A few months back I wrote the first entry in the San Diego Writing Women’s new blog. Now you have heard once from all of us, and it’s my turn again. I am really so pleased to be in the company of such remarkable women!
We’ve heard over the last ten weeks about various aspects of the writer’s life--from Caitlin Rother about the structure of a writer’s day, from Kathi Diamant about the need to be our own publicist, and from Jennifer Coburn about dealing with rejection. We heard about the vulnerable and deeply personal side of writing from Kathy Jones and Karen Kenyon, and from Divina Infusino and Judith Liu about the fun adventures writers have. We also learned from Sharon Vanderlip and Georgeanne Irvine about how their career choices (in both cases working with animals) led to opportunities to write. I can’t wait for Friday (our posting day) so I will hear something new from one of them!
This blog post comes at a very special point in an author’s life, publication day! Next Tuesday, October 5, 2010, my second novel, Penelope’s Daughter, will be released from Penguin/Berkley Books. “Aren’t you excited?” people ask me, but if they really knew, they would first ask, “Aren’t you exhausted?”
I’m not complaining. It’s hard to get a book picked up by a major publisher, and I have now had four, including my non-fiction book, Until Our Last Breath (St. Martin’s), my first novel, The Four Seasons (Hyperion/Voice) and my third novel, Finding Emilie, coming from Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books in May 2011. Still, there is a mountain of behind-the-scenes work involved in being a published author.
Working with a Publicist
Many authors, including myself, get just a bit of a publicist’s time in the few months leading up to publication, and a flurry of attention in the window right around the publication date. Publicists do the best they can. They are swamped with books launching around the same time, and even in that short period when we are the “flavor of the month,” there are still dozens of others to promote.
I am very lucky to have a wonderful publicist at Penguin for Penelope’s Daughter, Erin Galloway. What a great publicist does, in part, is create opportunities for the author to help his or her book gain traction in the marketplace. One way to do this is the blog tour. Not many authors physically tour anymore. It is exhausting and disruptive, and there’s just not much bang for the buck in it for either the author or the publisher. Erin got me close to a dozen blog interviews and/or guest posts, but each one takes several hours to write. My guess is over the last few weeks I have produced somewhere between 8-10,000 words for these blogs--not tossed off writing but the most thoughtful, crafted prose of which I am capable. They’ll start appearing in a few days on websites focused on historical fiction, and if you are interested, a Google alert for “Penelope’s Daughter” or “Laurel Corona” will probably turn them up for you.
Finding a Comfort Zone
Erin has gotten me a number of appearances at book stores and other events, but with a new book it takes a while to get into the comfort zone talking off-the-cuff about it. With The Four Seasons, all I have to know is what the format of the event is and how many minutes I have, and I can produce the ten, twenty, forty minute version, as a lecture, discussion, reading, panel, or whatever, without having to think about it too much. I can’t do that with Penelope’s Daughter yet, and it takes time to prepare everything so I am not caught fumbling around looking for words.
I am also writing my own blog now, Xanthe’s World, at www.pensdaughter.blogspot.com, which I will talk about more in another post. I blog daily about issues affecting military children, as a means of putting substance behind my dedication of Penelope’s Daughter to “all the children left behind when fathers and mothers go off to war.” Those posts take time every morning to research and write.
Fans Are Fabulous!
I respond to a fair amount of email every day from people who have read my books and want to tell me how much they liked them (I always reply!), or who want to set up an appearance at a book club, either by phone or in person. I generate emails and Facebook posts myself to make sure I haven’t missed any opportunity to inform people about Penelope’s Daughter, what it is about and when it is coming out (next Tuesday October 5--remember?)
Whew! I’m tired already and it isn’t 9AM yet! My partner wonders aloud sometimes what it would be like if one of my novels became a best seller. Would 25 hours in a day be enough? Things will calm down by the end of the year, I know, and our house will return to the regular crazy normal it usually is. Then, around February, Finding Emilie will approach flavor of the month status at Simon and Schuster, and we’ll start all over again!