Saturday, September 17, 2011

Books on the Runway

By Caitlin Rother

One of the most interesting – and challenging – aspects of being a full-time author is that I never get bored because I never have a shortage of things to do. I am a slave to the book of lists I take everywhere I go, trying not to forget anything that I have to do, and I enjoy checking off each task when I’m done. Often, though, I find myself doing things that are important but not on the list, just to get in a little me time, even though it’s essentially all me time. I’m the boss I rebel against and I’m also the worker who never seems to get everything done.

This year, I am in the fortuitous – and sometimes daunting – position of having four books coming out, with two more next year. That means there is much staging and coordinating to be arranged, in essence, to line them up on the runway like planes waiting to take off, as I help get them through production and hopefully into readers’ hands, whether it’s off the bookstore shelf or on Kindle and Nook. I must do this while researching and writing my current project, responding to co-author queries and attending trials for my next true crime book.

Five years ago when I was a newspaper reporter, I could go home within an hour (or hours) of sending a story to my editor. But with books, even if my editor doesn’t ask for revisions, I must read the entire manuscript at least two more times as it goes through production and legal review, looking for typos and ensuring that corrections were made properly.

Meanwhile, a job of infinite scope lurks in the shadows: promotions, which means I must line up as many web tours, reviews, news stories, speaking engagements, book signings, media interviews and other events as possible to get the word out. I may work with a publicist(s) I hire to help carry out my overall action plan (which includes coordinating this blog and organizing SDWW activities). I also coordinate efforts with the publisher’s publicist (if I’m lucky to get one, which is happening more these days now that I have eight books under my belt). I also send the manuscript to other authors seeking their endorsements, known as “blurbs,” to run on the front and back covers, in news releases and on my website.

Because the publishing-media world is a constantly shrinking and/or moving landscape, I’m faced with the inverse, which is the constantly mounting challenge of finding new ways to promote my books. If only books sold themselves (wouldn’t that be nice?). Promoting my books is an unpaid job that takes an enormous amount of time and planning, but if I don’t do it the books won’t sell, and then I will have no more book contracts. So, I must do it and do it well. Thankfully, some of it is fun, when after many months of toiling alone in my home office, I get to go out into the public and answer questions from those who have either read or want to read my new book(s). That kind of interaction and immediate feedback is something I often miss from my newspapers days when even a nastygram was an acknowledgment that someone read the story. The worst thing imaginable is for an author to work for months – or years – on a book only to have no one notice it exists. It’s heartbreaking, but it happens all the time.

Back to this year’s runway itinerary. The two books I wrote on my own are DEAD RECKONING, which came out in February, and POISONED LOVE, the story of the Kristin Rossum murder case, which comes out in December, an updated edition in the book’s eighth printing. This book, which gives you a detailed account of how Rossum murdered her husband, Greg de Villers, also includes 16 pages of new developments in the case since the San Diego County toxicologist was convicted of poisoning de Villers with a powerful narcotic she stole from the Medical Examiner’s Office, then staging a suicide scene by sprinkling red rose petals over his body. I’m very excited about this revised edition because I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from readers wanting updates on the case, especially since her appeal got some traction last year.

I co-authored the other two books out this year – DEADLY DEVOTION (originally published as WHERE HOPE BEGINS) and MY LIFE, DELETED, but my co-authors and our publishers are handling their promotion. Nonetheless, I am following their progress closely, hopeful that they will sell off the charts. I don’t write in a vacuum, I want people to read my books, and I hope readers will be moved and educated by the stories to which I have dedicated months or years of my life.

Then in January 2012, NAKED ADDICTION, a thriller about sex, drugs, and murder comes out as a trade paperback (and on Kindle). In my first novel, surfing detective Ken Goode explores the underbelly of the affluent community of La Jolla and its neighbor, Pacific Beach, where Goode clashes with twenty-something patrons of a seedy bar who have possible ties to an escort service, drug ring and upscale beauty school for entrepreneurs. The primary characters use substances or other people to try to fill the empty spaces within themselves, with addictions ranging from sex, alcohol, cocaine and cigarettes to Goode’s own, caffeine and damaged women. The untimely disappearance of his sister proves a worrisome distraction as he becomes obsessed with the first victim and is strangely drawn to a pretty, but troubled witness.

Finally, in July 2012, LOST GIRLS, the story of John Gardner’s rape and murder of San Diego County teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois will be released.

After that, who knows what comes next. The book ideas are lining up on the runway as we speak, including another true crime, a thriller, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Caitlin Rother, a Pulitzer-nominee who worked as a investigativer reporter for nearly 20 years, is the author or co-author of seven books: Poisoned Love, Deadly Devotion/Where Hope Begins, My Life, Deleted, Body Parts, Twisted Triangle, Naked Addiction, and her latest book, Dead Reckoning. Coming next is Lost Girls, about the murder of innocents Chelsea King and Amber Dubois by sexual predator John Gardner. For more information, please check out her website,


Marjorie Hart said...

Amazing and inspiring!

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