I have a lot of things to say today. Stop groaning! Some of it’s important! First, in case you missed it, we have a blurb for the Magical Words How To book from Orson Scott Card. Unless you have been living under a rock, he’s, well, he’s CARD! One of the biggest names in SiFi! And he loved the MW book!!!
“This is the best idea for a writing book that I’ve ever seen. It’s like sitting in a room full of professional writers, and after each one delivers a riff on one aspect of writing, the others weigh in to buttress, amplify, refine, or add to what was said. It’s an extended conversation with writers who know what they’re talking about—and what matters in writing fiction that really communicates with readers.” —Orson Scott Card
Squeeee!!!! How cool is that?!? And the book is available for preorder at BellaRosaBooks.Com.
Second, the AKA, Gwen, has a book out next week, one that sold some years ago in the UK but never in the US. Until now. Ashes to Ashes is out next week with a small press, and she’ll be signing copies at the BooKnack in Rock Hill, SC on the 16th of December, noon to 2-ish. (Yes, Gwen, not me. I won’t be there. I have a photo shoot that day, and I have way better clothes and jewelry than she does… I wouldn’t be caught dead in her stuff.)
Ahem. My other half is not speaking to me now.
Third, thank you for forgiving me for not showing up last week. (If I was in rewrites, I’d redo that sentence. It’s clunky.) We had a band of storms that came through and took out my cable, both TV and Internet. So the cable company decided to do an update while they were making repairs. This required me to live through two days with only sporadic cable. I was in dreadful withdrawal, but I survived, and here I am this week, mostly intact mentally.
If you skip over the schizoid-psycho parts of having a book out by Gwen—Ashes To Ashes, a book out by Faith—Mercy Blade, and the MW book out (with Faith)—Magical Words How To, all in the space of 3 weeks. When you spot glitches in the coherence of everything I say, well, now you know why.
I am going to do a series posts in the next few weeks on what PR a writer should/could/must do in the months before a book comes out. I am starting with the difficult stuff. PR Success / PR Failure.
I have a friend (a PR specialist) who has a first book out, and is discovering that even with great marketing skills and contacts in newspaper, TV, and radio, this can be a crappy business for a lot of reasons. This post isn’t meant to discourage anyone. Not at all! But is meant to indicate how difficult it is to break into the consciousness of the reading public—and that is, after all, why a writer jumps through all the hoops and over all the hurdles to get a book into print! Nothing about this biz is easy except for the very few writers who make it big right away—and even they have treacherous waters to navigate to stay in print.
I have my friend’s permission to paraphrase parts of her letter to me (removing anything personal) and my reply to her (ditto on the personal parts).
My friend’s letter (paraphrased):
My signing last weekend was a complete bust: I sold five books. The bookstore owner had insisted she had a great relationship with the right newspaper people, advertised regularly, etc., so she would handle contacting them. I sent her everything and followed up a week ahead. She assured me she had it covered. She didn’t, so I got a tiny blurb, which is a shame because my cousin has a great relationship with the paper—we could have gotten a big spread, but the bookstore woman said not to.
Bottom line, I drove 500 miles for five books.
Most bookstore events garner a maximum of 20 or 30 books (usually 15 or less) which seems, well, to be honest, not worth the trips and the log drives.
I have a good relationship with the B&N in my touristy town.
Been there, done that—having problems with the bookstore owners or managers you drive a long way to sign books for. Sometimes it isn’t the new manager’s fault. The old one got fired or left in a huff and told no one you were coming. Or the event was written down for December and you contracted and emailed and confirmed for November. Other times, they are, frankly, space-cadets who think that because they love books they will make an indie a huge success. But they are useless at marketing and business and have no idea why their stores fail.
Once, I drove to Atlanta (250 miles one way). I sold 1 book. It was awful.
It’s hard being a writer. You have to love the stories so much that you keep at it even in the face of seeming failure. Been there, done that too.
You *do* have to pick your venues—things and places that work for your whole self, and keep you from getting discouraged, and your family from getting angry and upset at the lack of your time and presence in their lives.
You have the perfect place with the B&N in a tourist destination town. It gives you a new audience every weekend, and you wouldn’t ever have to leave. Reaching out to and courting a local bookstore in her home town (a tourist destination) is how Kathy Wall did it. She became a success by making a point to write for the locale. Of course, she attended a few conferences a year, volunteered in a writer organization. But it was the bookstore in a touristy town that did it for her.
Think about this, long and hard. Pray about it. Stare into that fire in your belly, and ask it what it wants. This is the moment when you have to decide—what do you want as a writer? As a person? As a wife? As a professional?
How do you get that and keep peace with yourself?
What concessions are you willing to make to build a fanbase?
How far will you go in terms of miles, time, and effort to see your book in the hands of a happy reading public?
This is a lesson learned: Always do your own PR. Always, even when someone else says they will do it. You knew in your heart that you should never release the reins of your own PR, and yet you were trying to be nice, so you didn’t listen to that little small voice in you who was screaming, “No!” That little voice is a muse of sorts. Listen to it.