Sunday, 20 December 2009

Confessions of a promo-tart

I admit I am a promo-tart. Give me a Yahoo! group and permission to promote there and I will be shaking my various stories 'out there' in the ether.

Why am I like this? In life I'm fairly shy. I enjoy teaching creative writing because I like to help others and I love seeing people grow in that creative way. But the idea of doing a talk in a bookshop would give me an instant anxiety headache.

The internet is different. It's more impersonal and less threatening. Also, I can promote from the comfort of my own home, in my dressing gown and sheepskin bootees, if I wish. Also no one is judging me.

In life I am small. I'm five foot. I don't think of myself as small but I do find that people do overlook me. I'm not taken seriously. On the internet, I am equal.

The other wonderful thing about Yahoo! groups is that they are virtually free. When I started writing and being published, it was a print only world. Reviews were the only way of obtaining promotion - adverts in newspapers and so on being way too expensive. Then I ran into the other problem. In the UK, romance as a genre is looked down on by the serious press. So no reviews from them.

The internet has changed all of that. It's almost free, it's fast and as a writer you do sometimes get feedback. Wonderful!

So, to keep up my reputation as a promo-tart, here is the cover, blurb and an excerpt of my forthcoming novella, 'Holiday in Bologna', which is due out from Bookstrand on December 22nd.


Heidi Manelli, a bright, lively Anglo-Italian, arrives in Italy on a mission. A letter given to her on her 21st birthday revealed that her real name is Soleari and she has family living in Bologna. Orphaned, she is unsure how her estranged relatives will receive her.

Standing outside the Soleari villa, she encounters the quietly charismatic yet aloof Stefano. He's suspicious of her sudden appearance and disinclined to believe who she is. After pleading from her aunt, Heidi reluctantly agrees to stay at the villa, where she swiftly discovers more mysteries, and danger.

She turns to Stefano for help, but will he come through? Is their developing relationship a holiday romance, or something deeper? Is her holiday in Bologna going to change her life forever?

Italian bread shopEXCERPT:

By this time they had reached a terrace with a small fountain that blew a cooling spray over Heidi’s scalding cheeks. Careless of the teasing spray, she stopped in front of the fountain, in the shade of a gnarled pine tree, twisted out of shape by the prevailing wind, and raised anxious eyes to her companion. ‘I’m sorry. That was insulting and unfair, especially when I’m not even a member of this family.’
A curious look of shame and alarm shadowed briefly across Stefano’s face, but it was gone as he took her hand in both of his. ‘You are family, Heidi. We all think so. You are family far more—well, than some of us,’ he finished obliquely. ‘As for Artemisia and Marco, why should they sabotage the bakery? They may differ in their plans for the business, but don’t forget they would lose out, too if Soleari’s reputation suffered. The big international bakery might even withdraw its offer if these incidents became common knowledge.’
He was standing right in front of her, so close that she could see the definition of his lean, muscular frame through his crisp cotton shirt. ‘Yes, I can see that,’ Heidi said, exasperated at herself. She would never agree to massage a fully naked man but she dealt with male clients in her armotherapy practice, treated their hands and feet, their necks and shoulders. Why should she be so flustered by Stefano? ‘How’s your sprain?’ she asked, seizing gratefully on the change of subject.
‘Better for this gentle walk,’ Stefano said, in a voice of amused indulgence. ‘But if you are offering to treat my aching shoulder and back...’
His smile deepened as Heidi was silent, torn between her professional life and this strange new shyness she seemed to have acquired while dealing with him.. Perhaps it was because he had opened up to her a little and now, standing by this fountain, he was as close as her own shadow. Closer, because he was lowering that bright blond head and his clever, sensitive hands were encircling her narrow waist...
He kissed her lightly on the mouth and brushed a bead of fountain spray from her cheek. ‘I’ve wanted to do that for a long time,’ he said, kissing her again. He smelled of fresh bread and sun and his hands on her back held her tenderly, as if she was made of spun sugar.
‘Don’t you know how very pretty you are?’ he said softly, laughing as she stiffened at the compliment. ‘You are, you know. Like the little bride doll on top of a wedding cake.” Stefano blushed, clearly embarrassed at hearing himself say anything, so absurdly sentimental. ‘Thank you for your help,’ he said gruffly, taking a step back and releasing her.
It was only a thank you kiss, Heidi told herself. She’d known Stefano for only two weeks. What does that matter? an inner voice whispered, but Heidi ignored the voice and tried to control her rapidly beating heart, taking several slow deep breaths. ‘Shall we continue our walk?’ she said, grateful that her question was not a squeak.
Stefano stood back and pointed down the graveled path. ‘There you go.’
Moving first, Heidi set off along the path, scarcely conscious of the wafting spray from the fountain or the opulent red peonies and roses lining the terrace walkway. Stefano had kissed her. She touched her lips with her hand, feeling truly sensual for the first time in her life, registering that she was wearing a blue cotton button-through sundress and sandals, items that had just become her favorite outfit.
‘Hey, wait!’ Stefano overtook her in a few strides. ‘It’s usually you trotting after me,’ he teased.
‘Pardon me, but I don’t trot.’ Feeling more composed, Heidi took Stefano’s hand in hers. ‘Got you!’ she teased in return. ‘Where to now?’

Do you enjoy doing promo? Have you ever done a bookshop talk?

Happy Holidays and happy promoing!

Best wishes, Lindsay


Zequeatta Jaques said...

Hey, Lindsay, I don't care that you are a promo tart. I like reading your excerpts. Keep posting!

Jan Bowles said...

Hi Lindsay

I'm rather like you when it comes to promoting. I'm so glad the internet was invented. I love it when someone you don't know gets back to, with a nice comment or word.

Good Luck with Holiday in Bologna on Tuesday


Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Zequeatta, thank you so much! What a lovely compliment!

And of course I love it my my friends and guests also do the promo queen bit and post on Lindsay's Romantics - the more the merrier! I can't wait for your next post!

Hi Jan. Thank you so much for the good wishes. And you're right - the internet is a great place.

Have you seen today's article at the Dear Author blog about publishers and publishing models? utterly fascinating and very interesting and some useful links. If you google Dear Author you'll find it.

Also for promo I would recommend Author's Den - you can have so many pages there for free and it's a great way to showcase yourself and your work.

I also agree, Jan, about feedback. It's so lovely to hear from readers!

Myabe we should have a review and reader feedback week here on Lindsay's Romantics in the new year. Please all of you let me know what you think

Linda Banche said...

"Promo tart"? I love it.

I guess we're all promo tarts. Every author has to promote. But I finally figured out that you promote the way you want to, and what works for you. If book signings aren't for you, don't do them.

Congrats on "Holiday in Bologna" and may your promo brings lots of sales! Merry Christmas.

Savanna Kougar said...

Aaahhh... my favorite promo-tart!!!

I'm with Linda on promo-ing. I try to do only what I enjoy. Though, if a certain type of promo appears to be effective, I'll go with it.

I just commented for the second time at Dear Author. Jane brought up a lot of salient and timely points, that, frankly, need to be known and discussed. The future is at hand in this biz.

Lindsay, congrats on Holiday in Bologna!!! One day after the Winter Solstice... has to be good. Happy Sales.
My fave part of your excerpt is their kiss... so lovely and romantic... sigh...

"Maybe we should have a review and reader feedback week here on Lindsay's Romantics in the new year. Please all of you let me know what you think" ~ if everyone else is game, so am I.

Helen Hardt said...

I have a love/hate relationship with promo. I don't mind it, but it cuts into my writing time, which doesn't sit well with me ;).

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Linda - thanks, and congratulations to you on your latest contract! I'm looking forward to you promoing that on the pinkie.

Savanna - I love the way you promo and the way you are always so supportive of others and generous to others. As you say re the DA article, I think big changes are afoot and that 2010 will see an massive leap forward in ebooks and towards a fairer kind of publishing.

Helen - I agree that the balance between writing and promo is hard. In the end the writing must come first but doing both can be very time-consuming.

I'll float the idea of a review/reader comment week on our yahoo group and see how people feel. I think it would be a nice way to celebrate our success and a good way to move to 2010

Chelle Cordero said...

Lindsay, I am right with you about promo via the internet - I can avoid my tendency to shyness I get in person. Also, a bookstore or library only reaches a few dozen people at best and lasts for an hour or two - the internet reaches far many more people and is almost infinite in length.

Helen, I have to be careful about letting promo cut into my creative time as well. Balance is delicate.

A review/reader comment week? I'm in.

LK Hunsaker said...

A story set in Italy is hard to resist. ;-)

Promo? Mostly I'd really rather not, but I want my books to be read, so I do, but I'm reluctant about it and always feel myself cringing slightly when posting "hey I wrote this come look" type posts. Yikes. I even had a hard time while doing my Christmas newsletter to mention I have a new book out. It was a quick drive-through-ignore-if-you-want mention.

It's a fun/cringe thing for me more than love/hate. I do love to talk with people online and get to know them, so I try to do that more than blatant promo. It's easier on my stomach.

Bookstore talk? NOPE! Horrible social phobic. I did talk to a couple of high school classes way back when but it was much too nerve-wracking. Book signings I can do because if anyone stops to talk, it's one on one.