Hell Week (+ Giveaway!)

~ Sandy James 

As a high school teacher, I often find myself picking up slang that’s thrown around by my students. (The first time I saw something I liked and said, “Sweet!” my husband laughed for a solid minute.) After the release of my first Carina Press book, I adopted one of my students’ terms—Hell Week. I’ve heard it used by band members the week before state championship competition. It’s used by drama kids the week before a school play. The week before Spring Break is always called Hell Week, and—trust a teacher on this—it lasts forever. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate term for the week of a book release.

Authors can’t assume their publishers will bear the weight of publicizing a newly released novel. Although I have to say that Carina Press has been fantastic about marketing Rules of the Game. It released on April 2nd. They had me prepare ahead of time by composing several Facebook and Twitter posts that included personal information and book quotes. Then they posted them throughout my release day. That helped create buzz about the new title. Carina also has a weekly newsletter and my book was the “featured release.” There are ads on the Carina homepage and on several review sites. They have definitely gone above and beyond what many publishers would do.

But don’t assume what’s being done by your publisher is enough. This is where an author can make a huge difference in getting the word out there. It’s also why I call it Hell Week. For the week of Rules of the Game’s release, I had to stay glued to the Internet. Now, some of that was necessary and some was simply my own baggage. I did need to stay close to answer posts on Twitter and Facebook, and if you’ve got a lot of followers on those sites, it’s a great way to interact with readers.

I’m also a bit obsessive about my books, so I was checking more than Facebook and Twitter. I compulsively checked Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Carina website to see if I had sales. (I strongly recommend you NOT do this. It’s truly creating your own misery.) I popped on and off Goodreads to answer posts and, of course, to check ratings. Having a book available to reviewers on NetGalley gave me one more thing to patrol—review sites. I had to find new write-ups about Rules of the Game.

I haven’t even mentioned blogs yet. Whether you have your own or are guesting, Hell Week is a super time to post. It brings attention to your release and helps you reach more readers. Yet another responsibility that seems to hit at the same time and takes your focus away from your writing. And you want to answer any comments left on those blogs.

Exhausting, isn’t it?

All this boils down to this—don’t plan on having time to do anything productive during Hell Week. I’m blessed to have signed a four-book contract with Carina for my new urban fantasy series, but that series made Hell Week even busier. When Rules of the Game released, I was in the middle of line edits for book one, writing book four, and trying to finish up developmental edits on book two—all of those on a deadline. That’s not a complaint. I love being busy, especially writing books that are sold. <g> I just want authors to recognize that when you’re trying to build a writing career, you’re going to have weeks where sleep will have to be one of your last priorities.

You will get out of Hell Week exactly what you put into it. I saw the benefits of the combined efforts—all Carina Press did and all I did—in sales. Rules of the Game was Carina’s #1 book for most of the week it was released. It rose fairly high on Amazon’s list as well. Invest the time in getting word out about your book.

All the work was worth it.

*Leave a comment to win a copy of any of Sandy’s e-books!*

Rules of the Game—on sale now!

Kathryn West has it all–she’s a confident, bestselling author living it up in New York City. Too bad she doesn’t actually exist, and is only timid Maddie Sawyer’s pseudonym. Determined to attend her high school reunion with a man right out of one of her racy romance novels, she plots to find a sexy bad boy who’s up to Kathryn’s standards.

She finds Mr. Perfect shooting pool in a biker bar. He’s a blue-collar hunk who just happens to look great in leather. But the mysterious Scott Brady has some rules of his own: he won’t agree to her deal unless she poses as his girlfriend in front of his family and friends first.

As the reunion nears, Maddie tries to maintain her carefree façade, knowing she’ll soon face some old ghosts. She’s torn between her growing attraction to Scott and the nagging feeling that he’s hiding something important. Will she still want him when she finds out his secret? What about when he discovers hers?

 * The Reluctant Amazon—Book 1 of The Amazon Sisterhood—coming September 3, 2012

Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.

Vist her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

21 thoughts on “Hell Week (+ Giveaway!)”

  1. Pingback: This Week in Chick Lit

  2. @Nan — Hello, partner!! Thanks for the comment love!!

    @Isabel — Don’t sweat the double post. The blog has been a little twitchy. 🙂 I really appreciate all the kind words and support!!

    @Alyssa — I know I’m compulsive, but…hard to stay away when you’re hoping and dreaming everyone’s buying your book!! lol

    @Morgan — You named me as a role model??? I’m speechless! Thank you so much!

    @Liz — Definitely a great week!!

    @Christ — Thank you so much!!

  3. Hi Sandy,

    I named you as my role model in an upcoming interview because you do it all, and you’re so nice about it too. Not only do you write a great story, but teach, manage a family, and encourage inspiring writers. As for slang, I hear ya, girlfriend. LOL

  4. *Eek* Not sure what happened to my original post, my apologies for the double post in case in happens.

    Sandy! Congrats on the release and success of your new book! #1 at Carina Press during release week – awesome! I admire the hard work and dedication you put into your writing and promo. Congrats are also in order for your 4-book contract. 🙂


  5. Thanks for the insight into Hell Week. I have to admit I laughed at your mention of compulsively checking sales figures and review sites. I love your cover blurb for Rules of the Game–it sounds like such a fun story!

  6. Hi Sandy!

    Congrats on the release and success – #1 at Carina during release week! May your success continue. I admire all the hard work you’ve put into your writing and promo. 🙂 Also, congrats on the 4-book contract!


  7. Late to the game, but what a great post about what to expect when your novel releases…and you get to do it four more times! YAY! Loved Rules of the Game–it was a great read and the urban fantasy series is much anticipated!

  8. Noelle Alexander

    I should’ve known better than to start reading this book, or any of your other books for that matter, last night at midnight. I couldn’t put the book down! Gave myself a “morning of hell” cause I was so tired, but it was so worth it! I loved it! What a great read!

    I wish you the best in all your hell weeks and I’m sure you’ll have many many more! Hopefully, I’ll have a hell week of my own very soon!

    Congrats & Best Wishes!
    Noelle Alexander 😀

  9. Hi, Terry!!
    One of the cool things about growing up in Indiana is being so familiar with James Whitcomb Riley. I wonder if other kids are raised on his work like Hoosiers are? I do use a lot of Indiana references in my work. Rules of the Game, obviously, since Maddie is going back to her Indiana hometown for her reunion. But I also write about Indiana in Murphy’s’ Law and All the Right Reasons. A few Hoosier references pop up in Free Falling and Faith of the Heart. I think being a born and bred Hoosier is such a huge part of who I am, it’s always going to influence what I write! 😀

  10. Ms. James,
    As a faithful reader who recently contributed reviews to Goodreads, I would appreciate your thoughts on two interesting topics.
    Were he still alive, the poet James Whitcomb Riley of “Lil’ Orpan Annie” fame would be your neighbor. Like Riley, have you been similarly influenced by your rich Hoosier heritage? In addition to Riley and the late Kurt Vonnegut, are there other local writers of note in addition to yourself?
    Is the reason you add such wonderfully detailed and enjoyable descriptions to increase the believability (verisimilitude) factor or distract when the suspense is high?
    Best wishes for your continued success,

  11. Hi, Jeanne! Thanks so much for the kind words!! 🙂

    Cheryl! Hi, partner!! Thanks for the “good” news about my week/month not being over. 😛

    Hi, Emma! Thanks! I agree–I really think Carina gave me a gorgeous cover! 😀

  12. Congrats, Ms. S, on your success at Carina! Yeah, release weeks are nerve-racking, and quite frankly, I don’t think that ever goes away, no matter how many books you have out there.

    What works and what doesn’t? Hmm. Can’t tell you, but it sounds like you certainly step up to the plate, which doesn’t surprise me at all.

    That book has a fabulous cover


    National Bestselling author of Twice Fallen

  13. Glad you survived the week, Sandy, although it’s been my experience that the entire MONTH of a new release is hell. Congrats on the new book, and may you continue to have many, many sales!

  14. jeanne mangano

    This books sounds just like the kind of book I love to read.
    Don’t we all have that bit of high school reunion jitters and what a great way to change your persona!
    Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    Thanks for the blurb about it and continued well wishes to you and future books!

  15. That week before spring break does last forever! Interesting to see “Hell Week” applied to an arena besides academia.

  16. Thanks for the run-down, Sandy. And now I’m skeeeerrred to death.
    My first published novel, The Overnighter’s Secrets, is supposed to be released this month, by Astraea Press. And I haven’t done much prep. at all. Well, I sent out an announcement when I was given the release month … but that’s about it.
    It kinds seems like I’ve been inundated by the series of edits.
    Oh well, as usual, I’ll be playing catch-up.

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