AGT Monthly Meeting for September 2023
The Authors Guild of Tennessee held their monthly meeting on Thursday, September 7, 2023, at the Faith Lutheran Church, Knoxville. Social time and book exchange began at 10:30 a.m. Business meeting started at 11:00 a.m.
The following members were present:
Stephen Lyn Bales, Bill Barbour, Sam Bledsoe, Bobbi Chapman, Gayle Curtin, Danita Dodson, Russ Fine, Linda Fitzpatrick, Kaye George, Leoma Gilley, Jim Hartsell, Wes Hibbert, Morris Hudgins, Jerry Morton, Angela Newland, Kathy Parr, Cheryl Peyton, Nancy Pressley, Ron Pressley, Brenda Sellers, Frank Snyder, Art Stewart, Victoria Winifred, and Curt Young.
Guests: Jack and Martha Jennings, Christine Harris, Sherry Fine, and Beth Kelley.
Welcome – Cheryl. Introduction of new members, Nancy and Ron Pressley.
Randy Carpenter had a stroke yesterday. He had surgery and is okay. Linda Best has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Introduced Christine Harris is an “almost” member. She’s been accepted but hasn’t yet paid her dues. She’s written two murder mysteries and a non-fiction about changes in Egypt.
Jack and Martha Jennings heard about us from attending a Tellico library event featuring authors in the Village and will join the Writers group in Tellico. Beth Kelly has written a book that is not yet compiled. She’s planning on attending the Writers group.
Jim Hartsell has a new book Way Up in a Tree – a children’s book about gratitude.
Kaye is reissuing two books as e-books on Amazon and a third is in process.
August minutes: Minutes of the August meeting have been approved online.
Treasurer’s report: – Russ
Balance as of August 1, $2063.95 Balance as of August 31:$2389.95_Total amount of Expenses in August_$33.59. Payments: $150.09_ Contribution for writer contest: $200.
Report on Committee Activities:
Upcoming group events. Cheryl –
· Mountain Makin’s will be in Morristown. On Oct. 28, 29. They are highlighting books at the fair. We need to schedule shifts in the multi-day event.
· Christmas Fair takes place on Nov 10-12. We have 10 participants signed up. It will be held at the Expo Center in Knoxville.
· Women’s Expo at Foothills Mall – This is the first time the store owners have done this to attract more people. Brenda Sellers was contacted about it. UT is playing SC on that day. The cost is $40 per person and the event is on 30 Sept.
· Local Voices Authors Fair – Blount Co Library, Oct 7. There is no fee for registration and breakfast is included. It is open to all authors in our area. They will invite the public and we can sell books. Then there are speakers in sessions for the writers.
· Rose Glen Civic Center in Sevierville – Feb 2024. The downside is that it is weather-dependent. They accept 30-40 authors and provide tables and chairs. Since there are many authors, one needs to attract attention to your table to sell books. If you want to speak you have to include a video of you speaking and a photograph.
· Danita reported that applications will be opening next week for the Winter Farmers Market – on Saturdays. 10-4. Old City market on Sundays 11-4 through December and some Thursday evenings. More information coming.
Book donation to TV Library – Bobbi
Tellico Village Library is having a fundraiser in December. 23 authors have donated at least 2 books. Next month is the last opportunity to contribute.
Writing Contest — Jerry and Art
This year’s contest is focused on poetry. Most teaching slots have been filled. The last round of winners are invited to attend mentoring sessions if they wish to. The committee is working out some ways to promote AGT where we can sell our books and let people know about the writing contests. They are also trying to see if libraries would be an anchor point. They need volunteers to be the contact people. Let Art or Jerry know of your interest.
We have two new members, Ron and Nancy Pressley. They started with memoirs, then added an anthology, Straight out of Lonsdale 1 and 2. They started writing fiction about the Civil War, Blood Brothers describing the effects of war on people. Then they wrote a second book Blood Brothers 2, Reconstruction, followed by Blood Brothers 3, Jim Crow and the Gilded Age. Ron wrote Continental Man, early 20th c. Nancy completed Spring Flowers in the Snow, a romance that fictionalized their love story. They are currently working on two more books.
The Café is continuing to sell books. We have delivered a 6’ bookcase to replace the unit that will be removed.
Phoenix Drug Store – Family-owned and operated old-time fountain and drug store. (They have great ice cream sundaes.) We have a large space there with 74 titles, but, we aren’t selling many books. Maybe sales will be better during football season. It is suggested we add to our FB posts to go to Phoenix to boost book sales.
Training: Sam Bledsoe. Notice will be sent out soon regarding training courses.
Program is set for November, but one is needed for October.
Our guest speaker was AGT member Victoria Winifred who related her experience of subscribing to Pubby, a book review exchange service, explaining how to join, how it works, and what to expect from your membership.
Victoria joined AGT in January. She’s a retired elementary school teacher who worked in advertising in NYC. She’s published 4 books so far. Her latest book is No Time for Halloween. She writes children’s chess fiction and recently released her late mother’s poetry.
She discussed the marketing service Pubby for authors to review other authors and the importance of Amazon reviews to customers:
When customers find your book on Amazon, they look at how many reviews there are. Reviews serve as social proof as to whether the book is worth their time. If there are only a few reviews, it may lead them to opt out of a purchase. There needs to be a good number of verified purchase reviews. If there are 5-star reviews but no verified purchases, people are doubtful. There needs to be a verified purchase indicator on at least some.
When a book gets 50 or more reviews, the algorithm shifts to make it a recommended book. It can be connected to lists “you might also like”. Then more people see it and maybe buy it. You may be ranked in a subcategory or genre. Reviews are the lifeblood of any author.
Some reviews might sting, but consider what is said. Sometimes it is a matter of taste, but maybe the criticism is valid. If poor editing, lack of content, or misspellings are pointed out, you have the opportunity to improve your book overall.
How to get reviews?
Many people don’t know how to write reviews or are uncertain or insecure about writing. When you join Pubby, there is a free 10-day trial period. You can list which books you want reviewed. Fill out some information, then other Pubby members can choose to review it. You need to review others’ books to get “Snaps,” then you can ask to have your book reviewed. You need a Kindle version of your book, priced free – $4.99. You can also opt to give a free pdf. Reviews can be verified or unverified. If they purchase the e-book, then sales go up. Customer service is excellent. She now has 180 reviews. You control putting it out there. There is no guarantee you will get good reviews. When reviews are varied, it looks more normal. We want REAL reviews.
There are many books to choose from, and it may take a little time to get a reviewer. You cannot review someone’s book who reviewed you. These would be removed. You may review up to 10 books a week on Pubby, but you don’t have to. This is not a comprehension test. Look for errors, content, formatting, and who it’s appropriate for. This service is trusted by more than 3,000 authors. It is very reliable. The cost to join is $240/year or $20/month. With a monthly subscription, you can stop at any time.
Goodreads is a safe place to put up reviews. She has tried Net Galley and others where she got 1 or 2 reviews. But Pubby has motivated readers who know how to read. Give it a try.
Christmas is coming!
Meeting adjourned at 12:06 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for October 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Faith Lutheran Church.