I’ve neglected my blogging duties, not because there hasn’t been anything to say, but because there’s been so much. Luck of the Draw is officially out and I’m not close to being sure what I should prioritize to promote it. Is it by calling attention to the novel by being anti-Trump? The Donald has been trumping along so fast I can’t keep up. I’ve had so much to say about him crowing about his golf course in our Presbyterian ancestors’ native Scotland that I haven’t said anything. And my 50th high school reunion is next month. Talk about a head trip. I want whatever I write in my newbie blogging mode to be “just right,” like Goldilocks’ porridge, but that isn’t how blogging seems to work. You’ve got to be content to put out stuff that’s kind of okay on a regular basis. In blogging, the perfect is the enemy of the okay. For me, blogging’s saving grace is that being digital, you can always go back and improve it.
So here’s the news that got me off my blogging ass. I’ve been playing with email software for doing a promotion and experiencing multiple techie frustrations as well as exploring various promo sites like NetGalley, GoodReads, LibraryThing, BookDaily and some others. All have sign-ups and passwords and rules and FAQs and on and on….and I’m nowhere near ready to truly engage with any of them. Minions! I need minions! A publicist, a marketing person, a secretary, a double to be on FaceBook and take my place at the gym, a gardener….
A true publisher would be launching a media barrage by this point. I’ve had some success in the past getting media attention for the educational posters in the music trades and The Code Book in the general business press, and for my wife’s textbook, Drugs & Clients, in the psychology media. But I have struck out every time in my PR efforts for my songs, stories, and my first novel.
But I promised myself I would go through at least some of the motions that have a semblance of a chance, and two weeks ago I sent a copy to the local progressive/alternative weekly, the North Bay Bohemian. It’s got some really good writing on politics and the arts and twice a year has a special issue on new books by local authors; I thought I had a good chance of getting Luck of the Draw mentioned in the next one this Fall.
Two days after sending it I got an email from the editor. The note said they might be interested using the novel in an article and asked if I could recommend a 1,200 word excerpt. I was thrilled, and opened the Luck file to find a section that would work (1,200 words is pretty short for a scene). I was doing word-counts on various sections when the phone rang. I answered as usual, “Good afternoon, Castalia,” and the voice asked for me, assuming that the mighty Castalia company had somebody other than the boss answering the phone. I said, “You got him,” and he introduced himself as being the editor of the Bohemian.
It’s one thing to get a response via email, which is very, very rare in the world of unknown novelists, but a phone call from an actual editor is unheard of. I said I’d seen his email and was at that very moment looking for an appropriate section. He said he couldn’t promise anything, but he thought that they could do something with it. He asked for a graphic of the cover and a photo of me, and I said I’d send him a head shot, the cover, and a section that I thought would be the most interesting and informative for their readers given their 1,200 word limitation.
We had a twenty-minute chat, in which I interviewed him almost as much as he interviewed me. I mentioned I’d been a political science major and he said he’d been one too. I think we kind of bonded when I told him my well-practiced response to the questions I always get about what one does with a degree in political science: “It’s a degree which says you’re capable of doing anything, but qualified to do nothing.” He understood completely.
I was left wondering what they might do with it, expecting maybe a quarter page in the next local writers’ issue along with a dozen other writers. Then yesterday my wife and I went to the gym in the morning and there on the check-in desk was a stack of the new issue of the Bohemian. The cover showed a camouflage helmet with a Peace Sign, and below it the subheading read: WILLIAM SCOTT MORRISON TRAVELS TO THE TURBULENT 1960S IN NEW NOVEL” Hullo? The feature article of this week’s issue is about Luck of the Draw. WOW. And there’s a nice write up about me. Am I famous yet?
Now I have to figure out how to leverage it. Maybe local bookstores will be more open to readings? To say I’m confused is an understatement, but confused in a good way. I’ve got a real shot at making something happen _IF_ I can get a handle on this social-media thing. All the pieces are there. No more excuses. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s the most fun I’ve had birthing a creative project or a new product, probably because I’m not as addicted to the illusion of what constitutes “success.” Even if the novel were to “take off” it wouldn’t really change my lifestyle. At sixty-eight I’ve got everything I need to do what I want right where I am, and for the first time ever I am more or less “in control.” And as for enjoying the perquisites of fame, one of my many half-completed woe-is-me songs is titled: “Too Late for Groupies.”
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