Wednesday, December 29, 2010


For all of you who see your everyday lives morphing faster than you ever dreamed possible, let me say that nothing is changing quicker, or with more uncertainty, than book publishing. Those of us on the inside can only stare and shake our heads. As authors we try to adjust, but few of us can predict which of our books will sell best—if at all--or in what format. Will old-fashioned paper even be involved?

Only a handful of years ago, nobody thought book stores would soon become obsolete. Yet while they still stand around looking formal and important, except for teens with computers under their arms—all heading for the coffee bar—adult readers have largely abandoned them.

Part of this is the fault of the chain bookstores themselves. In their zeal to rid themselves of competing independents, they also killed off the eager librarian types who once “sold” their readers the world’s best books. Today, the chains are not known for selling anything; all they do is display. Which Costco--or your best friends--do just as well.

Meanwhile, we authors are scrambling to become known in that mysterious and semi-visible world of the Net. Those of us who aren’t kids any longer soon learn we need expertise on steroids--so I’m finding computer mavins to make me and my books internet-visible. Will this help me sell some of the books in my garage?

I honestly don’t know.

I’ll be happy to share the answer in a few months.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


EACH DAY I'M learning afresh: There are writers and PR types, and they're seldom the same person. My daily wish is simple: Please, dear brain, grant me the skills to find the readers for all these words I've already written.

Writing is the part I love. I could cheerfully spend every day creating word pictures. I love the process, and everything about it: the search for rhythm, for vividness, for the exact right word. I love looking back to see what I've done, to decide whether I managed to get to where I intended to go. I love the re-writing--taking this wobbly little skeleton and propping it up, making it stand on its own feet and sing to the world.

There's nothing about writing I don't like. The moments spent in creation--surely they are a kind of life force, a renewal of the most exquisite sort. When you've written something good, you've LIVED. And nobody can take it away.

But what's this business about PR?

How hard should we work to get known? How many internet/web tricks must we learn? And how many of them work? How many people read what I've written on the web? And will any of that reading translate into sales of my books?

What about the hucksters who appear on your e-mail and glibly promise to make you famous, who swear up and down they can make your books best sellers? How often does this happen? Are any of these promotions worth the price? Can they REALLY create huge audiences for your books? Or are all these promotional types simply padding their own pockets? Of one thing I'm sure. If I send this Harrison fellow ten thousand dollars, I am definitely making HIM rich.

I haven't a clue as to whether he'll do the same for me. And frankly, at the risk of losing ten thousand dollars, I'm afraid to find out.

Meanwhile, as I ask these questions, I keep searching--I peek behind new internet doors, scramble to learn the latest tricks, ask other authors what they do. Currently I'm trying everything: Writing blogs; enhancing my author page on Amazon; calling all the groups I can think of, offering myself as a speaker. I'm giving writing workshops at libraries, applying for slots at writers conferences, calling womens' groups and book clubs.

Once in awhile, to my amazement, somebody calls me. I try to act blase, as if it happens all the time. I never tell them that they've just made my day.

If any of you have suggestions, please tell me. I'd love to hear them.

Do I yearn to be rich and famous? Well, maybe. But only because rich and famous would mean people are reading my books. But more than that, it would mean I could stop making all these phone calls, soliciting speeches.

Rich and famous would mean I could once again concentrate on writing books. Maralys

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