Signings, Book Tours, Buzz

One of the writing blogs I subscribe to is The Writer's Edge. It comes from some of the folks involved in the Algonkian Novel Writer's Workshop. (I swear, I'm not on Michael's payroll, I just had a very good experience there.)

I thought all y'all writers might want to check out a couple of new posts and a promising new series that started today.

The first is To Sign or Not to Sign: Why Writers Should Consider Doing Book Signings

But book-signings can help you make tremendous inroads into reaching your
reading audience. And a good book tour, as part of a complete promotional plan
that includes targeted advertising, a strong web presence, effective media
coverage, and good distribution, can really get your sales going.

The second is How to Build a Book Tour Audience –Part I

Many authors are leery of doing book tours, not only because it's expensive
to travel across the country, but also because it's difficult to create a
good-sized audience. How can a relatively unknown writer hope to guarantee
crowds at signings? Here are some suggestions (with more to follow in a later
post) to help put butts in the chairs, and hopefully, ring up sales:

Of course, you can also get involved in the Pilcrow Lit Fest and other festivals. Great networking coming to a Chicago festival near you!

Five With Lauren Cerand

The photo really says it all. Our next "Five With..." guest is Lauren Cerand, a delightful woman I met at last year's (Downtown) Omaha Lit Fest who has more charm and style than just about anyone else I know. Truly, and she has the uncanny ability to make ease of even the most daunting. And, she's been an incredible supporter of Pilcrow since it was merely scribbles on a brunch cocktail napkin. She is an independent pr representative in NYC and blogs Lux Lotus. Please give her a warm welcome:

1. What are you working on now?

This spring, I am publicizing Janice Erlbaum's new memoir HAVE YOU FOUND HER, available now; Rudolph Wurlitzer's new novel, THE DROP EDGE OF YONDER, which will be out in days; Min Jin Lee's FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES, a debut novel that's now a national bestseller and will be out in paperback late next month; and Roxana Robinson's next novel, COST, coming in June. I also work on Barnes & Noble's "Upstairs at the Square" series of conversations pairing authors and musicians and the highest-profile cultural projects for the Goethe-Institut New York. Those are my main things right now.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

Getting out of New York, for obvious reasons.

3. Who are your favorite small presses mover/shaker types at the minute?

I am particularly fond of the small presses I have worked with-- Two Dollar Radio, Coffee House and Soft Skull are all particularly brilliant, as are the authors they've published: Rudy Wurlitzer, Laird Hunt, and David Breskin, respectively.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year that is not?

Selma Blair. I enjoyed her short story in the erotic anthology, 'Stirring Up a Storm.'

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

"Feel the Love" by Cut Copy. It's just glittery enough!


I'm a woman of my word: Pilcrow panels!


Green books, stickers, Eco-Libris, and Panels

Eco-libris is partnering with us for the festival and stickers will be available throughout the event to purchase for your own books, books that will one day live in the New Orleans Public Library, and/or books that you purchase while at Pilcrow. Wait, it gets even better! Eco-Libris plants a tree for every stick purchased to offset books. But, during Pilcrow at the NOPL Rebuilt Books fundraiser, Eco-Libris will plant two trees for every sticker people buy on behalf of NOPL.

Stickers? What stickers? Read this. That's right. Yours truly has ordered tons of these stickers for Pilcrow weekend. See what they look like just to your left. Yeah, that green circle with the tree-book. That.

Now, panels. Yes, panels. Due to the incredible turn-out, not only by participants, but by people just coming to listen and hang out, we are securing an additional venue. In fact, it's nearly secured. But, we have to wait for the green light before we can go flapping our traps about it. You understand. So, Monday morning, a list will be up. That's a promise. If it's not up, I surely got conked over the head over the weekend. (I shouldn't joke, I am moving this weekend.)


Five With Peter Davis

One of my very favorite things about our next guest, Peter Davis, on "Five With...", besides his delightfully funny book Hitler's Moustache, is that because the name "Peter" and the name "Davis" are rather popular ones, I found myself Googling "peter davis hitler" when I went to link to him. So there's that.

1. What are you working on now?

A book called Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! It’s a book of poetry.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

Traveling. Meeting people. Usually my wife comes with me, so it’s nice for us to get away from the kids, stay in a hotel, drink too much, and have sex.

3. Who are your favorite small press mover/shaker types at the minute?

At the minute? Bloof Books, Action Books, Didi Menendez, Matt Hart

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year who is not?

Kurt Vonnegut. But I’m just happy to meet Amy Guth. That should make up for the missing Vonnegut.

(Aw. Funny you say my name and Vonnegut's in the same answer. I did pose for some rather odd photographs in Vonnegut's honor. -AG)

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

The Hives, “Tick Tick Tick Boom”

(Please note. Pilcrow Lit Fest does in no way mean to imply that Peter Davis looks like, or worse, is, Hitler. WE just don't have a photo of him handy.)


Beyond mastergoogling.

You've Googled yourself, right? Come on, how can you be a writer if you've never Googled yourself. If you are like me, you know how many times, if any, you come up on the first page of Google. You know if those links are about Hooray Things or Boo Hiss Things.

What else can you Google and where else can you search?

Things to search:
Your name
Your name misspelled
Your correct book titles
You book titles slightly wrong
You book's nickname
Your ex-boyfriend's nickname
Your agent's name
The URL of your blog or website (to see who linked to you)

What are people saying about you on the blogs?
Google Blogsearch

What are people saying about you on the forums?

Are people putting up photos of you on Flickr? Videos on Youtube? A fan page on Facebook? You better search there too.

I broke one rapper's heart, temporarily, when I taught him about all these search engines. He knew he ruled page one of Google, but didn't know that he didn't rule the blogz. He does now, trust me, he does.

Five With Cris Mazza

Today, on "Five With..." I'm proud to present to you Cris Mazza, who, as luck would have it, is not only coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest, but who is also reading at the Fixx Reading Series this Thursday evening, hosted by yours truly. Cris Mazza is the author of Waterbaby.

1. What are you working on now?

My next book, Trickle-Down Timeline, just went into production at Red Hen Press. It'll be a 2009 AWP Conference (in Chicago) release. I'm hoping it can help celebrate a democratic presidential inauguration. If it’s a choice between voting and buying my book, please vote!

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

Bull sessions with colleagues and peers, because my husband and dog-training friends don't understand, so I can't vent at home.

3. Who are your favorite small press mover/shaker types at the minute?

Richard Nash of Soft Skull Press (publisher of my current new novel, Waterbaby) for his original vision about the world of literary writing. Gina Frangello of OV Books, for her willingness to expend energy publishing other people’s books. Kate Gale, of Red Hen Press for being the maven (maveness?) of independent publishing.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year who is not?

Jeffrey Eugenides

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

“WAR (What Is It Good For?)”


Five With Leah Jones

For our next "Five With...", I'd like to introduce you to someone who has mostly been toiling away behind the scenes here at Pilcrow, making Pilcrow the social media savvy festival it is. But, during the festival, she'll be leading a one-hour workshop for authors and publishers and utilizing social media, which will be very cool, as I can personally attest to her mad skills in that area. Anyway, without further ado, I present, Leah Jones.

1. What are you working on now?

My day job is Digital Culture Evangelist at Edelman PR in the Digital group, but my nights are spent blogging at Accidentally Jewish, doing freelance marketing gigs for authors, artists, and lit fests, and trying to write my first book.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I've never been to one. I guess that means my favorite part is the anticipation of not only attending my first lit fest, but getting to be on the organizing staff. That means I'll get to shmooze with the nerdy hawt writers, right?

3. Who are your favorite small press mover/shaker types at the minute?

It isn't books, but I'm most closely involved with the PresenTense magazine. It's a small magazine that also has a sister organization for start-up social entrepreneurs each summer in Jerusalem.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year who is not?

Oooh, that's good! I wish that Scott Westerfeld and Hillary Carlip were coming. Scott because he's just so kind to his readers. He writes Young Adult Lit and I think he does a great job of talking to his readers and keeping them involved. Hillary, because I've met her and always want to hang out with her. Also, through the Memoirists Collective, she's helped build a community of people telling personal histories. That's rad!

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

Immediately the lyrics, "I wanna rock and roll ALL NIGHT and PARTY every day" popped into my head. I don't know what that means, but I'm gonna go with it.


Pilcrow, Jambalaya Celebrities & Rebuilt Books

Officially, a special guest contestant from FitzGerald's 14th Annual Mardi Gras Jambalaya Cookoff Contest will be dishing up his special jambalaya at Pilcrow's fundraiser for New Orleans Public Libraries as we auction off the Rebuilt Books.

Where you can connect with us!

Are you on Facebook? Join the Pilcrow group on Facebook!

Are you on Twitter? Follow PilcrowLitFest on Twitter! (And Leah and Amy, too!) Hint, if you go to PilcrowLitFest and see who we are following, you'll see a lot of other Pilcrow participants that you can follow.

Do you have an extra dollar in your wallet? Join us on ChipIn!

Five With

Remember, if you are participating in some capacity in Pilcrow Lit Fest and have not submitted a set of answers for the "Five With..." interview and would like to, don't be shy! We can only post what we've received, so send away. Thanks.


Five With Katie Schwartz

Next up, in our "Five With..." interview series, I'm pleased to welcome Katie Schwartz, stand-up veteran, playwright and author of a collection of essays coming out shortly called Emotionally Pantsed. She's also been a friend of Pilcrow Lit Fest since the idea was little more than some scribbles on a cocktail napkin, so please give her a warm, Pilcrowy welcome!

1. What are you working on now?
At the minee, I'm focused on promoting my first forthcoming non-fiction essay collection from So New Media, titled Emotionally Pantsed, an irreverently honest and shameful confessional, conveying the absurdities and travesties of my life thus far.

FYI: Whenever I type "pantsed", I get the MS Word squiggly red line underneath, indicating that it's a typo and should be changed to "panted". I looked it up—I know what it means, but I wanted more detail. One of the dictionary.com definitions is "To long demonstratively; yearn". Ironically, that's one of the pink-elephant-in-the-room themes of Emotionally Pantsed.

I'm writing an epistolary-ish book based on one of the essays from Emotionally Pantsed, called Shrinktails. Right now it's in that ruminating-snippets-here-and-there-still-defining-itself place. I'm into it. I'm also working on mounting one of my plays, possibly a man, too, but I'm way more passionate about the play.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?
To be honest, I'm popping my literary-festival-cherry with Pilcrow and I'm so excited, I could burst at the seams. I can't wait to meet all of the writers I've read and admired from afar. I'm looking forward to the panels and listening to what other writers are saying about all things writing. Plus, hello, I love a good litdish fest and Pilcrow is the perfect opportunity for that as well.

3. Who are your favorite small presses mover/shaker types at the minute?
There are so many wonderful emerging and established indie publishing companies out there. I'm passionate about folks most dedicated to promoting up and coming voices with the least amount of censorship.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year that is not?
I wish two authors were coming, Adrienne Rich, a poet, an essayist and a radical feminist I revere and have always dreamed of meeting. I wish Andrei Codrescu was coming, too. I love his work. I'm also a huge fan of Exquisite Corpse a vulvarific literary feast.

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?
"Let the River Run" by Carly Simon. The song is about embracing your dreams with fearlessness. It's beautiful and uplifting and makes ya's feel like anything is possible. What's bad?!


bigger Pilcrow?

Oh, so, through a seriously generous contribution, we just might be expanding the programming on Sunday of Pilcrow. Stay tuned a couple more days for the scoop. Oh boy, oh boy!


Follow us on Twitter!

I am super-hooked on Twitter and I've pulled Amy along into the game. It goes without saying that we'll be using Twitter at Pilcrow in May. Are you on Twitter? Then add PilcrowLitFest, me and Amy.

Don't know what Twitter is? Once again I turn to my friends at Common Craft.

Do you go on writing retreats?

In the past few months, I've been luck to attend two writing retreats. I like to go off to woods to work with other writers, it reminds me that of all things I need to do, I need to write.

In November I went to the Algonkian Park Novel Writer's Workshop with Michael Neff. I had a great experience and was forced to find a new idea for a novel in short order. It was just what I needed. Nights in a cabin with a fire roaring, in the living room writing with two others. Tapping away at our keyboards and sharing a bottle of wine. Later we'd turn off our computers and tell each other stories, look out on the Potomac River, and laugh ourselves silly.

Last weekend I took a shorter trip and went to the SOFER Writing Retreat at OSRUI in Wisconsin. This was a bigger group split into poets and novelists. Again we had a forest, great teachers and room to write. I even talked the organizer into blogging.

Do you ever go off to the woods to write? Off to the city? Off to a diner? What retreats would you recommend for fellow Pilcrowers?


What a pretty Pilcrow you have...

I got a sneak peek at the festival posters yesterday! Look closely--

Big thank you to Momma's Boy Design, for making Pilcrow look so sharp.


Five With Charles Blackstone

Next up in Pilcrow's "Five with", please welcome Charles Blackstone, author of the novel The Week You Weren't Here, as well as his new play, Rogers Party. (Psst, there's a benefit for Lifeline Theatre Company on May 6th. Go and get a preview of the play. And drink wine. Everyone wins.)

1. What are you working on now?

Trying to come up with a good excuse about why I've ignored these questions for so long. I am a bad, bad Pilcrower. It's not my fault. It's just been a busy couple of weeks. Rain on the Pilcrow, blood on the plow, this landfill nation, etc.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

I like getting to see in person those colleagues who I spend the rest of the year (sometimes the rest of the years) communicating with via email. These aren't even necessarily people who live in other cities. I also like the fact that in a world dominated by so many festivals (jazz, blues, food, booze, comic books, furries) that have little to do with all things literary that there can be a moment when words and the people who make them and think about them and care about them are all the rage.

3. Who are your favorite small press mover/shaker types at the minute?

Impetus Press. I've gotten to know Jennifer Banash and the more I learn about what they're doing, the more excited I get about small press publishing. Usually small presses set out to be as unlike their mainstream counterparts as possible, which means they're going end up eschewing meaningful literary fiction that is more or less formally conventional, and Impetus isn't like that. They have pretty delicious covers, too.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year who is not?

Zoe Trope. The last time she was in Chicago, we had such a blast. We went to IKEA, a Purim carnival, a Thai restaurant, a sushi bar, Mity Nice Grill with my friend Julie, a couple of used bookstores, the top of the Hancock building, the U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry, Old Navy, Target, and, at one point, she baked me Snickerdoodle cookies. Now imagine adding Pilcrow to that list. Need I say more?

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

This song called "Folder," by Plastic Operator. Why? Because it's going through my head right now, and because it contains the term "copy and paste," which to my mind no other song has ever included. It's also on my iPod, so it wouldn't be hard to broadcast, and it's fast, so you can run to it.


Start using RSS!

I'm helping the Guthster with the Lit Fest on all things having to do with social media. What's that? All the new fangled stuff on the interwebs. Blogs, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, photo sharing sites like Flickr, video sharing sites like YouTube, microblogging sites like Twitter and Pownce... You know what I mean?

Since I'm the one helping with that stuff, I thought I would teach some skills as we lead up to the festival where you'll be fully prepped to ask me stuff in person.

The first on the list? RSS.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and you might already be using it. Got a personalized Google home page? Using MyYahoo? Personalized your MSN? Then you are using it but learning how to really use it will save you time. Time that you could be using to write the next project!

I'm going to let Common Craft explain RSS and then I'll be back.

Lee mentions a few feed readers: Google Reader, Bloglines, NewsGator and MyYahoo. I have used both Google Reader and Bloglines and have to say that I'm a Bloglines Girl. It is the first reader I ever used and I like being able to empty it to zero, you can't with Google Reader and sometimes I like to start from scratch.

So, your mission? Set up an account on a feed reader and add five of your favorite blogs and two favorite news sites. Let me know when you've done that.

P.S. I also endorse the Back In Skinny Jeans post about RSS.


International Festival of Mystery...?

I started with the idea of getting local authors together, then I realized by the time I rallied my peeps, and those peeps rallied their peeps, that Pilcrow would bring authors together from around the country. Well, my friends, Pilcrow goes international as of today with a fabulous guest from Berlin. Not bad, kids. Not bad at all. Details shortly.


Five with Timothy Schaffert

Happy Monday! Ready for another "Five With..."? We thought you might be. Welcome Timothy Schaffert, author of Devils In The Sugar Shop, The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God and The Phantom Limbs of The Rollow Sisters, and is the man behind (Downtown) Omaha Lit Fest.

1. What are you working on now?

I foolishly have two novels in the works at the same time. I started one that I like very much, but it was coming along only in fits and starts, needing more time to fester in my brain, then this other one cropped up and commanded my attention, fluttering its eyelashes and stealing me away.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

I would say the torrid affairs, but I have yet to have one at a literary festival. So I'll say the potential for torrid affairs. The reasons should be obvious.

3. Who are your favorite small press mover/shaker types at the minute?

I was just at a conference where there were miles of tables of small press people, all of them so skinny and nerdy-glam with horned-rim spectacles and cigarette pants and charming Attention Deficit Disorder, so I'm having a hard time picking my favorites. So I'll be biased and pick a few who have been good to me lately: I love what Jonathan Messinger does (full disclosure: he accepted a story of mine for a featherproof mini-book), and the work he publishes is super-tantalizing. Kate Bernheimer, with her Fairy Tale Review, and now the Fairy Tale Review Press which is reissuing great books, is one of my favorites too. (Full disclosure: I have a story forthcoming in the Fairy Tale Review.) And both of them are fiction writers producing inspiring work of their own. I also want to include Zachary Schomburg and Mathias Svalina, who produce some beautiful books with their own Octopus Books, and who are destined for stardom.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year who is not?

Flannery O'Connor, peacocks and all.

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

"(You're) Having My Baby" by Paul Anka, because we'll all be pregnant with ideas.