The business of self promotion

Most of my life, I’ve been happy to remain in the shadows, anonymous. As a nurse, I chose to work in nursing specialties where the patients and I interacted only briefly. As a nurse in the recovery room, the patients were just awakening from general anesthesia; they seldom remembered the care I provided to them.

But now, as a writer, one of my jobs is to promote myself. To “create a platform,” whatever the heck that means. I think it means that my job is to sell myself so that I can sell books. Okay. This is uncharted territory for me.

Before my life as a registered nurse, I was a journalist. I worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Missouri and Kansas. That job gave me a little bit of notoriety, but honestly, not much.

Please allow me to share my 15 seconds of fame with you. I was working as the lifestyles editor for The Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia, Missouri. I wrote a weekly column, entitled “Solo,” about my life and the people in it. One day at the library, I was checking out books, and the young woman behind the counter looked up at me, her eyes full of wonder. “You’re Annette Drake,” she gushed. I thought, oh, crap! Do I have too many fines to check out books? She said, “I always read your column. I love your writing.” Wow! I didn’t hear those words often, especially from my editors. I thanked her and left. Funny how I remember that incident more than two decades later.

So now with a book coming out this summer, an e-book, no less, I’ve got to start promoting it. My publisher, Tirgearr, will help, but as a new writer, a lot of it is up to me. So, here are a few of my ideas:

The book takes place in Lexington, Missouri. I’ve drafted a letter to the only bookstore in the town to ask if they will carry my book and perhaps allow me to do a reading when I visit Missouri this summer.

Likewise, I plan to query the newspapers in Lexington and ask if they will review the book. I also hope the daily newspaper here in Spokane will review it.

My publisher sent me a long, long list of blogs that review books. I’m to contact these and inquire if they will review my book. This, I can do.

They’ve also sent me some help: my editor, Maudeen Wachsmith. I’ve never met Maudeen in person, but already, she’s become an authority in my house. When I voice my many, many doubts about this book, my husband says, “I don’t know. We should ask Maudeen.” When I ask him if I should write this scene that’s been playing out in my head or is it too late to contribute more to the manuscript, he says, “I don’t know. We should ask Maudeen.”

Here’s more about my new literary godmother: Maudeen owned a bookstore near Tacoma in the early 1990s, then edited a magazine for readers and writers of western fiction. She has also been a contract reviewer for Amazon. She lived on Bainbridge Island from 1995 to 2001, so she’s rubbed elbows with some pretty well-known authors, including Susan Wiggs and Kristin Hannah. Maudeen also owned a book promotion company, “The Book Wizard.” She tells me she will ask Kristin Hannah to review my book and contribute a quote. Yikes! Kristin Hannah is going to read my book? Really?

In her most recent email to me, Maudeen wrote, “So hang on tight. We’re going on a terrific ride. It may be a bit scary and you’ll feel like screaming at the ups and downs, but like the roller coaster, you’ll feel good after it’s all done.”

I guess I better put my hands and arms inside the cart, huh? Next: When will Celebration House be in a printed version?

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About Annette Drake

For me, a great book is about the people who live in it. So when my characters talk, I eavesdrop and write down what they say. My three favorite words: what happens next. I make my home in Washington state. A member of Romance Writers of America, I love ferry rides, basset hounds and bakeries. I do not camp.
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