GREEN GREEN’s Book Birthday!

green-green-front-cover“They say it’s your BIRTHDAY!” Yup, it’s true. Today is the official publication day of GREEN GREEN: A Community Gardening Story!!!  It’s my debut picture book, co-authored with my husband, Landscape Architect Baldev Lamba, and illustrated by the phenomenal artist Sonia Sanchez. School Library Journal calls it, “An attractive read-aloud for beginning lessons on gardening.” This book is available everywhere books are sold. To purchase it, please contact your wonderful local bookstore — they will be happy to help you! Or, to order online, click here for a number of choices.

In the book, green grass is wide and fresh and clean for a family to play in, and brown dirt is perfect for digging a garden. But when gray buildings start to rise up and a whole city builds, can there be any room for green space? The neighborhood children think so, and they inspire the community to join together and build a garden for everyone to share in the middle of the city.

This is a fun and busy book, full of action, digging, construction stuff, nature, silliness and engrossing pictures. Every time I look through the pages, I discover something new and delightful! Can I just say I’m in awe of Sonia’s illustrations?

And at the end of the story, the book includes easy ways children and families can be more GREEN GREEN, including ways to help threatened honeybees and Monarch butterflies. There’s even a fun craft for kids!

Community gardening is such an important movement throughout the country, bringing together people and transforming the ground into lush gardens that feed and delight. GREEN GREEN is all about sustainability, something so close to my heart. And this book shows how children can make a real difference in our world. I especially love the diverse cast of children throughout the pages.

Just as a community garden needs many busy hands in order to grow, GREEN GREEN required the care and talent of so many wonderful folk. Thank you to my amazing agent, Jennifer De Chiara, to my editor Susan Dobinick, who planted the seeds, to my editor Grace Kendall, who helped this book grow, and to the wonderful team at Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan for, oh, just EVERYTHING they have done to bring GREEN GREEN into the hands of children across the world.

DSCN5510And thank you to the many folks in my life who continue to support this wacky writer! My family, my wonderful friends, my network of amazing writer buddies…my community! You’ve all helped me grow. 🙂  And thank you to the fabulous network of bookstore friends, librarians, and schools who are sharing GREEN GREEN!  And to readers out there? Adults who take the time to sit with a child in their lap and make a book come to life for a child? Wow. You are the real heroes of any book.

Yup – I’m a bit gushy here. But, hey, it is a birthday party, after all. 😉  Okay… just wanted to close with a huge THANK YOU to the fabulous indie bookstores Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA, and Clinton Books in Clinton, NJ for hosting us on our book launch weekend! (Both stores have author-signed copies of GREEN GREEN on their shelves right now for sale. To snag one, call or stop in at these stores.) And for an updated listing of where I’ll be doing future book signings and story times, you can check out my appearances page here.

*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site.

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Agent Monday: Springing Forward with Writer’s Resources

Snow March 1 2015Happy Agent Monday, everyone! I was SO happy to flip the calendar to March. But joke’s on me, since, yeah, a lion-like snow and ice storm has swept through. The picture here is what I’m seeing out my window this morning. But let’s be optimistic, shall we? Today I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite writer’s resources that’ll help your writing career take root and grow. So, ready to spring ahead?

1. The SCBWI Blue Boards

You don’t have to be a member of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators to participate in this online message board…but definitely consider joining this organization if you are writing for children through YA — it’s an awesome resource. The Blue Boards is where it’s at if you want to connect with other writer’s for youth, plus literary agents (like me!) and editors sometimes chime in there too. You’ll find camaraderie, answers to questions about craft and the market, and solid advice and true experiences that writers in your field are having right now. Definitely get involved by going here.

2. Publisher’s Marketplace

If you are serious about writing for the top commercial publishers and about getting an agent, then you need to do some serious research. Which deals have recently been made in your genre? Has a deal been made in the past year that is exactly like the book you are about to write? Which agents represent authors in your subject matter? Has the agent you were considering been active with sales? And what’s the latest business news? The inside scoop is all at Publishersmarketplace.com, the site that agents and editors and others in the business all rely on. Yes, there is a cost, but it’s a monthly subscription. That means you can get it for a month or two, do all the research you like and then stop it if you’d like. Or keep it year round and share the subscription cost between several writer friends so you all benefit. It’s smart. Find out more by clicking here.

3. Indiebound.org

Did you know that you could buy books online with discounts and all at an independent bookstore, even if you don’t live right next to one? It’s true!  Nothing is more important to writers than reading reading reading. Well, except for having vibrant bookstores. When you are published, you’ll need there to actually be places where your audience can stumble upon you while browsing, even if they hadn’t heard of you already, right? So, writers, do your thing and support indie bookstores. From the home page you can put in the book you are searching for in that upper right hand search field with the spyglass thingee next to it and click enter. Then you’ll be prompted to enter your zip code so you can shop at the indie nearest you, or pick whichever one you wish. Shop online there and you’ll find discounts, free shipping over certain amounts (within easy reach), plus the option to pick up your order at the store for no charge on orders of any size. There’s even a link on the site for stores that sell ebooks. Make it your first stop when buying books, by clicking here.

4. The Liars Club Facebook Page

Started by a group of authors who, basically, lie for a living, The Liars Club is all about sharing info and building community among authors. I’m a proud Liars Club member, and the group has been supporting writers, promoting literacy and bookstores and libraries, plus sharing kick-ass info for years.  So I highly recommend you like The Liars Club Facebook page by clicking here. The group also hosts a series of free Writer’s Coffeehouses in the Philly area and one is starting up on the West Coast as well. Now’s a good time to like the page, wherever you live, since the group will soon be hosting on this page a series of online virtual Writer’s Coffeehouses featuring interaction with a number of published authors.

5. Agent Monday

Okay, you knew I had to add this one in. If you see this post, you’ve either found it on a search, or perhaps you already do subscribe. If you do subscribe, you’ll see Agent Monday info hot off the presses. And if you check back into the archives on my site, you’ll see I cover a wide range of topics from querying, to marketing, to the inner workings of publishing from an agent and author point of view. So don’t just pop in, subscribe!

I hope these resources will help you and your writing to spring forward! Time for me to chip away the ice and snow and emerge into the world.

Warm wishes!

*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.

A Tale of Two Bookstores: Farley’s and Canterbury Tales Forever

Farley’s Bookshop in New Hope, PA, and Canterbury Tales Forever in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA are two cozy and amazing indie bookstores worth all of our attention and support.

For the past 7 months, my buds and I at the Philly Liars Club have been on our “Truth Tour,” throwing parties for independent bookstores, and spreading the word about why it’s important to shop at indie stores first. Our Truth Tour parties have been fun and festive, featuring most of our 13 Liars Club authors.  But what about cozy bookstores who can’t fit all of us at once? This calls for a Two-Timing Liars party, of course!

So, on Saturday, December 12th, a bunch of two-timing liars takes over Farley’s Bookshop and Canterbury Tales Forever. We’ll be simultaneously throwing a festive book signing party at the two bookstores in one day.  From 11 a.m. straight through to 7 p.m. on that day, visitors will find two of these low-down liars at both indies signing their novels, giving away holiday goodies, and spreading excitement about shopping in our local independent bookstores.

Liars shuttling between the two stores that day include: New York Times bestseller L.A. Banks (Thirteenth, St. Martin’s), Bram Stoker award winner Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, St. Martin’s), fantasy author Gregory Frost (Shadowbridge, and Lord Tophet, Del Rey/Random House), young adult author Marie Lamba…me…(What I Meant…, Random House), contemporary novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press/Simon and Schuster), debut crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s), historical author Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series), mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), and social media marketing consultant, writer and lecturer Don Lafferty.

Books by all of the authors will be on sale at both locations throughout the day, and for every three Philly Liars Club books purchased, customers will get a free Philly Liars Club book bag.

The Philly Liars Club authors have deep ties to the local area.  Besides living nearby, many of their books also take place in the vicinity.  My novel, What I Meant… takes place in Doylestown, as does Tafoya’s amazing debut Dope Thief. Strunk’s Prallsville Mills and Stockton taps into the history of the river town, and Jones’ The Borrowed and Blue Murders, as well as the other mysteries in her series, all take place in Philadelphia.

With so many authors shuttling between the two bookstores, breathlessly spreading holiday cheer and passing out goodies, the Two-Timing Liar’s event will definitely be zany and fun. But there is also a serious side to this event. “As authors with local connections, we want to make sure that people in the area connect with their local independent booksellers,” says author Keith Strunk. “The big chain bookstores and online retailers have been squeezing out all the wonderful indie bookstores across the country, forcing many out of business completely.  This year, we want to remind everyone to come to your indie first when you do your holiday shopping. You’ll be amazed at what you find there.”

“Booklovers take note,” says author Dennis Tafoya. “Folks who haven’t been to Canterbury Tales Forever in a while will be stunned by what they find.” The store, under new management since last February, now stocks three times as many books as they had before. “The shelves are loaded with local history, local ghost stories, and local travel books, along with a huge selection of great fiction and non-fiction in all categories,” Tafoya says. “Plus there are tons of new releases, many at discounts ranging from 20-40%. Truly this has become an amazing place for browsing and shopping.”

Canterbury Tales Forever is a big supporter of local authors. They are open to any author coming and doing a signing here, no matter who publishes them. Just try to get that sort of support at your big chain bookstore! This is truly the kind of bookstore that we all want to thrive.

Farley’s Bookshop in New Hope has been an important part of the surrounding community since it opened in the 1960s. The store is owned by book-lovers James and Nancy Farley, and folks who helped the store start up include Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers of PBS fame) and James Michener.  Today, Farley’s exudes the feel of an old-time bookshop.  “This store has everything,” says author Kelly Simmons. She points out that Farley’s has the title selections that those big box stores do, and that their children’s section is unrivaled.  “But Farley’s also has a charm that those big stores definitely do not.  Plus its staff is so approachable and knowledgeable about books. And then there’s the store cat, Butter. You have to love a bookstore with its own cat.”

Farley’s services also rival those found in those big chains.  Folks can order any book, including those that are out-of-print or from a small press, by phone or on-line, and these orders can be shipped, or picked up in the store. The bookshop provides gift certificates for undecided holiday shoppers, and there is even a frequent buyer club, rewarding participants with a $30 coupon for every $300 spent.

“This store is a gem,” says author Jonathan Maberry, who urges people to think of independent bookstores first before going to that online retailer or chain store. “By shopping at independents for your holiday purchases, you’ll help ensure that unique stores like Farley’s Bookshop and Canterbury Tales Forever will be here for us for years to come. We need them. We hope everyone feels the same and joins us at our Two-Timing Liars celebration. It’s going to be a great time – honest!”

For more information, or to reserve a copy of an author’s book before the event, call Farley’s at 215-862-2452, or Canterbury Tales Forever at 215-794-8719.

Doylestown is Real!

Folks hanging out near Coffee & Cream in Doylestown

Every once in a while someone emails me wondering if there really is a place like Doylestown.  See, Doylestown is the setting of my young adult novel WHAT I MEANT… And when you read about this town, you realize how unusual it is outside of a city to have a cute village-like place filled with cool shops and restaurants and museums, oh, and two castles!

But, I assure you, Doylestown is all that.  So, since I have a few book signings coming up around town in the next few weeks, I thought that this would be an ideal time to post some images to go with some scenes from my novel.

BTW, you can catch me at the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA on Sunday, Dec. 6 from noon-3 p.m….at Canterbury Tales Forever in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m….and at Farley’s in New Hope, PA also on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 3-5 p.m.  So if you are looking for a signed book for a holiday gift, and if you have a reader who would love to read a novel set in a town they know, well… I’m just saying!

Anyways, here are some images from town, along with some quotes from WHAT I MEANT… (text copyright 2007 Marie Lamba)

Enjoy!

Sang Jumnal, the 15-year old heroine of the novel, kind of has a thing for Orlando Bloom:

Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, PA

I zoom past Fonthill.  That’s a castle built in Doylestown in 1912 by this rich guy, Henry Mercer. It’s a museum now, but seeing it all set back on its massive lawn, with morning dew sparkling in the grass and a bit of fog lingering in the hollows beside it, I can imagine someone still lives there. And not some rich crusty geezer either. I can imagine Orlando inside, throwing open the top windows and gazing across the grass and seeing, well, me.

In this scene, Sang and her best friend Gina do their weekly walk/ride at the Doylestown Cemetery, only at this point in the story, they aren’t too friendly anymore:

Doylestown Cemetery

“I bike up to the Elmer mausoleum. No sign of Gina. I rub my icy hands together and wait. The wind shakes the branches of the old maples around the graveyard. Brown brittle leaves scuttle around the grass till they are pressed against the tombstones. A golden banner spelling out MOTHER, loosened from its memorial wreath, tumbles past me.  I’m about to give up on this entire bike/run thing when over the hill I catch sight of a pink hat bouncing along.
I try not to smile and it’s a good thing, because she marches right past me.  She tucks a strand of her sandy-blond hair back into her hat and starts her stretch beside the mausoleum. So I’m a ghost after all.

Planet Smoothie in Doylestown

Sang also has a thing for a guy in her school – Jason.  Things quickly get complicated, especially since she’s not technically allowed to date. Plus, Sang recently saw Jason hanging out with “seedy Sarah.” In the following scenes, a simple walk home from school becomes anything but:

By the time we reach Planet Smoothie, it’s jammed with students. Megan, holding a giant smoothie in her hand, spots us through the window and waves for us to come in. Frankly, I’m tempted.

Sang then remembers that she has a dreaded doctor’s appointment for something she doesn’t even have…and starts rushing home:

Nat's Pizza, Doylestown

I’m by Nat’s Pizzeria just as the door bursts open and out leaps none other than Jason, a slice in his hand. He races down the street, and I half expect a cop to be chasing him.
Great. I have to hurry home in the same direction. He’ll probably think I’m following him. He probably saw me by Nat’s and thought, Gah! It’s that crazy stalker chick, just like in
Swimfan.

Jason disappears, and Sang figures the coast is clear and she can get home without running into him for real, but…:

County Theater, Doylestown

“Can I interest you in a matinee?”
I pause. The metallic voice came from the County Theater. I turn, and there’s Jason inside the tiny glass ticket booth, wiping pizza sauce from his chin with a paper napkin.
I’m totally caught by surprise, and it takes a moment for me to respond. “No thanks,” I finally say. I turn away, ready to move on.
“There’s a great art film opening. Very funny, very different.”
His metallic voice coming through the tiny speaker, the way he’s stuffed in the little glass booth like an arcade gypsy…I imagine depositing a quarter, and his mechanical mouth telling me my fortune. I step closer. “I didn’t know you worked here.”

As you can imagine, nothing goes very smoothly for Sang, and she encounters lots of trials and tribulations throughout the novel. Hey, she’s got an evil aunt living with her, who is stealing food and money, and setting up poor Sang to take the blame! She and Jason have their share of problems, too. Yeah, like I said, things aren’t too easy for her.  But every once in a while, something does go right. Like in this scene on what we townies call the “D” bench:

There he is on the cement bench at the corner, sipping his coffee.
I stop, then I hurry to the bench before I have a chance to think or plan or anything. I sit beside him and he looks at me, all confused. I set down my bag by my feet. We look at each other and both take a sip of our drinks. My throat feels scorched. It takes me a moment to talk, but when I do, all I can think to say is
, “It’s cold out. You should have stayed in the shop.”
“Didn’t think you’d want to be seen with me.” He tightens his mouth and stares at a passing car.
We both take another sip.
I sigh. “Don’t you wish sometimes you could start all over? Take everything back?”
This brings a half smile to his face that makes my heart flutter. It’s just like in those romance paperbacks Mrs. Baldarasi is always reading.
I don’t know what comes over me. I don’t know why I do what I do next, or what I expect to happen ten minutes or even ten seconds from now.  All I know is that I set down my cappuccino, lean toward Jason, and kiss him. My first real kiss ever. It’s long and lingering, and all warm and steamy and coffee-flavored.

So, Doylestown is real. As real as a first kiss… Come tour Fonthill, take in a movie at the vintage County Theater, grab some excellent hot-wings at Nat’s and a smoothie at Planet Smoothie.  Also, check out the other great places in WHAT I MEANT… including the Doylestown Bookshop, Coffee & Cream and Poor Richards. And you’ll fall in love with this town!

Marketing Outside of the Box

I recently gave a presentation to the Bucks County Romance Writers group about “Marketing Outside of the Box: Bringing your Book to Life and Keeping it Alive,” and it stirred up some common misconceptions about just what an author can and can’t do to promote her book.  Mainly, there is a pervasive belief that promotion is entirely up to the publisher, and the actions of the author can make no difference one way or the other in the success of a novel.

Okay, I think that used to be true to some extent. But these days a few things have changed.  First of all, all publishers are doing less and less for their authors. They tend to put their marketing muscle and dollars behind that huge book at their house that got the big advance…mainly because they don’t want to lose their shirts on it.  And for the rest of the books? Well….  You get in their catalog. Advanced Reader Copies get sent out for reviews. Um, and? Well, good luck to you!

I equate it to throwing spaghetti onto the wall and seeing which bits stick.  If a book gets a starred review and happens to win a major award, then cool.  Otherwise, push it aside for the next batch a mere 3 months later.  But if a book is beautiful enough for a company to accept it and to spend a year editing and producing it, isn’t it worth putting a bit more effort into? And if an author has poured her heart and soul into that work, isn’t it worth the author’s time to do whatever she can to be sure that the book doesn’t go quietly into the night?

Publishers are now banking on just that.  Why waste their precious resources on things like booking signings and sending out press, when the author could do that herself? Clever, right?  Now this isn’t exactly a spoken policy, and authors don’t all do this, but I think if you have a book out, or coming out, you need the whole eyes wide open approach, and you need to get busy.

You will have to work with your publisher to let them know what you’re doing.  At the outset, you should have a frank talk with your publicist at your publishing house about what you would like to handle, and how to do it without stepping on toes, or repeating what they do. You might find at first some resistance to having you handle some things, but since they aren’t handling them, what the heck? I think they are afraid that some authors may represent themselves badly, but once you show that you are professional and courteous, and once they have moved on to the next season’s lists, you’ll probably see that they are glad of what you are doing, and will be happy to get occasional “keep you in the loop” emails about what’s going on.

There’s a notion out there that you should take a good part or at least some of your advance and hire a publicist with it to get the word out. Nice. But what if you actually need the money for like, say, living? And what can you really get with that money that you can’t provide yourself?

photo by Pat Achilles cropped

photo by Pat Achilles

I decided I could promote WHAT I MEANT… on my own, and I have done this quite successfully at almost zero cost. Yeah, it takes tons of time, but I’d already spent tons of time writing the thing, right? And I have two things that a publicist does not: 1. Absolute passion for my book.  Remember, no one (not even your mother) will love your book the way that you do, and be driven to promote it the way you will; and 2. I have unlimited access to the author!  I can quote her in releases and features, book her at appearances, and connect her with readers in a positive way.

Just a few years ago, having passion and author access wasn’t enough.  You needed contacts. You needed a huge budget to print up ad materials, posters, bookmarks. You needed to go out on tour. You needed to cozy up to book reviewers.  Today, contacts in the media are readily found online. Okay, I’m not talking Oprah, I’m talking newspaper folk, radio folk, bloggers, book reviewers, etc.  Easy to find. Easy to send a personal note to, or a feature story to about an upcoming signing (with images of yourself and your book cover attached, of course).

And these days, it’s also easy to book signings yourself.  I’ve done SO many signings over the past few years, and I’ve booked every single one myself. Forget the cold call. Personally go to every bookstore within driving range, and introduce yourself, drop off info on your book (which you have printed up beautifully on your computer), and chat with the manager, asking if they would like to do a signing with you.   I’m sure if you were willing to travel, you could email stores in different areas and book a string of signings that way, and ta-da! You’re on tour.  This will cost you in terms of travel expenses, of course.  Remember that independent bookstores will be your most ardent supporters, so be sure to build your relationships with them (and shop at indies, and include a link to indiebound.org on your website so folks can buy your book through them!).

I tell booksellers that I will send out press to area media about the event, and wow, are they happy to hear that.  A few weeks before any signing, I create a nice feature story about the event and my novel, and send it out with pix. I ALWAYS get coverage. So if you don’t know how to format and write a press release, a public service announcement and a feature story, learn. Now.  The library has books that will show you how.

With color printers, you can make your own publicity info.  Printing bookmarks through a company is pretty cheap to do, but I haven’t done this.  Personally, I’ve never bought a book because I’ve gotten a bookmark…  I’ve created great signs on my computer and brought the file to Staples, and had them create large posters, mounted on foam core, that I display on an easel at my events.  This is all nickle and dime stuff, folks.

As you market, you need to think of who your audience is, what is your book’s angle, and how do you reach your audience in an unorthodox way?  You don’t want to be a spammer, or to spend a fortune creating junk mail that ends up in the circular file. My approach is to be the anti-spammer, meaning that I make an effort to contact people personally. And I use their name in my note. It takes a lot of time, but I don’t care. I’m asking for their time when they read a note from me, aren’t I? It’s old school, and that makes it retro and charming.

Author J. A. Konrath is a gifted promoter with a personal touch. His website (which he’s changed since I first found it) is loaded with advice on how to personally make a difference in the life of your book, especially if you follow the link to his tips page.  Start with Self Promotion for Authors Tip 6 by clicking here, and read on from there, going to more tips at the bottom of this page. His ideas are wise and witty and absolutely on target.

Aside from making personal contacts, another “outside of the box” way I found to reach my audience of teen readers is through workshops that I offer them to help teen scouts earn badges they need for important awards like the gold award.  It’s been unbelievably successful, and I’m in reprint again!  Because they were unusual, my workshops were also featured in Publisher’s Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf and at shelfawareness.com, so remember that a quirky promotion can be news in itself.

Since my book features a biracial character who is half Indian, I contacted the international publication of India Abroad, and they ran a huge cover story about it.  I also contacted lots of great people who write about the mixed race experience, and they were really responsive. I was featured at AsiansofMixedRace.com, did a podcast with Mixed Chicks Chat, and in the UK, WHAT I MEANT… was a featured book on the site Intermix.com.uk.  I also contacted librarians via email who were in areas with high concentrations of Indian populations. The best part of all this has been the personal relationships that I’ve built with all of these talented and wonderful people and their organizations.  In the end it’s not just about selling a product, it’s about becoming a part of a community. You are building a future in the book-reading world.

So, what angles are in your book? What organizations out there would be interested? Can you write for their newsletter or blog, relating your personal experiences that tie into your book? Can you create a great presentation for their chapter meetings? Give an inspiring speech at their conventions? Give an honest piece of yourself to your readership, and they will respond to you.

This post would be woefully remiss if I didn’t mention a bunch of on-line stuff.  First of all, your website. You have to have one. That’s all there is to it.  But you can do what I’ve done and easily make your blog your website. It does all I want it to do, plus I can control it myself, plus it’s FREE! Then if you purchase your domain from a site like bluehost.com, they have a free redirect service. In my case, everyone who types http://www.marielamba.com arrives here. Can’t get any cheaper and easier than that, folks.

You have to get onto facebook.com.  The best feature on this is the event invite.  Create invites for all of your signings and appearances, and invite folks.  Pimp up your invite with added pix, links, and remember that once someone rsvp’s, they can then invite all their friends to the event too.  This has worked out amazingly, especially when I tell bookstores with facebook pages to do this.  My last event was able to send out over 500 invites!  A few days before the actual event, you can go to the invite page and message all invited with a cheerful reminder note.

Twitter.com can work in tandem with your invites, and press, etc.  Build up your follow list with librarians, booksellers, publishers, editors, reviewers, readers.  Then post on twitter links to your facebook events, or any online press you get.  Keep it short. If you leave at least 40 characters remaining, folks can easily retweet it to their buds.  And you can shorten your links by going here.

Don’t be a shmo. Also use these sites to promote other writers, other events, to praise books that you’ve read.  Balance is key, and you are part of a wide-spread community, so share the love.

Reader-oriented sites offer a great way to connect with your audience. Create an author page. Friend folks who have read your book. Friend folks who have read a competitor’s book and suggest they check yours out!  Here are the sites I spend time on: librarything.com, shelfari.com, goodreads.com.  Librarything and goodreads also let you post your events. Also, join indiebound.org and friend all your fav bookstores.

Booktour.com is an amazing site. Create an author page, and type in all of your appearances. They will automatically send out your appearances to a huge number of online sites.  And, I also suggest you go onto your book’s page at amazon.com and click on your author page. You can now add a picture, a bio, and link your blog posts here.  PLUS booktour.com will make sure that your appearances appear there as well.

Linkedin.com is a more professional site, meaning you can’t just friend, or connect, with everyone.  But join some groups, like one for bookstores or libraries or publishing, and then you can use that connection when you invite someone to connect to you.  Create a beautiful profile, and link your blog to it so that the content is always interesting and changing.  They give you a really simple way to do this.

Now, back to the human side of things… Involve your friends and family everywhere to help you in your promotion.  Like I said before, I’ve never bought a book because I’ve gotten a bookmark, but I have bought a book because someone recommended it to me.  I think J.A. Konrath wisely pointed this out on his site, and it really stuck with me.  So do encourage folks to write reviews for barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, and on goodreads and shelfari.  Enlist this army of supporters to request your book be purchased at their libraries (most library sites allow this on their online sites, and require a library card number). Have them visit their local bookstores and put your book face out, instead of just spine out.  Hem, hem.  This comment may get some flak from the industry that actually pays to have a title face out on a shelf so it’ll get noticed faster, but if Aunt Minny quietly goes into a bookstore and does this, no harm, no foul I say.

Liars club25One more thing. There is definitely power in numbers. If you can create a group of writers who will blog together, or do panels and talks together, you can turn any event into something noticeable and special.  I’m a proud member of the Philly Liars Club, and it has been an incredible journey. We support each other, and we are able to support independent bookstores through our special truth tour events. Are there other debut novelists that you can link up with? Other authors you know in your genre who could do a panel with you at the next huge convention? Power in numbers, baby!

So you can see there is a lot that you can do, most of it while sitting at home in your jammies in front of your laptop.  After I gave this talk about marketing (not in my jammies), the members of the Bucks County Romance Writers group all wanted to know when I actually found time to write.  I told them that in the last two years I’d done all this promotion, AND written two additional novels. I encouraged them to get to work.

I’m pretty sure they will.

Clinton Book Shop is one Cool Independent

We lie for a living...

We lie for a living...

I’m lucky enough to be a member of  the Philly Liar’s Club, a group of 13 professional writers who basically lie for a living. And together we are on a “Truth Tour,” which means we throw parties for independent bookstores, spreading the word about what makes each store so important to our communities.

The really great part about this is that I get to interview bookstore staff and hear all this cool stuff about the shops and what they’re doing. For example, our next stop is at Clinton Book Shop in Clinton, NJ, June 20th from 1-3 p.m.  The store is located at 33 Main Street in Clinton, NJ, and it is way cool. For starters, it is the only dog-friendly bookstore in the state! So anyone can bring in their pooch and browse. They even have dog treats at the counter. My evil poodle would love that. Too bad she gets car sick…

At our free event, “Liars Tell the Truth about Clinton Book Shop,” anyone (including dogs) can come in, nibble on free goodies (there will be stuff for humans, I promise), hang out with the authors, and play Truth or Lie trivia games for tons of prizes including book bags and signed books. There will even be a story time for kids, featuring an original picture book manuscript read by author Keith Strunk.

So who will you get to meet? There’s me, (signing my young adult novel What I Meant…, Random House), Bram Stoker award-winner Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, St. Martin’s),  debut crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s), mystery author Jon McGoran who writes as D.H. Dublin (Freezer Burn, Berkley), historical authorKeith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series),  and social media guru Donald Lafferty.

One thing I learned about Clinton Book Shop is that even though it is small and cozy, purchases there aren’t limited to its excellent collection on its shelves. You can get any book from them by stopping in, calling the store or going to www.clintonbookshop.com.  Special orders usually arrive within two days. Best of all, by ordering through them you are benefiting a local business, one that offers a unique shopping experience, and that showcases titles you won’t find in any of those megastores.

Clinton Book Shop manager Rob Dougherty agrees. “We understand that we’re a part of a small town and community. We understand the people that come here and we work hard to meet their needs.” That translates into carrying titles of special interest to patrons. Also, the staff prides itself on knowing its stock inside and out, and that’s why they are especially skilled at recommending books to customers looking for their next read. “I’ve never seen a single customer come back to complain that they didn’t enjoy a book that our staff had hand sold them,” Dougherty says. “That is saying something.” 

Other ways the staff caters to its customers includes a loyalty shopper’s discount card, hosting book clubs including “The Politically Incorrect Book Club,” and an array of exciting literary events, including the upcoming nationwide book launch of author Maryann McFadden’s newest novel So Happy Together (Hyperion) on July 7th.

The bookstore is so connected to the community because for owner Harvey Finkel, Clinton is home.  Finkel, a long-time area resident, has served as a board member of Habitat for Humanity, and, through the store, he has supported local and private schools and contributed to regional non-profits. He is also a founding member of “Hunterdon First,” a newly formed non-profit supporting independently owned and operated businesses throughout the county.  His own store’s entire philosophy is focused on benefiting his community. “That’s why it is so important to buy books from a local independent bookstore,” says Donald Lafferty, a social media guru who specializes in networking. “It’s like one big network. You spend your dollars at the Clinton Book Shop, and your money stays in this community. It’s all connected, and it truly makes a difference right where you live.”

Clinton Book Shop customers are understandably loyal – something that Dougherty especially appreciates. “It’s so cool when customers know what kind of coffee you drink and they bring it for you. And support from our customers during these tough economic times has been great. It means a lot.”

“This town’s unique architecture and independently owned stores are what give Clinton its authentic small-town charm,” says historic author Keith Strunk. “I can’t imagine a place like this filled with chain stores. We hope everyone feels the same and comes to our Liar’s Club party to show the Clinton Book Shop how strongly they support this local gem. It’s going to be a really fun celebration – honest!”

For more information, or to reserve a copy of an author’s book before the June 20th event, call the Clinton Book Shop at 908-735-8811.  I hope to see you there.  And if you don’t live in the area, you can still show your support by buying your next book from your local independent bookstore. Go ahead. Do it now!

Where I’m Gonna Be When: Author Appearance Schedule

Hey gang,

Well, since I’m STILL having some website issues, and haven’t been able to update my site for like 2 months (!), I thought I could at least post my appearance schedule here. If you are nearby one of these events, come and say hey!


Marie Lamba’s Upcoming Appearances:

May 9th,
morning appearance and signing with Girl Scouts in Lansdale, PA. Yeah teen scouts!

May 16th, 2-4 p.m. booksigning at The University of Pennsylvania Bookstore (Barnes and Noble), 3601 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Coincides with alumni day…and Marie’s 25th Penn reunion.  For more info call 215-898-7595.

June 4th, 3:30-5:30 p.m., booksigning at The Summer Library Fest, held at Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, 1001 Powell St., Norristown, PA.

June 14th, 1-5 p.m. Booksigning and chatting with 70 authors at Books in New Jersey literary festival, held at Paramus Public Library, E116 Century Road, Paramus, NJ. Sponsored by Bergen County Cooperative Library System and Paramus Public Library.

June 20th, 1-3 p.m. The fabulous Philly Liar’s Club will be throwing its second “Truth Tour” event, and you are invited. “Liars Tell the Truth about Clinton Books” is a party at Clinton Books, 33 Main St., Clinton, NJ, featuring fab giveaways, Truth or Lie games, and these Liars Club authors: Marie Lamba, Jonathan Maberry, Keith Strunk, Gregory Frost, Jon McGoran (who writes as D.H. Dublin), Dennis Tafoya and Don Lafferty. There will be laughs, mayhem, booksignings, and this party is free! You can call the bookstore at 908-735-8811 for more info or to reserve a copy of an author’s book.

July  10th-12th, time TBA, Marie will be appearing at the Chestnut Hill Book Fest, in Chestnut Hill, PA, with a bunch of her wacky Philly Liars Club author buds. There’ll be yakking and booksignings. Stay tuned for details.

July 25th, 3-5 p.m., “Liars Tell the Truth about Between Books,” the Philly Liars Club throws another wild and wooly party for independent bookstores. This time we’ll be at Between Books, 2703 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE. This free party will have great giveaways, Truth or Lie games, and these wacky writers: Marie Lamba, Jonathan Maberry, Keith Strunk, Kelly Simmons, Merry Jones, Gregory Frost, Dennis Tafoya, Don Lafferty.

July 30th, 7-8 p.m., South Brunswick Public Library, 110 Kingston Lane, Monmouth Junction, NJ. Marie will be giving a special talk, sharing how she makes her books come to life, and answering questions from you. This will be followed by a book sale and signing. The event is free and open to the public. For more info call the library at 732-329-4000.

August 14th, 6-8 p.m., “Liars Tell the Truth about Aaron’s Books.”  The Philly Liars Club “Truth Tour” continues!  This time we are throwing a party for wonderful indie bookstore Aaron’s Books43 S. Broad St., Lititz, PA. This exciting event, which is free and open to all, will have fab giveaways, “Truth or Lie” games and mayhem/booksignings with a host of Liars Club writers: Marie Lamba, Jon McGoran (aka D.H. Dublin), Keith Strunk, Don Lafferty, Jonathan Maberry, Merry Jones, Gregory Frost, and Dennis Tafoya. The par-tay occurs during the town’s Second Friday Celebration. Contact the store for details at 717-627-1990. Don’t miss the action…

October 9th, 7:30 p.m., “Meet the Authors,” night at Indian Valley Public Library, PA. Co-hosted by the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce and wonderful indie bookstore Harleysville Books. This free evening will include author talks and booksignings. Details, including other featured authors, coming soon.

October 18th, 1-3 p.m., Senior Scout Workshop and Booksigning, Cherry Hill, NJ.

November 7th, noon-3 p.m., The Philly Liars Club will be throwing a very special “Liars Tell the Truth about Womrath’s Bookstore” held at Womrath’s Bookstore, 12 Washington Street, Tenafly, NJ.  It’s in celebration of this store’s 60th anniversary. The festivities are free and everyone is welcome to come enjoy our “Truth or Lie” games, great giveaways, and chillin with the writers, who will be signing their books: Marie Lamba, Dennis Tafoya, Jon McGoran (aka D.H. Dublin), Ed Pettit, Keith Strunk, Gregory Frost, Jonathan Maberry, Merry Jones, Kelly Simmons, William Lashner, and Don Lafferty.