I have a novel coming out in May 2010, which means that it’s six months before my pub date, which means that my job right now has nothing to do with writing. I’m a publicity hound, a blogger stalker, a manuscript mailer, a promotion pitcher, a contest organizer, a twitter fanatic, a gal who leaps from one book marketing website to another in a single bound. If my publicist says, “Jump,” I say, “How high?” If she doesn’t say anything, I dream up ways of making sure she has to pay attention to me next week or the week after that. I am so consumed with devising and executing book promotion schemes that I can’t even remember what it’s like to get up in the morning, sit down, and write about the way the Santa Barbara sky looks when a wildfire is marching down the tinder-dry hills to the sea. Friends may notice that I’m talking a lot faster these days, moving a lot quicker, and that I don’t stay in one place for very long. I’m Dr. Jekyll; I used to be Mr. Hyde.
I happen to like the marketing phase of book writing. I happen to be pretty good at it, too – not because I have any training or special expertise, but because I believe that it’s necessary. I want to keep writing and publishing books, therefore my books better sell well enough for someone to want to publish them, therefore I better do what I can to market them. My forthcoming novel will be the third in a row for which I’ve managed to create a cross promotional opportunity with a national company. First was Ford Motor Company, then Benjamin Moore Paints, and now Keepsake Quilting. A strange set of bedfellows for a novelist, but there you have it.
Some people ask if it isn’t hard to go back to the writing phase – to ramp down from the manic frenzy of “Sell, sell, sell.” Others, like the book group from Omaha that asked me if I had been paid to set a certain scene in Costco, assume that I never make the switch. But I do. My mantra is to write with integrity and market with abandon. That means that I write the stories that are calling out to me to write, and I write them so that they are as true to my vision of the world as I can make them, and I don’t spend a moment thinking about how they will play in the marketplace – until six months before the pub date, and then I go crazy. It’s not a formula for making a fortune (talk to a series writer about that, or at least a romance writer) but it’s a formula for staying in the book publishing game, which is right where I most want to be.
Jennie Nash’s novel, The Threadbare Heart, is due out from Berkley Books in May 2010. Visit her website at www.jennienash.com
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