Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Clubs and Broomsticks

25th April 2014

Since the last blog, a few things have happened to do with my book and promotion that might be of interest to anyone still following this blog as a map of how the process unfurls along the road from just-contracted author with a big publishing house to publication and (hopefully) beyond.
The book club at my local library read my book this month, and I showed up at the round table in the turret of said library with champagne in hand and snacks in a bag to celebrate. So we drank bubbly in paper cups and ate cheese popcorn in paper cups and the literary ladies (ladies all - doesn't that tell you something about the publishing industry?) asked me questions, not so much about the book, but about myself as a writer, how the whole thing came to be and what my writing routines were etc. A good time was had by all - I do like the question part of these events and feel a bit sad when it is over. Bottom line is, everyone likes talking about themselves. It's as close to relishing the limelight as yours trully will ever get.

Another book club,  I am told, and in Scotland this time, is going to be reading my book in the near future.  Scotland is where this story belongs, of course, the ins and outs of it, the history, the interchange between people, the landscape. It will be a sort of homecoming. Even though I don't live in Scotland anymore, this part of me shoots out and finds its home in the old country, in the bogs and the moss and the rain on the window. After all, it comes from a part of me that has no home here in the old US of A. What do I know about homecoming queens and gatorade and the fourth of July? I belong in the wet country, eternally green, damp but never that cold, where a nod passed between people says as much as anyone needs to know. Small country that Scotland is, there is little sense as you stand on a hill overlooking the sea with the wind doing its best to topple you off, that man and his    ambitions have any currency there. It's just the land doing what it has always done, with species laying a footprint on it in cycles until they pass on and new footprints emerge. From the perspective of the trees and the lochs and the bracken, man is just one more small indentation in the soil.

On Tuesday, I participated in my first Tweetchat with some other authors who will be attending The Muse and the Marketplace with me in Boston next week. The chat was moderated by one of the faculty from the Grub Street Writer's Foundation. It's an odd thing, a Tweetchat, sort of like being hit from all sides by a meteor shower and not knowing which way to duck. 

We were discussing (all at once, like a rowdy but silent town hall meeting) the topic of publishing and the effects of social media on the various genres. There seemed to be some consensus that self-publishing is really hard for literary fiction, but less so for genre fiction which has a built-in platform and audience. Next time I will just have some pre-written pearls of wisdom to insert whenever possible in the hopes that they get retweeted. That's the gratifying part. In retrospect, I would like to have made the comment that separating literature into various genres might well just come from a recent Lit-snobbery. I might have pointed out that were Jane Austen to be published these days, you might find her in the paperbacks along with other "chic-lit." And Charles Dickens, iconic writer of all time, stocked on the shelves with other historical fiction. Point is, no need to sweat being thrown into one genre or another. A book stands or falls on its own merits. I see that now.
So, you live and learn. Whatever else the publishing process is, it is that.

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