Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Day in the Life of The Medusa's Muse Publisher

Wake up at 6:30. Get child up and ready for school while at same time trying to get me ready for the day. Take child to school by 8:35, then stop at Cafe nearby.
Take out journal and write for an hour, trying to capture my wild thoughts, plans and ideas into some kind of workable order. Spend a lot of time gazing out window and wishing my Mocha was bigger. Wonder if I've had too much coffee.

Go home and check personal email account. Answer several posts from friends. Switch over to the Medusa email account. Read several emails from Publish L group, spam from a couple of marketers, the Book 2 Book post, and Galley-Cat. See post from PMA. Follow link to their website. Try to log-in but can't remember my password. Have to set up new one. After sorting that out, I discover my membership information is out of date. Update info with website link and submission info. Hunt down their BEA info and decide to go ahead and pay for a spot on their table at the conference for Laura's book. See the American Library Association will also have a PMA table at their conference, and after checking price decide to do that as well. Deduct $190 bucks from checking account. Make a pink note to send two books to PMA for both conferences and put that note on the task tracker under "Marketing." Sigh over the fact that section is overflowing.

Back to email. Read Laura's response about her upcoming trip to Washington. Her friend recommended three bookstores in the area, and her niece sent a link to the University in Seattle for their "speakers and topics" section. Wonder if Laura should really do a book reading up there? She's not so excited about lugging books around for the four people who will probably show up. Can't say I blame her. I wonder what the radio stations are near Seattle and if I can get her on one as a guest? Wonder if I have enough time to do this?

Read Jane's email about being too busy with other editing gigs (yay, Jane!) to help me contact the San Francisco State Magazine with info about Laura's book (sad for me). Laura and I are alumni, so this is a good place to promote the press and her book. Make a pink note to contact magazine myself and put it under "Marketing." Sigh because that this section is overflowing.

Call the Phoenix in Petaluma. Wonder why no one calls me back? I want to give them money. Why won't they call me back? Think about other places to set up a royalty gift. Wonder about Gilman St? Too bad, I really like the Phoenix.

Call Audio book contact at AFB to ask for help with Audio version of Laura's book. I sent him an email last week. Leave a message. I hope he calls me back.

Dog is whimpering. Let her out to pee. When she comes back she wants to play. I throw her bone for a few minutes, then go back to computer. Check personal email. Plan another trip with buddies.

Check Google alerts for Orientation and Mobility and Blindness to see if there are any good possibilities to help spread the word about Laura's book. Nothing today.

Send email to Bookshare to ask how upload of Laura's book is going. They are having technical troubles. I offer to send the book as a PDF file, the same one I sent the printer. They say they'll get back to me.

Let reviewer at the Lighthouse know what the hold-up is. He needs a Bookshare version. I think he's blind.

Glance at clock. 11:48. Time to eat. Must remember to eat.

Rick comes home and we chat as we eat lunch, then he dashes back to work.

Research books on Amazon. Looking for books similar to Tama's. What do they have in common? What do their covers look like? What makes Tama's book different? What other books are they linked to? Who are the authors? How much do they cost? Who is blurbing? Again, what makes Tama's book different from all the others?

Hands are getting numb. Sitting too long. Take dog for long walk, even though the pollen count is very high. Someone is mowing their lawn which makes me wheeze. Even the dog sneezes. We go home.

Read more about Google Books and wonder if they are a viable option to replace Amazon.com for selling books?

UPS drives up. Four more boxes of books! Yay! Chat with UPS guy while he carries in books. He's the husband of a friend and their expecting their first baby. So happy for them.

Check email. Go to MySpace. Update blog.

2:30. Pick up child from school. Give her a snack (banana and juice) then put in Arthur DVD. She laughs. Check Medusa email again. More updates from Publish L, but nothing I really need. Read an article on SPAN about making your press kit stand out and get noticed by Radio people. Hmmm...

Check Medusa's Muse submissions account. Four new querries. One looks like a possibility. Wonder if anyone actually reads and/or understands what a query IS.

Check personal email. Heard back from Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference. They will keep Medusa in mind for 2009. That's nice.

Really need to get up and move now. Been sitting all day. Do laundry, take out garbage, clean kitchen. Child's movie ends. We chat, color, talk about learning Sign Language. Rick comes home. Dinner needs cooking. Time to shut down Medusa's Muse for another day.

Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dreaming of Blurbs from Stephenie Meyer

Last night I had a dream that I was at Stephenie Meyer’s house—yeah, that Stephenie Meyer, creator of the Twilight series, named one of the most influential people of 2008 by Time magazine. She was gracious and elegant, in spite of the obnoxious fans who came right up to her doorstep and harassed her. I was ridiculously giddy. Me, in the home of a superstar YA author! I kept trying to subtly suggest that she blurb my next book.

When I awoke, my boyfriend told me he had a dream that some shock jock made fun of my book on the air, and that I was having a nervous breakdown as a result. Conclusion? There’s just way too much anxiety about book publicity in my bed these days!

It’s a quandary: You’re a writer, so you want readers. You love what you do, and if you don’t make money at it, chances are you won’t be able to go on doing it—at least, not as much as you’d like to.

But at what point does self promotion cross the line into whoredom? I want people to read my books, but I don’t want to turn into someone so obsessed with publicity that I abandon the quiet, imaginative core that gave life to those books in the first place.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Touring High Schools: Did it Hurt Much When You Fell from Heaven?

A couple weeks ago I did something no one should have to do: I went back to high school. Yeah, I know. Like that dream you’re always having—scratch that, nightmare—where you find yourself sitting in Algebra, naked from the waist down, totally clueless about the spelling of your own name, let alone quadratic equations. That was me, except I wasn’t dreaming.

I was promoting my first Young Adult novel, CONFESSIONS OF A TRIPLE SHOT BETTY. Standing there regaling my audience with Tales from the Writing Life, I cringed as they cracked their gum, yawned, and smirked at each other mercilessly. It was horrifying to face, but the evidence was right there: I wasn’t cool. All my old high school insecurities came back like a swarm of flesh-eating locusts.

Okay, to be totally fair, not all the schools I visited were like that. One was filled with kids so into reading and writing, I left with a serious contact high from their enthusiasm. Others were more like visiting a coma ward.

For these tougher crowds, I passed around a hat and scraps of paper so anyone too shy to ask questions aloud could scribble theirs down and deliver their query anonymously. Any idiot can see where this is headed.

“Okay then,” I said, fishing around in the hat. “Let’s see what we have here.” The first one I pulled out read “Can I stick two fingers in your butt and stroke your balls?”

Apparently, not only had I failed to impart the importance of reading, but (much more crushingly) I hadn’t even conveyed that I am female.

Ahh, well, details, details.

The next scrap of paper was even more cryptic. I read it aloud: “Did it hurt much when you fell from heaven?”

Here I thought I was so well versed in the language and customs of the under-twenty set, and so far one hundred percent of their questions were a total mystery to me.

The third one I more or less understood. It was a drawing, actually. It depicted the prominent feature of male anatomy in a state of excitement. When I showed it to the English teacher afterwards, she nodded. “Yeah,” she said wryly. “We get a lot of those around here.”

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Book Tour: Three Authors, Three Cities, Three Days

I spent the better part of this week on my first official book tour. Penguin teamed me up with two other Young Adult authors, Polly Shulman (Enthusiasm) and Robin Benway (Audrey, Wait!) then sent us off to do events in San Francisco, Seattle, and LA. I have to hand it to the geniuses in publicity for putting together such a funny little trio. We were like the three points on a very long, skinny national triangle representing three very different regions: New York, LA and San Francisco. Each of us are natives of the culture we were representing, and though I’d like to say we aren’t walking stereotypes of our respective homelands, we definitely look and live like the places we come from, if that makes sense.

Three authors, three days, three cities: my favorite number all around. While taking random writers who are complete strangers and putting them on a rigorous (albeit brief) schedule of airports, hotels, and bookstores could be a recipe for disaster, the truth is we got along beautifully (sorry, no juicy catfights to report). Each of us brought something different to the mix, and I learned so much from each of them. Robin comes from the publishing/author event world, Polly has mainly worked as an editor and journalist, while I’ve earn my non-writing income in academia. It was enlightening sharing what we know about reading, writing, editing and promoting from those totally different spheres of influence. Plus, they’re both totally fun. You should definitely buy their books.

It was a strange and lovely adventure, though I have to say I’m glad to be home. Whizzing through three cities in three days is pretty unnatural; you barely have time to check into your hotel before you check out. It’s good to be back in my cozy writing room with my neglected plants and my pissy, paunchy cat.