Interview with Paulita Kincer, author of The Summer of France

Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz.  Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?

The Summer of France tells the story of Fia, a married mother of 14-year-old twins, who arrives in France ready for an adventure, but has no idea that she has walked into the climax of Uncle Martin’s secret from World War II. Flying to the South of France to run Uncle Martin’s bed & breakfast seems like a godsend to Fia, who recently lost her reporting job, but she didn’t count on the temptations her husband and twins would face as they merge into the French culture. And Uncle Martin, who fought for the United States in World War II, made a mistake that has haunted him every day since he stood in that cool Italian church, and he’s about to be found out. Fia must help keep her family together and rescue Uncle Martin from his past, while resisting her own temptations in the form of a handsome Frenchman.

What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?

I was totally unprepared when my book became available. As a matter of fact, I had recently fallen while running and broken nose. My books arrived while the bandages still covered my nose. I posted my first picture on Facebook with only my eyes peeking over the cover to limit the hideous bruising and swelling.

After that, what happened?

My book didn’t sell millions right away, as I had hoped. So I’ve had to continue with marketing ideas.

One important thing to promote a book is to put it in the correct sub-categories on Amazon. Once my novel cracked the top 100 of a category, it began to attract other readers who enjoy books about travelling in Europe, and specifically, France. Some days and weeks, the book rises to the top 25 or top 10.That’s when I can see a definite increase in sales.  If authors are setting up the categories themselves, they should research books with similar subjects to see what sub-categories they list. Some sub-categories are so crowded with books that only breakout novels can draw attention.

I also paid for a blog tour with FranceBookTours. Obviously, this was a niche for my book since it is set in France. I recommend blog tours because it helps put your novel out there.

What’s your opinion on blogging?  Do you see that it is helping sell your book or is it not making much difference in terms of sales?  If you blog, do you blog often?

Blogging is important to help spread the word about my novels, but also for me to show that I’m passionate about reading and other books as well. Connecting with book bloggers alone would help with book promotion. Since my novel focuses on traveling to France, I’ve built a blog readership with people who also love France. I have a weekly meme called “Dreaming of France” in hopes that the community of Francophiles can grow.

I blog at least a couple of times each week, and sometimes I get passionate about it and blog every day. In addition to books and France, I often write about my family, my emotions, my vacations. I put everything out there for my readers.

I understand using the social networks to promote your books is also an effective marketing tool.  What social networks do you use and do you find any of them effective?

Offering a free copy of my novel on Goodreads can convince people to add it to their “want-to-read” list, but I don’t see the sales growing too much with the giveaway.

Although it seems counterintuitive, offering a reduced price on Amazon increases sales while the book is on sale, and also amplifies the numbers after the sale. Perhaps that is due to higher number in the sub-categories, which brings it to people’s attention.

Besides blogging and using the social networks to promote your books, what other ways are you promoting your book?

Some other things that I’ve used to promote my book are connections to movies. Luckily for me, a couple of movies have come out that can easily link to The Summer of France. The novel contains a mystery about stolen art from World War II, so I’ve made the most of The Monuments Men starring George Clooney and Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren. A cleverly worded ad on Facebook comparing The Summer of France to movies with similar themes can help draw attention to my novel.

I sent out press releases to colleges and newspapers where I had connections in hopes that they would promote my book. I even paid a marketing firm to send out press releases to a couple thousand outlets. That didn’t gain as much traction as I would have liked and probably wasn’t worth the money that I paid.

If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you’ve used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?

Creating a blog that draws readers who are passionate about France has been the best marketing tool for my novel The Summer of France. Authors and publishers always talk about building a platform, but that takes so long! It seems so far away. Yet months and years pass anyway as we write books and pitch books. If authors began to build their platforms as they write their books, they might have a nice audience when the book finally comes out. For me, I’ve had many bloggers read and review my book, which includes posting their reviews on Goodreads, Amazon or Facebook. All of this free marketing helps to increase my sales.

About The Book


TitleThe Summer of France

Author: Paulita Kincer

Publisher: Oblique Presse

Publication Date: July 1, 2013

Format: Paperback / eBook / PDF

Pages: 255

ISBN: 978-1300257332

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Travel / Adventure

Buy The Book:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-France-Paulita-Kincer/dp/1300257334/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1437011077

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-summer-of-france-paulita-kincer/1113110596?ean=9781300257332

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16089591-the-summer-of-france?ac=1

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Book Description:

When Fia Jennings loses her job at the local newspaper, she thinks she’ll have the chance to bond with her teenage twins. As she realizes she may be too late to create the perfect family, she’s saved by a phone call from her great Uncle Martin who operates a bed and breakfast in Provence. Uncle Martin wants Fia to venture to France to run the B&B so he and his wife Lucie can travel. He doesn’t tell Fia about the secret he hid in the house when he married Lucie after fighting in World War II, and he doesn’t mention the people who are tapping his phone and following him, hoping to find the secret.

Book Excerpt:

Fia

The quiet of the house mocked me as I rummaged through the Sunday paper looking for the travel pages. I ignored the meticulously folded “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper and the yellow highlighter that my husband had placed on the counter to remind me that I’d been unemployed for two months and needed to find a job – soon. The ring of the kitchen phone saved me from isolation and from a job search as the thick accent of my aunt came across the crackly line inviting me to move to France.

After a few sentences in the language that Aunt Lucie considered English, she handed the phone to my great uncle Martin, and I heard his booming voice.

“Fia?” he called as if using a bullhorn rather than a telephone.  Uncle Martin, the baby of my grandfather’s family, ventured overseas as a teenager to fight in World War II, found a French wife, and stayed.

I’d never traveled to France to visit him, but Uncle Martin always came home for the family reunion at the beginning of summer.

Hearing his voice on the phone, I glanced at the wall calendar, assuring myself it was late June and Uncle Martin’s visit had ended nearly two weeks before.

“Uncle Martin! What a surprise. How’s life in France?” I asked in a quiet voice meant to encourage him to lower his volume.

Uncle Martin continued to bellow. “Look, Fia, let me get right to the point.” He hadn’t lost his American directness.  “Lucie and I are tired.

We need a break, maybe a permanent break.”

“What?” I gasped my voice growing louder to match his. “You and Aunt Lucie are…but you can’t be…you can’t break up?”

“No,” I heard his old man grunt across the phone lines. It sounded as if he said something like “Zut!”

“Listen. Don’t jump to conclusions,” he chastised me. “We’re tired of working so hard. We’re old and it doesn’t look like any of Lucie’s relatives are gonna step forward and take over. That’s why I’m calling. Will you and Grayson come over and run this place?”

“This place” is what Uncle Martin always called the eight-room bed and breakfast that he and Aunt Lucie ran in a small village in Provence. Lucie’s family had owned the home for generations, wringing olive oil from the trees and wine from the grape vines. But as big cities and ample education called, the younger branches of the family moved away. When Uncle Martin and Aunt Lucie found themselves the only ones living in the big, old house during the 1970s, they decided to capitalize on a tourism boom and turned the house into a bed and breakfast. They encouraged American and English tourists to stay, and, after A Year in Provence came out in 1990, their business exploded with people who wanted to see the land that Peter Mayle described.

“We thought you could take over,” Uncle Martin blared, “obviously, since you’re not working.”

Thanks, Uncle Martin, for reminding me again of my current jobless status.  When a huge conglomerate bought our local newspaper and combined resources with the paper in the next town, I became superfluous. So, after years of writing about home design, I sat staring at my own shoddy decorating. I tried to look on the bright side. Now I actually had time to try some of those design tips. To add depth to the alcove next to the fireplace, I painted it a darker color. Next I added crown molding around the opening from the living room to the dining room.

So far, mostly, I spent my time trying to stay positive so an amazing job would find me, and I watched cable TV shows about happy families. Who knew The Waltons was on five times a day? Mix that with the Duggars, that family with 19 kids on TLC, and my days just flew past. I slowly realized that driving my kids to sporting events and extracurricular lessons did not count as quality time. Inspired by those TV families, I amplified my efforts to pull my 14-year-old twins closer. When they ambled home from school, I’d suggest some family activities. “Let’s draw a hopscotch on the driveway!” I’d say. Their eyes rolled wildly in their heads like horses about to bolt. “How about making homemade bread together? We can all take turns kneading? Or maybe an old fashioned whiffle ball game in the backyard?”

They suggested we go out for pizza or visit a sporting goods store for new soccer cleats or swim goggles. I declined, picturing the credit card bills I juggled now that I didn’t have an income.

Bills. Ooh! I couldn’t see Uncle Martin’s invitation to France winning approval from my husband, Grayson, who had just been complaining about money.

As a two-income family, we had paid bills on time and planned our next extravagant purchase. Of course, my pragmatic husband, the almost accountant, never used credit cards. But with my own income, I wasn’t that concerned about using credit cards. When I started to run a balance, I made the minimum payment every month. No need to inform Grayson who would’ve disapproved of my indulgences. Not that I bought things for myself. Nothing but the best for our kids with their private swim clubs, technologically engineered swimsuits, travel soccer teams, and state-of-the-art skateboards. I hadn’t bothered to save for an emergency but spent and charged as I went along until the bottom dropped out of journalism.

“Uncle Martin, you know we’ve always dreamed of visiting you and Aunt Lucie, but without a job now, I just… I can’t see it working financially.”

“I’m not talking about a visit,” his voice grew agitated. “I’m talking about you moving in here and running the bed and breakfast. I’d send the plane fare to get you here. You, Grayson and the twins.”

I sat stunned for a moment, so Uncle Martin repeated himself.

“I’ll send you the tickets. I’ll just buy them online for you, Grayson and the twins. Both of them.”

My kids were always “the twins,” as if sharing a womb 14 years earlier made them one entity for the rest of their lives.

“Whoa. That is heavy stuff,” I slid onto the swiveling bar stool. “We can’t just move. Leave our house, school, Grayson’s job.”

Even as I said it, I felt hope rising in my chest. Yes! I waited for a job to come to me and it did. A spectacular opportunity. I pictured myself in a flowing skirt and low-heeled, leather sandals walking along a dusty road away from the market that would line the village streets. I’d carry a canvas bag with French bread jutting from the top as I headed home, the pungent fragrance of a cheese wafting from the bottom of the bag. Although I’d never been to France, I watched any sunny movie set in Europe. The women always wore skirts and had leisure time to linger along the roadside, smelling the lavender.

I heard the front door slam and my husband’s heavy footfall in his casual Sunday topsiders as he came in from the office. Even on a Sunday, the work at Grayson’s accounting firm was plentiful.

I turned my back on my approaching husband and said into the phone, “When are you thinking, Uncle Martin?”

“I’m thinking… NOW. Last week,” Uncle Martin’s voice rose again. I cupped my hand over the phone to try to smother the sound of his bellowing. “I’m tired of dealing with these snippy tourists. I want to roam around the world and give other innkeepers a hard time.”

“You make the job sound so enticing,” I tried to laugh lightly so Grayson, who was drawing nearer, wouldn’t realize the importance of this conversation. The idea began to form in the back of my mind: We could make this happen — with a little cooperation. I shot a hopeful glance toward Grayson as he walked in the room. I quickly raised my eyebrows twice, which I thought should give him an indication that good news was on the phone. He looked grim and tired – the horizontal line between his own eyebrows resembled a recently plowed furrow.

“Look, I’ll have to call you back later,” I hissed into the phone and punched the button to hang up as Grayson threw his aluminum briefcase on the island. His look turned from grim to suspicious.

“Uncle Martin,” I said with a blasé wave toward the phone. “He has a business proposal…”

I tried to sound nonchalant, but I guess my eagerness showed because Grayson dropped his head on top of his briefcase for just a minute before he stepped toward the cabinet over the refrigerator. He opened the door and pulled down a bottle of Scotch.

This conversation might prove more difficult than I’d anticipated.

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kCyorexMfo

About The Author

Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of FranceI See London I See France, and Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.

Connect with Paulita:

Author Website: paulitakincer.com

Author Blog: http://paulita-ponderings.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulitaKincerWriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulitakincer

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/PaulitaKincer

Virtual Book Tour Event Page

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2015/07/15/pump-up-your-book-presents-the-summer-of-france-virtual-book-publicity-tour/

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