May 28th, 2009

What would you do to sell a book?

I like this story about John Wray’s books and approach to writing and publicity.

His first book, “"The Right Hand of Sleep," published by Knopf in 2001, got the kind of reviews most first novelists only dream of. Publishers Weekly called it "assured and astonishingly mature," praising Wray's "psychological acuity" and "unfailing historical empathy."”

For his next book, he wrote what he called “the weirdest, most excessive book I can” … “"Canaan's Tongue." The novel takes off from the true story of a charismatic, Civil War-era revivalist who worked a horrific scam on slaves along the Mississippi River, persuading them to run away, then betraying and reselling them. …Wray spent his promotional budget building a raft on which he floated down the Mississippi, stopping for readings and generally hoping to attract attention.

"It is not enough to write a good book and get reviewed well," he told the New York Times reporter he persuaded to join him for part of the trip. "I want to write fiction the rest of my life, and to do that you have to sell books."

But the story goes on to say: “"Canaan's Tongue" didn't just fail to sell, Wray says, "it dropped like a bowling ball in a bayou. Whssssh. And the pond scum just kind of closed over it."”But we're still talking John Wray, not John Grisham. For one thing, it's hard to imagine the latter writing a first draft on the subway, as Wray did (too many distractions in his apartment). And it's equally hard to envision Grisham on the L train with a bullhorn, boldly reading -- for the benefit of bemused commuters and YouTube viewers -- the opening passages of the book he hopes will break down the barriers between his literary creations and a paying audience.”

I kind of like his zeal.



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Smart marketing to teens

Publishers Weekly reports: "Authors Jake Halpern and Peter Kajawinski hit upon a novel way to get the word out about their new fantasy novel, Dormia (Houghton, May): a virtual summer “internship” for readers ages 11 to 17. .. The interns are responsible for promoting the book—both online and in person—throughout the summer."

How much are they getting paid for all this? A copy of the book, a letter from the authors and an Amazon gift certificate.

As the other of a teen who is too young to get a job-job, but who longs for something she can do to show she's more adult, I say that is just a genius idea! Genius!

Read more here.



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Live in Seattle or Portland? Here's what you should do this weekend!

Portland, Friday, May 29: Go to the Lucky Lab Brew Pub, 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 6:30-9 p.m. It's a fun get together for writers and readers of all kinds, with a silent auction with tons of cool items to support Bridget Zinn, aka http://www.bridgetzinn.com. You don't have to RSVP. Just show up!

Seattle, Friday, May 29: Look for Lis Wiehl and me signing cheap, cheap, cheap copies of Face of Betrayal (A Triple Threat Novel) at the Auroa Village Costco, 1175 North 205th, 6-8.pm.

Portland, Saturday, May 30: Look for Lis Wiehl and me again! Only this time it will be at the Portland Costco (the busiest Costco in the universe), 4849 NE 138th Street, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.



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