Diva vs. Dork ~
Crossing the Etiquette Line
Having just released my second book — UNDERCURRENT– you’d think I’d be beyond the “oops, do I have broccoli in my teeth?” jitters with the whole writing/waiting/editing/waiting/marketing thing. Not so much. As a matter of fact, since UNDERCURRENT released with a different publisher the whole experience feels freakishly like a first date…one I really want to fuse into the memory of the “person” across the table. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few more faux pas than I’d care to dwell on. Broccoli smoccoli, try miscommunication with someone who holds your future success in his or her capable hands. Yikes.
However, book one and two have given me a little insight into ONE area of this writing game. Reviews. As both an author seeking reviews and a writer of reviews, I’ve learned a lot from both angles…and I’ve got a few tidbits to share that just might spare your reputation from earning dork or diva status.
Let me help you avoid the pitfall of the ‘Step a little closer so I can slap you’ syndrome—an ailment that’ll make publishers want to avoid you like the pox.
The inner Diva can sometimes rise up and cause us to behave in a way that doesn’t really drive our goal: reviews that will influence sales of our books. Should you seriously ask your publisher to send a hard-bound copy of your book to your third-cousin twice-removed for a review? The relative who wouldn’t know a review if it bit them in the behind? A cousin you honestly only want to impress with your rockstar writing ability? No, no, no. When requesting review copies from your publisher, provide a list with legitimate names and contact information (including ARC format preference) for bloggers, Amazon reviewers, and bookstore managers who can and will influence the buying public. Don’t try to cop freebies for your friends via the ‘reviewer’ route.
Another diva disaster can be dodged by remembering to hold the cheese, please.
Most reviewers don’t care about your flowing prose and literary background, and they certainly don’t have time to read a convoluted synopsis. You think acquisition editors are busy. Sheesh. You ought to see the TBR pile most reviewers store in their house, their garage, their mother-in-law’s spare bedroom. Give them a reason to put your book on top of their reading Mount Everest. When asking publications or websites to review your upcoming NY Times bestseller, clear and concise is the key. Wrestle the inner diva into a choke hold and think snappy, grab-em-by-the-throat one or two liners to get their attention. And if you’re prone to wimp out in your ‘sell it’ sentences, get over that. Someone believes in your ability enough to publish you. Promote that fact and help sell your book. But let your writing hook ‘em, not your effusively worded e-mails or your subtle literary symbolisms.
Escaping the ‘Excuse me, your pocket protector is showing’ disorder.
Writers are tonsured hermits at heart, but marketing is part of the game and reviews are important playing pieces. That means you’re going to have to ask for some and not simply via cyberspace. Voice-to-voice, face-to-face, networking with reviewers is crucial. Put those junior high debate class skills to work. Speak clearly and confidently. You can blame static on a bad cell connection but there’s no excuse for mumbling.
Take the initiative to dig up review sites then don’t be timid in contacting them. Another resource is to ask reviewers you already know if they can refer you to any others.
One last thought, no matter if you have diva-esque or dork-like qualities, send your reviewer a thank you. I’ve written hundreds of reviews. How many thank yous do you think I’ve received? I can count them on one hand. Who’s books do you think I will automatically shove to the top of my review pile when I get their newest release?
Speaking of new releases (warning: shameless commercial break), have you gotten your copy of UNDERCURRENT yet? Here’s a blurb:
People go missing every day. Many meet with foul play. Some leave the social grid by choice. Still others are never accounted for. Such is the fate of Cassandra Larson. She leads a life her undergrad students can only hope to attain…until she tumbles into the North Sea—and a different century.
Michelle’s been writing since she first discovered Crayolas and blank wall space. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota with 5 other mammals (both human and canine). And don’t forget to check out her debut novel, GALLIMORE…a Wizard of Oz tale with a Medieval Twist, available at Amazon or Black Lyon Publishing.