I haven’t blogged about The Boy Who Knew Too Much for a while. Many things with the book have been happening behind the scenes, and even I haven’t been aware of them all.
I can tell you that the edits came back from the publisher in mid-September. I have read and heard other authors tell horror stories about the editing process with their first book, but for me it turned out to be painless. I am fortunate to be with Intrigue Publishing, a small outfit — perhaps I should use the word “boutique” — run by authors. That means they tend to trust their authors’ judgment. I was told that except for any actual errors (and there were a few), I should regard the edits mostly as suggestions.
The vast majority of these “suggestions” were cosmetic. The editor added a lot of commas I thought were unnecessary while deleting a few I thought were necessary. She also changed all my “thens” to “and thens” — something Microsoft Word kept urging me to do as well. I didn’t ignore all the edits out of hand. If I thought it didn’t interrupt the flow, I kept a new comma or an “and then.” Overall, though, I prefer a solitary “then,” especially during action sequences when I want the flow to be fast and choppy.
I spent less than two weeks on the edits and submitted my final version to the publisher. That done, I turned my attention to marketing. The Boy Who Knew Too Much won’t be published until next June, but I have to start thinking of ways to sell the book now. Which book stores would be best for signings? Will local libraries allow me to make author appearances next summer? As a writer, I’m an introvert. Asking favors from strangers is not easy for me, but I don’t have a choice. If I want to sell books, I have to do things that are uncomfortable.
POSTCARDS AND WEBSITE
Because I planned to attend a couple of author events this fall, I thought I should have some promotional postcards printed even though my book doesn’t yet have cover art, and probably won’t until early 2015. The image I put on the cards is the same one at the top of this blog entry (and on my Twitter and Facebook author’s pages). The design comes from a T-shirt my sister Amy gave to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Turns out she gave me more than a piece of snappy apparel; she gave me an attractive logo I can use as a stopgap promotional image until the cover art becomes available. Thanks, Amy!
I also had to knuckle down and finish something that kept getting pushed to the side, my author website. I read the book Creating Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino, and he said an author must have a website as a launching pad for every other marketing effort. I wanted to get a website going over the summer, but illness, vacations, and home repairs got in the way. But I couldn’t put it off any longer. One of my fellow regulars at Norma’s Coffee Corner here in Palatine is an Internet marketing ace, Mark Bisaillon. He got my hosting taken care of and set me up with a WordPress template. After a crash course in WordPress design and function (which turned out to be mostly intuitive), I finally launched JeffreyWesthoff.com about two weeks ago. Go ahead and take a look. I’ll be right here when you get back. (By the way, Mark’s business is Cairnedge Consulting and is highly recommended.)
EVENTS CAN BE TRICKY
So about those author events. The first was Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee, which I wanted to attend because I welcome any excuse to visit my favorite city and also because the hero of my book is from Milwaukee so I want to build an awareness in his hometown. Every writers’ conference I attended before had a table where authors could leave their promotional items, which is why I wanted to have postcards ready. I got to the event and looked around, but no table. I suppose I could have left a stack of postcards on the registration table, but I would have been the only author to do so. There is a fine line between being bold and being gauche, and I think that would have crossed the line.
The second event I planned to attend will be next Saturday at Palatine’s own Harper College. It is called Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s Day and is hosted by the Illinois chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Unfortunately, I waited too long to sign up and learned the event is sold out. I am on the waiting list, so I might be able to go. But it looks like the main reasons I had the postcards printed will both be busts.
However, I did get some things accomplished at the Milwaukee event. I talked with the organizers, who put out Crimespree Magazine, and they said they would be happy to write an article about The Boy Who Knew Too Much when it is published. I also spoke with the owner of Mystery One Bookstore, and he said he would host a signing next summer. So two nice marketing coups despite my reluctance to schmooze. Also, the event was at the Potawatomi Casino, and my wife and I won $23.25 playing the slot machines.
My wife and I had our first Skype session with my publishers director of marketing the other night. We heard about the schedule for the cover art and the distribution of ARCs (that’s “advance reading copies” for those in the know) to potential reviewers and media. I will be seeing the Intrigue team at the forthcoming Love is Murder conference this February. We will solidify more plans then, and I may see the cover for the first time.
Right now, with more postcards on hand than I probably need right at the moment, I started passing them around to friends and family and the ladies I always see at the Y. I have been humbled by everyone’s enthusiasm and their offers to distribute the cards. It makes me feel great that people are already pulling for me. I might be able to sell a few books after all.
Oh, and if you would like one of these fine postcards (or should I say, “limited edition collector’s items”?), contact me through my new website and give me your address. I’ll be happy to mail you one. Or a few if you want to pass them around.