After working thirteen years as a registered nurse, four of which she felt like "Hot Lips Houlihan" while serving in the United States Air Force, Lori Avocato picked up a book and said, "Hm. I can write one of these." Yeah right!
Oh, she wrote several all right--twenty-one to be exact--but getting them published proved to be another matter. Throughout the years, she realized it was not an easy task to write a book, much less a short, concise one. Oh how wrong Lori was!
However, now as an award-winning author, Lori is multi-published with twenty-one books currently sold in which her humor lends itself to her comedic voice. She writes contemporary novels and often uses her military, medical, or a combination of both backgrounds in her plots.
Recently Lori has found her niche writing her new series, The Pauline Sokol Mysteries. Her ex-RN character, Pauline Sokol, becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator. Now she is working on a new series called "Lethal in Lace." Yikes! Stay tuned for details.
As an Air Force veteran, Lori belongs to RomVets and The Nathan Hale Chapter of Military Officers Association. As a writer, she belongs to The Author's Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America along with several local chapters.
Lori lives in the New England area, raising two sons (Heaven help her!), and, of course, continuing to write novels. She'd love to hear from you via email at LAvocato@cox.net
Promotion & Writing Tips
Lori Avocato’s Promo Tips (September 2004)
Okay, here's some of my promotion "wisdom."
First lesson for writers is to "dissect" your book to see what groups to target. Example. My humorous romantic mystery, A Dose of Murder, is about a Catholic Polish American burned out RN who becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator. So, I targeted Polish American Organizations, Insurance companies, nurses, hospitals (the one I graduated from and all I had worked in), the colleges my heroine graduated from (SCSU and Yale) and even nursing magazines for national coverage--by writing an article for them. I also sent a letter to a Catholic Newspaper since my heroine has a devotion to a particular saint, St. Theresa. To all of the above I sent: An ARC, brochures, bookmarks, business cards, page of reviews, press release and cover letter stating the connection with the book. (i.e. the heroine graduated from your nursing school).
The setting of my mystery is an orthopedic office. Twice in one week I had to take my aunt and then my son to an orthopedic surgeon. So, I loaded up my purse with brochures and bookmarks and passed them all out. The doctor said, "Don't tell me the surgeon is the murderer!" I said, "I'm not going to tell you anything. You have to buy the book to find out!" Instant sale. Always carry brochures with you and politley hand them out. Here's my sure-fire statement that always has gotten me a smile, a thank you, and a promise to look for my book: "I am a writer with a book due out September 28. Here, let me give you one of my brochures." No one has ever said no thanks. If you say something like, "Would you like a brochure?" they can say "NO." Use positive words.
I made up a tri-fold brochure with a "hook" scene from the book and all the info about where and when to buy it. I believe that readers are not necessarily going to buy a book because the name of it is on a pen or magnet, however, if they read a part of the scene and want to know more...they will buy!
I made two-sided bookmarks and had them professionally printed. I included this short blurb: "Burned out registered nurse becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator only to be yanked back into the nursing field by an experienced hunk of an investigator who she just can't say no to--until she stumbles upon two dead bodies." The blurb is to "hook" a reader in case they only got the bookmark and no brochure. Also, I had a few good quotes on the back of the bookmarks.
I also sent out small "buyer" packets. These included: ARC or bound gallies, brochures, bookmarks, business cards (which I tucked into a nice little baggie) and candy. I used Strawberry Twists because there are so many twists and turns in my story. Then I printed a one-page list of my best reviews and quotes and added that along with a cover letter introducing myself. I picked all the buyers in big chains and small independent stores that are in various parts of my state especially the affluent areas. Then I picked buyers from various parts of the country to get good coverage, including Hawaii, and Canada. The bookseller in Hawaii emailed me that she would put my books in the front of the store when they arrived. Also, my book is in a second printing before it is even released. This, I attribute, to the promotion to booksellers.
Wrote a press release and sent it via email to all the newspapers in my state. Several have asked for an ARC to review.
I belong to several loops online and every time some chapter requests goodies or handouts for a workshop or conference, I send. I include a brochure and bookmark for the number of attendees they say will be there. When I attend a conference, I bring the brochures to pass out. For these, I have tied a pen with my name on it to each brochure. I think people are more likely to take the brochure if it is in a bright color and has a pen attached.
I volunteer to judge all contests that I am asked to. This is my way of giving back to organizations like RWA or MWA and it also gets your name out there. I always sign my score sheets.
Ever since I started writing and was pre-published, I volunteered. This helps out the chapters and conferences, but also gets your name out there. I believe word of mouth is a big seller of our books so you need name recognition early on.
I hired a publicist to send out ARC's(Advanced reading copies) of the book to booksellers. My book went into a second printing before it even was released. I think sending the ARCs out is the reason. You can do this on your own. You don't need to hire a publicist, but when you can afford one, it is well worth it. I used Judy Spagnola of Book Trends.
Contact Judy Spagnola at firstname.lastname@example.org to read about her services.
**So much can be done online by cutting and pasting a general letter that you write, and occasionally tailoring it to whomever you target.
**With the exception of hiring a publicist, most of these tips are not too expensive. Set yourself a budget, check around for good deals and don't use expensive, shinny paper for something that is going to be read and thrown away. Do, however, use bright, catchy colors. The tips are time-consuming--until we build up our names in the business. I think we need to spend the time to promote our books and ourselves, especially for that first sale.
Example costs for me: 1000 tri-fold brochures printed at Staples= $125 (I made the file first and brought it there as a floppy disk or CD), 10,000 bookmarks (two-sided with color book cover) by a printer in Florida = $200.
Check around for price quotes first! I don't recommend you spend your entire advance!