Friday, March 17, 2017

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles' Randi Sherman

Randi M Sherman is the award winning author of humorous fiction books.
With an eye for detail, an ear for well-tuned dialogue and an incredible grasp of the obvious, all honed while performing stand-up comedy in Los Angeles and improvisational theater in San Francisco, Sherman adds just enough bawdiness to deliver character-driven contemporary novels that will have the reader laughing, thinking and connecting with the characters in her books.

A native Californian, Randi makes her home in California's wine country. Trying her hand at country living Randi describes herself the Eva Gabor of the Sonoma/Napa area.

Randi earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Chapman University.



About the Book:

The time for BIG & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles is now! The emphasis is on positive body image, Big & Fabulous is a truly entertaining story that’s strongly written, funny, insightful and bitingly smart. Inside it’s covers, readers will find no shortage of acidly hilarious accounts of the highs and lows of living life inside a big and fabulous body.

Imperfect, impervious and improving Brenda Cankles is an unlikely heroine. Unfazed by the enduring censure of society, she is determined to realize the fabulous life that she has always believed is her destiny.

Brenda’s story – written in unflinching first person – is utterly unvarnished. Here, find a fantastically real person, sometimes struggling to fit in, but mostly giving the rest of the world the mother-lovin’ bird. From her clunky childhood, through her stumbling yet optimistic adolescence to her full figured and unapologetic emergence into adulthood. Brenda is a special brand of warrior. She is big, bold and beautiful. While the quirky cast of characters who surround her is eternally insistent that Brenda live her life in the background and fit into society’s mold, she will have none of it.

Author, Randi Sherman’s experience as a stand-up comedienne is evident as she delivers, BIG & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles, the hilarious, often laugh-out-loud novel about the inner most thoughts Brenda Cankles, a very real character who is confident and brave enough to expect the world to accept her on her terms.

BIG & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles is Sherman’s fifth novel, her fourth THE LOBBY has won 17 Awards for Humor and General Fiction.

Watch the book trailer at YouTube.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Coffee. I start with coffee. 

Another book of mine, The Lobby, had just been released and someone asked me what I was going to work on next. When I said that I had always wanted to write a book called, Yes, You Butt Does Look Big, she asked what I was waiting for. Although, I wasn’t sure what the book was going to be about, I started writing it that same day. Non-preparation is my preparation. You see, I let my books and characters evolve. I let them tell me what direction to take as they develop. The name also evolved as Brenda Cankles came to life and voila, Big & Fabulous, The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles was created.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I have chosen to publish independently for three reasons.

One: After years of query letters and the great intention of being published by one of the well-known publishing behemoths - I realized I was not getting their attention. I could be because they don’t publish humorous fiction written by a author who is unknown to them. Or, perhaps they employ people who possess the magical power to judge an entire book based on four hundred word letter. Or, maybe their query letter email address is just an enormous trash can. Two: I also learned that large publishing firms have set budgets for promotion and it is reasonable that they allocate most of it to known money making entities such as like Patterson or J.K. Rowling - leaving the expense and effort of promotions on my shoulders. So, had to ask myself if I wanted to pay a percentage to them for that honor? And Three: My books are contemporary and I do not have the time or patience to wait while my manuscripts sit in a queue for six months, a year or longer.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

I partner with Friesen Press in Canada. Through them, I can contract with editors and designers and all sorts of book professionals and services.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

Hold onto your hat and get a calculator because this is how I do it.

At this point in my career, I am more focused on having my books read than browsing through brochures for yachts. Truthfully, one or two dollars will not make a difference today. As far as determining pricing: I figure out my book development costs, and the cost for planned promotions. With that I determine the realistic and expected sales (based on my past book releases and my promotional reach). My goal is to cover my outlaid costs and pay myself for the time it took to write and promote the book. I determine the cost for print on demand - and then add the amount necessary to repay myself in a one to two year period. I keep my book prices below bestselling authors so readers take a chance with an author who may be unknown to them.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

I choose late winter or early Spring because my books are light and considered great Beach-Reads. It gives me time to promote them.

How did you choose your cover?

I usually have an idea of what I’m looking for and what mood I want set with the cover. I spend a lot of time looking through iStock photos and illustrations. I narrow down my selections by pulling up pictures based on my book’s theme. Then I work with a professional cover designer.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

Both. After I started writing Big & Fabulous, I wasn’t convinced that it would be entertaining or have a message. My main character was a victim, sarcastic and negative, struggling against an unfair society. Ahem, it was a story that has been told a million times.  I put my manuscript aside for a while and thought about it. I thought about whether I wanted to work on something that wasn’t enjoying and if I wanted to put out another book with the same tired story we’ve read over and over. I determined that I needed to make my main character positive, funny and inspirational and I couldn’t do it as a narrative. So I switched things up and wrote the story in the first person, as Brenda Cankles, and stripped away the negativity and made her a positive, and strong. I also flip back and forth updating the manuscript as I write - to be certain that there is enough foreshadowing and covers some additions I make later in the story. When I’m done, I go thru the entire manuscript paragraph by paragraph to be sure that it clearly tells the story exactly as I intend.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?  

In the past, I used swag, including T-shirts, book marks, personalized jelly bellies and a couple of secret weapons. However, I haven’t found a lot of return on the investment and I find that book giveaways are more effective.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I make my own trailers

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

Initially (with my first books) I didn’t want to give away the books. I dug in my heels. After all, people should BUY it and support my efforts, shouldn’t they? Now, things have changed. I giveaway hundreds of copies at book fairs, I set up online giveaways and if I know someone has supported me in the past, or someone shows a lot of interest but can’t really afford to make a purchase, I send them free copies.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

Come up with an elevator pitch. Complete promotions planning A to Z, And, put his/her ego on a shelf.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

Promote and promote some more. Be proud of yourself, enjoy your accomplishment and be humble. And promote some more.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?   

 Social media, FB ad blasts, press releases, build my audience

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

Yes, I do. I have a several step plan that takes me through a calendar year.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

I created Brenda to be a new brand of warrior. She is a big, strong, bold and beautiful character. I fell in love with her. I hope you do too. So, sit back, open, enjoy.

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