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Conversations with the Inspiring Cindy Burnett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Burnett.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For my first career, I practiced as an attorney but retired when I had my third child. I kept myself busy volunteering at my children’s schools, but while I really enjoyed that, I realized that I would like to do something new and different in my free time. My whole life I have loved to read, and about four years ago, a friend asked me to join an online book group opening up an entirely new world to me. This group brings together readers and authors for book chats, author discussions, book news and more. Through the relationships I developed there, I started reviewing books for authors and then publishers and have slowly built on that foundation over the past several years. I created an Instagram book account (called a Bookstagram by people in the book world) (@ThoughtsFromaPage), began working part-time at Murder by the Book, and started speaking at book clubs and other women’s groups about book recommendations. In addition, I am now writing an online column for The Buzz Magazines called Page Turners and regularly contribute articles to

Instagram has become a fabulous place to discuss and review books. I enjoy the friends that I have made there and the opportunities that have come my way based on my book account. It is a welcoming and fun environment and is an easy place for friends to follow my book reviews and discussions. I have developed solid relationships with many publishers and enjoy learning about and often reading and reviewing books before they are published. Working at Murder by the Book is a very similar experience – I love interacting with customers and hearing what they liked and disliked about various books. I also love working author events when it is an author that I love to read.

The last thing I currently am involved with on the book front is my latest venture. My co-founder Krista Hensel and I have formed an author event series called Conversations from a Page, and we host 6-8 author events a year. Our goal is to highlight and promote a variety of authors in numerous genres.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have not really faced any true obstacles. Building an Instagram account organically takes time and patience, but I am slowly getting there.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
While I love posting on Instagram about all things bookish and working at Murder by the Book, the two things about which I am most proud are Conversations from a Page, the author salon I created with my close friend and co-founder Krista Hensel, and the online column that I write for The Buzz Magazines.

Conversations from a Page began in a very unassuming way. Having a book published today is just the beginning of the process for authors who are often expected to do a lot of marketing post-publication including social media, author talks, and interacting with book clubs either in person or electronically. Book sales drive future publishing contracts, and there is a lot of pressure for authors to promote their books. Last fall, after reading recently published books by Amy Poeppel and Susie Orman Schnall that I really liked, I reached out to them to see if they wanted to do an event here in Houston, and they enthusiastically accepted. Knowing how much Krista enjoyed reading too, I asked her if she was interested in co-hosting with me because we have enjoyed working together on various projects. While author events at bookstores are usually at night or on the weekends, that timing frequently does not work with moms whose kids are home in the evenings and who are busy with after school activities or homework so we tried a morning event to catch people on their way to work and/or post-school drop off. We felt there was a niche to be filled. There are so many wonderful books being published, and it is hard for people to wade through the thousands of books out there to find good things to read. Since that is part of my job at Murder by the Book and when I am reviewing for publications and publishers, I felt that we could extend that to hosting events. Moreover, people enjoy interacting with writers in a personal setting and learning about every aspect of writing a book and then getting it published (a lot more than we ever realized when we launched our author salon).

That event was a stellar success – we had over 60 people attend. Krista took care of the hosting details, and I interviewed Amy and Susie in two shifts. We styled it as a come and go occasion. Murder by the Book provided the books for sale, and the authors personalized all of the purchases. As soon as it was over, we had friends asking us when the next event would occur, and others asking to be added to our list. We have now held four events and have four more planned for the fall.

Our general plan is to provide a personalized service that benefits both the authors who choose to participate and the women who attend our events. We provide transportation to our events and on to our book club (the authors usually come to our book club after the morning event). At the event, we make sure everyone who wants to is able to meet the authors and interact with them.

What started as a way to help promote up-and-coming authors has morphed into something much greater. Not only are Houstonians introduced to authors they might not normally know about, but we are also creating engaging and entertaining events where women can just enjoy themselves. Book clubs are choosing the books to read before the events so that they can come and hear the authors afterwards, women are meeting like-minded people who enjoy reading, and they are taking time out of their hectic lives to socialize and do something for themselves. The events have also introduced authors to Houston in a very positive manner which has been a nice added side benefit.

Writing a book column for The Buzz Magazines is a dream come true for me. I love discussing anything and everything related to books and writing a weekly column provides me a platform to talk about my favorite books, author interviews, books made into movies and television shows, book club profiles, and much more. It is something that I have wanted to do for a long time and am thrilled that I am now able to do so.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
I think women have made great strides in many fields. I just finished a book entitled YALE NEEDS WOMEN by Anne Gardiner Perkins about making Yale University coed beginning in 1969, and it made me appreciate how far we have come. While there is still a ways to go in some fields, women are much better off today than they were in the 1960s and 1970s. It was quite eye-opening and made me glad that I live now instead of then and am grateful for the women who came before me.

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