After last week’s column and the 50 plus comments I received, I was very, very tempted to write a follow-up post on the topic of race and racism, reader habits and the publishing industry. But instead, I’ve decided to move on. Not because I don’t have more to say, but because I think there is probably a better forum to have this discussion, considering this column is really supposed to be about the publicity and marketing campaign for my debut novel, Substitute Me. If people do want to read more about the unfortunate practice of seg-book-gation in the industry, they can read this 2009 interview with author Bernice McFadden. And if people want to educate themselves more about authors of color and what some people are doing to try to combat the industry’s narrow definitions of who reads what, please visit author Carleen Brice’s wonderful website,White Readers Meet Black Authors. And of course, I encourage you to just talk amongst yourselves, to pay attention and have honest conversations about these hot-button issues. Feel free to visit my blog, My American Meltingpot where we talk about race and identity and pop culture all the time. I also review a lot of books by people of every color and ethnic background.

But back to the moving on part.

One of the hardest things for me about maintaining the energy and enthusiasm for planning my publicity tour for Substitute Me is the fact that I’ve already moved on to other things in my creative world. I’m actually in the revision phase of my next novel (Actually, it’s really my first novel but it sat on an editor’s desk for two years.) and the deadline for that book is just around the corner.

But I’m not talking about time management issues here. I just feel like my strong feelings for Kate and Zora – the main characters in Substitute Me -- have kind of faded away. I loved them once. We were so close I sometimes found myself having conversations with them as I drove to work in the mornings. I really cared about them and wanted everyone in the world to know them. But it’s been so long since we’ve spoken. They’ve been packaged up now and summarized in a press release. And now a whole new cast of characters is fighting for my attention.

So how do I maintain my enthusiasm for Kate and Zora? How does a mother divide her attention between her oldest child -- the responsible one who doesn’t need her constant vigilance -- and the baby whom requires 24-hour care? At this point, Substitute Me is my older child and my publicity efforts for her debut are calculated and practical. I spend time late at night crafting my newsletters and on the weekends planning tour spots and launch-party details. Meanwhile, during the daylight hours, when the sun is at its most inspirational, I force myself to sit with my new book and give him the best of my creative energy.

I hope that works for now.

What do you all do when you have to promote your work, but you’re already working on your next project?

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Comment by Ilie Ruby on August 23, 2010 at 3:39pm
I am dealing with this as well. In mid book-tour, mine is extended over a period of 5 mos, with travel and home and travel and home (little kids). Anyway, yes, at my last reading I found myself feeling slightly preoccupied and not as focused. Luckily, I caught myself and I had to step back and have a little talk with myself about loyalty to the family, for God's sake. If it weren't for these characters, I wouldn't be standing here. They still have a voice and though I've listened long and hard, well, they don't go away, nor do I want them to, not really, not yet. Of course you still love your eldest child, though she needs you less. Sometimes you have to tell her so that you can remind yourself to become reconnected. It worked.
Comment by Ann Karen Dowd on August 4, 2010 at 1:01pm
I self-published a novella, HOW DID SHE GET THERE? in June 2010 and am in the midst of marketing it now--a task I thought I would find reprehensible, but actually am enjoying to the fullest--as well as returning to a novel I had in progress before I went down the indie route. I find the transition between the two not only easy but complementary for two reasons: First, I had a set message to get out with my novella that I am still so engaged with the story and characters that I yearn to talk about them and the themes they helped me to voice. Second, my characters in both novels seem relatable. If they met on the street, they might become friends. This is not because they are carbon copies of each other, but rather, they each have qualities that are missing in the other person and/or failings that they need to bring awareness to. I don't know; I just feel drawn into both worlds.

Hopefully, this will make sense to someone else but me!
Comment by Sin McKnight on August 3, 2010 at 4:18pm
Lori - I think you've just sold quite a few books with your last discussion. All I can say is "genius marketing":) and a very open discussion which was long overdue. The writer in us wants to move on to writing and not deal with the trivial issues of marketing. For me, dividing my time between the dreaded EDIT and a new project is also very difficult but I constantly remind myself that my book doesn't end because I've completed the last chapter or last edit. Giving birth to it was one phase. Now comes the time for nurturing which will result in earning and 'earning' my dear is a great incentive:). Another trick is to frame a cover for my wall where it's a constant reminder and motivator. Break a pencil my Sister!
Comment by Dasaya Cates on August 2, 2010 at 7:21am
I am feeling this way too. I've read my own book what seems like a thousand times, through the re-write process and working with my editor; the marketing phase is here and I'm sort of like, "blah!" But I think I keep going because I know that no one will, on a wide scale, have the benefit of knowing who I am as a writer if I quit or slow down. I got back to loving my characters while I flipped through my proof and decided to read some parts out loud. Hearing their voices made me reconnect. I still struggle with feeling guilty when I am working on a new project, like I did this past weekend, and did very little with regard to promoting Bloodlines. I'm still fine tuning the balance there. Glad you brought this up.
Comment by Chandra Hoffman on July 31, 2010 at 6:49pm
You've said exactly what I'm thinking. Our books are here, and I peeked inside mine, and I was like, Oh, but not necessarily in a good way. Like, oh, it's YOU GUYS again. Tiny eye roll. I hope this changes when I am on tour, like Kamy said.
Comment by Doreen McGettigan on July 29, 2010 at 4:53pm
I am now re-reading my first book as I wait for the publication date. I am actually in the middle of my 3rd non-fiction. It is not like I forgot the story; I lived it but like you said you kind of move onto a different zone. I like the child analogy; that makes perfect sense.
Comment by Patricia A. McGoldrick on July 28, 2010 at 4:30pm
It is great to meet someone (even electronically!) who can take the high road!

Thanks for sharing how the earlier characters "have kind of faded away". If they don't, is the author compelled to write a sequel?????

Good luck with your next book.

Comment by Kamy Wicoff on July 28, 2010 at 2:44pm
I remember this so well -- I had spent years of my life working on a book about brides and the American wedding, and by the time I was supposed to promote it, I could hardly imagine talking about the subject for another minute. But a wonderful thing would happen every time someone engaged me in conversation about the book, or showed up to a reading. It rekindled, over and over, my fascination with the topic, and what drew me to it in the first place. If something was powerful enough to hold your attention the way a subject must in order to complete the marathon that is writing a book, I believe it will take hold of you again when you need it to.
Comment by Dera R Williams on July 28, 2010 at 12:44pm
Nice blog, Melting Pot.
Comment by R. Yvonne Ruff on July 28, 2010 at 9:18am
nicely written.


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