Writer Tech: Epitaph goes to New York

Some novelists start with an outline. For them, a book is like a sculpture that will be modeled in clay. In the beginning, there’s just a wire armature. They add and add and add until the story is complete and rounded. For others — and I am among them — a novel starts out like a block of marble. We chip away at a mass of material until the story emerges. Then we smooth it out, bit by bit.

On July 26, 2013, I finished the first complete draft of Epitaph. I know this because I have a Post-It on my computer screen with the date and “197,888 words, 520 pp.” I spent eight months editing it down before submitting the manuscript to the publisher and I’ve continued to cut while waiting for my editor’s comments.

The latest Post-It says, “170,253 words, 480 pp.” This draft of Epitaph would be fifty pages longer than the published version of Doc and that’s okay. It’s a bigger story and covers a long stretch of time. Even so, if the editor or I find anything else that is either unnecessary or unlovely, I’ll happily remove even more material.

In the meantime, Epitaph has entered the production process at Ecco (Harper/Collins) in New York.

I’ve received the art department’s first attempts at a cover. (To me, this is the most fraught aspect of production. It feels as important and personal as choosing a wedding dress, but I am trying very hard not to be a Bridezilla.) We currently have one version of one idea for a cover that I could live with but which isn’t killer. I’m hoping that the next batch of sketches includes something that makes me as happy as the cover of Doc.

Yesterday, I submitted my answers to the author questionnaire for marketing and publicity. I’m a little hazy about the difference between marketing and publicity, but the questions are separated that way.

Marketing wants to know, Do you belong to a club like Sam’s or Costco? What’s your online presence? How many followers on Twitter? How many Likes on Facebook? Who should we send review copies to? Who might blurb this book? What are your demographics? Do you mention any brand name products in your book? What cross-promotional opportunities are there?

Publicity, on the other hand, asks about previous experience with news media, TV and radio shows. They need author photos; a 250-word autobiography for the back flap; a 500-word essay about how and why I wrote the novel; a 250-word summary of the story. What specialty magazines or journals might review the book? Do I have friends or contacts in the media?

There’s a part of me that would very much like to be an aloof artiste floating above all this self-promotional commercialism, but the fact is Poe, Dickens and Twain all hustled their work relentlessly. So who am I to complain? It’s part of the job, and the more fodder I can give marketing and publicity, the better for Epitaph.

 

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Writer Tech: Epitaph goes to New York

  1. Mary, please add to your list of successfully promoted authors, J. K. Rowling. And I know your loyal followers wish you that kind of success.

    F.

  2. Hey, if you’re looking for someone to send a review copy to, I’m your girl 🙂 Seriously, MDR, this is very exciting. You must be feeling like the end is in sight!

  3. What??? No Pinterest? Reddit? Buzzfeed? Foursquare? Instagram? Ha! Social media, is, unfortunately, a reality, and, when not totally inane, has some limited value. Perhaps at some point people will get tired of all this faux socializing, but in the meantime, as you said, Mary, it’s part of the job. By the way, I follow no one on Twitter. I don’t want to be a follower!

    Re brand-name references. That’s funny! Let’s see…how about Doc chugging a Red Bull to get revved up for the gunfight? Or putting on his dentist garb and advising a patient to brush with Crest? Or popping a Ricola into his mouth to ease his tuberculosis? Plus, I assume Tombstone Frozen Pizza (available at Wal-Mart) was named in honor of the town, so that’s a natural.

    Or…perhaps you could combine (anti)social media with brand names. Hmmm…Doc tweets, “I shall sip an energizing #Red Bull before the #gunfight.” (yes, the hashtags are essential).

    Anyway, I look forward to reading Epitaph, even if sans product placements!

  4. Please consider pre-publication in edelweiss. Booksellers and “professional readers” can provide pre-pub feedback and start marketing for you the minute it hits the shelves.

  5. Mary,
    Love reading your updates about Epitaph. Doc is one of our “Holy Spirit book club in Avon Lake” favorites, so can’t wait to read Epitaph. I bring your latest comments to book club and read them to everyone and they love hearing from you. Also I will definitely subscribe to HBO when they finally air “DOC”.

  6. Good to know as I continue to whittle down my own 190,000+ page manuscript! As for social media, I had an agent turn my last book down because I didn’t have enough Twitter followers! She liked the writing, but needed to see more followers on Twitter and Facebook. Tis the way it is. I can’t wait to read Epitaph!!!

  7. Good to know as I continue to whittle down my own 190,000+ page manuscript! As for social media, I had an agent turn my last book down because I didn’t have enough Twitter followers! She liked the writing, but needed to see more followers on Twitter and Facebook. Tis the way it is. I can’t wait to read Epitaph!!!

  8. I love all your updates! And I just wanted to tell you to hold out for the best cover you can get! The cover on DOC is my favorite and I, too, hope that they will come up with one as fantastic as that one! 🙂

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