One of the many pieces of advice I’ve gotten from my diverse probes into the internet in search of a magic way to sell my books was that I needed to send out press releases.I researched the definition of a press release and asked my patient husband if he remembered ever receiving them as a journalist. He said he was sure he had. He was also sure they had ended up on his wastebasket. That was forty years ago, before email, he added. Maybe it is different these days.
But after emailing twenty cleverly-written, intriguingly hooked, illustrated (with my best picture and the covers of my books) messages, and getting no response, not even a rejection email back, I decided two things: I didn’t know shit about writing press releases, and even if I did, I was in competition for attention in print with the other ten thousand self-published writers in the state. Junk folders in newspaper computers and neighborhood publications must be stuffed to overflowing with our pathetic attempts to get someone to notice us. Unknown writers rarely get even an inch of printed space anywhere.
Misery loves company, but thinking that didn’t make me feel better.
I began my next novel. I tried to write about someone young, a romance maybe, they are selling right now, but the page remained blank for days. However, when I uncovered sixty-year old Eleanor with an impossible grand daughter in my subconscious, the words started coming. My computer was glad. So was I.
Then the phone call came. Someone whose name I didn’t catch, wanted to interview me. For a piece in the Oregonian. About? “Your writing,” he said. “I saw your press release. I’ll come to your place.” I made sure my husband would be here when he came, just to make sure I was safe. I used to teach Stranger Danger to middle schoolers.
It was apparent from his questions that he had created his own hook: an 81- year -old woman who writes about sex. He seemed somewhat pervertedly impressed.
“I write about older women. Older women are human beings, they think human things, among them they remember sex, wonder about it. Do it. Is this so weird?” I asked. He left. A photographer came. She assured me that my writer was well-respected, even won Pulitzer once. Not to worry.
Four weeks later, the article and the video appeared. They made me look terrific. I loved not only the writing, but the many emails from friends congratulating me on continuing to write novels about “old ladies” who discover that they still are in charge of their lives when they might have given up. Like me, perhaps, an old lady unfamiliar with press releases.
I do not write with fame and fortune as my goals. That’s good because fortune has eluded me. However, my fifteen minutes of fame, ala Andy Warhol, felt very good. And Eleanor is coming along. All’s well.