Monday, April 10, 2006

Second Child Syndrome

Remember your first baby--you read every how-to book, bought only the best organic baby food, scheduled thousands of brain stimulating activities? Then number two comes along and what? T.V and Cheetos?

Well, I'm not expecting any more children, but my second book is due to appear any time now. And, I have to admit, as much as I love this book, it won't make its appearance with quite the same splash (on my part) as the first one.

book twoNumber one I bought ads in R.T. and at a number of online review sites. I sent out tons of home-made ARCS, had bookmarks printed up, mailed press releases, and in general announced it to anyone too slow to escape me. But book two? No bookmarks. No ads paid for by me. (well a tiny $8 spot in a group thing I do.) No press releases. And a lot fewer ARCS.

What's the deal? Do I love this book less?

The answer is no--in fact I believe this book is a lot stronger than the first one, but over the past year, I've realized something that a lot of veterans could have told me easily (if I would have listened). Getting readers is complicated. A lot of the appeal of a new author and her books can be completely out of the control of the author--things like the cover, title, and back cover copy. And the big promo opps are frequently reserved for publisher dollars (either literally or just too much $$ for one author to spend)--store placement, special display units, enough advertising behind a book to get buzz.

And, let's face it--none of that matters if the book itself doesn't strike a chord with readers. So, what's an author to do? Yeah, you guessed it, write the best book you can, then if you are feeling promo-oriented, get copies of it in the hands of some key readers. (book store employees who hand sell for example, or readers who will talk it up) Then sit your behind down, limber up your fingers, and start writing the next one--Maybe it will be the one to make it big. ;-)


Gloria Harchar said...

Lori, I was the same way. Promoted the heck out of my first book. Not as much on my second book. Zilch on my third book, which was the strongest and what I consider a breakout book. Comments from readers suggested as much, too. Yes, it's good to promote some, especially for name recognition, but the key is in the story itself! :) Also, what's important is your print run. If readers have a hard time finding your book, even if they've heard it was a great story, they aren't going to spend a lot of time searching for it. It's just human nature.
Good luck on this second book, Lori. I'm gonna buy it! :)

Lori Devoti said...

Thanks, Gloria! Yeah, print run, I forgot to mention that one--and whether your publisher will do a second print run if the first one sells out and how quickly. If 10,000 books (or fewer) are all that are ever going to get out there, well, it's pretty easy to calculate the cost/benefit of spending your entire advance on promoting, isn't it?

Gloria Harchar said...

Yes, it's definitely a numbers game! Good luck, Lori. I'll be looking for your name on the bestseller lists! :)