Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker

Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water are now available for Kindle and Nook!

Friday, July 2, 2010

In Which Maya the Wolf-dog Sticks her Nose Where it Doesn't Belong

I have a dog named Maya. She's part wolf, and a sweetheart. When Maya wants my attention, she has a habit of coming up behind me and sticking her nose in my boo hole. (Don't worry, that's as graphic as I'm going to get.) I must say, it's effective. Appreciated? No so much.

Maya would make a good book publicist. With her wolfy little brain, she has grasped the concept of a hook. Her follow-through is a little lame (she assumes the belly up, scratch-me position), so my reward for shifted attention is all about her, her, her. If Maya were smart, she'd follow up that poke in the keester with a book giveaway. (Spellcheck didn't recognize keester, bohunkus, or badonkadonk. Clearly, Spellcheck needs to be dragged into the 21st century.)

Maya's attention-getting device may be a little over the line as far as personal boundaries go, but we all work with what we've got. I'm still testing my boundaries. Since March, I've been heralding the advent of ASHES TO WATER as if it were the literary messiah, because that's what all the conventional wisdom tells you to do. In the four months leading up to publication, you're supposed to create anticipation and build momentum: "It's coming!"

Can one over-saturate a targeted audience in this first publicity phase? Yes, one can. And one should rightly take care to dial back the trumpets when one observes one's friends placing hands over their ears.

I read a blog in which a writer's friend flat out told her, "We know you have a book coming out. Enough, already." The blogger heard the complaint, did a little soul-searching, and ultimately concluded she'd rather lose a friend than a potential reader. Why? Because, when an author's book arrives, it has a shelf life of about three months, six if it's popular. (Anything longer than that either has a vampire on the cover, or the author's name above the title in bigger letters.) Only three months to get that book in the hands of readers! If you don't build pre-publication momentum, you've lost review opportunities, event opportunities, and any hope of building a fan base through social media.

But the blogger's friend had a valid point. Even if a book is the best thing since Spanx, a self-promoter can appear conceited, self-absorbed, rabidly fixated, and if you behave like a pop-up ad, you're going to get treated like one. I've sensed it's time for me to pull back, not because of anything anyone said, but because it's starting to feel, well, insignificant, frankly. The odds are getting to me. World news is getting to me. My own mortality is getting to me. In short, there are more important things to do than sit at my computer five hours a day, following up on reviews I'll probably never see, and looking for like-minded bibliophiles on Twitter.

Fortunately, my burn-out is well-timed. My book went live last week. No more pre-publication horn-blowing. Time now to switch to a new stategy:

The Book Tour!

In which Irene now gets to say, "It's here!" And if Vox Populi answers with a resounding "so what," I'm going to have to adopt Maya's tactic. So, if you sense me coming up behind you...well, 

you know.


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