Monday, Dec 11, 2017
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Website puts Toledo-area authors on the map

Hometown Reads opens doors to general literary world

  • Denise-Lynn-3-30

    Local romance fiction author Denise Lynn has written romance novels since the 1990s.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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  • Maumee-Valley-3-30

    Local romance fiction author Denise Lynn , center, speaks to the members of the Maumee Valley Romance Authors group at the Holland Branch Library.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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  • author-Denise-Lynn-3-30

    Local romance fiction author Denise Lynn has written romance novels since the 1990s.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
    Buy This Image

Denise-Lynn-3-30

Local romance fiction author Denise Lynn has written romance novels since the 1990s.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Since the 1990s, Denise Lynn has written romance novels. From her Toledo home she recently finished the last book in the Medieval romance series Warehaven.

“I always read romance when I was young. They have a happy ending. I like the happy ending. I like that the good guy wins, because in real life the good guy doesn’t always win,” she said.

Mrs. Lynn is one of about 18 members of the local Maumee Valley Romance Authors. Another member of the group pointed her to the new networking website Hometown Reads at Hometownreads.com, which profiles Toledo’s neighborhood authors.

“[People] didn’t know about the local romance group. It’s a good thing to promote local authors of any type. People don’t know you’re here. You tell people you’re an author and they look at you like, ‘You’re from Toledo?’ ” she said.

Although her publisher Harlequin does some promotion, including “bigger reviews,” she takes on many of the marketing duties herself, promoting new releases through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

She said being on the Hometown Reads site has opened doors to the general literary world. Now part of the Hometown Reads Facebook group, she chats with other authors about promotion ideas.

“I’m from the romance world, so what do other genres do? There are a couple that write children’s books, and [the genres are] all over the place,” she said.

Founder Becky Robinson launched the site in March. It is a division of her book marketing arm Weaving Influence in Lambertville.

Weaving Influence mainly caters to business book authors of traditional and self-published books.

Maumee-Valley-3-30

Local romance fiction author Denise Lynn , center, speaks to the members of the Maumee Valley Romance Authors group at the Holland Branch Library.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“One thing that is not really known is publishers don’t necessarily have a lot of budget or don’t do a lot to help authors publicize books. So even people who are traditionally published need help with marketing,” Ms. Robinson said.

She said the idea for Hometown Reads came to her a few years ago. She wanted it to be for people who write books, but have no idea how to market them. It is open to authors of any genre, as a low-price or free marketing alternative.

“A self-published author is really passionate about the book they wrote and they did so much work to get it in print. Maybe they bought several-hundred copies that are in their garage or in their attic. They have a lot of vision around their story or their message, but have no idea how to get it out to the world. And they also don’t have resources,” Ms. Robinson said.

Business book authors, or those typically using Weaving Influence promotion services, could spend between $10,000 to $15,000 on the low end, or $30,000 on the high end.

“Toledo or any traditional hometown setting author can’t afford to spend that much money to market their books,” she said. Business book authors typically have other endeavors that earn them money, such as consultation, speaking engagements, or a business fueled by the book, she explained.

“I wanted to convene a community of people who care about their books; who will support each other,” she said. “We also want to ignite this hometown local feel. So just like everyone is into shopping local, local stores, local restaurants, local musicians, local artists, local authors.”

On Hometown Reads, an author can set up a book profile, a biography, a link to purchase the book, and contact information.

Ms. Robinson said she wanted the online community to generate conversation between the neighborhood authors and to make authors more accessible to readers.

author-Denise-Lynn-3-30

Local romance fiction author Denise Lynn has written romance novels since the 1990s.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“We are sending emails to them about best practices and how to increase their social media presence. We are encouraging a lot of social sharing between the authors,” she said.

The goal is to launch a Hometown Reads in 20 cities by the end of the year. Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Akron are among the cities planned.

“I am a big believer in generosity as a business strategy, so the idea of you have to add value in the world before you can extract value. So a lot of this, we show up to be helpful and provide value to these authors, and along the way we will figure out, can this be a business or can it be a community,” she said.

Jim Haudan, chief executive officer of Root Inc. in Sylvania, profiled on the site the book The Art of Engagement: Bridging the Gap Between People and Possibilities.

He said authors quickly discover that the publisher doesn’t do much to help market a book.

“It it is really up to you. So you have to think about how to get the word out,” he said.

He said networking through Hometown Reads is a way for authors to learn about the ever-evolving world of social media.

“I remember the first time there were emails, I was in a meeting and found that people don’t read emails anymore. You have to Tweet or text. So as people evolve in how they live their lives we have to evolve in how we interact,” he said.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-724-6133, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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