Recently, a few media contacts, I’ve been working on, in some cases, for a full year, have finally come to fruition. In June 2010, my first novel, The Heart of the Spring, was published and I began the media chase to get the needed publicity to sell books. After all, publication is just the first BIG step.
Unless your name is Stephen King or John Grisham, your next BIG step is marketing and that takes as much, if not more time, sweat and energy than writing the book in the first place.
The Heart of the Spring, a historical novel set in 1924 tells the story of the beginning of Missouri’s first state park, Bennett Spring in southwest Missouri. As an area resident for over 30 years, I’ve written several historical articles on Bennett Spring for various publications. With that foundation, I placed a fictional family in the 1924 Ozarks and voíla, a novel was born. I’ve been blessed in that it has been well received by reviewers and readers, selling more than 700 copies in just over a year. The Bennett Spring Park Store concessionaire sells it in his store as do several other local stores. It is available on my website BetweentheStarandtheCross.com as well as Infinity’s website. In August 2011, the sequel, was also released. The Heart of the Spring Lives On picks up the story and same characters, 11 years later. In 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was in the park (and many other parks across the nation), building the many features we know today as Bennett Spring State Park. Many who have read it, are already asking, when will the third one be available? (The answer: The Heart of the Spring Forevermore will be available next summer.)
Even so, one must continue to court the media and recently, it occurred to me that this is the very same struggle we face with editors and publishers. Once again, we, the writers, must present our work in an abbreviated form as we try to convince the local newspaper editor, commentator, or radio show host that our book is of interest to the general public and worth a few column inches or a bit of their air time. And once again, we run into the same obstacles. What if the media person we are writing to, emailing, calling or otherwise attempting to contact (dare I say FACEBOOKing or Tweeting?) doesn’t like our topic or knows nothing of it?
Years ago, my first book by a traditional publisher was about adoption, but when I was interviewed by a single man on television, it was disastrous. And then there are editors and news folks who are too busy, overwhelmed, or ‘scared’ of independently published authors.
When an article I’d been working on for nearly a year came out in the newspaper the night before a book signing, the result was 26 books sold at a very small book store on Labor Day weekend. And in early October, I was interviewed on a local TV talk show. The interviewer told me beforehand, he loved historical novels!
Just like when writing the book, a writer cannot allow herself to become overly discouraged. When the media seems to ignore your efforts—learn to bide your time, try a different reporter or a different approach, just like you would with a publisher, an agent, or an editor. Keep your professional ‘cool’, keep working, keep praying! and you will prevail.
Laura L. Valenti has been blessed to be a Bennett Spring resident and a freelance writer for over 30 years. She has written more than 500 newspaper and magazine features, including several on the history of the state park. She is the author of two non-fiction books and two previous novels. She and her husband, Warren, recently retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation, are the parents of four grown children and grandparents to five grandsons, all of whom still love to fish at Bennett Spring. The Heart of the Spring is also available on her website www.betweenthestarandthecross.com.