• Ellen Cassedy
  • [TIPS OF THE TRADE]: The Kite, the Beach Ball, and the Stone: Six Ways to Set Your Own Pace After...
[TIPS OF THE TRADE]: The Kite, the Beach Ball, and the Stone: Six Ways to Set Your Own Pace After Publication
Contributor
Written by
Ellen Cassedy
January 2014
Contributor
Written by
Ellen Cassedy
January 2014

As my publication date was approaching, I thought of my book as a kite.

 

If I grabbed onto the string and ran really fast, I thought, the book would lift off and soar into the sky.  Then all I’d need to do was give it a little tug every now and then.  

 

I did everything I could to give the book the best possible launch.  My publisher and I sent out announcements and free copies to a long list of reviewers and “super fans.”  We arranged readings, interviews, guest blog posts.  We submitted to contests and book festivals.  I created a website, Amazon and Goodreads sites, a Facebook author page

 

It turned out, though, that my book was not a kite.  It was a beach ball.  If I tapped it into the air, up it would go.  But it didn’t stay up.  It came right back down and demanded another tap.  I could keep it up, but only if I kept at it.

 

So I kept at it – with gusto.  As the months went by, I kept sending out announcements.  I kept speaking at bookstores, libraries, colleges, community organizations, synagogues, book clubs.  I went to Lithuania on a book tour.  I started an e-newsletter and kept adding to my 1,000-person mailing list.  I kept on writing articles, guest blogs, conference proposals.  I made sure my website and Facebook page were up-to-date.  I kept on responding to readers.   

 

Tapping that beach ball up into the sky was – and still is – exciting and rewarding.  But when my old friend Vivi came to visit, she was concerned.  “You need a new metaphor,” she said. 

 

Maybe my book is neither a kite nor a beach ball, she said.  Maybe it’s a stone I’m kicking down the road. 

 

The stone won’t move unless I move it.  But it’s up to me to decide how fast I walk, how often I kick and how hard.  I can tear up that road, or I can stroll along slowly enough to take in the scenery.  Or first one and then the other.

 

As writers, we know that narrative requires changes of pace.  Sometimes we choose fast action or brisk exposition to zip things along.  Other times we slow the action down and play out a scene minute by minute.  Sometimes we keep the reader on the edge of her seat.  Other times we let her sit back and catch her breath.

 

I’m still as deeply involved with my book as I was on Day One.   But since Vivi brought me down to earth, I try to remember that my life as an author, post-publication, can ebb and flow in the same way. 

 

Here are six ways to set your own pace after publication:

 

  • Think of your book as the center of a communications campaign, a vehicle for sharing yourself and your ideas.
  • Don’t quit!  There’s nothing to stop you from using the same outreach methods you developed when you launched the book – even a couple of years out.  
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for new venues, new opportunities. 
  • Take time to savor your successes.  Bask and reflect. 
  • Celebrate other people’s successes.  Read their new books, attend their book parties, help them out by sharing the wisdom you’ve gained through your own book promotion experiences. 
  • Use your book as a means of finding new friends and colleagues and exploring new ideas. 

 

It’s your choice.  You can speed down that road or you can saunter along.  And from time to time you can sit down and breathe.  Enjoy!

 

* * *

 

Ellen Cassedy’s book is We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust (University of Nebraska Press, 2012), which won the 2013 Grub Street National Book Prize for non-fiction, the 2013 Towson Prize for Literature awarded annually to a resident of Maryland, and the 2012 Silver Medal in History awarded by ForeWord Reviews. Her first post for SheWrites was “Who Cares about Your Family Story? Ten Tips to Ensure Readers Will ...” Her [TIPS OF THE TRADE] series appears monthly. See all of Ellen's Tips for Writers.

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Comments
  • <<Think of your book as the center of a communications campaign, a vehicle for sharing yourself and your ideas.>>

    Sweet!  Perfectly said!

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt

    http://www.LivingLargeInLimbo.com

  • Ellen Cassedy

    Many analogies, all useful!  Good luck with your book, Lisa, over the years to come!

  • Lisa Thomson

    I love this analogy, Ellen.  Thanks for the inspiration.  I'm 2 years out on my first book and it is definitely a never ending walk.  At first it was a sprint, then I pooped out and had to slow to a jog, and now I'm walking along humming.