Susan Wingate, Author, Part II
Susan Wingate, Author, Part I, appeared in my June 25 blog post. Her wry humor and easy-going style continue in her answers below. Her latest book, How the Deer Moon Hungers, will be released July 15.
JAM: How did you market your first novel?
SW: My first novel, Of the Law, is perhaps the worst novel ever written, and it still sells. I don’t know why. I entered Of the Law into several contests after self-publishing it. I did get a bite once for it from Poisoned Pen Press, but when, upon their review, they too agreed it was possibly the worst story ever written, they rejected it. They were and are so very smart.
I did revise it into a tighter narrative, and that one sold to a publisher in Castroville, Texas but again, I’ll never know why. The bones of the story were weak and fragmenting. I had some old misbegotten tropes that put it on wobbly legs and guess I got it to a limping end, but I can’t even stand to look at the book cover let alone think of why I wrote it.
Since then, I’ve focused my story ideas into ideas that actually appeal to more than just the psychopath serial killer who wants to get his cookies from reading a terrible novel that he might think is about him. Am I being too mean about my first novel? If you haven’t read it, you really won’t know if I’m being mean or not. This is not some feeble attempt to get you to buy that book. I shudder at the thought. To market Of the Law was like using a squirt gun on a raging forest fire, to use a bedraggled (yet appropriate) cliché. There’s no marketing bad.
JAM: Why did you decide to have a public relations group do your marketing instead of an agent?
SW: I’ve had one agent in my career, and I felt like that didn’t go as well as I envisioned, not that there was any great turmoil with the agent. I mean, to have great turmoil the agent would actually have to do or say something. After that experience and having done quite a bit of marketing on all my other books―understanding the breadth of marketing and time spent for all that work―I decided my time and money would be better spent writing.
Part of understanding the publishing business is understanding all the many moving parts it takes to get a book out. From writing to the release date, there are innumerable steps in between. Book marketing agents buzz your book to the right people and businesses. I have done most of what marketing agents do. However, they can get their fingers into places I only dream of getting my fingers. For instance, my publicist, David Johnson (StrategicVisionPR.com) will be working on getting celebrity endorsements for my latest release How the Deer Moon Hungers, which is scheduled for release on July 15. He’s also working on feature articles to major newspapers and setting up media―TV, radio and podcasts for interviews. He’s also working directly with bookstores. All of these activities are extremely time-consuming. I just don’t have that much time any longer nor do I have the desire. I am fully into writing my next novel. My publisher expects that story August 31st. A marketing agent is basically a pay-for literary agent with zero judgment about your book. He isn’t deciding whether or not to try to sell your book. He is selling your book. I’m not saying anything against agents. I think, when they’re good, they’re really good. I just haven’t found one yet.
How the Deer Moon Hungers Book Launch Party,
July 15, 2 P.M. Pacific Time
July 23 – Susan Wingate, Part III