Monday, July 30, 2012

So you want to write A novel?

I can't say it any better than David Kazzie and note that Kazzie has done an great job of promoting his book The Jackpot with this video, which was re-posted on Facebook via Writer's Digest.

Authors who have published in the last few years know that only half the work is done once the book is published. The next step is promotion, getting your name and book out there, readings, signings, conference appearances. Making one's living as an author is not for the faint of heart; though you can be almost cripplingly shy, like an author I worked with. She hired me to do the phone work and schedule readings and signings; I introduced her, she read, signed books; afterward I'd send out her sweat-drenched clothes to be cleaned.

I met Betty in the steno pool (remember those?). I was a temp, a filing clerk, the filing cabinets I worked with were by Betty's desk. I'd see her writing in shorthand on a steno pad that she tucked into her bag and realized that it wasn't company work. One afternoon I scrunched down by her desk and asked what she was writing. "A novel, about a pale undertaker's assistant who prefers to work with the dead," she whispered.

Isn't that a great character description? I was hooked. We had our lunches together and talked about Jane, her heroine; we'd whisper about plot when we could get away with it at work, she'd pass me notes. At the end of the temp assignment I promised to look for the book when it was published.

Six years later I saw the book in softcover in Tower Books, but I would have missed it if I hadn't picked up the book and read, "Janet, a pale undertaker's assistant who prefers to work with the dead..."

The story had a new title and Betty was using a nom de plume, but I was sure it was her. I sent a letter to Betty via the publisher (we're in the years before email and web sites). Betty wrote back and asked me if I could work with her on her book tour. We had a good time, and the book sold modestly well.

I asked Betty if the stress of public appearances was worth it and she said, "If I were a really good author, maybe I could get away with never being seen, like JD Salinger or Harper Lee, Thomas Pynchon--not that I'm comparing my writing to theirs. But the writing should speak for itself, don't you think? Why do people need to see me?"

That's a question I still can't answer -- yes the writing should speak for itself and no, I don't know why many people want to meet the author. A friend says it's to reassure us readers that authors are real people; which she says is why so many people think they can be authors. They've had experiences, they have an idea for a book, there are a zillion books out there, therefore it shouldn't be too hard to write a book.

But we know that's not the case.


Next week: it's all the same story.

I would love to link to Betty's book in this blog, but the book is out of print and I cannot find it anywhere; and there's a new horror film out with the same title. If anyone has a copy of "Dead Shadows" by Sandra Pharnetton I'd love to buy it from you!

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