Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

On Borrowed Time

So perhaps the single most awesome thing in my writing career happened for me recently.  Nope, I didn’t hit the bestseller list for thirty seconds, or get closer to achieving my goal of luxury car ownership via royalty checks.  In fact, my monumental feat has absolutely nothing to do with sales.

My books are now in my local library.

My husband told me that it would be unseemly to go visit them, so I just have to take the online card catalog’s word for it.  I believe it; here’s the link.

For some reason, this is more validation for me as an author than having an Amazon page, a Goodreads profile, or a Facebook fan page.  Maybe it’s because growing up, I never dreamed in a million years that something I wrote would be placed on those shelves.  Shelves upon which I discovered my love of reading.  And in the library setting, it’s somewhat of a more level playing field, in as far as my fiction books are alphabetized right in with traditionally published works by big named authors.

As you might recall, in November I was one of approximately 70 authors who took part in an Author Fair held at our Main Library.  As such, we were encouraged to bring copies of our books for sale.  This event pushed me to create paperback copies of my already published ebooks so that I actually had something to show off while I was there.  Though I sold a few books there, I did come away with some inventory.  Which got me thinking – what if I donated a couple copies of each book to the library so that readers in my community could enjoy them?

So I asked.  And I got a quick response back.  One that shocked me.  It went something like this:  “Of course we would be happy to accept your contribution.  But we’d like you to know that we’ve already got the first book in your series on order and it should be stocked shortly.”

Yes, they had already purchased my book.  Without me asking them to, or me getting down on my hands and knees and begging them to.  And I had no clue. Which I found to be even sweeter than them agreeing to take some free ones off my hands.

I’ll likely never see the proceeds from that book, because my net royalty on that particular sale is only 50 cents.  And I seriously doubt I’ll see an influx of paperback purchases that will help me cross the payment threshold.  But I don’t care one iota. Because they showed me with that order that they believed in me, at least a little bit.

I promptly dropped off copies of Books Two and Three, as well as two additional copies of the one that they already bought.  Now all three novels are in circulation, and as of this posting, over half of the copies available have been checked out.  I’m really curious on how they are being displayed, or if library staff is recommending them or what.  Other than a quick post to Facebook and Google Plus and a mention to some coworkers – who I seriously doubt are responsible for borrowing them – I’ve told no one that they are there.

I’m excited to see what the future holds, and I’m cautiously optimistic that this will have a snowball effect.  A common take away from people that I met at the Author Fair was that it was cool that I based my books in Fort Wayne.  And now, the community that serves as my setting has the chance to check them out, very literally.

Though I know not everyone in our city of a quarter million people has a library card, our library system is county wide.  Even though the copies all originated at the main library, since readers can return them at any branch in the county, they may find their way to other locations in the area.  Or if there is enough demand for the copies that they already have, the library may purchase additional copies to shelve at some of the more frequented branches.

Any way I look at this, the potential to reach a new set of readers is nothing to sneeze at.






Stage Fright

In roughly one week’s time (I’m writing this on Halloween), I’ll be attending my first public appearance as an author.  By the time this post is published on my site, the event will be in a few short days.  And when this post is finally tweeted during Monday Blogs, the Author Fair will be a recent – hopefully positive – memory.  Don’t worry Twitter blogging friends, I’ll do a follow up to let you know what happened.

My local library holds an annual Author Fair, something that I happened to stumble upon last year strictly by accident.  As in I was returning library books the day it was held and hey, there it was.  My husband asked me why I hadn’t signed up to do it.  First off, I would have had to have known about it and secondly, I didn’t feel like I was worthy of being there anyway.

Truth be told, I did know about it, at least in passing.  I’d contacted the library previously to see if they would possibly be interested in purchasing ebook copies of my debut novel.  At the time, I wasn’t distributing on the platform that they use for their digital downloads (I am now) so that part of the conversation was a moot point.  But the nice lady that corresponded with me did let me know about the Author Fair that’s held each fall.  I filed that information away in my head and did absolutely nothing with it.

Why?  Because last year, I didn’t feel as though I belonged in a published authors club.  Even though I did publish two books in 2013, I still felt like an impostor, like I was trying to pretend my way into being an author.  Plus, I felt like the big draw of doing a public appearance was to sell and/or sign physical copies of actual books.  I told myself I would feel like an idiot if I sat at a table all by myself with no product.  What would I do there?  Bring my laptop and show people my Amazon links?

My husband looked at me like I had two heads when I explained this all to him.  His solution was simple:  make print copies.  Carry some inventory so that I could go to events like this and feel like a genuine author.  His take on things is if I can’t make some fans in Fort Wayne (who don’t already know me personally) when my books freaking take place in Fort Wayne, then no one anywhere will give a crap about them either.

I beg to differ slightly with his logic; I mean, I’ve sold copies in Canada, England and Australia, and I’m positive I don’t know anyone personally in any of those places.  In a global marketplace, you can make a name for yourself far away from home.  Just ask David Hasselhoff.

But I did what my loved one suggested and I made paperback copies of my three current novels.  I also paid attention to the library’s website so that I didn’t miss the registration for the event.  This year, I signed up and claimed my place in the published authors club.

So now, I’m sitting typing this while paperback copies of my novels stare at me from their place in the corner of my living room, where they’ve been waiting for their unveiling since the day they arrived at my house.  Tomorrow I’ll cart them over to the indie bookstore that will be selling my books at the event.  I’ve gotten business cards printed to pass out while I’m networking.  I’ve got my autographing pen at the ready.  I even have my outfit planned, right down to the awesome new earrings that I ordered for myself.

But even with all that preparation, I still feel the nervousness creeping in.  That in a sea of seventy total authors, I’ll be invisible and absolutely no one will stop by my table.  That I’ll be outclassed by every single person that’s there.  I recognize this phenomenon from my days in high school, the feeling that I got right before I went out on stage.  And I never made a fool out of myself back then, so that’s at least slightly comforting.

So what are my goals for the Author Fair?  To talk with potential readers.  To be as good of a representation of my brand in person as I am online.  To let my personality shine through snarkiness and all, because that’s a direct reflection of what I write.  To get some new local interest in my work.  To meet a couple of the authors who will be there whose books I’ve actually read.  And maybe to come home with a few less of my own books than I started with.

So stay tuned to see if I actually accomplish any of that.

The one thing that I know for sure is that this will be a learning experience.