Irene Woodbury’s third novel, Pop-Out Girl (2017), pushes a lot of buttons. It’s a gripping look at the tumultuous life of a 23-year-old showgirl-wannabe named Jen Conover who pops out of cakes at special events in Las Vegas for a living. The novel offers riveting glimpses into the loves, lives, triumphs, and tragedies of Jen’s family and friends as well.
Irene grew up in Pittsburgh, and has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Denver. The University of Houston 1993 graduate also called Texas home for seven years. Her writing career began In 2000. After five years as a successful travel writer, she switched to fiction. Irene’s first novel, the humorous A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, was published in 2011. The darkly dramatic A Dead End in Vegas followed in 2014. Pop-Out Girl is another dramatic effort. With her husband, Richard, editing, Irene completed the novel in eighteen months. She hopes audiences will enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.
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About the Book:
When Zane Hollister returns home to Las Vegas after two years in prison and discovers his showgirl-lover is with another guy, he goes ballistic. After stalking and taunting the couple forColton, Zane masterminds a devilish zip line accident and a terrifying car crash. When those fail, he resorts to kidnapping Jen and forcing her to marry him. And it gets even worse when Zane shoots Colton’s boss, Matt, by mistake as he aims for Colton in a horrific drive-by shooting.
With Matt lingering in a coma, Jen’s cocktail-waitress mother, Brandi, absorbs a seismic shock of her own. After hearing Matt’s name on the local news, she realizes he’s her first love of decades past—and Jen’s real father.
Will Matt emerge from his coma to reunite with Brandi and Jen? Do the cops nab Zane, who’s hiding out in Hawaii? And can Jen and Colton’s love survive Zane’s lethal jealousy?
There’s a happy ending for some, but not for all, in Pop-Out Girl.
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After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?
I did some Tweets, contacted friends who wanted PDFs, and sent an e-mail to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Books. She organized my virtual book tour in 2014 and it went really well. Her company gets the greatest exposure and has the best bloggers, so I wanted to schedule a tour.
After that, what was your next step?
I spent the day after the launch celebrating with a friend. We went to the Denver Botanic Garden and had a lovely stroll among the spring blooms. Then we indulged in afternoon tea at an elegant Victorian hotel downtown called The Brown Palace. My friend is a novelist, too, so while nibbling our scones and sipping our tea we chatted about the agony and ecstasy of writing and how we were going to market our books. We also discussed all the personal stuff we needed to catch up on now that we were emerging from the cave.
Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?
This is so embarrassing, but I haven’t updated my website since I had it built in 2011 when my first novel was published. I loved it so much that I didn’t want to change it. So my second novel isn’t mentioned and neither is the new one, Pop-Out Girl. It’s really awkward because the first novel was a humor book, and the next two were dramatic. I’m sure it confuses people when they click on it. But I have a great idea on how to revamp the website—and I plan to have it done soon.
Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?
Yes I did, but it was expensive. How would I ever make the money back? I would rather do it myself and purchase marketing services as I need them.
Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?
Yes, getting reviews was, and is, a top priority. I wrote to many bloggers and some have agreed to read and review my book. But it was a bit difficult because the book isn’t in print yet. It’s an e-book, so reviewers had to accept a PDF or Kindle copy. Most of them prefer a print book.
What are your views on social media for marketing your book?
I think Twitter and Facebook are great ways to get the word out. I love seeing book covers with a synopsis on social media. I’m always intrigued and curious. I’ve purchased books that I found on social media, so I know it works.
What social media has worked best for you?
Twitter is very good. I have many followers who are writers. We re-Tweet each other’s Tweets day in/day out. We’re there for each other in our own strange, electronic way.
Did you write a press release and do you think it worked for you?
I had press releases written for my first two novels. It caused a bit of a stir, but no lasting results. I don’t think I’ll do one this time.
Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/)?
Yes, I wrote a new biography that included the new novel. I also changed my photo. That’s about it
Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?
No. None of my books have ever been free. It seems to work for other authors, so it might be worth a try.
Did you set up book signings and, if so, how did that work for you?
I had one at a book store in Las Vegas. It was a signing for me and a couple of other writers. We had a great time exchanging marketing tips and talking about our book-writing experiences. I signed some books and got to meet a dozen or so readers. It was a joyful, upbeat event. Maybe I’ll do it again with Pop-Out Girl once it’s in soft cover.
Did you create a book trailer?
Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday?
No, but I did want a spring release so it would be available as a summer read. My first book came out in late August, my second one in September. I finally got a spring release with this one. The only downside is that it’s one of the busiest times of year for book publishing, so everyone is “booked,” including reviewers and bloggers.
What was the best money you ever spent on your book launch?
Pump Up Your Books blog tour for my second book in 2014. I also bought an author package for my first book that included radio interviews, reviews, and a long profile on me. Very enjoyable. I met some nice people and my book got great exposure.
Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?
Spend your money wisely—like on a PUYB virtual tour. Find blog and websites that need interviews and are willing to do reviews and guest posts. And have your book put into both print and e-book formats early on so it’s easier to get reviews.