I first became aware of Irene Watson when her website, Readers Views, reviewed my Silver Sisters Mystery “A Corpse in the Soup.” I was impressed with the quality of the review and have followed her other ventures since then. Irene is someone who has a vision and rather than just talking about it makes it happen.
Morgan, thank you for putting me in your Spotlight today. I feel we have so much in common with our various ventures in the world of writing, publishing, and book promotion that I was really looking forward to this.
You have many ventures in the world of publishing, including book reviews, and book promotion. I know Las Vegas authors and publishers will be interested in hearing about how you first got started with promoting books?
When I first published my memoir, “The Sitting Swing,” I had a hard time getting reviews for it, both because it was self-published. Many publications, especially major reviewers like the “New York Times” wouldn’t review self-published books, and also there was a real absence of book reviewers out there. Rather than be frustrated by this situation, I realized other authors were in the same predicament as me, so to fulfill a need, I started Reader Views, a full service book promotion company. We started out doing book reviews, but the growing demand led us quickly to expanding our offerings to include written and live interviews, press releases, editing services, book video trailers, audio book recordings, Kindle and ibook conversions, website construction, and even hosting the annual Reader Views Literary Awards contest. The business has taken off and keeps growing as I continue to be made aware of existing needs for authors and readers. In short, Reader Views has become a “One-Stop Book Service.”
Beyond what Reader Views offers, I understand you’ve created some other websites and services, including the recent launch of First Chapter Plus?
Yes, First Chapter Plus launched this past spring. As I said earlier, I want to meet the needs of authors and readers and the two need each other to succeed in achieving what they want—finding readers and finding good books to read. First Chapter Plus is able to help authors, readers, and those in-between—bookstores, book reviewers, bloggers, reporters, and librarians—get good books into the hands of readers and it helps them determine which books their readers and audience will want to read.
So how does First Chapter Plus work?
The primary vehicle of First Chapter Plus is our electronic newsletter that we send to thousands of libraries, bookstores, and readers, letting them know about the latest books.
What makes this newsletter innovative?
In the past, newsletters and book magazines have been printed on paper, which requires the reader, library, or bookstore then to contact the book publisher or bookstore to acquire the book. First Chapter Plus, because it’s electronic, allows people to click directly on the books they want to order and purchase them online at Amazon. It’s quick and easy, no paper, no having to write down or remember the book you want next time you go to the bookstore.
And what exactly does that name First Chapter Plus mean?
It refers to our including the first chapter of each book in the e-catalog. Again, think how innovative this is—you get a sneak preview of the book before you buy it. You can’t do that with a paper newsletter—it would end up being as thick as the JC Penney catalog—but with our electronic newsletter, we can provide links to all the first chapters, therefore enticing readers as well as allowing them to make wise yet somewhat spontaneous buying decisions.
What kinds of books does First Chapter Plus promote?
We will promote just about any kind of book. We have everything from genre specific fiction like romance, science-fiction, and mysteries to graphic novels, gay and lesbian, and non-fiction works ranging from self-help to sports, memoirs, history, as well as teen, young adult, and graphic novels. Readers like variety and we aim to please.
How do authors get their books included in First Chapter Plus?
We have various pricing packages. Authors and publishers can visit us at FirstChapterPlus.com. We have a quick contact form to fill out to get started. In most cases, authors will hear directly from me when they get a response.
And if people want to receive the e-catalog, how do they do so?
First Chapter Plus’ e-catalog is completely free of charge and comes out once a month. You can subscribe to it at our website. I hope readers, librarians, bookstores, and authors will try us out. The exposure for authors really is tremendous. I can’t believe the numbers myself but currently we have the e-catalog going to over 20,000 librarians in the U.S., over 3,300 independent U.S. bookstores, some 300 media columnists and editors, and about 11,000 readers, writers, and bloggers worldwide. Our list just keeps growing daily as more people hear about the e-catalog.
How has First Chapter Plus benefited authors?
With the first e-catalog we sent out, authors started to tell me about their results. Beyond an increase in book sales, and significant increases for many of our customers, they report that their Amazon sales ranks have skyrocketed, which means their books will only get more attention as Amazon promotes them. Numerous authors have told us they’ve had such results. We’ve had book publishers be very pleased because bloggers and book reviewers also read the e-catalog, so they’ve been getting more requests for review copies of their books, which ultimately leads to more exposure of their books. Libraries especially like the service because it is quick and easy. In short, I feel, and the statistics and responses confirm it, that First Chapter Plus is a win-win for everyone involved.
Irene, I know you’re a busy woman. Will you tell us about a few of your other many ventures?
As I said, I started out in the publishing world by writing my memoir, titled “The Sitting Swing.” Since then, I’ve been involved in publishing, co-authoring and editing several books including the newly published “Rewriting Life Scripts: Transformational Recovery for Families of Addicts” with my co-authors Nancy Oelklaus and Liliane Desjardins. I’ve also co-authored “Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Publishers and Authors” with Tyler Tichelaar and Victor Volkman. Victor and I are the hosts of the Internet Radio Show “Authors Access” and Tyler is our fill-in guest host. You can listen to our podcasts with experts in the publishing industry at AuthorsAccess.com. I also have a blog at www.IreneWatsonBlog.com that focuses on recovery issues. My memoir is about my own path to recovery. I am really busy but I don’t mind because I love what I do—getting great books into the hands of people who will benefit from them and providing information and services to those who need them.
Thank you for joining me today, Irene.
Thank you, Morgan. I’ve enjoyed talking to you and being able to tell more people about First Chapter Plus. Every month we have great books we feature so I really hope people will check out our e-catalog.
Morgan St. James writes Spotlight columns on Tuesday and Writers Tricks of the Trade on Thursday. For links to all previous columns Click here If you want more, check out her Los Angeles column for different Spotlights and Tricks of the trade.
Every Tuesday:Spotlight shines on people, organizations or events involved in the Las Vegas writers community as well as literary visitors to our city.
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