Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Launch Q&A: Carol Es, Author of 'Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley' @esart @pumpupyourbook

Self-taught artist, writer and musician, Carol Es is known primarily for creating personal narratives within a wide spectrum of media. A native Los Angelina, she often uses past experience as fuel for her subject matter.  Writing on art, her articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Whitehot Magazine, and Coagula Art Journal; her prose published with small presses — Bottle of Smoke Press, Islands Fold, and Chance Press among them. Additionally, she makes handmade Artist’s books which have been acquired for such collections as the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Carol is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner, and a Wynn Newhouse Award for her art. She’s also earned grants from Asylum Arts and the National Arts and Disability Center/California Arts Council for writing. In 2019, she won the Bruce Geller Memorial Prize (WORD Grant) from the American Jewish University.

After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?

I did as much promotion and social media saturation as I could. I very meticulously mapped out “to-do” lists that corresponded with my calendar while promoting the hell out of it, making my way to the days of my real-life launch/reading/signing event.

Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?

I updated my main website ( and made sure my news page was always current. I gave my site a book tour itinerary page, made sure I blogged more often than usual, and I’d also built a separate website for the book in and of itself:

Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?

I did both. I’d been promoting the book on my own while I was still writing it. I did this by keeping a public progress blog for a couple years before I published. That blog became the book site and this helped me to build some interest. But in the weeks before the launch, I started to get overwhelmed about how much promotion I really needed to do and realized I couldn’t do it alone. I hired a small book launch PR service to do a three week blog tour, and then I hired another one to extend it another month.

Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?

Yes, top priority. But this has not been easy. Not for me. I wonder how authors get so many reviews, good and bad. As of this moment I still don’t have many. People might tell me they liked the book, but getting them to post a review is a different task. I’ve been visible all over the place talking about the book—on podcasts, forums, social media groups, and have done interviews and guest spots on like-minded people’s blogs around the subjects I speak about in the book. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I even joined NetGalley for three months and only got a few reviews.

What are your views on social media for marketing your book?

Can I say my views out loud without offending the billionaire owners of said social media networks? Ha ha.

I am not fond of having to market or promote myself on Facebook or Twitter, or Instagram either. It gives me anxiety to keep it up and maintain responses. Panic is more like it. I am not a social person. I like to keep to myself, so it’s uncomfortable. But at least it’s easier than having to do it in person. I’m a better writer than an in-person speaker, so it’s nice to have the option of the computer.

What social media has worked best for you?

Facebook, I’m guessing, works best for local networking, events, etc. but ello is where I’m most comfortable. I don’t feel obligated to “like” or be popular.

Did you write a press release and do you think it worked for you?

I didn’t write it myself, but I think it was pretty good. I do think it stirred up interest and made my story provoking. I don’t know if it “worked?” It is needed when sending out ARCs to editors and publications.

Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch (

I updated it, and keep it updated.

Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?

No. I sort of researched that and found that it doesn’t exactly pay to do this.

Did you set up booksignings and, if so, how did that work for you?

I set up a signing at the launch party/reading and I think it went well. I sold a few dozen books and got a lot of interest. Some people brought in books they’d already purchased. I also got great feedback on those that had read the eBook.

Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?

I’m a big advocate of keeping a blog and building a mailing list. I still believe that sending out newsletters (not daily or anything) can create personal connections with followers. Sometimes, it’s not just about the stories you write, but about your story as an artist/writer. While some people may not want to know anything about you, or you don’t feel like revealing yourself to the world, get creative and have one of your characters write a few blog posts. Think outside the box.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is a guided tour through a Tilt-A-Whirl life that takes so many turns that you may find yourself looking up from the pages and wondering how the hell one person managed to fit them all into 40-odd years. And many of them are odd years indeed. From a rootless, abusive childhood and mental illness through serious and successful careers in music and art, much of which were achieved while being involved in a notoriously destructive mind-control cult. Carol Es presents her story straight up. No padding, no parachute, no dancing around the hard stuff. Through the darkness, she somehow finds a glimmer of light by looking the big bad wolf straight in the eye, and it is liberating. When you dare to deal with truth, you are free. Free to find the humor that is just underneath everything and the joy that comes with taking the bumpy ride.

Illustrated with original sketches throughout, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is not just another survivor's tale, it’s a creative perspective through moments of vulnerability where the most raw and intimate revelations are laid bare. As an artist and a woman finding self-worth, it’s truly a courageous, relatable story that will keep you engaged to the very end.


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