing. An agent is your partner, cheerleader and representative all rolled into one. That's what I wanted. I now recommend my friend's query service to authors whom I know are ready for this next step.

What are the names of your books? What is your latest one about?
I've had 4 novels published. Whale Song (2003), Divine Intervention (2004), The River (2005) and Whale Song (expanded, revised edition, 2007).
Whale Song is a story that resonates with so many people, a story of family, love, loss, grief, and forgiveness. It's the story of Sarah Richardson, a young woman who moves to Vancouver as a child, and whose life is turned upside down when a terrible tragedy occurs. The result is partial amnesia for young Sarah and haunting visions that lead her to an adult life where she has emotionally shut down. Whale Song is a story of re-discovery, of finding lost memories and truth--even if it hurts--and it is a novel that will change the way you view life...and death.
"Whale Song is deep and true, a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart.  Cheryl Kaye Tardif has written a beautiful, haunting novel." -- NY Times Bestselling novelist Luanne Rice, author of Beach Girls
"Tardif again leaves a lasting mark on her readers...Moving and irresistible." --Midwest Book Review
"Cheryl Tardif is a new addition to the ranks of Margaret Atwood." --R. Kyle, Amazon Top 500 Reviewer

How can we find your books?
Whale Song (2007), The River and Divine Intervention are available at your favorite online retailer, including Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, BarnesandNoble.com, Chapters.ca and more.
You can also ask your favorite independent or chain bookstore to order these books for you if they don't have any in stock. Please ask them also to stock Whale Song on their shelves, so that they'll have them when you recommend Whale Song to all your friends. ;-)
Anything else you'd like to add, Cheryl?
I'm glad you asked, Jeff. :) You can learn more about me and my novels at http://www.cherylktardif.com. I blog regularly at http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com. I also have pages on the social networks mentioned above so please add me as a friend. I love chatting to people about books and writing.
Also, a special offer just for your readers, Jeff:
The first 3 people to email me at cherylktardif@shaw.ca and tell me they read my interview on this site will receive a free copy of Whale Song. (US and Canada entries only). I will also separately send out bookmarks and signed bookplates to the winners. So, hey, don't assume someone's already emailed me! Do it now--you never know. :) P.S. You must mention where you saw my interview!