Reality is Sweet

gingerbread_man3

My friend and fellow writer Andrea told me that an author she knows has sold a ton of books reading at home parties hosted by family, friends and colleagues. Last count, this author had done nineteen parties around the country. 

 

“Who’s her publisher?” I asked, assuming she was self-published or by a small press, like me. “St. Martin’s,” Andrea replied.  

 

“Oh.” (St. Martin’s is an imprint of Macmillan, a big house.) 

 

The reality is bookstore readings can cost money (many bookstores now charge publishers a co-op advertising fee) and the return unpredictable at best. If people show, there’s no guarantee how many, or if they’ll buy the book. Even accomplished authors  sometimes find themselves reading to small audiences and selling only a few books.

 

As for reviews, I’m an unknown writer, my publisher KOMENAR a small press dedicated to first-time authors. Picture stacks of books on reviewers’ desks, in recycling bins. With limited space dedicated to reviews, which books get covered? 

 

Truth be told, I had hoped for more than a couple of reviews (though I’m told two’s not bad for the first go-around) and oodles of bookstore readings. And yes, I even had a fleeting fantasy my book might end up on Oprah’s nightstand.  (BTW: Does anyone know her cleaning person?)

The reality of the road authors must hoe is best summed up by Dennis Cass’s hilarious video “Book Launch 2.0.”  

 

Despite the tough economy, The Love We All Wait For is doing relatively well at Barnes & Noble (on- and off-line).  I’m grateful. Imagine my excitement when I saw four copies of the book in the New Fiction section at the Barnes & Noble in Corte Madera, CA.     

 

I also have a great family and friends also helping get the word out and sell books.  My sister single-handedly organized three events in one weekend. Our mutual friend Anna hosted one of these events for her book group and huge network of friends. I recently did a conference call with my friend Chelsea’s book club in Bend, OR. She reported it was their best meeting ever. I had a ball, too, thanks to the book club members’ insightful comments and questions. 

 

Since then, a longtime high school friend has offered to have a party in her Salinas Valley home; four other people have offered their homes early next year. 

 

At the annual holiday cookie exchange hosted in my friend Demetra’s home last Saturday, festive platters of gingerbread, sugar-dusted snowmen, and other goodies covered a large dining room table. But the sweetest moment was when a woman told me she felt entirely connected to the main character during my five-minute reading. “I can’t wait to read more,” she said.    

 

Could it be that connecting with readers (regardless of how or where) is the whole point of this publishing thing?

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11 Comments »

  1. Jon Leland said

    Great start, Lee. Very insightful and relevant. Thanks! (and congrats and welcome to the blogosphere!)

  2. Leslie G. said

    I would imagine publishing a book is like giving birth….and while I was pregnant I thought I had an idea of what being a parent was (not even close), the reality only came after the baby was out! So now you hold your baby!

    I love it : )

  3. lwdoyle said

    Thanks for the comment, Les, and for the apt analogy. Post partum is decidedly easier, though.

  4. ann hall said

    Actually, I was Oprah’s cleaning lady. And believe me, her toilets leave a lot to be desired. Mr. cookie dough’s house is actually much nicer and I hear he and Jimmy Kimmel are hosting a new writer’s show for upcoming talent like yours. Your book is great and so is your blog. I am pasting it on my next rejection slip. Especially the ones with Onward! Onward! by Howard Junker.

    We must have a house party soon before Mr. Cookie Dough gets even more flattened out
    best of luck, love your blog and I would recommend your book to anyone.

  5. Christy said

    YES!! Connecting with readers IS the whole point. I have high hopes that fiction writers will be able to do that using the Internet as easily as non-fiction writers can now.

  6. lwdoyle said

    Onward, indeed. And wait ’til the world gets wind of your Miss Auri, Miss Pearl, and Lolo. Look out, Flannery.

  7. lwdoyle said

    I have just one question…when do writers write if they’re busy blogging and facebook-ing :-).

  8. Anna Kuttner said

    Hi Lee,

    I am so glad to hear that things are progressing. I will work on Oprah’s cleaning lady and let you know what I come up with :). anna

  9. lwdoyle said

    Thanks, Anna :-). What’s the book group reading next?

  10. Pman said

    I was stretched out of my comfort zone reading your book. I normally go for historical, religious or scientific topics… they don’t require my emotional involvement.
    I’m glad I did, though. The characters materialized easily in my mind’s eye, including their trials and tribulations. I sometimes had to put the book down to step away from the emotional depths it took me to, but was drawn back to the storyline like a moth to a bug zapper.

    I eagerly await your next novel, and I wish you tremendous success.

  11. lwdoyle said

    Pman: Glad you hung in there with Sheila and Co. and that it was worth the trip.

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