Welcome to Seattle where spring is definitely doing its thing, springing! Those are cherry and magnolia trees in the first picture at one of our local parks (and that’s me after three-and-a-half hours in an overly warm, stuffy doctor’s office downtown – head of rheumatology/immunology this time – determined to get in a little sunlight and flower time before the sun went all the way down!)
So, this weekend we have the small press book festival at Hugo House that I always love to attend, not less this year because several friends will be representing their presses and literary magazines there. See this article for a rundown on the festival and other lit events around Capital Hill this weekend. It is truly the kind of event that makes you realize you’re very lucky to be in a city that loves and supports the arts, but as Hugo House changes – as the article mentions – there’s a big question mark hanging over “where will our arts events happen in 2016?” Things are changing as Seattle and its environs get more overrun, more expensive. (Did I mention I’ve had two bids on two rather modest houses outbid on in the last month, by 25-50K?)
There was a fascinating discussion among some of my writer friends on Facebook this week about how they hated what they had to do to launch a book, book promotion and all that. I’d reproduce it for you, but I’d say the majority of the responses were something along the lines of “everyone doesn’t like it, but you do it to share the work that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into and to support the press that published you.” It was interesting to me how many poets – and I’m a little ashamed to say myself included – are perfectly confident about their writing, but when it comes to doing a little book promotion, feel somehow dirty or ashamed.
Since I am in the process right now of launching my fourth poetry book, this left me with some questions. Was I doing enough? What kinds of things should I be doing? I sent out a press release about the April 16 Seattle Book Launch and Reception, who knows if the local press will cover it or not. Glenn and I put up a few flyers for the event, too, and I’ve e-mailed local friends about it. If you’ve been reading the blog the last few months, you might have seen this post too, discussing book promotion. (PS: I’m not going to AWP this year, as I mention we should in the list, but if you are, stop by the Mayapple Press table for a fresh copy of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter!)
Anyway, some practical advice on your book launch from Kelly Davio. Here’s “Things I Wish I Had Known Before My Book Came Out,” Part I and Part II. Part II was extremely interesting to me as I’d never thought of cold-calling bookstores to ask them to stock my book. I mean, I may have asked people I’d already known at bookstores I was already familiar with, but I’ve never done it as she suggests, with a sell-sheet. Since one of the big barriers to poetry sales is not having your book on the shelves, that’s a great idea, even if it sounds like it might be tough. (Some bookstores are more friendly to adding local poets to its shelves than others. Some will do it on consignment, where I’ve typically lost money because of the cost of author copies, sigh, but maybe that’s better than nothing?)
Anyway, these kinds of posts help me think in a new way about what I should and shouldn’t be doing in the next two weeks before the Seattle book launch. Probably arrange some more readings, maybe cold call some bookstores? You do have to pace yourself a bit as you can burn out before the book has really even been out very long! Poetry book sales are usually a slower burn than fiction, so don’t fret if you don’t sell two hundred copies the first weekend or anything.
So what have I been up to in the middle of the first month of the launch of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter? Well, I’ve sent out all my postcards by now, I did my first reading in the middle of a torrential storm on Bainbridge Island. Now I’m prepping for my Seattle book launch reading and party on Thursday, April 16 at Jack Straw Cultural Center – I helped Glenn put together a flyer which we still need to put up in a few places, wrote and sent out a PR release for it, and created a Facebook event for it. I also edited (along with partner Kelly Davio) a really fun manuscript for the Gailey and Davio Writers’ Services, went back and edited and reorganized my own fifth manuscript, did some tax work and…Whew! Now I need a nap!
Speaking of…Achy, tired, brain-foggy, fatigued, need to nap in the middle of the day? In my experience, it’s possible that it’s not all in your head. My thyroid meds were doubled a few months ago, but after some blood tests a couple of days ago, my TSH is still higher than it has been in years, which means more tweaking is needed, and possibly another ultrasound of my pesky thyroid nodule. On the plus side, my b12 is almost completely low-normal now, not just low, and the number is higher than it’s been in ten years, so that’s good news!
Anyway, whenever I’m having trouble sleeping – sleeping too much, or not enough enough, feel grumpy and brain-foggy all the time, it’s usually either my thyroid acting up or my lack of b12 that’s to blame. Which is good, because I’ve been exercising and eating less and otherwise attempting a healthy lifestyle, and it’s so frustrating when you’re still tired and heavier than you want to be after all that work. At least now I know why! Hopefully the little tweak in my thyroid medication will result in a more energetic me in time for the Seattle book launch!
Thanks to Jim McKeown at KWBU in Texas for this feature on Becoming the Villainess, my first book of poetry.
And a new blog post up at the Gailey and Davio Writers’ Services blog on Poetry Book Cover Art. well, if you’ve ever struggled with what makes for good and interesting cover art for a poetry book, I hope it’ll be helpful!
Thanks to all of you who have bought The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, reviewed it on Amazon and Goodreads, or talked about it on your blog. I can’t tell you how much it perks up my day when I see something related to the new book! The first month of releasing a book feels so fraught with peril, to borrow the cliche – you worry no one will like it, or no one will talk about it, or no one will buy it or come to your readings…so any little lift kind of acts as a calming agent to that time of fraughtness.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you are enjoying some spring weather wherever you are. I always like to take today to remember to read a little Irish poetry and some Irish fairy tales. I found out recently through DNA that I am almost 70 percent Irish genetically, though neither set of my grandparents really knew much or talked much about their Irish heritage. (I may also watch The Secret of Kells, which, though set on the ancient Scottish island of Iona, depicts beautifully pieces of ancient Irish folk culture, including a Miyazaki-esque spirit-fairy-type character who can change into a white wolf, and follows the history of the famously illustrated and historically-important-to-Ireland Book of Kells, which you can view online here.) You can also support a genuinely Irish poetry press by buying a copy of Unexplained Fevers (published by New Binary Press) today!
I’m blogging elsewhere today – on Tahoma Review’s blog about Poetry and Science!
We had a lovely reading on Bainbridge on Sunday and got to see some good friends there, though we had a nasty storm that day (that made the three-hour round trip commute, complete with hydroplaning on waterlogged roadways, a bit dicey). I am thankful for my poetry community that turned out despite the deluge and it was nice to see Eagle Harbor Books, a charming Bainbridge Island bookstore. Here’s a pic from the event, with my fellow reader Carol Levin and some local poets and spouses – you may recognize some current and former Crab Creek Review and Two Sylvias editors in there!
Speaking of Two Sylvias Press, I think you should sneak a peek at April’s issue of Oprah Magazine, which features the fab local women-run press on one of its pages!
Sunday Robot Scientist’s Daughter reading on Bainbridge; new review of Unexplained Fevers; a little post-publication letdown
First, my very first reading for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter happens Sunday, March 15 at 3 PM on Bainbridge Island at charming local bookstore Eagle Harbor Books, where I’ll be reading with Carol Levin. Hope to see some of you there! Read more about it on their site here.
And I have to say thank you to The Next Best Book Club and their reviewer Lindsey for this unexpected review of Unexplained Fevers.
Another unexpected attention for Unexplained Fevers is Sundress Publications’ Best Dressed Feature (that was “Sleeping Beauty Loves the Needle) this whole last week. Here’s the newest: “Rapunzel Considers the Desert.” Thanks Sundress Publications!
So it’s very funny, when you start sending out review copies for one book, sometimes there is accidental attention to your other books it seems! As a writer of poetry, I’m always grateful for attention to my work, no matter when it arrives!
It’s interesting, but there’s sort of a letdown when your new book actually comes out—at first you’re all excited when the book arrives, you take a picture of the box of books, and you send out your e-mails and postcards, and people congratulate you—but that sense that well, maybe nothing will happen with this book, maybe everyone will hate it, starts to creep in after, say, a week. I know I have friends who call me right after their book actually makes it out—not when it’s accepted, but when it’s out into the world—to say how much they hate the book, how other people will hate it, etc—so I know it’s not just me. (Plus, Sylvia Plath killed herself the month after her book The Bell Jar was released, which is not really ever discussed, but I’m sure it contributed to her depression—like oh, the book isn’t getting the attention is deserved, etc.) So even though I’m technically just going to my first event this Sunday for The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and I’m very grateful to already have a few reviews of the book out there this early—I’m feeling a bit of discouragement, letdown, fear of failure, like oh, this is my fourth book, and I’m still struggling? Like I said, I’m only talking about this here because I feel it is a fairly common phenomenon, and you and all your friends should be ready for it, and have a little party/get-together/ice-cream-coffee-preparedness session in the works. My “official” Seattle book launch isn’t until April 16, which is still a month away, but I think it’s a good thing to have an official celebration, to invite your friends, to have some champagne and chocolate and say “Yes, I did this thing!”
None of this means I’m not extremely grateful for the good things people have said about the book so far (I really am!), it just means that sometimes our negative voices can talk over the positive ones, and we have to guard against that as writers. It’s always: when I get my book accepted, when it gets published, when it gets reviewed, well, things are going to change. And then that happens four times, and things still don’t really change. But I still have goals, I’m still working on the next manuscript, sending out my apocalypse poems: that’s what I have to focus on. Stop checking my Amazon ranks and get to work on the next thing.