My Trip to Toronto Part II

Welcome to Part II of my trip to Toronto

When we left off, the BookBuzz Toronto event had come to a conclusion. *Tear* In this post, I will recap my experiences from the following day.

I failed to mention in my earlier post that while getting a pedicure for my trip, my phone charger accidentally fell into the water. (If you have to ask how that happened, you obviously do not know me very well.) I didn’t realize that the charger was defective until after I arrived in Toronto and I was freaking out about traveling without access to my phone. Kaley was kind enough to meet me before brunch and escort me to the Toronto Eaton Centre mall where I could purchase a new phone charger. It was nice to have a few minutes alone with Kaley to get to know her better. While walking through the mall, I kept expecting to run into someone I knew. And then I remembered how unlikely that was since I was in another country…

torontocity

Although not everyone was around the following day, the majority of us (me, Sam, Kaley, Cat, Samantha, Lydia Laceby and Heather Wardell) agreed to meet for lunch at Senator Restaurant, a diner in the heart of the city. I was committed to drinking a Caesar, the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary, and was very relieved the restaurant was serving alcohol. I was the only one to partake in a boozy beverage but, like I said, I was determined. It was delicious. Nice and spicy, just the way I like it.

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Caesar

After brunch, we visited the World’s Biggest Bookstore, walked up and down the Toronto streets, stopped for tea, and then for lunch and a drink before heading back to the hotel to pick up our suitcases. Throughout the afternoon, we discussed our common obsession: reading and books in general. Spending the afternoon with women who share my love of reading was priceless. And since almost everyone was an author, we were able to discuss reviews, the writing/publishing process, sales etc. without anyone feeling left out or rolling her eyes in boredom. My local friends are amazing and I would not give them up for anything in the world but spending the afternoon with women who totally get that very important aspect of my life was incredibly special.

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Saying goodbye to my new friends who weren’t really “new” was painful because I knew it would be a long time before we met face-to-face again. I was so happy for some extra time with my friend Sam who actually walked with me from the Eaton Centre in the heart of Toronto downtown to the airport at the waterfront. I’m sure most of you are unfamiliar with Toronto, so I’ll just say it was a long walk and leave it at that! As much as I did not want to leave, I was also afraid of missing my flight but Sam and I agreed that in Toronto traffic, taking a cab would probably take me longer than walking and so we walked. And talked.

In conclusion, my trip was 99% successful. The missing 1% accounts for my failure to come home with autographs from the cast of Degrassi High! I guess that means I will have to come back…

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my trip to Toronto Part I

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the scandal involving Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford.  I’m not blogging about him today and lord knows, New York City has had its share of politician-related disgraces, but the subject of my post is Toronto.

I had the privilege of spending a few days in Toronto for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The reason for the trip was an author event called BookBuzz. You might remember that I co-founded the BookBuzz author event with fellow authors  Samantha Stroh Bailey (“Sam”) and Francine LaSala at our inaugural event in New York City in May. The Toronto event was the second in what we hope will be a long tradition of author/reader mix and mingles. At the outset, this is not a blog about Toronto BookBuzz as much as a blog about my personal experience in Toronto. If you would like specific information on the event and the participating authors, I recommend checking out the following blogs:

http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.com/
http://www.justalillost.com/2013/11/recap-book-buzz-to-2013/
http://ahiddenlife.com/2013/11/10/a-night-out-with-bookbuzzto/
http://www.freshprintmagazine.com/creating-a-bookbuzz/
http://booksandstuff-kstar.blogspot.com/2013/11/event-recap-bookbuzz-toronto.html

Let’s start at the beginning.

First impressions:

If you’ve ever flown into the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, you know that it is on an island and there is a ferry that takes you into Toronto. I thought that was totally cool. Sam lives in Toronto and was kind enough to save me cab fare by meeting me at the airport and giving me a ride to my hotel. During the drive, she played tour guide pointing out the different neighborhoods we passed. (I tried not to laugh when she had to call her husband repeatedly for directions. Apparently, it was the first time she had ever driven to that airport. I didn’t even know the city had more than one.) One observation I made about Toronto is that parts of it remind me of Seattle, Washington, mostly the waterfront and a building that looks just like the Space Needle!

spaceneedle

Hotel:

I stayed at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel (referred to by the locals as the “Delta Chelsea” for reasons unknown to me J ).  The hotel was enormous and bustling with energy but the service was very friendly. I dropped my bag in my room and headed to one of the many restaurants for lunch where I was robbed blind—$20 for a turkey sandwich, an apple and a cup of coffee! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering I’m a New Yorker, but sheesh! After lunch, I took a brief nap and then showered and got ready for the party. I was meeting at Sam’s house and heading over to the party at The Crest from there. Another observation about Toronto is that the traffic is off the hook. In a really bad way! What I thought would be a twenty minute cab ride took close to an hour as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The cab driver told me that Toronto had the worst traffic of any city in North America. He wasn’t kidding. And the cab smelled bad to boot. I was so excited to finally arrive at Sam’s house that I literally fell out of the cab along with my bag of books.

After a tour of Sam’s house and a small glass of quality Scotch, we called a cab and set off to the party at The Crest.

BookBuzz

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Have you ever grown super fond of a person you’ve never actually met and finally been given a chance to meet face-to-face? If so, were you nervous? Well, then you can imagine how I was feeling.  I’ve been in the situation before, but each time is unique since each “virtual” relationship I make is different. I was both excited and scared to death to meet my fellow BookBuzzers in person, especially, Samantha March, Kaley Stewart and Cat Lavoie, having gotten to know them so well online. I must confess that the initial introductions were awkward for me, but after drinking my first Pink Stiletto and taking a deep breath, I realized these women were the same people I had countless conversations with on Facebook, Twitter and via email and I had nothing to fear.

pinkstiletto

The party was beyond awesome! We had a great crowd and I got to talk to enthusiastic readers, sign some books, and get to know my fellow authors better. I was even interviewed by a couple of journalists who were reporting on the event. A slide show of all of the author’s bios and book covers ran continuously and every so often, I looked up and saw my picture on the wall. It was surreal (and a little embarrassing)! At the start of the party, there was discussion of an after party but by the time the event was over, we were all zapped of energy. With a promise to meet for brunch the next day, we all retired to our respective houses/hotel rooms, although most of us were so high on adrenaline that we couldn’t fall asleep.

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Stay tuned for Part Two!

Having A Three-Way…Indie Style!

I have some amazing friends and when we get together, we can talk Ad Nauseam about everything from men to annoying family members to sports to current events (not that often, admittedly) to pop culture and more. But since most of my friends are not writers, I try to keep my “author talk” to a minimum to avoid observing their eyes roll to the back of their heads. That’s one of the many reasons I adore having writing buddies. Recently, I had a virtual sit-down with two of my author besties, Francine LaSala (The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything) and Samantha Stroh Bailey (Finding Lucas) to talk about marketing books, indie style. So, today I’ll share a snippet of that conversation. As always, it was peppered with spunk since we’re such spunky chicks!

Francine: So you guys know about this big book birthday blog tour bash going on this week, right?

Meredith (smirks): Birthday bash? Whatever do you mean?

Sam (cocks head, playfully): Uh, no. Please tell us more.

Francine (winks): Well, The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is turning 1 this week, so it’s going on sale for 99 cents for one week only. While it’s on sale, I’ll be visiting different blogs for interviews, guest posts, that kind of thing. But I’m not the only one with something going on this week. Am I, Meri?

Meredith: Well, now that you mention it, I am doing a blog tour the next couple of weeks to promote Blogger Girl which is about, you guessed it, a book blogger. During the three week tour, reviews of Blogger Girl will be posted on some awesome blogs, along with  guest posts and interviews. Insert shameless self-promotion here: Blogger Girl will be on tour with CLP Blog Tours from 11/4-25.

Francine: Oh, did I forget the dates (and the shameless self-promotion) for mine? Sorry! My sale started 11/1 and goes through Thursday 11/7… Which reminds me… Sam? Don’t you have something to share?

Sam (laughs): Well, as you both know, I love promoting with other authors, and I’ve done quite a few group promotions. Along with the two of you, co-founding BookBuzz has probably been the most exciting. Creating an interactive author/reader event where everyone can meet and mingle, have a drink and chat about writing and books is such a fantastic way to both market and reach out to readers. And timing is everything, right? Because there will be a BookBuzz in Toronto on Thursday night, November 7, at The Crest at 794 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, from 7pm to 9pm. Here’s the website for all of the info! http://bookbuzz2013.wordpress.com/. I had the great pleasure of organizing this one with author Lydia Laceby and blogger Kaley Stewart.

Francine: Ooooh, sounds like fun! I’d love to be there!

Meredith (rolls eyes and smiles): You are going to be there. And me, too.

Francine (grins stupidly): Right.

Sam (beams): It’s going to be great! I hope we get to do more of these. Such a fun way to get “out there” with our books and touch readers.

Meredith: I know, Sam. It’s so fun! So what are some of the other ways you guys have been able to get “out there” with your books – and what are the challenges you’re facing? For me, with so many quality and affordable books available, I find getting people to click on my books to be extremely challenging. I make a lot of effort to get my books in the spotlight, but I do find that a large population of chick lit readers are still more likely to pay for a big name than to give indie authors, meaning both authors who self-publish as well as those who are published by small, independent presses, a chance, even at a lower price.

Sam: You’re right, Meri. I think marketing is challenging for any author, be they traditionally or indie published. For me, the hardest part was navigating social media. I didn’t even have a Facebook page until I published Finding Lucas! Learning how to use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, well, Pinterest is still a mystery to me, has been both incredible and scary. But, now that I’m using them, I find that I’m quite addicted. I also think it’s hard to gain exposure, but the reader/blogger/author community is so supportive, and I’m grateful to them.

Meredith: You can say that again. During the pre-release of Blogger Girl, I celebrated all things “blogging” by inviting guest bloggers to post on my website for a month long celebration.  As a result, there was already a lot of buzz about the book by the time it was officially launched. Additionally, while I always offer free copies of my books to bloggers in exchange for reviews, as well as participate in an organized blog tour, the blogging angle also helped get my foot in the door with popular beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers, who also agreed to promote Blogger Girl on their websites. Regardless of what avenue of publishing an author takes, marketing is pivotal.

All at once: Thank God for bloggers!

Francine: I’m not sure being “indie” is the big challenge for me. Even if I had a huge marketing budget and push behind me, I do find getting the word out about my books to be an awkward, embarrassing situation. Silly, I know, but I have a tendency to be shy. To be a “behind-the-scenes” kind of person. Which is why I enjoy writing. Marketing puts you right in the spotlight. And I’m old. Bright light is not as flattering as it may have once been. 🙂

Sam: Old? You’re only two years older than me! There are definitely so many more options for marketing now than ever before.

Meredith: Creativity is key.

Francine: Absolutely. As you guys know, I am a book publishing veteran, and I can tell you it’s amazing how formulaic print book marketing can be. This is because in traditional print publishing, if a book doesn’t take off right out of the gate, the remainder table is the fate! With ebooks, a book takes off when it does. There isn’t the same pressure to move those units quickly to make room in the warehouse for next season’s titles. The great thing is that an ebook can take time to grow. To that effect, I can “re-launch” The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything with this big birthday bash. I’m hoping this push will bring me more readers, more reviews, and also start building momentum for the books I plan to publish next year. I still feel like such a babe in the woods over all of this, though.

Meredith: We learn as we go. If I can give any new author starting out advice on how to launch an indie book, I’d say start getting reviews of your book as early as possible. With my first two novels, I didn’t start reaching out to bloggers for reviews until right before the book was being released. With Blogger Girl, I sent out ARCs over a month before the official launch and so by the time the book was published, I already had several reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It really made a difference as far as sales right out of the gate. I also urge you not to be stingy with offering free books. In addition to book bloggers, offer free copies of your book to readers in your target audience in exchange for a review. From my experience, readers are honored to be asked and if they like your book, they are extremely vocal about recommending it to their friends.

Francine: I agree. I also think that quality is key. It’s so important not to cheap out on your cover design or blurb. People can spot “homemade” a mile away. While that kind of thing can be charming for Pinterest, you want your book to be full-on-pro if you want readers to take you seriously. Also: Have your book edited. It’s heart-breaking to read bad reviews of books that are criticized not for plot points or characters, but for being sloppy. If you want to market your product as a quality product, produce a quality product!

Sam: Absolutely! Publishing a book is expensive, no doubt. But if being a professional author is what you really want to do, it is crucial to have the best book you can on the market. Hiring a professional editor, cover designer and formatter, if you need one, are some ways to create the most professional product. Here’s where I can do a bit of a shameless promo plug…

Francine: Thanks for taking one for the team, Sam!

Sam: By doing team edits on clients’ manuscripts, Francine and I have found it’s been fantastic to have more than one set of eyes on a story. I love working with you…

Francine: And I, you!

Sam: And it gives me great pleasure when we hand over the final product and our authors are so happy with our work.

Francine: Don’t forget that Meredith also does manuscript evaluations that are incredibly spot on.

Sam: So true. Her thorough and eagle-eyed beta read on my new novel really helped so much.

Meredith: Aw, thanks.

Francine: Seriously. Not blowing sunshine up your butt, Meri. When I read your reviews, I’m amazed at how much insight you have into the books you read–how much you care.

[Virtual group hug.]

Sam: Speaking of caring, I have to say the writer support groups I’ve found in the virtual world have changed my life. My friends and family are very proud of me, but it can be boring to listen to me prattle on about plot lines, sales, and promotions. Talking to and working with other authors who know exactly what my day is like has meant the world to me.

Meredith: Like right now!

Francine: True, dat. While we are all doing this to promote our various efforts, I have learned so much just speaking with you guys today.

Sam: I’ve learned I want to use “True, dat” in a sentence. But seriously, I hope we’ve been able to share more with readers than just the details of our various promotions.

Francine: Do you think the readers remember? Let’s remind them again!

For information on the Birthday Bash for The Girl the Gold Tooth & Everything, please click here.

For more information about the blog tour for Blogger Girl, click here.

For more information about BookBuzz Toronto, click here.

Meredith: See you guys next week at BookBuzz!

Francine: Looking forward to it!

Sam: I can’t wait to welcome you both to my city!

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Connect with Francine, Samantha, and me by clicking on the links below. Have a great day, everyone!

 Author Photo_Francine LaSala

Find Francine LaSala online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/francinelasala

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Francine-LaSala-Author/223109337705912

Blog: http://clippingsintheshed.wordpress.com/

Creative Services website: https://francinelasalaproductions.wordpress.com/

Author website: www.francinelasala.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4679863.Francine_LaSala

The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/

Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything JUST 99 CENTS THIS WEEK!: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2

Girl_Cover (1)

Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I

 

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Find Meredith Schorr online:

 Twitter: @meredithschorr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/MeredithSchorrAuthor

Website/Blog: meredithschorr.com

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4355520.Meredith_Schorr

 

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/meredithgschorr

Buy Blogger Girl:

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http://www.amazon.com/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375994653&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=blogger+girl+meredith+schorr

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blogger-Girl-ebook/dp/B00EDTLDSW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1376945948&sr=1-1&keywords=blogger+girl

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blogger-girl-meredith-schorr/1116358028?ean=2940148503125

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blogger-girl/id686654939?mt=11

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Find Samantha Stroh Bailey online:

samheadshotauthorcentral 

Blog http://samanthastrohbailey.blogspot.ca/

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/perfectpen

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samantha-Stroh-Bailey/420736011289684

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832614.Samantha_Stroh_Bailey

 

Business website: http://perfectpencommunications.com/

 

Buy Finding Lucas

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Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Lucas-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383158769&sr=1-1&keywords=finding+lucas

 

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finding-Lucas-Samantha-Stroh-Bailey-ebook/dp/B007VIIU6A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383158822&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+lucas

 

KOBO http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Finding-Lucas/-wfpLcDV6keHZR-T80qCUg

Getting Around

The theme of my blog this week is “getting around.” No, I’m not talking about promiscuous women or man whores; I mean “getting around” as in travelling. Sorry if you’re disappointed…

 

Last week, Kimberly Long, the main character in Blogger Girl, took a trip to London to visit Emma Beckett, the main character in Talli Roland’s charming chick lit novel The Pollyanna Plan.  I have yet to visit London, but through Kim, I got to see Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park and many other beautiful destinations across the Atlantic.  You can read all about it here.

 

My niece Emily is flying in from Denver this week to visit NYU and she’s staying with me on Saturday night. I remember when Emily was born. She was such a beautiful baby, with thick blonde curls and chubby rosy cheeks and I fell in love with her at first sight. I cannot believe she is a senior in high school. How did she get so old when I haven’t aged one bit? One of life’s greatest mysteries 🙂

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Beginning November 4th, Blogger Girl is going on tour with Chick Lit Blog Tours. During the three week tour, reviews of Blogger Girl will be posted on such awesome blogs as Chick Lit Plus, Book Mama, Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Storm Goddess Book Reviews, Little Black Book Blog and more, along with guest posts on Books in the Burbs, Chick Lit Club Connect, Outside the Lines and more. I can’t wait!

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Finally, on November 7th, I will be jetting off to Toronto for BookBuzz Toronto. Some of you may remember the author “mix and mingle” I co-organized with my author “besties” Samantha (“Sam”) Stroh Bailey and Francine LaSala in New York City in May. The event was so successful that it’s going global! I’m so excited to see both Sam and Francine again and I cannot wait to meet the other participating authors: Cat Lavoie, Samantha March, Lydia Laceby, Heather Wardell, Kate Hilton, Chantel Guertin and Romi Moondi. And I’m super stoked to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Kaley Stewart from Books etc., face-to-face. I’ve honestly never met a Canadian I didn’t like and since Canada is the home of some of my favorite televisions shows like Degrassi High and Being Erica, I know it’s going to be fun!

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So, as you can see, there is a lot of “getting around” in my near future. Happy travels!