It’s our last interview before the big day….Fall Philly/PA Author Day is Sunday! And today, a familiar face is back. We’ve got a Cafe Chat 2.0 with Diana Rodriguez Wallach, giving us an update on the author life, post-hurricane Puerto Rico, and book #2 of Anastasia Phoenix!
LB: Hi there, Diana, and welcome back to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! How about a drink and munchie?
DRW: Thank you! Since it’s Fall, I’ll have to go with a nonfat salted caramel mocha. Never been much of a pumpkin spice girl, though I do love the muffins.
LB: A lot has happened since last Fall Philly! PROOF OF LIES, Book One in the Anastasia Phoenix series, debuted and I know you’ve been busy developing your readership. We’re looking forward to hearing more about that in Philly, but can you tell us, what was one thing that surprised you in the process?
DRW: To quote The Beatles, “You get by with a little help from your friends.” The most successful pieces of marketing to come out in support of PROOF OF LIES, came from my personal network—friends and colleagues who were willing to place the book in their magazine, on a major list, or simply on their blog. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you for help with your marketing efforts, you never know who’s a friend of a friend of a friend with a connection to Star Magazine. (More on that during my Fall Philly speech!)
LB: If you go back in time to Fall Philly 2016, what would you tell yourself in preparation for the year to come?
DRW: That the Eagles would win the game I was going to see at the Linc immediately following my talk. But seriously, take time to appreciate each little milestone as it happens—whether it’s the most mentions you’ve ever had on Twitter during your launch day, or seeing your book featured in your alumni magazine, or going to Barnes & Noble and showing your kid your book on the shelf for the first time.
We all have our moments, so enjoy them as they happen.
LB: Writers can sometimes feel like we’re waiting in the wings, daydreaming about that moment in the spotlight when our first book dazzles the world. But what can pre-published writers do right now to get ready for the challenges of marketing and growing their readership?
DRW: Build a following on social media. It’s not easy and there are tricks to hike those numbers, but ultimately you need time. So if you’re not published yet, or you’ve still got a year until your book comes out, get on Twitter and Instagram. Start carefully following people, craft posts that align with the trends, and be active. This way when you do get that book deal, you have an audience to cheer your accomplishment—and hopefully buy your book.
LB: I know you’ve also been busy helping out family and friends affected by the hurricane in Puerto Rico. How is everyone doing?
DRW: It’s been a month, and the island is pretty much as devastated today as it was the day after the hurricane. Outside of San Juan, running water is not available, electricity is non-existent, and communication is down—so if you need help, it’s nearly impossible to let anyone know. I recently wrote an Op Ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer about my family’s efforts to help our relatives there. Much like my book marketing experience above, our most successful efforts have come from our personal network—an alum from BU checked on my cousin, a colleague of my brother’s delivered a package of medicine and supplies, and a father in my daughter’s elementary school is working to send medical help to the town of Utuado. They say in times like these, it takes a village, which makes that the one positive of this disaster, my family got to see just how large our village is.
LB: Is there anything we here in Eastern PA can do to help?
DRW: Donate. There are several funds set up to help rebuild the island: the Hispanic Federation, United for Puerto Rico, and the Salvation Army’s disaster relief fund, to name a few. (The Salvation Army of Philadelphia has many people on the ground in PR, and personally, it has been the most willing to try to directly help us.) If you’d like to learn about the Rodriguez Family of Utuado, specifically, you can read about it here: https://www.youcaring.com/therodriguezfamilyofsanjuanandutuadopuertorico-961404.
LB: When is Book 2 of Anastasia Phoenix set for release? Can you give us a little teaser about what’s next for Anastasia?
DRW: LIES THAT BIND, Book 2 in the series, comes out on March 6, 2018! I can’t wait. The story will take Anastasia to England and Rio de Janeiro, through a festival of fire to an elegant wedding. In addition to unraveling many of the mysteries surrounding her family, Anastasia will also have to decide what, and who, she’s willing to fight for, especially when she lands in a confrontation that quickly turns deadly.
Thanks so much for stopping by! We are looking forward to seeing you in a few days, Diana!