How to Survive a Book Signing When You’re Not J.K. Rowling

This is a guest post by Connie Sokol.Connie is the mother of six children and author of Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, as well as Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, and Life is Too Short for Sensible Shoes. She is a contributor for KSL’s Studio 5 morning show, and a former TV and radio host. For great and useful blog posts that will help you laugh/cry/love your veggies, visit

At some point you and I will have to again face the unthinkable””three hours of sitting like a veal, at a table, in a catatonic state until an unsuspecting citizen approaches within three feet, and we respond by enthusiastically coming to life like a theme park animatron.

Welcome to a book signing.Connie Sokol, Faithful fit and fabulous, LDS books, womanhood

Or a launch party. Or a presentation, or any event where an author gets out of his or her comfort zone (mainly, a padded typing chair). Here are some thoughts on how to make signing time””or any promotional event””more worthwhile.

Make a presence. Whether it’s a book signing table or a personal business card, “the cover” is everything. Make all you do eye-catching with bright color, unique presentation, or something that pops. In a word, give them a reason to take a second look. For my Faithful, Fit & Fabulous book, an orange Gerber daisy is a focal point. That has become part of my branding””meaning, something that a customer sees and instantly links to me (i.e. woman sees an orange Gerber daisy, feels a rush of positive endorphins, and runs to the nearest store to purchase my book). Definitely choose an “inspirational piece” as my designer friend instructed me. For my launch party for the same book, BYU Campus Craft and Floral suggested I use immense orange and teal three-foot balloons. Perfect. They could be seen from Wisconsin and I think created more buzz than the book. If you’re game, I also recommend a tall pull-up color banner. I use one that’s six-feet by three-feet but ridiculously small to carry (like a giant Toostie Roll) and easy to use (simply pull up from the casing). Instantly, it denotes “professional.”

Add movement. People are busy but movement catches their eye. At a signing table, consider using a laptop with a looped DVD of a presentation. It doesn’t have to be speaking to the White House, just a group of friends, or even you at a podium (preferably with some “pop” behind you). What do you talk about? Something interesting! You’re a published author””people always want to know what makes people write a book (wouldn’t we also love to know). Or how to get published””most everyone wants to publish a book “in their spare time.” If you’re not famous (that’s most of us) quote someone who is. J.K. Rowling gave an excellent speech at a Harvard commencement where she spoke about the upside of failure. I’ve used that quote several times in my speaking and blogging. And if all else fails, talk about achieving your dreams, because writing and publishing have many of the same highs and lows and fridge-foraging that go with achieving any dream. For my DVD I use segments from my previous KSL’s “Studio 5″ days and an Education Week talk I did for BYU back when it was practically still the academy. But I’ve found that women watch. And it’s something fabulous for them to do while you’re signing a book.

Faithful Fit and Fabulous by Connie SokolGive them something to take home. People need to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care about your book (did I actually put that in print?) but they want to know how it will benefit them, make their life fabulous, help them lose 20 pounds, or escape into a lovely world from which they will emerge ready to vanquish their laundry. This is your Best Novel Ever and your one chance. Give them the “why they should buy” in one sentence: “It’s about blah-blah-blah””one lady couldn’t put it down even while she was in labor.” Testimonials in one breath””or on your bookmark””can immediately set you apart and say, This is why you should spend $12.99 on my book. And last but not least, do giveaways. I include my self-published products (see, there is a use for those), gift baskets (trade with a friend who does them beautifully), and bring chocolate (that’s for you).

Capture their information. Provide slips of paper for the prize drawings that require name and email address. Let them know you have tips or great blog posts that will make them laugh/cry/love their dog. And make the gift baskets really, really cool.

I’m not a pro at book signings, launch parties, or making people love their dog. But I have been presenting for 15 years and know a little about capturing and keeping an audience. Make a presence, add the movement, give them something to use right now, and capture their information so you can hunt them down and compel them to know more about your Best Novel Ever.


Spanish Fork Jr. High School

This was posted on the Spanish Fork Jr. High webpage. We are honored we can help students learn more about Utah.

Utah Story by Seth Sorensen, LDS Authors, Utah Authors, History of Utah


Cedar Fort Publishing Donates The Utah Story to SFJHS

by: James Hubbard

Christmas came early to Utah Studies students at SFJHS when Kirt Forakis at Cedar Fort Publishing donated a classroom set of The Utah Story books to our school. The Utah Story is an amazing hardcover book, full of interesting information and wonderful pictures, written by Seth Sorensen, the curriculum specialist for our very own Nebo School District. Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Roberts, along with all 7th grade students at SFJHS, express our appreciation to Cedar Fort Publishing for this incredible donation that will add so much to the education of our students. Patrons who are interested in obtaining a copy of this book can go towww.cedarfort.comfor more information.

How to Write a Killer First Sentence (In a Totally Non-Violent Way)

This is a guest post by Diane Tolley. Her novel, Carving Angels comes out next month.

Diane Stringam Tolley was born and raised on a ranch in Southern Alberta, Canada. Educated in Journalism, she is the author of countless articles and short stories, as well as several enovels. She and her husband, Grant are the parents of six children, grandparents to 9+ and live and play in Beaumont, Alberta, Canada.

You have the pen.

You have the paper.

Diane Tolley Author
Me. Before I started writing. Oh, and my brother, George.

All right. All right, you live in the 21st century. A computer and printer . . .


Now how to get the words from the inside of your head to the outside.

And in a non-messy, no-sharp-instruments-involved way.

The first and most important thing you will need is an opening sentence.

Like, ‘The plane was falling like a leaf’.

That’s the one my seventh-grade Language Arts teacher always used.

And which started my brother, George on a riveting and humorous story about Superman.

But I digress . . .

So, opening sentence.

Make it brief. Make it interesting. Make it outrageous.

Spell it right.

Remember. It is what will pull in your reader and make them want to read more.

If they can’t get past your first five words, I’m sorry, there’s not much hope for the rest of your book.

In Journalism school (yes, there really is such a thing) they taught us that the ideal first sentence should be thirteen words.

Or less.

You heard me right.

Thirteen words.

Or less.

Diane Tolley Author
Me. After I started writing. But before I got any fashion sense.

Who comes up with this stuff?

We used to have classes (and classes) on just this topic. Pull your readers in in thirteen words or less.

It can’t be done.

At least, that is what I said.

Although I have to point out, here, that I was known as the class clown. The dumb blonde. The . . . you get the picture.

Moving on . . .

Your opening sentence doesn’t’ have to encapsulate (real word) your story. It only needs to introduce it. Get things started.

Rather like pulling the cord on a lawn mower.

Although that never works with our lawn mower, but . . . never mind.

I like to start in the middle of a conversation or action and then take the story both ways. Moving ahead and filling in the background at the same time.

Sound complicated?

It’s not.

If I can do it . . . you know the rest.

Listen to this . . .

‘The explosions were closer now.’

Or even better . . .

Diane Tolley Author
And today - Camping 2011 Writing keeps me outta trouble!

‘A couch was suddenly ejected, forcibly, from the third-floor window.’

How in the world does that happen?

Does it make your imagination soar?

Or this . . .

‘Jared looked down at the silent group gathered in the dusty yard.’

We’ll take this one further . . .

‘Hostile eyes stared back at him.

No one spoke.

The creak of leather and the jingle of a spur were the only sounds on the hot, still air.’

Okay, who the heck is Jared? And why is the group unhappy with him?

Because they certainly are.

And why is there leather creaking and spurs jingling?

Obviously we aren’t in Tokyo.

Okay, maybe we are, but it’s clearly a different Tokyo than I’ve visited.

But now we get to fill in the story, going both forward and back. Let people know, through the action, the who, what, where and why.

Isn’t it exciting?

Aren’t your fingers just itching for a keyboard?

Go for it.

And remember . . .

Brief. Succinct (Ooo, I like that word). Exciting.

And spelled right.

Blog Tour Tips by Melissa Lemon

Melissa Lemon, author of Cinder and Ella, recently participated in a blog tour and offers her advice in this guest post.

Cinder and Ella was recently part of a month long blog tour and I have been asked me to share a little about the experience. If I had to sum it up in a couple of words, it would be these: learning process. One of my favorite things was getting to know some of the bloggers as we corresponded about the tour or tweeted about nothing in particular. Here are some tips that I hope will help other authors who have a blog tour coming up soon.

Organization “” This saved me so many times and it was simple. I just created a label”” or folder or whatever your e-mail calls it””called “Blog Tour” for all e-mails about the tour. This made all correspondence readily available without weighing down my inbox. I created another label called “Blog Tour To-Do.” This is where I kept e-mails regarding interviews or guest posts so I didn’t lose those in the “Blog Tour” file. I also had a list scribbled out that I hung next to my desk with all of the guest posts or interviews listed in order of when they were scheduled on the blog tour. That way I knew which ones to work on first. In word, I saved each post or interview according to the name of the person or blog it was for, whichever would be easiest to find in my e-mail. For example: “Blog Post for Asriana” or “Interview for Supernatural Snark.” A little organization went a LONG way on the blog tour for Cinder and Ella.

Flexibility “” This was key. People didn’t always post on the day they were scheduled to. Sometimes I found out about a guest post on the day it was supposed to be up. I was trying to post about the blog tour every day on my own blog, but it got old. Go with the flow! Don’t stress over things you can’t control and be willing to change things around if needed.

Stay on Top “” I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had let things slip for even a day. I checked my e-mail several times a day and I worked first thing in the mornings or late at nights to get blog posts and interviews done before their scheduled day. When I knew a post was up on a blog, I tweeted about it and put the link up on my facebook page, both to get the word out and as a courtesy to the bloggers participating. And I treated my kids when it was all over for their patience as I had spent much more time on the computer than usual.

One of the most challenging things about the blog tour was coming up with quality content for the guest posts, which totaled 15 when all was said and done. I struggled to know what people would want to read about. If the blogger gave me an idea, that seemed to be a little easier. If not, I did a little research. I went to the blog and learned a little bit about the blogger. One guest post was about career planning since in the blogger’s bio it said that she was having a hard time deciding what to be when she grew up. She loved the post and it brought several comments. I also read several guest posts by other authors just to get a feel for what guest posting was about. That was helpful at times, but in the end I was writing guest posts about strange dreams.

Overall, I think the blog tour for Cinder and Ella was a success and I am so grateful for all of the bloggers that participated and for all of those who put work into it. Good luck on your blog tour!

Tip Thursday: Make your Facebook page a success

In our recent workshop for authors we helped them how to market themselves by using Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. Today’s tip that comes from PR Daily offers 14 tips for a successful Facebook page.

Here are just a few of them…

1.Thursday is the best day of the week to get the most visibility for a Facebook post.

2.Release major stories in the early morning. If you post them between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, you risk your content getting unnoticed due to news feeds and other traffic.

3.When sharing stories, always include thefull link; it’s 300 percent more likely to get clicked on than a shortened address.