Why The Gas Cans


A friend recently asked me if my publisher for my women’s fiction/contemporary romance series would be marketing for me. Common question. As much as I enjoy working with my publisher, and my editor rocks, the majority of the marketing is my responsibility. Doesn’t matter who your publisher is; one of the big five or yourself – marketing your book is your job.

And that’s no easy task. Not only am I not experienced in marketing ( I was a director of special events before I had kids) I don’t have enough hours in the day to write multiple books, and market them well. But I’m trying. Believe me.

What I am is creative. Creative people think outside the box because usually their box looks a lot different than the standard, beige, cardboard, rectangle with four flaps.

I attend many conferences for writers and readers. Often the conference offers a “goody room.” The goody room is a place for authors to display promotional items to get buzz out for their books. I’ve seen everything from pens to candy penises. I don’t know if any of this stuff sells books. Especially the pens, bookmarks, and chocolate. (I love bookmarks. Don’t get me wrong.) Personally, I won’t read your book just because you gave me a nail file for free. I have a nail file.

At the RWA conference in Orlando this past July I wandered the goody room and saw pretty much what I’ve seen before. I even passed over the candy penises attached to a card for an erotic romance. Yeah, I get it, book with explicit sex and a penis made of chocolate. Boring. Next.

Later I thought – if that chocolate penis had been attached to a card for a contemporary romance whose cover had a vase of flowers, a cute dog, and colored in pastels then I might pick up the book and say, “what’s this all about?”

I knew I had to do that for my book A Second Chance House. It’s a women’s fiction/contemporary romance coming out in early 2018. The cover shows a wrap around porch and a porch swing. What could I create to make someone say, “what’s that all about?”

I needed a light-hearted scene from the book. I needed a promo item that wouldn’t cost a fortune and would get people’s attention. My heroine runs out of gas. She’s mortified because the hero comes to save her, which is exactly what she didn’t want. I had to find gas cans. Nothing else would do.

I brought those bright red cans attached to a card with my cover on the front and the excerpt on the back. I heard, cute, clever, I love it, who came up with that for you? (I tried not to be offended. I don’t think she meant it maliciously.) All my cans went. I was very excited.

Will my gas cans sell my books? I don’t know. I can only hope that someone said, this author is creative and when her book comes out I want to read more.

For the second book in the series, A Bridge Home,  I’m thinking a men’s razor. Or maybe a kit for stitches. That chocolate penis might work too. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.


Editing Tip Tuesday

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Have you started thinking about your 2017 writing and publishing goals? What are your year end goals, monthly goals, weekly goals? I invite you to make a list of your intentions for the new year. And to keep you accountable, keep me posted with your progress. Post here at the blog with word count goals, finished novel goals, marketing goals, and any other writing goals you have.

Did you join that writer’s group? Sign up for a new conference? Send me your manuscript to edit? Start that new book? Finish the book you’ve been working on?

Let’s make 2017 a happy and successful year.

Any questions?

Something’s Gotta Give

Something’s Gotta Give kitchen  6
Here’s Jack in an early scene in the movie. I think what gave here were his pants. 😉

Did you ever see that movie, “Something’s Gotta Give” with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton? It’s a fun movie. If you haven’t seen it, rent it. I think of that movie often when I’m trying to figure out how to juggle life. In the movie, Diane Keaton’s character has a very structured, predictable, boring life until Jack Nicholson comes along and turns that predictable life on its head.

My life is pretty predictable too. I have the Noodges, a dog, a husband, a home, a career. I exercise to stay nice and healthy. (Two separate things.) It’s important to me to do all my jobs well. There is a lot at stake if I screw up being a parent or a wife. Not to mention, I like having a clean house. And if I don’t devote the time necessary to my writing career my books will only be read by my friends and family. In order to do everything well, something’s gotta give.

My kids are around because it’s summer vacation, but I still have a book I’m trying to publish. I pushed out the release date of Welcome To Skull Mountain because quite frankly, the story needed trashing. Believe me, trashing a 200-plus novel is a huge decision. Writing while the Noodges are around is hard even now while they’re teenagers. If one of them comes to me and says, “Mom, guess what?” or “Mom, listen to this,” or “Mom, you want to go to the movies?” I drop everything and run. I won’t turn my kids away when I have so little time with them left. Noodge 1 goes to college in three years! Three! He was two like a blink ago and now he’s almost a man ready to fly the nest and I want to hold onto him with both hands and say, “Just a little longer.” But spending time with them means no writing or less writing which in essence is no writing.

Writing is hard and takes a lot of time if you’re going to do it right. When I write I don’t always have time to do the marketing of my work I need to do so I can have the number of readers I want. It’s frustrating not to have the hours I need. Time with the kids, time writing, time marketing, time exercising.

Something’s gotta give.

I’ve got an ugly word for you: Compromise. If you’re a type A like me, you just cringed. People like us don’t want to compromise. We want to do it all. Yeah, well, take it from me, you can’t. Everything is a compromise. Everything. 

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” Suzyn Waldman said that. She’s the female sports announcer for the New York Yankees. I believe what Suzyn said and hearing her say it made me feel better. I’m just not sure I like it, but at least I can take a deep breath and know all the things I want in life, time with my kids, tons of readers, tons of books, and toned muscles will come.

What about you? What are the compromises you’ve had to make? What gives in your life?