Monday, February 21, 2011

The Good the Bad and, yes, the Ugly

First of all, I want to thank you for the privilege of joining your group and for your warm welcome. I look forward to getting to know you all. But remember, I'm a rookie at this blogging stuff, so cut me a little slack, will ya?
Of the suggested topics Karin sent out, looking at the good and bad of the last year jumped out at me because, if I amended the year to six months, it would give me the opportunity to look back at the first six months of publication of my debut novel, Mothers and Other Liars. So here we go with the good, bad and probably some ugly:

The best GOOD is a no-brainer: having my book selected by Target Stores as a "Breakout Book".

The worst BAD is easy, too: breaking my foot 10 days after the novel was published and trying to do promotions while clomping around in a heavy black boot (there's your UGLY!) At least it was a conversation starter, especially when I told old ladies that I broke it while pole dancing. And I did get priority boarding on airlines -- if you've flown Southwest you know how valuable that is!
The ugly boot

Between the "Breakout" and the "break", though, things get a bit murky.

My soul has been warmed by readers who have taken the time to write to tell me that my characters are real to them, taht my story sticks with them, and by meeting with Book Clubs who are so enthusiaistic about my work and engage in
lively (especially when wine is involved) debate about Ruby's choices.
This is GOOD. Yet, I am a very private person, and sometimes that enthusiasm pushes a bit uncomfortably far into my zone of personal space (BAD).

I have been dumbstruck (literally) when someone points out some wonderful inference or symbolism that I haven't seen in my own work (BAD -- or is it GOOD?)

I have reconnected with long-lost friends (GOOD).
I have reconnected with long-lost "friends" (BAD).

I was surprised by how much the validation of being published actually meant to me. I had always said that for me it was just about the writing. And then there I was basking in my own Sally-Fields-at-the-Oscars moment! (GOOD) But I found that with that validation comes a whole heaping pile of expectation. People ask you for advice, for help, for connections. And the expect answers. Overnight I have transformed from just another "would-be" wafting a cloud of eagerness or desperation, to The World's Greatest Expert on Writing, Publication, Marketing and Everything Else Word-related (Not so GOOD, given I know few of those answers).

St. Martin's exercised its option for my second book just days before release of MAOL (Very GOOD), but this has meant that I have had the challenge of being a novice marketing my debut novel while working on the second novel. I have failed miserably at this challenge. The pressure of marketing has pushed the new novel right out of my feeble brain. Oh, and did I mention that I have a deadline of April, THIS April, for the WIP (Very BAD).

So, how does this all look when I lay it all out like a kid counting nickles?
It looks like I'm not sure about anything.

But I have found a few nuggets to try to follow next time around:

Do what sounds fun, interesting or informative for me, and forget the rest.

Don't let the fragile voices of the characters in my WIP get lost in the cacophony of advice (to tweet or blog or follow Goodreads or do signings or book clubs or organize events or or or) about marketing my published book.

And don't break any appendages.

Literary agent Simon Lipsker says, "[T]he most powerful and valuable thing an author can do to help his or her career: write the best possible books." And that can only by GOOD.
--amy bourret

So what do you think?

What has been Good or Bad for you?
What is the one marketing chore (apart from the good writing) that you think is most valuable for a writer?


  1. Welcome, Ann! It's very good that you're here. So sorry about the broken foot (I once had to wear a boot on both feet for 8 weeks . . . that was a good look!). For me, book clubs have been the best thing . . . even 5 years later, I'm still meeting with them.

  2. Hi Ann! I think I would have told EVERYONE I broke my foot pole dancing! Congrats on your book--and the next one! I am in the same boat; I too am experiencing the pressure of producing a second book while trying to sail with the first. Wish I had a great piece of advice, but, frankly, I think your blog helped me!

  3. Welcome, Amy! I'm so glad you're with us and your blog was wonderful.As for marketing I’ve tried soo many things, but I think forming great relationships with other authors, booksellers and readers is the best any author can do other than constantly honing his or her craft.

  4. TWO boots? I wouldn't have survived, Judy, especially in the mid-August 113 degree heat!
    I hope I continue my relationship with some book clubs -- there are some interesting (and wacky) women out there.

    Laura, I'm glad I have company in the boat. Maybe we can motivate each other!

    And Karin, that's great advice, and what I hope will happen here on GBC. (and thanks for your late-night help posting:)

  5. Hi Amy! Congrats on your new book and the next one! It's so hard to tell what's worked best for me--that's the bane of being an author. You're never completely sure that what you're doing is having an impact. I did *tons* of promotion when my books first came out. Now instead of doing everything solo, I do promotion now with a group of other authors--the Deadly Divas and that's been a huge help!

  6. Hi Amy! Just so everybody knows, Amy and I go back. The picture up there with her boot was taken at MY book club shortly after the launch of Mothers and Other Liars which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, even the men in my book club:
    Welcome, Amy!

  7. Sara,

    I think group events is a great idea! I know a group in Seattle that has lots of luck booking Book Fairs that way. (plus it's more fun when no readers show up!) Some folks here in Dallas have tried it though and haven't had much success. You'll have to share your secrets!

    And Cindy,it's getting to be countdown time for you. Just keep breathing!

  8. Did I say Ann?? Amy... sorry!! Yes, I'm always open to brainstorming ideas!

  9. Amy, it's wonderful to have you here (Welcome!) and thanks for your lovely post. I can SO relate to the Yin/Yang-ish good vs. bad of everything in this industry... Congrats on the "breakout" and condolences on the "break" -- wishing you lots of the former and much, much less of the latter the next time around ;).

  10. Thank you so much Brenda and Marilyn. I look forward to getting to know you through the GBC blog!

  11. Amy, welcome! Love your post! You made me chuckle and it was much needed after just finishing tax prep (ugh!), particularly when my brain hasn't yet recovered from turning in a revised manuscript last Friday (need looong nap). Good luck with your WIP!!! You can do it! :-)

  12. Thanks for the encouragement, Susan. Though I'm mighty jealous that you have turned in a revised ms. And that you have your taxes done!

  13. Enjoyed the post, Amy! Made me chuckle. Poor thing--to get a break on your breakout! Love the good and bad--thanks for sharing. Isn't there always a flipside to everything? Many congrats on the release!