I recently returned to my well-worn copy of Austin Camacho's Successfully Marketing Print-On-Demand Fiction (don't let the title fool you - this book is full of great marketing tips for any kind of book, presented in a concise, easy to digest manner) because I thought I remembered a chapter on preparing for team events. It took me few seconds to find the information because it wasn't a full chapter, but a topic in Chapter 15 called "The Double Variation".
So what did Mr. Camacho have to say?
- If your ego is out of control, don't consider a group event
- Choose other authors whose company you enjoy
- Choose authors whose work you can enthusiastically recommend to others
Uh oh. With only one published book and one soon-to-be published short story, I consider myself a beginner who has much to learn - so no ego problems here. The group event in question is the release of A Death in Texas, an anthology of mystery stories. I have met many of the authors at monthly meetings of The Final Twist, and I definitely enjoy their company. That leaves the little matter of enthusiastically recommending their work. That's hard to do when I haven't read the books. That sounds bad, so let me just list a few of my feeble excuses here.
I found this wonderful group less than a year ago when researching how to market Hacksaw. It was once again Mr. Camacho's advice - find a writing group in your area and learn with them (Chapter 5 - Join the Club). I discussed in an earlier blog about how welcoming they were. I knew immediately that I would join. And they've been quite helpful while I muddled my way through publicity kits, book signings, interviews, etc. etc. Different members helped to prepare me each step along the way. So, as you can see, it's been all about me. I've been a taker of information on a steep learning curve, just trying to figure out how to let readers know my book exists. Even though I read many accounts on what would happen once the book was released and thought I was prepared, I was not. So it took me awhile - months - to learn to balance the marketing and publicity aspects of a writing career with the more desirable writing and reading aspects. Only recently have I become a contributor to the group, sharing my learning experiences with others and accepting responsibility for group publicity (TheFinalTwist.com). So, my first excuse - an unexpectedly hectic schedule.
My second, and last, excuse is even weaker. Many of these fine people write in genres that I don't typically read - Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance. This is a weak excuse because it isn't the whole truth. The whole truth is that I was worried about what would happen if I read, and did not enjoy, one of their books. What is the right thing to do when you can't look someone in the eye and tell them that I thoroughly enjoyed their work? I know it happens. I know I've read books that came highly recommended and did not enjoy them and I've recommended books to people who came back later and asked why, exactly, I thought they'd enjoy such-and-such. But never before have I been face to face with the authors on a monthly basis.
Thankfully, my unasked questions were answered by another member of the group. I know she bought my book and believe she has read it. I have to guess at the last part, though, because her only comment to date has been that the publisher did a great job with the cover. (Ouch!) So I had my answer - I will find something positive to say to each member when I read their work. (Shameless self promotion inserted here - two other members have told me that they couldn't put Hacksaw down. One even took the time to write a review on Amazon. So there! Back to the grown-up blog...)
But what do I do at a group event if a reader asks for my opinion on someone else's book? What do I say if I can't 'enthusiastically recommend' the work?
After reading the first few books in the stack, I know I will not have this problem at the October 10 release party for A Death in Texas. I have been working my way through books written by members of The Final Twist. I started with a book by Rosemary Poole Carter because she recommended this group to me, then moved on to those genres that I don't typically read because I thought an education was in order.
Rosemary Poole Carter wrote, among other books, Women of Magdalene. This story is a work of art. Ms. Carter takes the reader to post-civil war Louisiana with all its colors, flavors, and prejudices on display. The story is dark, and the characters haunted me for weeks after I finished the book. I can most definitely and recommend this book. I already purchased a copy of Juliette Ascending and fully intend to acquire What Remains.
Next on the stack was Ninth Lord of the Night by Diana L. Driver. Ms. Driver is the founder of The Final Twist, a past president and the current treasurer. Based on the cover text for Ninth Lord of the Night, I expected to be transported into the Mayan world. I did not expect to be taken so quickly and effectively back to my childhood, to remember what it felt like to be a kid. But from page one, I identified with young Zack. I could feel his frustration and powerlessness to control events that swirled around him. So, I eagerly followed Zack to the Mayan jungle and the adventure of surviving in a foreign land and a very foreign culture. I thoroughly enjoyed that while Zack bumbled his way through his external adventures, he was making internal discoveries about himself. And Zack wasn't the only one learning. I learned much about the Mayan culture that I managed to not learn on my own trips to the ruins. I have already ordered copies of this book for my nieces and nephews and recommended it to friends who live with young adults. I also heartily recommend it to any adult who enjoys other young adult fiction (like Harry Potter), who enjoys learning about other cultures through fiction, or who just enjoys reading a well-told story.
Back to my ever-growing stack for The Key - Pauline Baird Jones' eighth novel. Ms. Jones is our 'star', our 'award winning author' (too many to list here), our most generous sharer of information on the business of writing. By all accounts a talented teller of tales. But Ms. Jones' early work is in Romance and her most recent is Sci-Fi - a space opera with a love story, two genres outside my realm. At 469 pages, this could be quite a chore if I did not enjoy the read...but, no time like the present. I took this book with me on a business trip. I usually take 2-3 books, but limitted myself to this one to make sure I read it. Needless to say, I was worried about the wrong issue. Fun to read? Yes. A great story? Yes. Well told? Without a doubt. Engrossing enough to make me late for an early morning meeting? Afraid so - I just had to read one more chapter! And the question of the hour - can I enthusiastically recommned this book? Oh, most defintitely. In fact, you should run, not walk, to the nearest book store and pick up a copy.
So I can no longer say that I don't typically read these genres as I'll be actively seek more from all three of these ladies. I hope they can write as fast as I can read.
I think I can relax now. If all The Final Twist authors are as accomplished as these three, I will have no problem 'enthusiastically recommending' their work. The thought did occur to me - what if my fellow authors don't feel the same way about my book? But I decided to leave that worry for another day.
If you are interested in meeting The Final Twist authors and happen to live near Katy, Texas, stop by Katy Budget Books between 5 and 8 pm on October 10. We'll be looking for you.