The thrilling release of my second book, Raising the Dead, has filled me with enormous joy. And, excruciating, gut-wrenching fear.
My box of promotional materials arrived on my doorstep unexpectedly. “I didn’t order anything.” I confessed to Tim, searching my frugal mind, had I ordered something? This wasn't an Amazon box. When it occurred to me that this was RAISING THE DEAD I screamed with joy, leapt about and did a jig.
Tim and I excitedly opened the box. There were all my promotional materials for marketing Raising the Dead along with my very own, published copy of my book. Finally, I could hold Raising the Dead in my hands. The years of work, my imaginary world, my dreams, my characters, my ideas, scenes and places had finally come to life. I stopped in my dance of joy as reality hit me. Marketing. I now had to sell my book.
In the following days I was assaulted by countless offers from many marketing/PR/bookselling agents. They were strangers, crawling out of the woodwork and the internet. They screamed their offers of assistance in promoting Raising the Dead. I have been hounded daily by agents who seemed to know exactly how to create a marketing program for me. I felt threatened and fearful.
I searched websites in my quest to create the best marketing campaign to launch my baby into the world. I can’t afford to hire a complete stranger to represent Raising the Dead. Yet, if I don’t pay an outside entity to promote my book, to place it on a pedestal for hopeful public applause, who will do so? My publisher will make some effort, which appeared in my box of marketing materials. Trailers? TV appearances? Radio interviews? Smiling my way from bookstore to bookstore offering my newborn Raising the Dead to the world?
Weeks ago, I had grimly completed the difficult questionnaire my marketing agent forced me to complete. It was an infinitesimally detailed, intimate, painstaking marketing questionnaire. I racked my brains to answer all the questions, dove into the writing of Raising the Dead, discussed things with my characters who always gave great advice.
My marketing agent advised, “Who knows your book better than you do?” She was right. After a week of thoughtful, soul-searching work, editing, deleting, adding comments back in again, I took a deep breath. I hit the send button.
Now, with my postcards, bookmarks and posters in hand I realized the marketing department agent was right in her advice. "No one knows your book better than you."
That was true. No one has invented and lived with my characters more than me. I had drawn them from my past experiences. I had built a town I knew as well as any in which I had ever lived. I brought old friends back to life. I brought my main protagonist back to life after heart-wrenching grief. Who else could bring Raising the Dead to life? I had lived this book. Now, it wasn’t just writing my book. It was selling it.
I tail-spinned. I fell into a pit of fear and despair. I gnashed my teeth. I lay awake nights (nothing unusual there) and frightened myself to death with failure. How do I sell Raising the Dead? I hate marketing and promoting myself. I write everyday about everything and nothing. How do I create a successful, professional, targeted, marketing program meticulously crafted from the abstract realm of my dreams? I had no idea.
More dilemma. What about my profile photo? All marketing gurus and publishers advised, "Photo should be on a plain white background. Author should wear solid dark clothing." That says nothing about me, I thought. I love flowers and prints. I love my antiques and dishes. All these images play a role in Raising the Dead. I had Tim take a photo of exactly the type of marketing photo I should not submit. I was rebellious, I admit.
Reluctantly, I realized it was time to bare my soul to the world, appeal to booksellers, friends and relatives. I had to venture forth, armed with nothing but myself and my words. I shuddered, remembering my appointment with the manager of Haslam’s booksellers years before when I was offering up Writing in Wet Cement. The only reason this person kept my appointment was because I sell on well-known and respected Ingram’s Booksellers, the Bible of the publisher’s and bookseller's world.
He reluctantly perused Writing in Wet Cement, a grimace on his face. He insulted me again and again and was unspeakably rude. I smiled bravely, wanting to smack him in the face. I defended Writing in Wet Cement and myself. As I turned to leave, near tears, he said to me,
“Well, I have to give you credit. You’re the first author who smiled throughout an entire interview of insults.” Now, I wish I had smacked him. I was too shocked to reply. This idiot was proud of his rude behavior, only because he was a Haslam’s manager? Really, did I want to repeat this exercise in humility?
The lightbulb went off in my head. I am a home-grown, grass-roots marketing agent. Call me lazy, call me challenged, call me timid, but most of all, call me grass-roots.
I will start at the level of what I can do. I will make the greatest efforts possible to introduce my characters, events, places, friendships, loves, battles and mysteries residing in the pages of Raising the Dead. I’ll do the best I possibly can from the ground up. Grass Roots.
I offer these individuals who journey through my pages. I share my imagination, hopes, dreams, history, places, experiences and connections with my faithful readers. That's the best I can offer.
Here you are, dear readers. Welcome to my grass-roots campaign to introduce you to Raising the Dead. My book is a work of historical fiction, friendship, feminism, love, intrigue, mystery and the supernatural. I hope you enjoy this adventure as much as I have.
You, my friends and fellow readers, are the inspiration behind the words I write. Were it not for you I would be unable to sit down with my legal pad and scribble new stories, books and Food for Thought blogs. Thank you for being with me and for encouraging me throughout this journey, every step of the way.
Raising the Dead is my book, and now, yours.
Authors Note: All images displayed in this Food for Thought are clues to the characters and lives unveiled in the pages of Raising the Dead
Raising the Dead can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble at Raising the Dead by Jayne Lisbeth