Monday, October 15, 2012

Your Book Promotes You!


By: Zoe Ghahremani

People ask me, “How did you promote your book?” Which is often a polite way to say, “How did the first English novel of an unknown writer with an unpronounceable name make it this far?” They are not alone as I continue to ask myself the same question. I’ve thought about this for some time and think I may have found the answer.

What most writers underestimate is the readers’ power. We think we know what they need to read. But readers are on to us as they see right through what is written for “the market.” Such writing may see a fleeting success, but it will not last long on the shelf. You can try to sell what you think will sell, but in this day of bad economy and little time, people are more selective about what they read. Also, weary of false advertisements and book pushers, most people seek advise from friends or their friendly bookstore. And thanks to the Internet, satisfied readers can broadcast their finds to the entire world.

Writers are readers first. We read more than anyone in any other profession. I try to read a book a week – though I don’t always succeed – and know of colleagues who read even more. So I write what I can imagine spending money and time on. It’s important to sit back, wipe all other ideas from your mind and read your manuscript as a book you imagine you just bought. Does the content hook you? Do you have a hard time putting it down? Does it present a fresh voice? The questions are many and you’ll need to answer them with honesty. Don’t forget, you’re now a reader and not the writer in need of positive feedback!

San Diego is a literary rich city. Most people may not know it, but there are hundreds of writers, poets, and capable editors right here. We also enjoy multiple literary organizations and benefit from each other’s support. I have been a fortunate member of a few and served on the board of two major ones. In addition, having attended over 120 local book clubs this year alone, I am overwhelmed by the number of readers and the high level of public interest in books. But the amazing fact is that I did not find my readers, they found me!

Here I was, a writer living in my little computer cave, typing away. It was the reader who found my book and brought it to the table when a committee gathered to nominate a book for the city to read. And in the end, it was the readers who voted for it. In fact, I later learned that not just one, but that two other committee members had also presented my book on that fateful day! I still have no idea who the committee members are. Yes, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of them after the selection of my book, but know nothing about the other members and/or the details of the selection process.

The year has been a fantastic journey to Cloud Nine, but as my tennis coach used to say, “You’re only as good as your next shot!” While I prepare for the imminent publication of my next novel – The Moon Daughter – I ask myself three major questions. “Is this book as strong as my last one, or am I letting down my readers?” Then I wonder, “Would I enjoy reading this book if I wasn’t the writer?” and, “Would I pay $15.00 to purchase it?” Readers have set the bar so high that I must answer these important questions with utmost honesty.

Last year, as I prepared to send the manuscript to print, I realized my answer to the first question was not entirely positive. I recalled the many times that an author’s second book had not met my expectation. I didn’t want to be such an author. So I took the manuscript out of its box and worked at it another entire year. Now with three strong ‘yes’s, I proceed with its publication and hope to have it out soon. How soon? Only after I see that the galley looks perfect and that it is absolutely worthy of the readers who deserve nothing but the best. Will San Diegans enjoy The Moon Daughter? I don’t have the answer. My novel does.

2 comments:

Marjorie Hart said...

What an inspiration! Can't wait for "Moon Daughter!"

Susan said...

You succeeded wildly in writing Sky of Red Poppies to be "absolutely worthy of the readers," which is why I am waiting in excited anticipation for the release of The Moon Daughter.

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