Please join me as I welcome award-winning author Susan McBride as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.
Susan's latest release is "The Cougar Club." This stand-alone story is about three friends in St. Louis who are forty-something and happen to date younger men. It's about living real and learning that you're never too old to follow your heart.
A bit of news about her latest book that Susan was just able to announce - it's been selected as a Target "Bookmarked Breakout" title. In addition, MORE Magazine named "The Cougar Club" one of its "February Books We're Buzzing About" and it's been selected as a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association.
Susan is giving away a signed copy of "The Cougar Club" to one lucky person who comments on her post between now and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23. In addition, Susan will be dropping back by during the day to answer questions and respond to your comments.
With the crazy schedules of writing and promoting a new release, not to mention having a family life, Susan has agreed to tell us how to stay sane in a the crazy (book) world.
The moment my debut in women’s fiction, The Cougar Club, hit bookshelves on February 1, I hit the pavement, making the rounds of local TV news shows, podcasts, BlogTalkRadio, virtual book tour stops, brick-and-mortar bookstores, and libraries. It’s my 10th novel since 1999 (and 11 is already in the can), but I’m no calmer than I was with my first. Before every gig, I still get butterflies in swarms.
Even email interviews have me in knots, wondering if I’ve said something stupid that will be accessible on the Internet for all eternity. No matter how prepared we think we are for a book launch or how many times we’ve done it before, I’m not sure it gets any easier being a control freak in a profession where the only things remotely controllable are the words we write (and those who’ve undergone a brutal edit might even argue with that!).
Before I was published, when I was a wide-eyed pup trying my hand at various genres (and racking up 10 manuscripts before I ever signed a contract), I had such a Hollywood-movie ideal of the industry. I thought the actual writing was the hardest part. Ah, ignorance is truly bliss! I imagined being consulted every step in my novel’s production, down to selecting my own covers (ha!) and doing the requisite national talk shows, like Oprah and Good Morning, America, so readers all over the country would buy my book and I could stay home, relax in the garden, and write another best-selling tome while my personal chef cooked up lunch (hmm, throw in a few dogs and horse-whipped assistants, and that sounds an awful lot like I imagine Martha Stewart’s life to be!).
I never realized how much blood, sweat, and tears went into promotion. I quickly discovered the truth: doing book publicity is akin to being the Energizer Bunny on an unstoppable treadmill.
With publishing more accessible than ever through POD presses, the number of titles released each year has grown by Superman-sized leaps and bounds. I looked up stats online and found that, in 1998, the number of titles in print was around 60,000. If you include print-on-demand and self-published titles, in 2009, the estimate is somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 titles. Wowza. Granted, you won’t find but a fraction of those in local bookstores (many, in fact, are paring down inventory as I type).
Still, that’s a lot of competition, and most of us won’t have the chance to chat about our latest baby with Ms. O, not unless we’ve had an affair with a prominent politician (or golfer!) or we’re starring in some mindless reality show on VH-1 or MTV.
So what’s an author to do? How can we feel like all the effort we’ve put into writing a book means something (other than our own satisfaction and sense of accomplishment)? I wish I had an answer; but even after 10 years in the biz, I’m still scratching my head, trying to figure it out. All I’ve come up with is this: we do what we can. We write the best book we can possibly write, we enjoy our brief time in the sun, and we let the rest go.
Staring at numbers on Amazon or BN.com won’t magically make them dip. Bugging your publicist about booking you on The Today Show won’t make that happen either (and will likely piss off your publicist).
We can revel in the good reviews that our agents and publishers forward. We can try like hell to ignore the ugly ones that pop up on the Web in the usual places. And we can move on to the next book and then the one after that. These days, just having a book contract seems like a blessing when the industry’s been hammered by cost-cutting and lay-offs. In just the last seven years since Blue Blood came out, I’ve had eight books released in three different genres at two separate publishing houses (and I’m with Editor No. 2 at one house and Editor No. 3 at the other—last year was brutal on editors!). I realize more than ever that surviving in the crazy world of publishing has a lot to do with being adaptable.
No matter how hard we work, how much we network, how willing we are to get out there and talk about our books to anyone who’ll listen, much of what happens with our literary babies is left up to fate. That’s hard for a Type A to stomach, whether it’s a first novel or the 10th. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my daily margarita-and-meditation before I have to get out and plug The Cougar Club at the St. Louis Zoo’s Big Cat Country while wearing cat ears and a tail. (Okay, not really, but I might consider it if asked.)
Susan, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this interesting look at life after publishing. I think a lot of readers do have the idea that a writer's life is more glamorous than it might really be. As a reader, we don't always stop and think about everything that has to be done once the book is published.
For more scoop on Susan and her novels, visit her web site at http://SusanMcBride.com.
Did you think writing your book would be the hardest part? Or did the hard part come only after you got your book published?