Saturday, May 30, 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
Why don't you try to get your book on Oprah?
Do you have any idea what I write? Do you have any idea what sort of book Oprah promotes? Do you have any idea how... Sigh. Never mind.
ROFL. ROFLMAO. Bwahahahaa! That's a good one... Oh--you're serious?
I'm not much of a reader but I'm writing a book. I'll send you the first draft and you can fix it up and get it out there for me as you know about this stuff.
Sure I will, you lazy SOB. That's what friends do. Because instead of writing my own books, I'd like to spend a couple years polishing your first draft, researching markets, submitting to agents and editors, following up, promoting, etc etc etc. Yeah, that's what I do because, you know, I took about 15 years to learn this stuff so I could do all your work for you.
So--you're writing the great West Indian novel?
No, I'm writing the great Nahuatl erotic sci-fi lesbian vampire novella. I'll let you know when it's out.
Can you get your agent or editor to read my manuscript? [Asked by total strangers]
Of course. Because that is what my agent and editor do--read manuscripts by people their clients do not know, recommended by said clients who have no idea what or how you write. This is the way we build trust in the author-editor-agent relationship.
So how much do you make? Give me a ballpark. [Said with a condescending smile.]
Frankly, it's bad manners to ask people probing questions about their earnings. Even if you know them. Even if you're family. What possible use can this information be to you? Until such time as I ask you for a handout [read: never] what I earn is none of your [expletive] business. Upside: You've given me a great opportunity to practise concealing my anger behind my mild-mannered facade while fantasizing about planting my foot up your smug rear end.
I'll let that pass because you're technically still a child. A money-obsessed pest of a child, but a child nonetheless. I doubt I'll ever be into ostentatious status mega-symbols so if I ever strike it rich you'd never know it--unless you sneak into my shoe closet, maybe. Now get out of here before I whup your precocious butt.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
For me, these sorts of things happen when I’m not only not writing, but I’m nowhere near my desk or my laptop, and I have nothing—not even a scrap piece of paper—on which to jot down a quick note. It also happens a lot when I’m drifting within that netherworld separating sleep from wakefulness. One of the voices in my head (Morgan Freeman’s, for those keeping score at home) taunts me with a half-formed thought, idea, or breakthrough and I have to push myself from my bed so that I can write it down before I forget it all by the time the alarm goes off the next morning.
Little slices of writer torture like this tend to occur for me in the same places: when I’m taking a shower or shaving, or my personal favorite: mowing the lawn, and I let my mind wander, as I often do. A lot of the time, I’m pondering the current project in-progress, or maybe the next thing in line that needs a little brain space as I figure out what I want to do. Then there are the occasions when my noggin decides it’s going to run off and do whatever it wants, and to hell with my current project and deadlines and all of that.
So it was a couple of Fridays ago. I was outside, pushing the lawnmower around my yard, when my brain does its usual hop-skip-jump routine through various unconnected thoughts running through my head. For whatever reason, it opted to settle on this idea for an original science fiction concept with which I’d been toying off and on over the last year or so. I could never get any traction with it because I was always tied up with other writing projects and deadlines. Last summer, I figured that after I left the regular work force I’d find time to devote to this idea, but I’d done such a nice job of lining up contracted work, that this thing got pushed aside in favor of the writing for which people actually wanted to pay me.
On this day, however, my brain gave all of that the finger and started mulling. A few things started to click into place. Then there were a few more, and a couple more after that. By the time I was finished cutting the grass, I was convinced I had at least the skeleton of what I wanted this story to be from start to finish. Maybe that was why I was pushing the mower at a run that last half of the front yard, before dashing into the house to write down as much as I could before my brain started to fog up.
(Note: This sort of thing also happens during the showers/shaving thing, but my wife isn’t as amused when I go through tearing out of the bathroom on my way to my desk.)
Will anything come of this little bout of brainstorming? I don’t know. What I do know is that when something like this happens, I need to stop whatever I’m doing and write down as much of it as I can, and maybe even see if other dots start to connect themselves. After all, I don’t want to forget any of this stuff.....
.....what was I saying again?
So, what about you? Where does this “lightning” tend to strike, and how do you respond?
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Thursday, May 7, 2015
As an author you will be marketing for the rest of your life. It will never end.
As part of the marketing you will join more social media sites than you need or want. You will wonder what to do. You will wonder what will work.
Almost all writers have cats. It's not mandatory but you will be on the outside of the other cat owners. Rare is the author with a dog. Personally, I like birds.
Finishing things are absolutely necessary.
Your friends will not review your book. Your book may not get many reviews. Your book may get zero reviews.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
|Author panel at Bocas Lit Fest, May 2, 2015 in Port of Spain|
I had a long and sobering chat with the proprietor of an independent bookstore who has been very supportive of my work from the get-go. He said that sales are terrible (yes, everywhere), and the talk got around to a particular bookstore chain that continues to snub local writers unless they are already big names in the business. That chain snubbed me back in 2008--twice--and I've heard similar stories from other writers. Very unwise of said chain, since the books are in the big stores internationally and people can just get on their devices and order online. Way to cut your own throats, boys!
The legend Earl Lovelace himself, imposing as always in head-to-toe white; Nalo Hopkinson who set my groupie friend L'Oreal all a-twitter with adoration; and NYT bestselling spec-fic writer Tobias S. Buckell who hails from Grenada.
|Liane Spicer & Carol Mitchell, with Gulf of Paria in background|
I 'bounced up' several familiar faces, including my old UWI classmate, Chad Cumberbatch, who's now the Arts Minister in Montserrat. You go, Chad! Also met Kirk B. who will be joining the "Word Warriors" on our writers' retreat in July.
|In a rare burst of maturity, |
Vaughn ordered this drink from
the children's menu.
We had our own little 'afterparty' at a seafront bistro on the Chaguaramas peninsula. Vaughn, L'Oreal, Isaiah and I started proceedings while Carol Mitchell and her charming friend Patti spent a lot of time driving around Chaguaramas (it was night by then) looking for the turnoff to our spot. Just so happened that the sign I told them to look out for was unlit so they never saw it. We eventually located each other and it was a blast! I'm here to tell you that Carol is every bit as lovely as she appears online. Writers, writer talk, book talk, coconut water and she-crab soup... It was bliss and I can hardly wait for the next Novelnaut meet-up. Who will it be, I wonder?
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Indeed when I first published, marketing was the farthest thing from my mind. My books were published mass market paperback by an established publishing house which had built-in distribution and marketing.
Recently I signed with a small publishing house which does not have the elaborate distribution networks of my previous publishers. I quickly realized being an author goes way beyond writing and getting your books published. It requires marketing. So I designed a strategy: start small, start local and expand. But despite my aspirations, I didn’t want to spend money on marketing when I was not guaranteed returns.
But then an opportunity came my way that I found hard to pass up. It was the opportunity to expose thousands of kids and their parents to my children's novel by conducting a workshop at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum as part of the STEM in Spring Initiative. At the same time it was an opportunity to teach kids about Science in an unconventional way. So we discussed possible activities and I listened to my crazy co-author, at that time 11 years old, and decided on constructing a giant model of the cell to give kids the feeling of being shrunk and zapped into a cell as the characters of the book were.
It was an expensive venture. I raised funds using gofundme and harassed my local stores for donations of supplies. Then a week or two before the event, my husband, an engineer, looks at the plans and asks, “How are the structures going to stand up?” So back to the drawing board we went to fix the structural issues.
So how did it all work out? Opening day was chaotic. The first week we had to tweak the activity to make it flow, but the workshop was successful. I know you are going to ask what made it successful. If we measured success by the number of books sold at the event, then we failed miserably. But here are some of the reasons why I consider this a success.
1. We aimed to educate.
We succeeded in teaching much younger children about the cell. Kids enjoyed a scavenger hunt in the cell where they had to uncover clues to proceed to different organelles in order to rescue the characters of the book “Zapped! Danger in the Cell.” The clues in the end spelt out the name of the book.
2. We aimed to expose the book to as many children and their parents as possible
By tying in the activity to the book, we were able introduce it to many people. We handed out quite a bit of printed material at the event. We were interviewed by the local NPR affiliate WEAA and featured on the 5’oclock news on NBC affiliate WBAL, where our book was prominently displayed for thousands of viewers.
3. We aimed to have fun
This was fun for us and for the kids who visited.
4. We aimed to create a lasting impression
Well the impression was good enough that we were invited back to be part of the Book Bonanza and Port Discovery Children’s museum later this month
Agreeably the number of copies sold at the event was a lot lower than we hoped, however, a seed has been planted. Only time will tell if it will bear fruit. Many more people know about the book and its value as an educational tool as well as the pleasure it offers as a fun read.
The bottom line: marketing requires investment, whether it is time or money or both. It is a long term investment that may or may not see immediate returns, but the aim is to expose as many people to the book as possible and get increased sales.
There are many creative ways available for authors to market their books. What are some of your more unique/creative marketing strategies?