In SHINING CITY, Seth Greenland’s latest novel, a middle-class family man with money troubles inherits his brother’s West Hollywood dry cleaning business and soon finds himself running a popular escort service. It’s an L.A. adventure story that Publishers Weekly calls “entertaining and intelligent,” and which the Los Angeles Times says will seduce readers with its “combination of narrative skill, speed and sharp-pointed wit.” Greenland’s debut novel, THE BONES, was called “savagely funny” by the San Francisco Chronicle and a “smart TV-biz satire” by Entertainment Weekly.
That’s not surprising considering Greenland’s professional background. In addition to being a novelist, he’s an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. He worked on the HBO series "Arli$$," as well as other shows, and has sold the movie rights to both of his novels.
Beyond the entertainment industry, he contributes to the Huffington Post, where he was a founding blogger, and his work has appeared in a number of newspapers, including a recent L.A. Times book section essay, “Straight to Video,” about the creation of his popular video book trailer -- which you can check out here.
He lives in Los Angeles with his family.
What were the top 5 things you did to market your book after publication?
The top five things I did to market my book after publication were worry, fret, obsess, complain and plot revenge. More seriously, I did readings, made contacts with people who could talk about the book, joined Facebook, where my wife helped out by establishing a Shining City Club, and worked very hard to try and not feel like I had morphed into P.T. Barnum.
What was the best thing you did before publication to prepare?
The best thing I did to prepare for the promotion of the book prior to publication was do an author video, then write a piece for the Los Angeles Times about author videos. Both appeared about a month prior to the publication of SHINING CITY. A lot of people have seen the video, and it has done more than anything else to get the word out.
Did you work alone on your book promotion strategy, or in conjunction with a publicist?
I worked in concert with my publicists at Goldberg-McDuffie, who were indefatigable in their efforts. But before we began, I made plans to create a video, write blogs and newspaper articles, and basically make sure I was doing everything within my power to alert the world that I had a book coming out. I viewed my job at this stage as making my publicists’ jobs easier.
If you knew then (when your book first published) what you know now, what might you have done differently?
This is my second novel, and I learned a lot the first time I published a book, mostly about what I didn’t do. The primary thing I needed to get over was the feeling that promotion was somehow unseemly. There are so many things clamoring for people’s attention, I concluded it was a mistake to be at all precious about letting people know I had a book coming out. This time I put together a comprehensive plan pretty far in advance, worked very hard to make it a reality, then just hoped for the best.
How do you balance writing with the business side of being an author?
Balancing writing with the business side of being an author is difficult since the promotional side takes up so much oxygen. I began to write my next book as I started to circulate the one that is out now prior to submitting it to my publisher. While I was waiting to get creative notes from readers I trust, I made a lot of headway on the new piece. So now, while I am concentrating on flogging SHINING CITY, I’m not beating myself up about my lack of progress on anything new. I need to get back to work soon, though. The promotional aspect of all this can be a major distraction.
Any other advice for newly published authors?
My primary advice for newly published authors is to write another book.
Favorite item on your writing desk: A small framed picture of my kids when they were 5 and 3.
Favorite way to procrastinate: There are so many wonderful ways to procrastinate starting with doing author interviews like this one. There is walking the dogs and, of course, reading. But nothing in terms of convenience and efficiency compares to the Internet. If the Internet did not exist, I would have already written my complete works.
Favorite literary character: Raskolnikov and Alexander Portnoy, although lately I am partial to Batman as well.
Favorite CD: My favorite CD keeps changing. This week it is The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings by Bill Evans.
Favorite snack: Instant Thai garlic noodle soup. It is to this that I attribute all of my various powers.
For more about Seth Greenland and his books, visit http://www.sethgreenland.com/.