Master of my own universe

These days, I’ve been actively trying to take control of my own happiness rather than relying on others, circumstance, luck, or fate to bring it to me. This post outlines two recent instances where I took action to be the master of my own universe. In this blog post, I am publicly giving myself a pat on the back and saying, “Go Meri!”

After spending time with my writer friends, I’m always super motivated to improve the quality of my writing and try new things for marketing. I also feel so understood by my author buddies because they share so many of my dreams and frustrations, and if they don’t have the answers to my questions, it’s usually because they are seeking them as well. Being united in cluelessness is pretty bonding. My friendships with some of these people go beyond our shared writer identities. I’ve gotten to know and love them as individuals, which only adds to the positive effect they have on my life. Unfortunately, most of these friends do not live close enough for me to see them with frequency, and we are limited to communication mostly by email and social media. Although I can’t simply clone the heart of these people in my hometown, I’ve been wishing I could at least find a group of published authors in the city who would want to meet in person monthly and dish about writing, publishing, marketing etc. There are plenty of groups out there for writers in general and still more for people looking for feedback in their writing, but I’d never seen a club for published authors who simply want to talk shop over a drink, coffee, snack etc. Rather than continue to wait for someone else to organize such a group, I took matters into my own hands and I started one myself. Announced a week ago, the group already has close to 100 members, although meetings will be limited to fewer people, about 10-20. I hope this group yields the comradery I’m seeking, but if the result doesn’t meet my highest expectations, I’m still proud of myself for taking the initiative rather than leaving it in someone else’s hands.

I’ve also been trying to think outside of the box with respect to marketing my novels and my own author brand beyond the “usual.” Of course, I post blogs on my own website and am active on social media, but aside from that and the occasional sales of my individual books, I haven’t done much lately to really put myself out there. Because I have a full-time job as a paralegal, I prefer to spend my “writing” time working on my novels or my blogs. I rarely write guest posts for other authors unless the other author has a large following. It’s nothing personal to the author, but I really need to balance my marketing efforts with the time I have available and the likelihood that the results will be worth the time spent. But how does one find third party websites with the potential to reach a large, relevant audience? It would be wonderful if someone like Sophie Kinsella or Jennifer Weiner would invite me to post on her blog, or if Glamour or Cosmopolitan magazines came calling, but it’s highly improbable. But seeking out publications I think would appeal to my target reader and pitching my writing to them is something I can do. And so I did. I was told the pitch letter is as important as the article itself because if the person who reads the pitch is not sufficiently intrigued, they won’t ask to see the article. In my efforts to take matters into my own hands, I came up with an idea for an article, drafted a pitch letter (with the help of an author friend with more experience) and wrote the article (also with my friend’s keen eye). Thankfully, the pitch did its job by piquing the editor’s interest enough to ask to the see the article and I’m thrilled to say that my first ever article for a magazine “5 Tips for Making a First Impression inspired by The Bachelor” was published today in the Happy Ever After column of USA Today. You can read it here.

There is so much in this world that we cannot control, but some things in life do require us to make the first move in order to get anywhere and, to the extent possible, I want to continue to be the master of my own universe, both professionally and personally.

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Cover art – building a brand

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It wasn’t too long ago that I worked with my amazing cover artist, Loretta Matson, on the cover of my newest release, Blogger Girl. I told Loretta that I wanted the cover to give off a fun “chick lit” vibe. The main character of the novel, Kimberly Long, is a loyal defender of chick lit – the easy breezy writing style, the humorous tone, the happily ever after etc. – and I wanted the cover to reflect that. It seems that many American chick lit writers are moving away from illustrated covers but I personally love them. I am my own target audience and am more likely to click on an illustrated cover on Amazon than a photograph because illustrations, to me, scream “chick lit” and chick lit is my favorite genre. But I had more on my mind when creating the cover of Blogger Girl than just the illustration. I wanted the cover to fit into my brand.

When my debut novel, Just Friends with Benefits, was being published and I worked with the designer on the cover art, I didn’t give any thought to future books I would write and how I would want their covers to look. I was a newbie in the business and gave no thought to my “brand” because I didn’t have one yet. I also did not give my brand much thought when working on the cover for my second novel, A State of Jane. But I absolutely loved the cover of A State of Jane and knew that I wanted the cover of Blogger Girl to give off the same fun vibe.

Responsibility for the cover design of Blogger Girl was shared by Loretta as the designer, me as the author and Beth Bacon as my book manager and there was a lot of back and forth between the three of us before it was completed. Once we were finished, we immediately got started on the new cover of Just Friends with Benefits as I had just assigned the rights to Booktrope. With building my brand as one of our biggest goals, we wanted all three books to share certain elements that would distinguish them as books by “Meredith Schorr” while making it clear that they were stand-alone novels and not part of a series.  This is what we came up with:

The title of all three books is in the same font.

One letter in each title is dotted with a “heart” design.

My name is placed in the same spot on each book and also in the same font.

The back covers all include two endorsements, one before and one after the blurb.

The first sentence of the blurb is written in the same font as the title and in a larger size than the remaining text.

My photograph appears to the left of my bio on the bottom of the back cover.

Finally, on the spine of both Blogger Girl and Just Friends with Benefits is a smaller image of one of the designs featured on the front cover. On Blogger Girl, it is the image of Kim; on Just Friends with Benefits, it is the image of a candy heart. Although we did not do this with A State of Jane, it is a feature I definitely want to include in my future books.

For any authors reading this blog, do you focus on your “brand” when designing your covers? If so, in what ways? If not, is it something you would ever consider in the future?

Blogger Girl - Full Cover

Blogger Girl – Full Cover

Just Friends with Benefits - Full Cover

Just Friends with Benefits – Full Cover

A State of Jane - full cover

A State of Jane – full cover

Blurb for Planet of the Flakes

Further to my last post, things are moving along for the publication of Planet of the Flakes. I am still working with my editor who is in the process of reviewing my revisions, but has already let me know that she really likes the new scenes I added to the book to flesh out the secondary characters and develop my main character’s relationships with her friends and family. Additionally, I am scheduled to have a phone call with my Book Manager this afternoon. The Book Manager will be assisting me with the promotion and marketing of the book and I am very excited to hear her ideas. I didn’t have any assistance with marketing for my first book and am delighted to have someone on my team this time around. All that remains is the assignment of my cover artist. I have been brainstorming ideas for cover art and am looking forward to that stage of the process.

Finally, my editor sent me the blurb for the book and I wanted to share it with all of you!

Here it is!

“Jane Frank is ready to fall in love. It’s been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father’s law firm. There’s just one problem: all the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation. Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew’s advice and turn the game back on those who scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn’t as easy as she originally thought.”

Hopefully, the blurb has tweaked your interest. If you have ever dated in NYC (or any large city for that matter) and been on the giving or receiving end of the disappearing act, you will probably relate to this book. And even if you have been happily married for 20+ years, I guarantee it will make you laugh and possibly make you cry!