Countdown to Publication—Week Two
Eighteen years ago, six weeks after giving birth to my son, a friend and I took the train to downtown Chicago to meet Oscar Hijuelos on his book tour for THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE. I was so excited to meet the author of my favorite new book that I admit having felt like a literary groupie. When Hijuelos signed our books, we told him that we—one Puerto Rican, one Dominican—were representatives of his “Latino Fan Club.”
Those were the days, my friends! Every book got a book tour of some sort. Back then, in the same way I imagine all-to-be published writers were doing, I dreamed about all the cities I would visit whenever my book was published. Most of the time, I dreamed contiguous United States, but once in a while, a crazy daydream would take me to Hawaii and Paris.
Now that I’m about to be published, a book tour is not to be. A year ago when my editor told me that I wouldn’t be going on a book tour, I was surprised—I thought a book tour was a given of authorhood. I’ve since accepted the fact that it’s all a matter of economics. It costs money to send a writer on a book tour with expenses like travel, lodging, etc. You have to be able to fill up the room and somebody like me—an unknown—can’t guarantee that sixty people will show up.
While my publisher isn’t sending me to NYC or Minnesota, it is doing a great job in other ways. IF I BRING YOU ROSES is the October book pick for Las Comadres Book Club, a national Latino book club which includes a teleconference. My publicist has arranged for me to sign books at my town’s bookstore. Instead of a reading, she had the great idea for my actress daughter and one of her actor friends to do a staged reading of a section from IF I BRING YOU ROSES. My publicist is also arranging for an event during National Hispanic Month.
Once I accepted that my book tour was never going to happen, I tried to think of ways to promote myself and IF I BRING YOU ROSES. These ideas might work for you, too.
Create a website. I hired one of my daughter’s theatre friends to work on my website which lets potential readers get to know me.
At first, I resisted the idea of a business card but my husband created one that features the cover of my book. (Whether a writer likes it or not, part of her business is selling books.) The cards have come in very handy to help potential book buyers remember the title and my name.
People in your community might be able to help get out the word about your book. The manager of the studio where I practice yoga is not only going to post the flyer my husband is creating in a prominent spot reserved for official studio business, but has also volunteered to feature me in the August newsletter.
Contact teachers you know who might teach your book. Mi compai is teaching IF I BRING YOU ROSES to his writing students this fall and hosting me at a reading at his college.
Tell all your writer friends. When I told Tayari Jones that I wasn’t going on tour, she recommended me for this Countdown to Publication blog. Another writer invited me to join a writers' panel in the Nashville Festival of The Book.
Go places to meet writers or people who like books. You never know who might be willing to help you out. I met Gina Frangello from THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN at the second anniversary meet-up of She Writes. She offered me the opportunity to read with other writers during a Sunday Salon Chicago event and the chance to have an interview on www.thenervousbreakdown.com. Gina and I happened to be “hood sisters.” We grew up in the same dangerous inner-city Chicago neighborhood. Take my word for it—there are very few writers from “the hood.”
Contact people or groups who might be interested in the subject of your book. I sent galleys to people affiliated with Puerto Rican and Latino Studies. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that some might wish to teach my book in a class. As luck would have it, I connected with a professor from Hawaii who is helping me with research for a new book about Puerto Ricans who migrated to Hawaii to work the sugarcane plantations.
Use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about your book and to connect with readers. I’m learning!
So, no book tour for me, but that doesn’t mean that I (you) can’t find new ways to promote my (your) book and still go on crazy daydreams anytime I (you) want.
She Writes Amigas, What crazy day dream have you had, and what has been the reality?
Visit Marisel’s website at www.mariselvera.com
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