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Authors Guild helps writers get noticed

Margie Hagen Shopper News

Writing a book takes a certain talent and a lot of perseverance, but getting people to buy it can be an even more difficult task. The publishing industry has changed and the field is crowded, so how does an author make their work stand out?

The Authors Guild of Tennessee has the answer for that. Founded in 2013 by Sam Bledsoe, the group of around 50 writers meets monthly and shares ideas and methods for promoting sales at book signings, festivals, and perhaps most importantly these days, social media. Many are selfpublished, so it’s up to them to market their books. Members serve on committees that support those goals.

At the annual AGT dinner meeting on June 22, young author Jon Dalvy spoke about what has made him so successful: social media. At 30, he has fine-tuned the ways to use


The May meeting of the Authors Guild of Tennessee had Jerry Morton, Jim Hartsell and Jody Dyer looking over a promotional piece for Hartsell’s “The Boone Series” trilogy. The group meets on the first Thursday of every month at Faith Lutheran Church of Farragut. MARGIE HAGEN/SHOPPER NEWS

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Facebook, Instagram, Good Reads and YouTube and shared his approach to attracting readers, saying, “Crafting an online presence and marketing yourself as a brand has worked for me.”

Dalvy writes epic fantasy books (think “Game of Thrones”) and publishes in hard cover and online. “Despite what they say, a book is always judged by its cover,” he said. Dalvy recommends professional cover artwork, noting, “Even though it can be expensive, it’s worth it to attract readers. Love your cover and others will, too.” Dalvy and his wife, Brandee, are partners; both are Bearden High School grads and now make Nashville their home.

Other authors write in just about every genre; mystery thrillers, crime, detective, horror, humor, spiritual, hobbies and recreation are represented, along with children’s books and biographies. Authors must be published and vetted to join AGT.

You’ll find books like “Desert Magnolia”; local author Donna Habib's mother and father were an unlikely pair. Habib’s mother, Betty Jean Clark, a Tennessee belle who met and married a tribal prince from Jordan while attending UT, is a fascinating read about how they raised a family and merged cultures.

The Boone Series by Jim Hartsell is a trilogy that explores life for a teenager finding his way on the fringes of society. Another author, Randall Carpenter, has written extensively for many years; you can read his daily inspirational quotes on the AGT’s blog page.

Longtime author and past AGT president Bobbi Phelps has “must read” books she wrote about her life experiences. As a flight attendant in the late ’60s, she decided to tell her story about air travel in those days; it’s still her best-selling book. Her world adventures include tales about her sometimes dangerous travels in Iran, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and rescuing a doomed dog and later, an abandoned cat.

There are so many engaging stories these writers have to tell. Go to to see books by the authors and find out where you can meet them locally. And don’t forget about National Authors Day on Nov. 1. Presented by the Authors Guild, Union Ave Books and Visit Knoxville, you can find details on the AGT website.

The founder of AGT, Sam Bledsoe invented the strategy board game Zanoba in 1975. The science fiction game has its own language, and he has since written a trilogy that combines the game with the story line.

The annual dinner of the Authors Guild of Tennessee was held on June 22 at Mimi’s Parkside Drive location.


Jon Dalvy is a young author who has made a name for himself in fantasy (writing that is). With his wife, Brandee, he has built an online presence that engages fans and attracts new readers.

Colleagues and friends Randall Carpenter and Jim Hartsell are both successful authors and greeted each other at the AGT dinner on June 22.

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