Dear She Writers,

I’m writing to you from India, where –yes! –I did pick up some gorgeous saris and a black kurti top to wear for book tour events. Will post photos when I have better access to the internet. I also picked up some story ideas, which I try to do whenever I travel. 

34 days to publication now. I’m getting excited and nervous, both! We’re putting the final touches on the book tour this week. And advance interviews are being set up, especially for monthly publications.

If you’re interested, let me know, and I’ll post about what writers can do to set these up. '(We can't do much about setting up reviews, I feel that's not kosher, but it's quite OK to ask people if they're willing to interview you). 

I received a great starred advance review from Booklist, for which I’m very thankful, appreciative and relieved. (One never knows how these things will turn out!) I’m sharing an excerpt below.

“An entrancing storyteller with an unerring moral compass, Divakaruni has created a superbly well-plotted, charming, yet hard-hitting novel of family, marriage, and class, a veritable Indian Jane Austen novel spiked with racial prejudice and religious violence. Raised in Kolkata by her sweet if burdened grandmother and her grandfather, a famous and irascible lawyer, Korobi is a modest, smart, and unworldly college student when she meets wealthy, stylish, and jaded Rajat. Much to the surprise of his high-society friends and the horror of his megarich ex-lover, Rajat proposes to quiet, unhip Korobi, who feels as though she has stepped into a fairy tale, cuing us to expect tragedy. But there is no anticipating the complexities and implications of the crises and obstacles Korobi and Rajat face in light of Korobi’s resolute quest for the truth about her father as she journeys across harshly xenophobic post-9/11 America. From baneful secrets, poisonous misunderstandings and conflicts, and transcendent love, Divakaruni has forged another tender, wise, and resonant page-turner.”

By now, the jacket comments for Oleander are in place, too, and I wanted to write a little bit about that arduous process.

Book reviews, as I said earlier, are something the author can’t do much about. Except maybe pray! And of course it helps if you’ve kept track of publications that have reviewed you positively in the past, and pass on that information to the publisher. Then the publisher sends out the book to all possible review venues, and you wait!

But the jacket comment is where the author can make a difference by writing to other writers whose work you admire and whose endorsement is important to you and helpful to your book. Be prepared for silence, for people saying no. Writers are often beleaguered by hundreds of requests. (I am, too). I must have written to 50 writers about Oleander before I received my jacket comments. A good idea is to start as soon as you have a complete final manuscript, giving people several months of lead time before they have to turn in their comment.

The jacket comments for Oleander are now on my website, at http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/books/oleander_girl, if you want to take a look. You might also be interested in the way the page has been set up, with advance “Buy” links to various online book sale sites.

My website is a fairly old one, and thus not at all fancy. I fully realize the importance of having a more professional looking site, and I’ll be revamping it later this year, probably after the book tour, but for now at least all the information is there for readers.

That’s all for now! I’d love to hear from you about jacket comments and advance reviews you’ve received and how you or your publisher went about getting them, and whether you think they've been helpful. Anything you want to post about your websites would be great, too. 

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Tags: book, fiction, review, website

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Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 24, 2013 at 1:17pm

Chris, Thanks!

Those are good questions.

1. The advantage of having a publisher before requesting is that bigger, busier authors don't want to commit the time (even if they are willing to help you) unless they know the book is being published for sure. On the other hand, if you have a personal connection to the author, go ahead & make the request--it might actually help you find a publisher.

2. I'd send a synopsis, not chapters, with the request, and hopefully that would interest them in reading the book.

Maybe someone else on this page has some other suggestions?

Chitra

Comment by Chris Beal on February 24, 2013 at 11:35am

So looking forward to reading your latest!

The comments about blurbs were really useful.  I have another question about them.  Should I be sending out requests even if I don't have a publisher or even an agent yet?  And might I send a couple of chapters of the book along with the request?  I'm thinking that the author of whom I'm making the request would want to know if she even wants to read the whole book before making a commitment of that sort.

I appreciate your openness to less experienced writers! 

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 23, 2013 at 7:54am

Yes, Kathleen, Simon and Schuster is creating the audiobook of Oleander Girl right now.

Comment by Kathleen Kern on February 23, 2013 at 7:48am

Wow, I can't read normal size fonts anymore, but I'm sure hoping this gets released in audio.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 19, 2013 at 7:51pm

Elizabeth, Thanks so much for your comments. I really appreciate them. I'm glad you liked the article in Writers Digest--it was kind of difficult to write and share those personal things (including the guilt!)--so it's good to know you connected to it. Good luck with your own writing!

Comment by Pamela Olson on February 19, 2013 at 7:50pm

* your (D'oh!)

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 19, 2013 at 7:48pm

Paulette, Thanks for writing in. My experience finally was that the blurbs I received came from people with whom I'd had some kind of personal contact--even if it was as slight as attending their event, or having them come to speak at the university of Houston.

Good luck with Cementville--now is the time to start the hard work of publicizing it. And thanks for the comments on my website. That's very helpful.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 19, 2013 at 7:45pm

Pamela, Thanks for the good wishes, and those are great ideas for people to approach--journalists and activists, particularly. I'm going to check out your site. So glad you & Kelly are connecting---and hope to see you on the book tour!

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 19, 2013 at 7:43pm

Hello Mardith, Congratulations on your flash fiction. I love the title! Glad you're enjoying the exchange on this page. I'm loving hearing back from other SheWriters, and seeing them connect to each other here.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 19, 2013 at 7:40pm

Hi Lisa, Thanks for writing in. I feel like I'm still learning, too, because the writer's market is changing so much. If people visit your site to read your blog, that's a very good thing--it's helping to build your platform and expand your readership.

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