Thursday, May 12, 2011

A visit with Barbara Vey from Publisher Weekly:: BEYOND HER BOOK

I'm delighted to share a Q&A with Barbara Vey from the wonderful blog over at Publisher Weekly, Grab a beverage and join me as we catch up with Barbara between her jet-setting during this conference season.

Nancy:: So, Barbara, how did you first get involved with Publishers Weekly and get your wonderful BEYOND HER BOOK blog?

BV:: My beginning is truly a Cinderella story. I was on an Authors at Sea cruise when I met Karen Holt, deputy editor of Publishers Weekly. I thought she was from a publishing house and told her to sit down so I could tell her everything I thought was wrong with publishing from a reader’s point of view. She ended up putting it in an article in the magazine with my picture. A few months later Karen contacted me about writing a blog about Women’s Fiction. I said no, that I’m a reader, not a writer...send books.

After a few phone calls and my son explaining what a blog is to me. Well, I offered to try it for 3 months and here I am 4 years later.

Nancy:: You had a rocking 4th anniversary bash on the Beyond Her Book blog the first week of March. You had an average of 3750 posts per day and a stagger 6,194 posts on the final day. WOW! What lesson can you share with writers as a take away from that awesome event to aid in their own promotions?

BV:: I truly believe that you have to make it all about the readers. After my anniversary blog, several readers got together and formed a Friends of Beyond Her Book Party Facebook page (You can join by searching Friends of Beyond Her Book Party. This way they could all keep in touch after the bash. It has grown from a dozen readers to 122 readers and authors. They are forming a community that, by it's very nature, will continue to grow to bond readers and writers together by having them connect to talk about books. They also feed each other information about contests and new releases and send others to new authors websites. For example, I recently guest blogged at Seekerville and my readers followed me over there. The authors welcomed the readers with lots of giveaways and a real party atmosphere by being available to comment with the readers, answer their questions and talk about books and what readers are looking for. We ended up with over 500 comments which is pretty impressive for a one day guest blog.

Nancy:: You've got a birdseye view of the industry. The publishing world is changing right before our eyes. How do you think this impacts our readers? Do readers even notice?

BV:: I don't think the readers know or care about the changes. The only thing they really care about is the story. If you write a good book, they will read it and tell others about it. Word of mouth is the biggest way to sell a book. While a number of people use eReaders, the majority of readers don't own one. They still rely on traditional books. And, believe it or not, not all readers are on the internet. When I approach people who are reading books and ask them if they go online to find out about books, about 1 in 3 say they don't. They get their books ideas from friends, libraries and bookstores. They have no idea about all the hoopla going on in publishing. Some do notice that they can't find certain authors anymore, but are quick to move on to someone who writes like it.

Nancy: Wow! I'm surprised by the fact that 1:3 don't go online. Being online can definitely skew your perception of the whole population. That's a good thing for us to keep in mind.

You attend lots of conferences. I know they energize you, but just how many are you going to attend this year?

BV:: So far I have about 13 events scheduled for this year, but I'm always looking for more to attend. Although I keep in touch with many online, I find that face to face contact the most satisfying. I can meet new authors I've never heard of before and see old favorites. I love attending the workshops and learning new ideas and processes that have worked for others as well as hearing about new projects in the pipeline. I also travel to writing groups around the country offering workshops in Social Marketing/Networking and Building Reader Loyalty. And I'm already booked for 4 events in 2012. I've also found I have a new calling as a keynote speaker. Who knew? :)

Nancy:: I've had the privilege to hear you talk about social marketing. You've got so much great information to share.
What advice do you have for writers when they attend conferences?

BV:: Park your shyness at the door. You are there for business and to learn. One of the first things to learn is how to network and market yourself because you are selling a book and by extension yourself. You have to brand yourself so when people are looking for that next book to read and they see your name they say, "I've seen that name before...I know her/him from Facebook or Twitter. There's that connection they've made and feel they know you. Just going online when you have a book coming out and saying, "Buy my book," just doesn't cut it anymore.

Be open to meeting new people. You never know who that person is in front of you in the registration line is or at the buffet. Start a conversation. You could be making a valuable connection to someone in publishing, a bookseller or a reader and they are all equally important.

And whatever you do, don't be negative. It turns people off and it gets

Nancy:: You are so right. Negativity can be a fast-spreading virus. I'm a glass half full kind of gal, and I tend to like to hang around others that are, too. now on to the big question as we all get ready to head to NYC for ThrillerFest 2011--What’s your best conference packing tip?

BV:: Pack your suitcase and the next day take out 5 things, then repeat the next day. You never need as much as you think you do. Take mix & match clothing and comfortable shoes. Unless you're Linda Howard or Nora Roberts, you don't need 40 pairs of shows when you travel.

Thank you so much for joining us here at THE THRILL BEGINS. We'll see you over at


Tracey Devlyn said...

Hi Barbara,

Thanks so much for your helpful tips. I, too, have been fortunate enough to hear you talk about social marketing. I know have the RWA CD and have listened to it several times.

Thank you for your endless support of authors and their work. You're a real gem!


Allison Leotta said...

Barbara, you are amazing! I don't know how you do it all. Thanks for sharing your tips and insights here.

Barbara Vey said...

Hi Tracey and Allison, great to see you both here. I love sharing my passion for books, so anything we all can do to help the cause, I'm all for. I'll be at RWA and hope to see you there.

Unknown said...

Great interview Barbara!!! Also, great questions Tracey, thx for sharing!

Andrew Peterson said...

Barbara, outstanding! It's great to see you in here. You're an integral part of ThrillerFest's world. Thank you so much for contributing! See you in a few weeks. The one-in-three comment surprised me. I actually though the number would be lower...


Barbara Vey said...

Hi Leanne, thanks for stopping by,

Hi Andrew, I won't be at Thrillerfest this year, but I will be at BEA and RWA in NY. Have fun!

Rochelle Staab said...

You're an inspiration, Barbara. Your tireless enthusiasm for readers and books shines through in this interview. I especially enjoyed your insight on the habits of readers and the ways they discover new reads. So interesting.

I hope to have the opportunity to hear you speak in person soon. We'll miss you at Thrillerfest!

Tracey Devlyn said...

Sorry, folks. When Blogger crashed on Friday, 5/13 (Scary!), we lost the post and all the comments. Luckily, I found the post in "draft" form on the back-end.