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Several authors have asked me to teach them how I promoted my book L IS FOR LION. Here’s a quick list for you!

Your book needs a party. Invite everyone you want to thank. Everyone who’s helped you along the way to this special day. Have books for sale, and have someone else handle the cash. I made paper roses out of manuscript pages. They were gorgeous, fun, keepsakes, gifts for the guests. At one point in the party everyone read some phrases out loud from their rose. It was fun to see who got what part of the book. I asked friends to help make this party happen. One friend donated the room. Another brought a case of prosecco. Another hosted a ritual, played DJ, etc… The publisher said “yes” when I asked for some money for food. I went to the best Italian deli and got broccoli-rabe, mozzarella, sopressata, olives… a feast.. I got blue glass champagne glasses for a buck a piece on-line at Dollar-Tree. Plan the party a couple of weeks after the publication date, to make sure you get the books on time, and all is set. Confer with the publisher about a safe date, so the books definitely will be in hand.

Make sure your web designer understands SEO (Search Engine Optimization. So that when someone googles your subject area, your book has a chance of popping up at or near the top of the list. When you google Bronx Italian Books, my book pops up number 1) Keep your website on-point. If you’re a renaissance woman, keep the website focused about the book, at least for the first year or so….

Make a 3 minute video trailer of you talking about your book. Post to YouTube. Eblast the link. You can do this yourself. Keep it simple, focused, fun. There’s plenty of book trailers on YouTube to watch for examples. I had a friend hold my iPhone and I sat on a mailbox and talked. I edited in iMovie. You can watch it here. Have fun doing this!


15 months out:
Schedule book readings. Give the first dates to priority spots — people will show up to support you and your book. Some venues book their schedules 12 months out, so you want to make sure you get on their calendar. Some venues offer an honorarium for authors, others don’t. The places to approach are: bookstores, college profs who can invite you for a campus talk and reading, centers that deal with your subject area, libraries, spots that are special to your book. If you want to book other cities or countries, you gotta figure it out: travel, lodging, book shipping, venues, etc… I did not have a “tour manager” – I did what I could figure out and afford. And I’m still doing it…

Talk with your publisher’s PR person and ask what exactly they’ll do, and what you need to do. Ask if they recommend you hire your own PR person, (for print, radio, social media, or all three…) Ask if they can donate books for you to mail to print reviewers and radio hosts, or if they’ll do it for you…

12 months out:
1. Make a spreadsheet of your contact list for book promo. Ask other authors to share contacts of reviewers, radio hosts, professors in your subject matter. Decide if you want to pay for a Kirkus review. It’s over $400.

2. Contact book promoters to see if you want to hire one. I raised funds on kickstarter and hired a PR person who deals with radio shows. I bought a landline phone, a headset, and they prepared a list of potential interview questions from the book and sent to their contacts in radio and web-radio. This was a lot of fun and got the word out. These curated conversations were phenomenal. Having an outside pro do this work was great since I was too close to the material in the book at the time… Now a year out, I have much more distance and can pitch better. If you want to do this guerrilla style, look at authors’ publicity pages on their websites, and see who they interviewed with… Listen to the programs. Send a press release and letter to who you like. Here’s my page: And there is lots of links to my interviews on my Wikipedia page

6 months out — Send galleys go to prime reviewers and radio hosts. (Terry Gross “Fresh Air” etc…) (Ask your publisher if they will print you some galleys for this purpose.)

1. Postcards & Business cards
A year after my book came out, I am still giving out postcards and business cards everywhere I go. When I teach I give them to all the students. When I’m in a bookstore, I leave a stack, or post two (one front – one back) to the bulletin board. Order enough, and keep the copy on it timeless. On the front, the book cover. On the back, your website, a blurb about the book, etc… A USB code if you wish to connect to your website via scan. (My fave printshop is a Mom and Pop shop in Hoboken. You can order over the phone or email… Full House Printing. 201 798-7073 /

2. Press Release
Collaborate with your publisher to write a press release. You can use your jacket copy.

3. READER ACTION CARDS Give your friends, networks and audience a list of ways to get on board. Here’s a long list. Pick your top ten and make a hand-out for audiences.
23 Ways You Can Help This Book Have its Life in the World

1. ORDER now at: (publishers website or or
2. ORDER through your local bookstore, public library, campus library.
3. VISIT (author website) read excerpts, view photos, video trailer.
4. “LIKE” on “LIKE” and “SHARE” on Facebook
5. WRITE a brief “customer review” on Also post your review to,,,, and other literary social media lists. Reviewing helps readers find the book, and boosts in search engine algorithms.
6. CLICK on, “request this book to be available in kindle, nook and e-book”
7. BUY a copy to donate to your local (list relevant social agencies… for me it was: Gilda’s Club, LGBTQ Center library, school library, domestic violence shelter, cancer center waiting room)
8. E-MAIL blast your friends about the book.
9. WRITE a note about the book on FB, LINKED-IN, GOOGLE +, Twitter, INSTAGRAM, etc.
10. LINK my website address on your FB page, website, twitter, blog…
11. BLOG about the issues raised in the book. Start a blog.
12. TALK to your local librarian and recommend the book for their “one book one city” program.
13. RECOMMEND for your Book Club, or a friend’s book club. Start a book club.
14. RECEIVE a tax donation by donating to my book tour and audiobook taping sessions. (provide 501C3 fiscal umbrella info….)
15. RECOMMEND the book to someone who can review it for a newspaper, blog, magazine.
16. TEACH the book in your class; or tell a professor in: (name relevant curriculum categories, for me: Queer Studies, Working Class Studies, Narrative Medicine, Literature, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, American History, Immigrant Studies, Italian American Studies, Memoir Studies, Health Advocacy, Medical Anthropology, Urban Studies, Performance Studies.)
17. FORWARD this email to anyone you think might be interested in the book. If you know any newspaper editors, reporters, magazine editors, radio producers, TV show hosts or producers, columnists, bloggers, send them a copy of the book, or direct them to my website.
18. ASK me to mail you a stack of full-color postcards for you to place at your local theater, bookstore, campus center, coffee shop, library.
19. INVITE me to come read in your town at your local book store, library, classroom, or a home gathering.
20. Recommend your company buy this book in bulk for company fundraiser gift-bag.
21. HELP ME SELL THE RIGHTS If you have a connection to an actor, producer, director, who might be interested in making the movie, give them the book & my contact info.
22. COME to a reading. All my events are listed at: (website) click EVENTS
23. Buy a couple of books and donate as a prize for your local public radio station for fundraising drive.


1. Make a Mailchimp or Constant Contact email blast list. Send Book Tour updates.
2. Make a FaceBook page for your book.
3. Have friends boost or trash the book on Tumblr. Whatever starts a buzzzz…

1. tablecloth to sell books on. (I made mine out of the last manuscript, filled with pen corrections.) You know, you show up for a reading, and there’s a folding table. Bring a cloth that looks good with the book.
2. Retractable Banner. This was the best thing I bought. It slings over the shoulder and pops open like 7 feet tall, easy as an umbrella. So, for conferences and book talks, I made a beautiful presentation of the book cover. Order from Full House Printing. 201 798-7073 /

Okay, that’s it for right now. I’ll do ADVANCED BOOK PROMO later…

Write your Autobiographical Poem without referring to yourself


1. Read Tupac Shakur’s poem “The Rose that grew From Concrete”

Tupac Shakur

The Rose that Grew from Concrete


Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete

Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet

Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned 2 breathe fresh air

Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!


2. Write your autobiographical poem, without referring to yourself, without using the words “I” or “me” — just focus on another being or object.  Write in detailed images.  In essence, become one with the other, with the object or other being, however you see it.  If you want, focus on nature.  It works.


* Thanks to poet Rosette Capotorto for teaching me this poem.

Manhattan Schist


Manhattan Schist

 by Annie Lanzillotto


New York has a destiny of glitter.

We’re built on it.  Born of it.  Born of glitter.

This is Manhattan schist.

This is why we can build high into the sky.

This is why cranes thread the sky,

hoist steel up into clouds.

It’s cool.  I press my forehead down to it.

It’s alive.  I breathe it in.


Four hundred and fifty million years ago,

the east coast slammed into the Atlantic sea floor,

the sand and clay dove nine miles down

into the very alive bone marrow

of this earth, hot marrow

where sand and clay

mixed with quartz and feldspar and mica and hornblende,

quartz and feldspar and mica and hornblende.

Mica, from the Latin micare to glitter,

Mica is atomically flat and alive,

So flat you can make a mirror out of it.

Mica loves water.  Mica seeks the sea.

Mica fostered life forms before cell walls existed.

Before cell walls existed!

Thousands of degrees of heat,

megatons of pressure

Voila!  Out of this glittering womb

is born the metamorphic rock: the glittering Manhattan Schist!

Rock that’s black and sparkles,

rock that Nooyawkahs emulate

in our slick dress and shine.


Metamorphosis is change in form.

Change by pressure, change by heat, change by friction

change by distortion, change by pressure.

The pressure we know as Nooyawkahs.

Nooyawk for Nooyawkahs.

Change is the bedrock on which we stand.

Metamorphosis is the bedrock of the walk of our life.


Our beloved Manhattan Schist is a glittering skyline beneath us.

At Ground Zero it’s eighteen feet below the surface.

That’s why we build there high into the sky.

Schist dives deep, two hundred and sixty feet below Village sidewalks.

Comes up at midtown,

that’s why we build there high into the sky.

Dives down again and surfaces uptown.

At 120th and Madison, schist is three stories high

like a whale breaking the flat-as-earth sea.

In Inwood there are glittering caves.

Skyscraper beneath skyscraper,

Skyline beneath skyline,

Broadway beneath Broadway,

Light beneath lights.

Strongest rock in the world.


You gotta find your inner schist.

like the buried sun inside you.

When your crust goes to your core,

and your core to your crust.

When you lose all surface accoutrements.

When you got nothin’ left.

You find your inner glitter

And you know you’re home.


It’s great to go to Sloan-Kettering all the time.

Over the past twenty-nine years, I average sixty visits a year. 

The great thing is they turn me inside out.

Blood and bile, vomit and bone marrow,

Chemo is a jute rope pulled through me

Radiation I swallow then spit at the scum in the crosswalk,

superhero radioactive venom spit.

“Get back Asshole. You don’t want me spitting on you!

I ain’t kidding.  Stay away from me. Toxic Lesbians Unite!”

Yellow and black radioactive trefoil symbol

I wear as an armband.  The pregnant

stay outside my eight foot radius.

I can’t hug my own dog.

No one can sit on my lap without reprisal.

Hell, if anyone holds me at night,

they’d absorb more radiation than one should in a lifetime.

Back off.   Radiation is planted

in seeds under my skin.  Radiation I take in

through every pore of skin across my whole body surface.

I turn inside out.

My crust goes to my core.

My core to my crust.

Crust to core.  Core to crust.

Inner schist glittering.

The buried sun inside me.

I know I’m home,

in the sidewalk’s spark at night, curbs jumpin’,

glittery sparks of internal light

like the buried sun in the earth we mistake for gold.

New York City glitters wherever I step

The Sun’s hands sit as if some Goddess spits on each stone.

Sparks fly into the night, silver fish awaken, sidewalks pulse and buckle.

I run over coursing waters hot molten belly.  Jump

I follow the glittery spark internal light.  Jump

Glittering womb that is home.  Jump

My home glitters. 

Glitter is my home.




 Books are Magic Carpets
1. When I was a kid it was my book nook corner that I would pull a book off the shelf, open it, and go to ancient Egypt to the Greek Goddesses to the Arabian Nights to Lancelot
2.  Now that I have written my own books, they are magic carpets, bringing me into communities, to readers around the world, and will transport me through time and place and generations.
Here are questions for writers  and students who conference with me:
What is your main writing goal? What’s the biggest challenge in your writing process? Have you recited your work at open mic’s? On campus? Off campus? Have you sent your writing out to journals? on campus? off? What’s your next most ‘genuine risk’ you need to take in your writing and public readings? To support your personal needs during writing process, have you visited the on-campus counselor? Or another counselor? Who else is your support team, as you write through the muck? Practice visualizing your life five years from now. What do you see? Can your carve out a peaceful time and hours as a gift for yourself to write, daydream, draw? What mantra, phrase, saying, lyric, empowers you right now?
What is your main writing goal?
What’s the biggest challenge in your writing process?
Have you recited your work at open mic’s?
Have you sent your writing out to journals?
What’s your next most ‘genuine risk’ you need to take in your writing and public readings?
To support your personal needs during the writing process, do you see a counselor, support group, etc?
Who else is your support team?  Who can take the 3AM phone call?  As you write the muck…
Practice visualizing your life five years from now.  What do you see?
Can you carve out a peaceful time and hours as a gift for yourself to write, daydream, draw?
What books are your magic carpets.  Tell detail.
What mantra, phrase, lyric, saying, empowers you right now?

Books are Magic Carpets



Date:    Sat, 21 Sep 2013 10:20:09 -0400
From:    annie lanzillotto <lanzillotto@GMAIL.COM>
Subject: coraggio

Hi All,
Just a note of “coraggio” and fortitude.
When I was being discharged from Sloan-Kettering this week after a lung
infection, I said to the young attending, “In order to be discharged here
is my list of demands” and I handed her a beautifully magic markered paper
— including my demand for a one month supply of Xopenex (nebulizer med
that is about $2000/month and only covered if you’re in a nursing home —
it’s considered by ins companies as “life support”)  —  Now, I don’t
understand the economics of pharmaceutical companies and insurance
companies and how this gets communicated down to pharmacists and doctors
and patients —  but nevertheless, I knew I was wheezing bad and green
lung gunk — and that Xopenex keeps me breathing hence alive.
Twenty hours later, I got the medicine bag.  After visits and “no’s” from
everyone.  I called in the Rabbi, the Pharmacist, the Social Worker, The
Patient Advocate, numerous doctors, etc.  I simply refused to leave.  The
language I used was all from my days as an AIDS ACT-UP Activist.  “I will
handcuff myself to the bed until I get my meds.”  “Remember the Alamo.”  I
was calm.  Sitting Bull.  Just kept ordering breakfast lunch and dinner.  I
pulled out my I.V., bandaged my arm, read, wrote poetry, painted, and
continued to get my nebulizer treatment.  The bottom line is this.  In 3
minutes of an acute asthma attack I could be dead.  I refused that.  At all
costs.  The attending was stunned when the pharmacy came through with the
bag of meds.  The attending at one point said to me “As a compromise, maybe
we can get you one box of the meds.”  What compromise?  Is death a
compromise?  Is this a business negotiation?  Have I survived 32 years at
Sloan, to die because the breathing med is expensive?  How does this all
work?  How can I benefit others with this story?  I have always been an
advocate / activist for people to get med care.  I studied Medical
Anthropology at Brown.  I went to Egypt to study how peasants with
Schistosomiasis get treated or not and why.  And how this turns to bladder
cancer.  I was an AIDS activist in the 80’s.  And now it all comes down to
3 minutes and my own irradiated scarred fibrotic reactive lungs and
brochial tubes.  my alveoli
Love and Power
HD 86
Thy 97
damages galore

Poetic Mead


Villanella 4:


On the moon I bleed.

O! Blue moon soul!

One more swig of Poetic Mead.


The creek bends around the cabin where I write and read.

Silver moon reigns tug my blood right out of my hole.

On the moon I bleed.


I rest when my heart’s ache says my soul has the need

to stave off death’s ax, but of that swing I know we have zero control.

One more swig of Poetic Mead.


In my fever it’s always Lancelot who pounds in on his muscular white steed.

My pen leaves tracks of life on this paper, one magnificent scroll.

On the moon I bleed.


Earth spins so fast I can’t feel the speed.

Overhead heavens pass, as onward another generation of lives roll.

One more swig of Poetic Mead.


The city stands up to Heaven on the good welder’s bead,

I slow down to pay the toll.

On the moon I bleed.

One more swig of Poetic Mead.


copyright 2013 Annie Lanzillotto


Above is my first draft of a new villanella.  “Poetic Mead” is the drink of poetic inspiration.  The nectar that we need and then need to give to others.  It’s forged of the suffering of our lives and the moments of spirit ecstacy.  As writers, we sip the poetic mead and keep making songs out of life.

One good thing about being sick is I quiet down, put the brakes on other’s needs of me, and create solitude, necessary for the writing life.  I feel my heart talking to me, saying lay down, pull up the covers, breathe, let go of all worry, listen to the soul talkin’.   

What does your soul say?  

What scroll would you love to leave behind?

If, as my poem above says, your pen is leaving tracks of this life on the paper, if in one life, you get to leave behind one magnificent scroll, 

take the pen to paper

and let the soul speak. 

What does your heart tell you?  

When you take the time to rest and listen to your heart, what is being said?