SHE WRITES, a terrific site for women writers, asked if I’d like to be included in the group of writers they’ve invited to participate in writing a “Countdown to Publication” blog. Well, let me tell you this: having a debut novel launch includes many tasks—some Sisyphean, some plain fun, and all feeding into the monster that is the incredible me’ness of publishing a novel.
So, in the spirit of me, me, me (boy, does my husband appreciate me these days) that is building within me, I will break my rule of not posting about my own book, so continue reading at your own risk. Big head coming:
Your novel has been sold. You can barely breath. After screeching into the phone to your husband/wife/partner/sister, what do you do first? You struggle to walk the balance beam between:
1) Making it the first thing you say to everyone you come in contact with (Gynecologist, in brisk no-shilly-shallying tone, Scoot down, please. You, in desperate-for-attention tone, I sold my book! I sold my book!)
2) Becoming frozen with modesty and fear that no one will ever buy it, so why bother talking about it (Dear Friend: Did you hear from your agent? Any bites on your book? You: It came out last week. No big deal.”)
What you do first is find a way to wrap up your book in ONE SENTENCE. One. If really, really, super-needed, you can give two. Need to know how important this is? Listen the next time your boring uncle recounts the plot of 24. When do you lose the thread…hmmm? When are you shouting shut up in your head?
What do I say when people ask what my book is about? I say, "The Murderer’s Daughters is a dark domestic drama about sisters who witness their father kill their mother, and the effect on their lives for the next thirty-two years.”
Are there about twenty other subplots? Do I find each more fascinating and gripping than the other? Of course. Will they? No. It’s like your children. To you: most amazing daughters in the world. To others: garden-variety children. These people aren’t asking for a synopsis. They’re being polite. They want to be grounded. Did you write a mystery? Suspense? A quiet character study?
If they want more, well, then you can always say more. Just don’t use my uncle’s method. In the famous words of James Carville: It's the economy, stupid. Only in this case, it's the economy of words.
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