Hola, hello, bonjour: my newsletter, a winner, and a shout-out to Leah Marie Brown, a long-time fan

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I sent a newsletter out this morning—read it here, if you haven’t yet—and I just had the pleasure of sending an email to the lucky winner of an autographed hardcover copy of The Shadow Queen. (If you get an email with the subject line You won a book (no, this is not spam!), don’t throw it out.)


Catching up on GoodReads, and saw a note from Leah Marie Brown announcing the trailer for her book Faking It (the first in an It-Girl series), which will be out May 12. I know that readers of this blog don’t expect to see a trailer for contemporary romantic comedy here, but 1) this trailer is funny, clever and smart (as I’m sure the novel is), and 2) Leah and I go back a long way.

A journalist with an addiction to travel (specifically France) and history (specifically French), Leah has been one of my most enthusiastic readers. She interviewed me on her blog On Life, Love & Accidental Adventures, writing:

[blackquote] Ten years ago, I read the first book in Sandra Gulland’s trilogy about Josephine Bonaparte and knew I wanted to write historical fiction.  Her sumptuous novel about one of the more fascinating women in history was so richly woven with setting details and evocative prose, it lit a fire inside my writer’s belly.

She interviewed me and other authors for an article in Writer’s Digest on travel research: “Have Plot, Will Travel.” Her book club read—and enjoyed—Mistress of the Sun. She bid on and won an autographed set of the Trilogy. She has followed this blog and is a friend on Facebook and GoodReads.

Over these many years, she has been writing, and publishing. I predict that her It-Girl series is going to be a hit.

Bravo, Leah!

How to approach a writer for a review or testimonial of your book

I often receive email pitches from publicists, asking for a testimonial—a “blurb”—or offering to send me a book to review or mention on this blog. (My little blog!)

Recently, there were two on the same day. One was a model of a successful pitch, and the other an example of what not to do.

I’ll begin with the NOT:

The letter begins: I’m are writing to you about …

Say no more!

The second publicist knew my work and had chosen to approach me for a reason. She included a short description of the book, several glowing blurb quotes, plus a Q&A with the author. It was enough to get me interested.

I only wish publicists would also include an attachment of the opening pages of the novel. That would be all I need to judge if a book might be one I’d like.

That said, I rarely accept. As for all writers, I have a frightening pile of books I am supposed to be reading. Plus, I’m slow: the last WIP I agreed to read for a very good friend took me over a month, even reading it every day.

It takes quite a bit of time to read a novel, so an indication of a book’s length is important, as well as the deadline, should a quote be needed before publication.

What to include

In summary, a pitch for a quote or review should include:

  • why the book might be of interest to me
  • the opening pages
  • the cover
  • the deadline (if applicable)
  • book length

Nice extras would be:

  • publication details (i.e. promotion plan, print run)
  • advance review quotes, if there are any
  • a Q&A with the author

Follow-up!

Later, as a courtesy, an autographed copy of the published book should be sent with thanks to those who have taken the time to read and craft a testimonial or review. An appreciative note from the author is always nice. It’s surprising how rarely this is done. I understand! It’s expensive, for one thing, but most of all, it’s time-consuming.

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Come to think of it, I’ve yet to finish sending out my own “thank you” copies of The Shadow Queen. (Reminder to self: do it today.)

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Waving arms madly and giving lots away: how to have fun giving a reading

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Most of Thursday I prepared for a talk/reading in support of the Killaloe Public Library in my home town. I knew that many there would be friends and family, so I wanted it to be special.

Several times, I paused my talk to give out door prizes. This was so much fun, I’m a convert!

Doug De La Matter took some great shots! (I have more of them up on Flickr.)

Apparently I’m a bit expressive. ;-)

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Highlights of my Shadow Queen book tour & blog hop … so far

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{Ad for The Shadow Queen in the New York Times Review of Books!}

Publication swirl: ups, downs, ups! A book tour entails a heady combination of fatigue and exhilaration. The challenge is not to come down with a cold. (Grrrrr.) Plus snow (!) today in Toronto, which I hope doesn’t affect the turnout at the reading tonight at A Novel Spot in Etobicoke.

My task today is to prepare for the talk/reading—my first full-on one. I never take this type of thing lightly. I think I have it basically plotted out, but I’ve not timed or honed it. That’s going to take time.

Plus, I need to get my talk printed out. This is surprisingly difficult on the road. I’m tempted to get a travel printer—but this would add to my already overly-bloated luggage.


Some guest blog posts I’ve written on my Blog Hop Tour:

Getting around to it—on why I became a writer, for Meg Waite Clayton’s blog.

Interview with Margaret Donsbach on HistoricalNovels.info. (Margaret asks great questions.)

The Page 69 Test: I love page 69 of The Shadow Queen. I plan to use this scene in my talk tonight.

What I’m reading now: Are you a Penelope Fitzgerald fan? I am!


I was pleased with this review from The Free-Lance Star: Real life characters inhabit intriguing story, which concludes: “A remarkably different and very interesting historical read.”

There have been some excellent reviews on Amazon.com that please me very much.

Highlights from the tour so far: 

• The woman in North Vancouver who named her daughter Josephine after reading the Trilogy. She had a beautiful book her daughter had made a drawing in, and she asked me to sign the page opposite. I wish I had taken a photo.

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• Moderator Jen Sookfong Lee at the “Enlivening the Past” panel in North Vancouver asking me if I’d brought my clown nose. (No, of course not—but it does  make me wonder if I could pull off a reading wearing it. Doubtful!)

• Dinner in North Vancouver with writers Mary Novik and Roberta Rich. Shop-talk pals!

• The best highlight from tour so far: seeing my daughter and her wonderful family in Toronto. The wee-ones are growing!

All Hail: The Shadow Queen! The book trailer is launched …

 

Dramatic!

Clicking takes you to YouTube. Feel free to “Like” it!

If you click “Share this video” you will be able to share it on any of your Social Media sites, which I’d love for you to do. For the tech-minded among you, clicking “embed” gives you the code you need to put the video on your own blog.

I’m going to be getting out a newsletter in a few days, so if you’re not subscribed, you might want to get on the list. (Click here to sign up.) With each newsletter, a subscriber wins a  book.

Another big change will be the redesign of this website … stay tuned!

And, for those of us who do not have access to the New York Times Book Review, here is the ad that will be in the April 13 issue. (Yes, I am thrilled.)

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