writers’ blogs

AT SEA, SOMEWHERE

So, most of the corrections have been made and Graffiti Grandma looks almost the way I had imagined her: good font,  clean, readable pages, most if not all glitches caught and corrected. Except. Somehow she’s wearing a faded yellow nightgown of a cover, instead of the planned, vibrant, even shocking, orange ensemble. She will not reach out and grab any perspective reader not matter how hard she tries inside.
So she’s returned for a makeover.  It will take another five days, then I’ll be sent another proof. And then I’ll be forced to face reality. I’m thinking of telling my publisher to take his time. I’m not ready to begin marketing. 
I know this because I spent the weekend re-reading old articles from writers’ magazines, reading blogs, printing out email offers, looking for advice from marketing gurus who somehow know I’m about to launch a self-published book.
Launch. An  interesting concept.
I’ve only launched one thing in my life, and the word pulls the experience out of the archives that have stored it for seventy years. World War II. My school was having a war bonds assembly. Each class was to give a short patriotic skit, and since our teacher’s husband was stationed somewhere in the Pacific, we built a wooden replica of his ship which we were to launch as we sang “Anchors Away.” Several of us believed we should be the girl to crack the bottle across its bow, but Shirley was chosen, probably because, rather than canning jars and milk bottles, she brought in a pretty perfume bottle bound in ribbons. At the end of our song, Shirley stepped up and took a whack at our ship, but the bottle didn’t break. Another whack. After the third attempt, the teacher grabbed a rope attached to the stern and yanked, and the ship, now dented with parts dropping off, slid down its slide and into blue painted waves. We clapped as the curtain closed. Shirley broke into wails, and some of us smirked as we patted her shaking shoulders.
What I need right now is someone to pull the rope for me. I do not need a perfume-bottle-with-ribbons plan, but marketing support that will get Graffiti Grandma to go down the slide and out into the great sea of books. Could I at this very moment be deciding to hire one of those people on the internet offering to do just that?   
l also wonder if a few on-lookers will be hiding smiles when Graffiti Grandma’s curtain closes.  No matter. “Anchor’s aweigh” means that the anchor is raised and clear of the sea and therefore, the ship is officially underway. I look forward to the voyage.

SELLING: A DIRTY WORD BUT WITH A KIND-OF-NICE OUTCOME, MAYBE

So, now that both Graffiti Grandma and The Solarium are being sold on Amazon, Lulu, iBook and Nook (don’t even ask what this last few weeks have been like), I am beginning the marketing.

I like that word. Marketing. It seems professional. A Facebook page is under construction. I am reading a few other writers’ blogs. I have hired a web page genius who happens to also be a good friend even though I’m twice her age. I have on-line joined a couple of indie writers and publishers groups. That’s what we self-publishers are called with only a slight squint nowadays, a lot better than the derisive downward curve of the lip that used to accompany “vanity press.”

I haven’t a clue what to do next. Altogether I have sold maybe thirty copies of my books. My son even bought one and downloaded onto his 21-inch Mac. He will be paralyzed if he tries to read it that way, sitting straight up in his desk chair, but the effort warms his mother’s heart. A friend gave up trying to find one of my books on iTunes and downloaded the Glee-Madonna album instead. Another friend said, “Jo, I don’t do e-books. I don’t do Facebook. I don’t do the internet. Mostly, I don’t do computer. What else is there?” I ran off the manuscript of The Solarium and sent it snail mail to her, but warned her to open it carefully because Kindle formatting doesn’t do page numbers.

For the past day or so, I’ve begun to realize how easy it is to become addicted to the possibilities that the computer screen offers anyone who needs to make life, or in my case, marketing, perfect. This morning I Googled “e-book reviews” and two hours later it comes to me that I’ve been overtaken by hundreds of reviews of e-books, yes, but books written by Janet Evanovitch and that Patterson guy and others who get reviewed whenever they sneeze. No one’s going to review either one of my offerings, except my friend-writer Peggy who knew I’d also do it for her if it comes to that. Which it won’t because her first book may be picked up by a publisher who is entering the e-book business with romantic-mystery books, which is Peggy’s genre.

There is no genre for stories of old ladies who may or may not have mysterious (at least to anyone under sixty) notions–but think about it–who’s out there to notion with? Perhaps that’s where the mystery comes in. An old people’s genre? Somehow made sell-worthy with a handsome ninety-year-old lothario who happens to be a serial killer? (I’m noting that last sentence for further consideration.)

I have decided to take control of my days and my computer. Mornings are for writing the next novel about an old lady, to hell with it, and the afternoons will be for cruising the internet for marketing ideas that don’t cost $3,000. At noon I am joining a senior exercise class and giving my body a break.

“Mens sana in corpore sano.” At least I may get one of those right.

Scroll to Top