Posts Tagged ‘book marketing’

Author Interview

April 23, 2019

Author, Anca Vlasopolos

Today I’m not posting about my own books or commenting on the ins-and-outs of indie publishing. I’m interviewing the fascinating former Michigan author, Anca Vlasopolos.

Welcome to “Painting With Light,” Anca.
Thank you. Glad to be here!

You have a fascinating but somewhat frightening background. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1948, about two months before the Communists were “elected.”

My father was of Greek origin, my mother was Jewish and newly returned from Auschwitz and three slave-labor camps. My father became a political prisoner of the Communists because he was a professor of Economics and criticized the Stalinist five-year plan. He died three years after his release.

My mother applied for a passport to leave the country permanently when the government decreed, in 1958, that the country needed to be cleansed of Jews.

We left in February, 1962, and when we tried to come to the U.S. we came up against the Immigration Act of 1927. It had such strict quotas for “inferior” people from South and Eastern Europe that the quota for 1962 was already filled.

We finally came to the U.S. in 1963, as U.N. refugees. We ended up in Detroit, where my mother had two aunts who’d immigrated in the 1920s. They had to sponsor us for us to be allowed in.

With all that turmoil in your life, what were you like in school?
I was extremely shy, and having to change countries, languages, and schools several times in my teens didn’t make me any less shy. But I decided by taking drama and joining the debate team I’d overcome my shyness.

Did it help?
It didn’t, though I learned to speak for myself and for others. I was also impatient when school was boring, so I could be somewhat of a hoodlum, throwing spitballs and otherwise disrupting classes.

When you weren’t disrupting things, you must have read a lot. Tell me, who are your favorite authors?
Ursula Le Guin, Virginia Woolf, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Blake, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, W.S. Merwin, Jane Austen … among many others.

Do you have any funny or peculiar writing habits?
I work on poems or passages of prose in my head long before I commit them to paper. My husband finds that strange.

For your fiction, do you work from a plot outline, or just see where an idea takes you?
I have a general notion of where I’m going, but I do let the book and characters take over. In my historical novel, I ended up with chapters about the Pacific theater in World War II, which I never anticipated when I started writing about a Japanese boy lost at sea in 1841.

Where do most of your ideas come from?
That’s tough. With a poem, it’s usually an image, an analogy I see in nature. With prose it very much depends on the piece—novel, short story, essay.

For my historical novel, two stories generated the book: one in National Wildlife about the near-extinction of the short-tailed albatross, brought about by a Japanese who’d traveled to the U.S. in the nineteenth century.

The other was a story told to me by a friend, who said that the public library in Fairhaven, MA, had Japanese effects sent by a man who’d grown up there in the 1840s, informally adopted by a whale-ship’s captain. The stories clicked … the man was the same in both!

Is a memoir more difficult than writing fiction or poetry?
I didn’t find it so.

What’s your favorite quotation?
The one that kills me is from King Lear, when Gloucester tells Lear, “Let me kiss your hand,” and Lear replies, “Let me wipe it first. It smells of mortality.”

When do you do most of your writing?
Whenever I please, now that I’m retired. The trick was finding time when I was working.

How have you evolved creatively since your first book?
I think others would have to decide. As I think all writers do, I write who I am at the time.

You taught English and Comparative Writing at Wayne State University in Detoit. What do you consider your proudest teaching moments?
My students getting jobs after earning their PhD’s.

How have you been promoting your work?
Not well. I am on some social media, and I have a website. It takes a lot of money to promote oneself effectively, or a lot of schmoozing, which I detest.

Do you have anything else in the works right now?
More poetry and either a long short story or a novel about a dying young painter.

Good luck, Anca … and thanks for doing the interview.
Thanks for having me, Ron. It was a pleasure.


Please take a moment to visit Anca’s website and take a look at her interesting books. Her new book of poetry “Often Fanged Light” is available April 2019.

You can also visit Anca’s listings on Amazon, and try her work for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.


I’ll be joining other authors signing books at Detroit Festival of Books at Eastern Market on July 21 and at SterlingFest in Sterling Heights, Michigan on July 27.


Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Making the Most of a Writing Conference

October 8, 2018

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Let’s face it. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but you don’t have go it alone. You can always do what I do … attend a writing conference, and meet some of the other members of that tribe called writers.

On October 20, I plan to attend the Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University again, something I’ve done every fall for the eleven years it’s been in existence.

It’s a great conference. You’ll find loads of interesting workshops, access to agents and editors … and swarms of writers of various levels, all packaged neatly into a nice, affordable, single-day event.

Conferences like this are a great way to learn about all aspects of writing. You can attend a variety of workshops, gathering methods to turn your ideas into finished stories. You’ll also learn more about trends in the industry and the business side of writing.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to gather advice on using social media tools like Twitter, and delve into making personal podcasts to develop your writing career and market your stories to readers.

I decided long ago to go the indie route with my fiction, but if you’re still thinking about traditional publishing, or have an interest in the non-fiction market, the Rochester Writers’ Conference will offer an opportunity to pitch to agents, and talk to a panel of editors.

That experience, in itself, is fabulous. If nothing else, talking directly to agents and editors let’s you examine your own work through a professional’s objective eye.

You might even get comfortable talking about your work – something you’ll definitely need to do when trying to sell someone on your proposals, or when marketing your books.

Even if the conference itself doesn’t offer all the answers, you often need to look no further than those around you. Looking for a good editor? Thinking about arranging speaking engagements? Trying to find a cover or website designer?

Talking to, and connecting with, other writers can be one of the most valuable things about attending a writing conference.

Talk, be friendly, ask questions. You’re with your tribe, after all.

Make the Most of It
Here are some suggestions to ensure a productive experience. First, take a few minutes to plan for the workshops you want.

A word of warning … you probably won’t get to all of them, due to time constraints.

So, pick wisely among the sessions you know will give you the most help. But go beyond that. Challenge yourself and take at least one session on a topic outside your comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re a beginning author, with more questions than answers, don’t fret. Most of the sessions are geared to accommodate you. Plus, you’ll find many experienced authors in attendance will be happy to share what they’ve already learned.

Remember – Elevator Pitch
If you plan to pitch your work to an agent, don’t worry if you’re nervous. Everybody is. Compensate by being over-prepared. Have at least a rough draft ready before you go.

Also, keep it short.

You usually only have sessions of about 15 minutes with an agent so, please, don’t fill your time with nervous apologies, or rambling, inconsequential details of your personal life.

Talk about your book. Give them your elevator pitch.

Tell what your character wants, why he wants it, and what keeps him from getting it. You should be able to tell your whole story-line in 30 seconds. Remind yourself it’s okay not to explain all the details or the final outcome. Stop at a moment of tension and wait.

Let the agent guide the discussion. Find out what’s caught their attention, or what piece is missing. The longer you talk, the less time the agent or editor is talking, and the main reason you’re talking to them is to hear their feedback and reaction.

Not planning to pitch? Still be prepared to talk about your writing. Other attendees will want to know about your work, and your elevator pitch should always be ready to go.

Be Professional
Have a business card. A business card, with your contact information, is an easy, professional leave behind to give to agents, editors and other writers. I actually prefer a bookmark, because I can list my books, too. Besides, I’ve learned they’re harder to lose.

When you attend any conference, you’ll be making a lot of first impressions. Not only with professionals in your industry, but a host of your peers. It’s okay to show your personality a little, because that can reflect your writing style.

Just make sure people think it’s a good one.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

I’ll be signing books at Lake Orion High School on Saturday, October 13, and again at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.


Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

What Do You Need for a Book Signing?

August 2, 2018

I just finished a book-signing event in Sterling Heights. I joined some good friends and authors from the Rochester Writers’ Group. It’s the second one for me this month, and it was a decent day all around. The weather cooperated and I sold six books in four hours.

Not exactly setting the world on fire, but that’s life as an indie. You take your sales wherever you can find them, usually a few at a time.

If other authors ask me for book-signing event advice, I encourage them to think about events like the one I just attended, where the target audience is already gathered.

It’s so much easier to attract people when there’s already a crowd.

Signing Event Tool Kit Ideas
There are a couple of things you should think about ahead of time to make the most of any opportunity to meet some of the people you had in mind when you wrote your book.

Several of Your Favorite Pens
Know what you like to use and make sure you have them. Personally, I like the Signo Uni-Ball pen, with black ink.

Treats in a Bowl
A romance author might have a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses; the author of a business book could offer wrapped chocolate coins. As a fiction author, I don’t worry about coming up with something that makes sense for my books. I just bring wrapped chocolates.

It’s usually the kids who stop but, guess what? When they do, so do their parents (be sure to ask if it’s okay for the kids to indulge).

A Catchphrase
Writing a short phrase before your signature helps personalize the experience for the book buyer. Make it short and relevant. For my books I often simply write, “Enjoy the Read!”

A Cash Box and Change
If you’re doing a signing after speaking at a group’s meeting, it’s likely you’re handling the sales yourself. When that’s the case, bring a cash box with change (fives and singles). A modest investment in a Square Reader will let you take credit cards, too.

Name spellings aren’t as predictable as they used to be (just ask any Caitlin/Katelyn or Brittany/Britney). Ask…and make sure you find out the correct spelling.

Backup Books
Even when your event is at a bookstore, bring an extra box of books from your own supply, in case you sell everything the store has for the event (I’m an optimist).

Business Cards
Hopefully, your presentation will be so impressive that someone attending will invite you to speak to their local readers group. Make it easy for them to contact you.

Add to Your Email Lists
Have visitors write down their contact information, too, so that you can follow up when you have new books available, or when you will be speaking somewhere else.

A Good Elevator Pitch
One reason so many people deliver completely ineffective elevator pitches is they don’t understand the purpose of one. The purpose is not to close the deal. In truth, it is just to interest the audience in looking at the books you have to sell.

Your Best TV-Self
It isn’t always possible, but if you can come up with an idea that’s newsworthy, TV coverage you don’t pay for is worth its weight in gold.

I know an author in Kentucky, Eddie Price, who comes dressed in the typical garb of the time in which his historical novels are set, and he’s lost count of the times he’s been interviewed.

It isn’t always possible, but go for it. With a little advance thought and planning, your event will have everything you need.

* * * * *

At 7:00 pm on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, I’ll be reading from ZEBULON, my collection of fantasy short stories, at Grey Wolfe Scriptorium in Clawson. Hope to see you there!

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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