Her first sale was via a contest. Her entry placed second in The Poughkeepsie Journal’s Talespinners short story contest and was published in a special supplement to the Journal. This year, she was the grand prize winner in Family Circle’s fiction contest. Now, Lisa is a finalist in Dorchester’s Fresh Blood contest.
The Fresh Blood Contest has a grueling judging process. First, Dorchester Publishing, ChiZine Publications and Rue Morgue Magazine choose the Top 10 submitted manuscripts. Then a panel of judges narrows it down to the top 5. Then it’s up to the top 5 authors to get votes. In other words, they have to learn to promote their work and get votes American Idol style. Each month, the author with the least votes is kicked off. Lisa is now in the final two.
All authors have to learn how to promote themselves and their books. Lisa is learning at top speed. She agreed to answer a couple of my questions:
Helen: How hard is it knowing that you could lose not because of the quality of your writing, but because of the number of friends you can get to vote for you?
Lisa Koosis: That’s been tough. Over the course of the contest I’ve had people say to me, “Wow, it looks like you’re the judges’ favorite. You’re a shoo-in,” which felt good to hear but also sometimes frustrating knowing that I could potentially be the judges’ favorite and still not win. Still, I understand and respect the promotional aspect of the contest because after all, it’s so vital these days for an author to be able to self-promote, to help sell their own books and I understand a publishing house wanting to see how well an author was capable of doing just that before signing on with them.Helen: What have you tried? For example, could you get ten friends to start pushing you on Twitter and ten more on Facebook, etc.? See if the push could go viral.
Lisa Koosis: I’ve made sure to have a presence on most of the major social and professional networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, etcetera. I also started a blog at the inception of the contest and started putting feelers out into the blogging community. I also did rely heavily on my friends and their networks (and the whole “and they told two friends” philosophy). I was genuinely surprised at times to see people--people who didn’t even know me--posting about the contest on their own profiles.
I also found that each round I made it through would push me to explore more and more networking and promotional opportunities, even printing out flyers that family and friends could distribute.Lisa said that for a long time, she didn’t tell people that she was a writer. Now, she’s taking a crash course in self-promotion and networking. Win or lose – and she’s certainly hoping to win – she says she’s been astonished by the people who have been supporting and encouraging her.
Most of all, I tried to always remember to say thank you and not to take a single vote or word of encouragement for granted.
Here’s a quick blurb for Heart of the City:
The Phoenix particle, created to burn out and replace damaged DNA, should have been the medical breakthrough of the century. Instead, it was the beginning of the end, its fires decimating person after person and city after city with a ferocity its creator could never have imagined. But cities don’t die so easily. The Phoenix particle was engineered to remember, and in the ashes, the particles remain, carrying within them the genetic blueprint from the billions fallen prey to the burning. And the Phoenix still has a mission, to pass on that information.If any of you would like to support her, you can read the first two chapters of Heart of the City. Once the page opens, scroll down to Heart of the City. If you like what you read, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Fresh Blood Vote - Heart of the City” in the subject line. It’s as easy as that. They’ll accept one vote per unique email address and voting closes on July 14th at midnight EST.
Eva Moline—immune to its devastation—is the perfect conduit for the Phoenix. She’s prepared to help put the world back together in any way she can, even when she feels the Phoenix at work inside of her, somehow sentient, somehow knowing. As the children of the Phoenix grow to term in Eva’s womb, so does the essence of each city become a part of her. And as Eva joins the creator of the Phoenix in a cross-country journey from city to ruined city, she must decide whether she’s recreating a world or giving birth to monsters.
I’ve voted for her twice, each time using a different email box.