Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Finding an Audience

I have been very fortunate to get so much positive feedback from readers of Fouling Out. As it is summer and I am not working with children at the moment, the current batch of praise is coming from adults, particularly people ranging in age from their thirties to their eighties. One person from Colorado emailed me to say, "I guess I've finally found the right reading level."

When I wrote Fouling Out, I intended for it to be a quick read. The short chapters provided ample opportunities for reading breaks to stop and think about the characters and plot or to wolf down a bag of barbecue potato chips. (Hopefully readers remember to wash their hands before returning to the book. Orange-colored smudges in the margins create an unexpected mystery for the next reader. People who solve the mystery find it a little bit gross.) The thrill for me is that so many people keep on reading. When someone says, "I couldn't put it down", that is high praise.

Adults, keep reading the book and recommending it to others. I am so grateful! As well, I would love to hear more reactions from readers between the ages of 10 and 14. Are the characters realistic? Can you make connections with them or with events in the book?

I believe Fouling Out makes a wonderful summertime read. Read a chapter while in the car en route to the pool. Read another while waiting for a friend to come over. Talk about it. (I think talking about books adds to the pleasure of reading. I am referring to casual conversations, not stilted talks based on teacher questions.)

As teachers get ready for a new school year, I also hope they will consider using
Fouling Out as a novel study or a read aloud in grade six, seven or eight. I would love to share my email for students and teachers to send questions and comments. Of course, any reader is welcome to post a comment here on the blog.

Read on!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Getting the Word Out

Step 1: Write
Step 2: Submit
Step 3: Publish

As anyone who has ever dabbled in creative writing knows, the above steps are an atrocious oversimplification. I have left out such memorable stages as Yell at Laptop and Eat Tub of Ice Cream While Figuring Out How to Rescue Character's Dog. (A temporarily satisfying process that required double time on the treadmill. Must not repeat.)

Initially, my goal in writing was to complete a novel. It was a (usually) pleasurable hobby. The goal evolved and I dreamed of getting published. I thought I'd be satisfied. Truth is, while I know I'm fortunate, I want more. I'd like to sell more than a few copies. I've tapped the shoulder of every friend and acquaintance, but I want others to read my book. Buying it would be nice, but checking it out of the library would be a good thing too.

I have discovered that I love writing. I enjoy my summers of getting into a focused, productive writing routine. Unfortunately, I can't make a living off a novel that sells a few hundred copies and I fear that publishers may not give a second chance to an author whose debut generates lukewarm (or cold) sales.

It is difficult to promote myself. I was raised to be modest. What's more, calling or talking to bookstore owners is awkward and a bit humiliating. Seems they'd be happy to promote your book and create a lovely window display if you're J.K. Rowling or Jerry Spinelli, but when you're Gregory Walters,...not so much. I have sent off many emails and received a little press in free community papers in a couple of areas in British Columbia. Last week I had a phone interview with a reporter in Texas who writes for TCU Magazine. However, most of my shot-in-the-dark efforts generate nothing.

I would love a decent review in a publication with a significant circulation. I believe many readers will enjoy following the struggles of Tom and Craig, but I fear too few people will ever know about these characters. There is strong word of mouth from the people who have read the book, but I wonder how far that word can reach.

This summer I'd love to try some creative ways to promote Fouling Out and I welcome any suggestions. Feel free to post a comment.