Thursday, October 16, 2008

Big News

I got the best e-mail from the marketing director at Alpha. It said,

"The Green Year is getting fantastic interest from booksellers. The actual orders that came in were nearly DOUBLE from the sales reps' initial estimates. We will have to reprint immediately. This is fantastic news!"

I'm THRILLED! I can't believe the book is going into its second printing before it's even released. Want to know what all the buzz is about? BUY THE BOOK! You can pre-order a copy today.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I have two major weaknesses (three if you count my underwhelming broomball shot): Admitting I'm wrong and asking for help. I'm about to do both.

I was under the impression that having a book released during the holidays would be a great promotional tool. I imagined it would be featured in gift guides and touted as a stocking stuffer and bookstores would be eager to have me signing books for holiday shoppers. As it turns out, I was wrong. 

The deadline to submit products for gift guides passed long before galleys of The Green Year became available and bookstores are too frenzied to even think about hosting a signing during the holidays. After making dozens of phone calls, I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to schedule any readings until the New Year. Unless (this is where the asking for help part comes in) YOU know of anyone who would like to host an event. I'm available to speak at bookstores, eco-friendly businesses, social and professional organizations and schools on topics like:

*25 Ways to Go Green for Under $100
*10 Minutes to a More Eco-Friendly Lifestyle
*Kids Can Go Green, Too!
*Going Green in the Garden
*Green Your Workplace 

Drop me a note to talk about the specifics. Otherwise, stay tuned for a full list of events in 2009. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Overcoming Fear

I'm not afraid of public speaking. I feel totally at ease standing giving a speech at the front of a room filled with strangers. I'm not afraid to pick up the phone to call an editor I've never met, a source I'd like to interview or a writer I'd like to meet. So, I was very surprised to discover that the idea of picking up the phone to call bookstores about scheduling readings gave me a terrible case of the jitters. I've put it off for weeks. I have a list of the bookstores I want to call, I have a page in my notebook filled with talking points and an e-mail inbox filled with words of wisdom from other authors but I haven't been able to force myself to pick up the phone. I decided that today was the day: My goal was to make two phone calls. 

The first call was to a small bookstore just outside of Charlotte. The town hosts a Christmas event in December that coincides with the release of The Green Year and the bookstore is in the center of the action. I talked to the owner who explained that the bookstore only hosted authors who were well-known in the community - which I am not. I understand but I'm still disappointed. The second call was to a chain bookstore near my hometown. The manager promised to find out if he was allowed to schedule events in December. (During the holidays, he explained, shoppers want to get in and out; the store is often to crowded to accommodate author events). He asked me to call back later this afternoon.

My conversation with the second bookstore owner got me thinking: Will it be difficult to schedule signings in December? Setting up for a reading takes up precious space that could be used for extra sales tables. Plus, the stores are crowded, shoppers are frazzled and store clerks are overworked. In a few hours, I'll have a response from the manager. In the meantime, I'm attempting to work up the courage to make a few more calls. I know the success of The Green Year depends, at least in part, on my ability to promote the book - and bookstore signings are part of that. So, I'll continue to make a few calls a day. My goal: to schedule two signings in Charlotte and one in Toronto in December. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Return to Freelancing

It's been almost a month since I submitted the manuscript for The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers. The time has flown! I'd planned to take part of September off to recuperate after putting in long hours to finish the book but it didn't happen. I stepped away from the computer for about 10 minutes - just long enough to clean a closet or two, drop off several bags at Goodwill, send some old electronics to the recycling depot and scrub the bathrooms. 

Even though I'm logging a lot of hours in front of the computer, I don't have a lot of work. A big part of freelancing is seeking out work so I'm researching ideas, sending pitches and touching base with editors in the hopes that assignments will start finding their way into my inbox. 

I've started planning the publicity efforts for The Green Year (it'll be on bookstore shelves in just two months)! I'm working with a publicist at Alpha to spread the word about the book. So far, it seems to be working. I've done a few media interviews, had some interest from book reviewers and am working to schedule book signings. I'm also looking into speaking opportunities at schools, home and garden shows and events with an environmental bent. It's a lot of work - more work than I anticipated - but I love tackling a new challenge. I'm still working on getting a website up and running. As soon as it's live, I'll post details. Until then, I have to keep my nose to the grindstone. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back in Business

Drum roll, please: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers is finished. It felt so good to hit "send" on the manuscript. The book required a lot of research and writing in a short period of time but I'm pleased with how it turned out (and initial comments from the editors at Alpha echo that feeling). 

Less than 24 hours after I sent the final half of the book, I was on the road for a long weekend getaway with some girlfriends. We spent four days on St. Simons Island, soaking in the sun, reading and making regular pilgrimages to the ice cream shop. It was a much-needed break after writing non-stop for several months. Now, I'm back home and back at work.

I missed freelancing.

I've been researching article ideas, sending queries and reconnecting with editors and it feels so good. The thrill of the chase is the part of my  job that I love most. For me, there is nothing more gratifying than stumbling upon the perfect story idea, knowing exactly which editor might be interested and getting an assignment. It's not always that easy. Sometimes I think I have a great idea and I'm certain the editor will jump on the chance to assign it and then I get a rejection. So, it's back to the drawing board.

I jotted down all of my article ideas in a notebook while I was writing The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers so I have a huge list of inspiration to draw from. I'm also working from another list titled Book Promotion Ideas. In just a few short months, The Green Year will be hitting store shelves and it's time for me to start promoting it. Right now, the plan includes bookstore signings, book reviews, published excerpts and even a contest. Stay tuned for details. (Now that I'm not scrambling to finish a 232-page manuscript, I should have more time to update).

Friday, August 15, 2008


I've been hiding in the office, writing. In two weeks, the final manuscript for The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers is due. I'm moving through the chapters, making progress and feeling good about having the book done on schedule. 

Once the book is done, I'm going to focus my attention to promoting The Green Year. It's coming out in December so it's time to start promoting the website, sending tip sheets and press releases to editors and letting writers know that I'm available for interviews on green living. In fact, I'm being interviewed next week for an article for a major
 green magazine (stay tuned for details) that'll publish the same month The Green Year comes out. 

Last week, I had head shots done for the book. I was dreading the process and felt a little awkward posing for pictures, especially knowing the picture was going to end up on bookstore shelves. I had a great photographer and a friend for moral support and it went much better than I expected. Here's the shot I chose: 

I'll be spending most of the next few weeks writing The Complete Idiot's Guide and finishing a corporate project that I've been working on for the past two months. After that, I'm taking a short break. I need some time to pick up the piles of papers and research notes I've spread out all over the office and get the rest of the house in order. I also want to take time to make a plan for the last few months of 2008. 

Writing two books this year has made me realize a) it's possible to write two books in a year; and b) I miss magazine writing. I miss the challenge of coming up with ideas, researching markets, sending out queries and the back-and-forth with editors once an assignment has been made. The part of me that has a touch of ADD also misses moving from one topic to the next. This fall, I'm focusing solely on writing for magazines - and teaching classes and promoting The Green Year. Did I mention I have a touch of ADD? I'm also going to try to post more often...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Still Here, Still on Deadline...

I'm in a Diet Coke-fueled frenzy, attempting to finish the first half of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers before my deadline. I just have 40 pages left to write - and three days left to write them. I'm tired, convinced I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and wondering if writing in 54-point font would help me reach my page count goal a little faster. Must. Meet. Deadline.