Perils of Progeny

I am pregnant. With a book. 

Price of Passage—A Tale of Immigration and Liberation is due August 23. It is expected to weigh eleven ounces and be seven and fifteen-sixteenths inches long. 

Congratulations are in order. But pity me carrying it through the hot months!

#

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash.

It’s a funny thing, Dear Reader: One stroke of a pen and you go from writer to bookseller.

One hundred percent. Instantly. 

On February 17, I signed a contract with DX Varos Publishing for the publication of my historical novel The Maelstrom.Things started happening. 

  • The publisher and I agreed to change the title from The Maelstrom to Price of Passage.
  • We added a subtitle: A Tale of Immigration and Liberation.
  • The publisher sent me an advance check to seal the deal.
  • We settled on a cover design, which was swiftly executed by the publisher.
  • The publisher revealed the cover and announced the publication with an exciting blurb teasing the contents of the book.
  • I upgraded my website, www.LarryFSommers.com
  • I acquired Mailerlite software, learned its rudiments, and launched an occasional newsletter for my loyal fans, The Haphazard Times (currently undergoing refinement).
  • I attended the Chicago Writers Association’s annual conference, where I received much kudos and encouragement from fellow authors.
  • I applied for a Wisconsin Seller’s Permit.
  • I sent for a Square Reader so I can process people’s credit card and Paypal purchases at author events such as signings, readings, and book clubs.
  • I started “going to school” on my friend Greg Renz, successful author of Beneath the Flames. I’m studying what he does to beat the drum for his book, and how he does it.
  • Oh, yes. I am ordering custom bookmarks to give out with copies of the book.

Take a Breath, Buster

It’s been just over a month. Price of Passage will not arrive until August 23. 

I stand presently under a Niagara of marketing, sales, and bookkeeping concerns. I don’t understand half of what I’m doing but plunge ahead anyway. Learn by doing, the saying goes.

Meanwhile, I have a second completed novel a mere whisker away from being ready to start sending queries to publishers. It only needs two or three good days of last-minute polishing, plus the drafting of a good synopsis and query letter. But all that will have to wait.

Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash.

I have a great idea for a short story to develop for the literary journals. Quite a bit of work. And it will have to wait.

There is the beginning of a personal memoir. It needs to keep going. But it will have to wait.

Opportunity Knocks

Blacksmiths of yore had a saying to cover this situation: “Strike while the iron is hot.” 

Shakespeare, more verbose yet pithy, said

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat…

Rodeo cowboys are more terse: “Let ’er buck!” 

No matter how you say it, now is the time to sell, even though I’d rather write. We can pick up the pieces afterward.

The Book Trade

Why is it this way?

Maxwell Perkins. Al Ravenna, New York World-Telegram and Sun. Public Domain.

Maybe you think when an author finishes a book, he sends it to his publisher—one of the Big Five—who assigns the manuscript to a top-flight editor, a Maxwell Perkins type in a three-piece suit, then takes out a full-page ad in the New York Times and calls the appropriate committees (Pulitzer, Nobel, etc.). Oh, yes, a book tour of the major cities might be needed, with the author accompanied by two or three publicists and cossetted in luxury suites in four-star hotels. And then the dollars roll in, followed by movie contracts, more dollars, etc.

Well, Gentle Reader, let me assure you: 

That is NOT, unless you are Stephen King, How It Works.

Publishers do not sell books. Mostly, they can’t even spare a publicist.

But publicists do not sell books, anyway.

Editors, of course, would not be caught dead selling books.

Even bookstores do not really sell books. They merely conduct the transaction. People come into the store looking to buy books. All the store needs to do is have some on hand.

Amazon? Even more so.

So, you ask, who does sell books?

Authors.

Authors sell books.

So next time you see me, Dear Reader, I will have my foot wedged firmly in your door. And a great book in my hand. You should definitely own a copy or two. And all the members of your extended family should, too. It will make a very thoughtful Christmas or Hanukah gift.

Wish me luck.

Blessings,

Larry F. Sommers, Your New Favorite Writer

Author of Price of Passage—A Tale of Immigration and Liberation, coming August 23. No fooling.

6 thoughts on “Perils of Progeny

  1. You’re so right. It’s a tough business we’re in. And you forgot another element: Authors need reviews because reviews help sell books to new readers. Anybody reading this: Be a friend to Larry. Review his book and leave one sentence somewhere like Goodreads, Amazon, and other review sites. Mark your calendar now for August and become part of what’s called a “reader/author street team.” If you’re a professional reviewer, of course ask Larry or his publisher for an advance copy now. First novels are special.

    • Thanks so much for making that point, Chris. AND BY THE WAY, the easiest way to start being helpful is to SUBSCRIBE to my occasional author newsletter, The Haphazard Times, using the orangey box at top right of this page. Then you’ll be kept up to date whenever there is an opportunity for you to help me in my quest. I thank you in advance for your good wishes and matching action.

  2. Congrats, Larry! Cannot wait to read this book! One thought on publicists (of which I am admittedly one), publicists make sure people know about books so that they can buy them . . . if people aren’t aware a certain book exists, no sale will occur. However, in the end the sale is often made because of the content and quality of what the author has offered in the book. Similarly with book marketers (again-guilty as charged), paid advertisements to well-curated reader audiences through Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook can sell a lot of books. These tactics or tools help to supplement the amount of time an author has to spend reaching audiences on their own. There are so many hours in a day, and promoting books is (usually) never as much fun for an author as creating them.

    • Thanks for your positive comments, Valerie. Selling books demands mastering a whole different skill set from what is required to write them. Hope I will adapt well but I admit I’m still a babe in the woods. Your advice, encouragement, and support is deeply appreciated.

  3. No need to have “a foot wedged firmly” in my door, Larry. Since August 23 is my birthday, a cupcake gets you a sale.

    • You do realize, Allen, don’t you, that a cupcake costs more than I will make on the book?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.