August 16, 2010


August 16, 2010

I’ll bet you’re thinking I got a raise. If you are, you’d be wrong.

Instead I’ve arrived at that time in the writing cycle when I’ve had to come up with a “Marketing Plan” to sell Blind Love, my latest novel. Apparently editors these days want to know who I think my readers are, why I think they’ll buy my book, and how I intend to make sure they do.

So, I wracked my brain and came up with a big list of activities. I didn’t lie too awfully much. Should the book see the light of day, I most certainly will talk to anyone who’ll listen, go on TV and radio, pester my Facebook friends, overload this blog, etc.

I remember making a similar plan for Glass Hearts, promising to run around the countryside, cajoling people to plunk down their hard-earned cash for the privilege of purchasing a signed first edition.

In the beginning, the merry-go-round was thrilling. Most days I had to pinch myself in order to believe I was “livin’ the dream.” After months upon months of assorted events and literary happenings, I was a crispy critter.

I vividly remember the last reading I gave at the end of that year. It was an evening in December, and things were finally starting to wind down. My husband and I drove to Dayton to Books & Co., a large and, back then at least, privately-owned bookstore. I was worried I would forget what I was supposed to say, having said it so often before.

We had arranged to have an early dinner with my Aunt Lil, my Uncle Joe, my second cousin (let’s call her Sheila), and her husband (let’s call him Bob). Sheila’s mother and my paternal grandfather were siblings, I think.

Sheila is the kind of person who will accost you at a funeral to inform you that her mother paid for your father’s college education. I’ve heard these kinds of assertions frequently over my years of attending weddings, bar mitzvahs, and unveilings, and having witnessed the shouting matches that usually result, I long ago made up my mind to nod politely, say thank you, and change the subject.

Obviously, I’ve known Sheila and Bob my entire life. While she had an opinion on everything, he remained mute. More than once, I had asked my Aunt Lil whether Bob knew how to speak. She’d laugh, roll her eyes, and poke me in the shoulder.

The night of my last appearance of that year, though, I found out just how chatty Bob could be. After I finished talking about Glass Hearts and reading an excerpt, he raised his hand and unleashed a barrage of questions about how I got started, who had published my book, how I had managed to get invited this gig in the first place, and so on.

I felt sort of bad having to cut him off after a few minutes because I didn’t want to be rude to the entire room full of people who had come out to see me on that chilly night—even though I had been waiting decades just to hear the sound of Bob’s voice. I wondered why he had sat stone-faced at family gatherings when he obviously had so much to say. Probably we bored him senseless.

Well, Bob and my Aunt Lil are gone now, but the wheel keeps turning. Blind Love is out the door in hopes of finding a permanent home, and though I’m not likely to experience anything as exciting as my second cousin’s husband’s unexpected outburst after a lifetime of silence, I’m still ready to put on my hiking boots, get out my to-do list, and start promoting again.

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