Thursday, April 06, 2017

My Life as an Extra: Releases 6/15!

I've worked as an extra on more than 70 movies and TV shows, all but two filmed in Chicago. Those experiences inspired me to write My Life as an Extra  (releasing 6/15 and currently on preorder) and the sequel, My Life as a Star

My first four books are medievals set in contemporary humorous women's fiction is quite a departure. 

In MLaaE, Chicagoan Marla Goldberg must rebuild her life at forty-one after an unexpected divorce. She yearns to be a working actress, but can't quite believe, "Leap and the net will appear." While trying to improve conditions at the radio station where she's an account executive and fit in with her successful family, Marla pursues acting part-time and dips her toes into the daunting dating pool. Being a movie extra teaches her life lessons, but can she learn what for her is the hardest lesson of all: how to feel special when you’re not the star?

These novels are for everyone who has creative dreams, but whose path to pursuing them is rocky and doesn't always turn out as planned. And they're for everyone who wants to feel valued. 

Self-worth isn't always easy to achieve, especially when circumstances and your best efforts seem to conspire to show you you're not good enough. So how do you feel special when you're not the star? And when you are the careful what you wish for.

I hope readers will join me on this new journey. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Discoverability: Make readers aware of your books

A buzz word in self-publishing right now is discoverability. You can have an amazing book in a popular genre, a stunning, stand-out cover, even some great reviews and/or a major contest win and some press/social media, but very few sales. So how do you make your book discoverable?

Why? As of this writing, there are more than 1.1 million novels in Kindle ebooks alone, and more than 90,000 new releases in the lat 30 days. There are dozens if not hundreds of ways to browse on Amazon alone. By subgenre, best sellers, daily deals, countdown deals and of course author and title, just to name a few. There are of course other sites, libraries and even stores.

Here are the top three ways that have helped me:

1) Getting approved for a BookBub, currently one of the most powerful promotional e-newsletters out there for discounted and free books. It's competitive, so you may get rejected multiple times. Don't give up. I was fortunate to get one last Friday, 2/10 for my Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy .99 sale.

The trilogy zoomed to #1 in the smaller Ancient Worlds category, then #1 in the larger Medieval category, and even #1 in all Historical Romance. And, #48 in the entire Kindle ebook store.

Algorithms start to work in your favor. You get the coveted orange bestseller banner and, in also boughts, the #1 best seller banner. It even made most wished for

 Not only that, but for a short while I was the #1 Historical Romance author, above even Diana Gabaldon of Outlander fame.
Of course, sales have dropped precipitously. Yet six days later, it's still in Medieval top 10. And Kindle Unlimited page reads continue.

2) Partnering with other authors, preferably those more famous than you. I've been fortunate to have been invited into multi-author boxed sets. Despite the proliferation of boxes with sometimes as many as 10 books for just .99, I've made more money than I would have on my own, and reached new readers. I was also invited to write a novella for Amazon All-Star Kathryn Le Veque's Kindle World. This was time-consuming, but exposed my books to her vast readership. Also, group promotions such as giveaways, blog hops and Facebook parties can help.

3) My weak link but always mentioned as one of the best tools: Growinf your newsletter and filling it with interesting content. I keep meaning to work on this, but find the platform confusing, much less the administrative tasks of maintaining my list, watching open rates, etc.

Another issue is consistency. It's hard to and/or costly to sustain the visibility of major publicity, a big group event or a BookBub. What can you do? Write the next great book.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Perception of Curly Hair in Movies and on TV

I've been blessed (or cursed) with curly hair. It's easy to maintain in a curly style, if a bit frizzy or unruly on occasion. Yet there've been many times when I've felt the need to or been told to straighten it to be considered for on-camera work.

At one point, an agent would only accept me if I straightened my hair. When I used to do extra work (aka background), hairstylists on more than one major motion picture and a network TV show spent at least a half hour straightening my hair...after I'd already spent the hour or so and multiple products and processes it takes me to do it.

Why? Perception and pigeonholing. What are the first three adjectives that come to mind if you think of someone with curly hair? I'd bet sophisticated, authoritative, commanding, intelligent aren't among them. Over the years I've learned that in TV and movie land, curly hair is perceived as quirky, funny, loud, etc. A perception perfectly illustrated by this IKEA commercial. So the lead's zany next door neighbor, co-worker or best friend can have curly hair, while the star probably can't.

I challenge you to find a serious newscaster or even a TV host with curly hair. The only female doctors I know of on TV with curly hair were Alex Kingston on ER and now Rachel DiPillo on Chicago Med. But this season, her hair seems tamer, perhaps because she's now working with the hospital psychiatrist and no longer the eager med student. And what about attorneys? Julianna Margulies, star of The Good Wife, wore a straight hair wig to cover her naturally curly hair and save prep time. Can you name one star of a current TV drama with curly hair? Even a comedy?

Now I have both curly and straight hair headshots. Double the expense for me, and occasionally confusing if I'm not sure which one was submitted for an audition. Time consuming and a bit stressful especially on a rainy/humid day when frizzies may resist my many hair products and efforts to tame them.

When the specs say spokesperson, professional, upscale, doctor, authoritative, etc., I go straight. This approach did backfire once when the specs clearly said sleek and polished. But the casting director called me out in front of a handful of other actresses, asking, "Where did your curls go?" Ouch. I didn't get a callback. Because of my hair or my performance?

You might be thinking that the client/director/those with casting power surely know that my hair could be straightened if I wore it curly to an audition. But I've been told time and and again by industry professionals that they see what they see in front of them, not what could be.

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