Therese here. Today’s guest is the delightful Rebecca Rasmussen, who’s here to talk with us about her experience with publicity and how it’s impacted her–personally and professionally–since the release of her debut novel, The Bird Sisters. Rebecca’s novel releases in paperback today, and if you haven’t yet picked it up, now’s the time. Said the Library Journal Review in their starred review of her book:
Rasmussen’s debut novel is full of grace and humanity. Her heroines are fearless and romantic, endearing and engaging, and her poetic prose creates an almost magical, wholly satisfying world.
This is a beautiful book, and if you know Rebecca at all, this will not surprise you.
Enjoy her post!
Publicity: Soul Crushing or Life Affirming?
If you know me at all, you know the answer already. Or at least my answer. When I’m playing the part of novelist I’m an eternal optimist in ways I’m not when I’m, say, in the checkout line at Target and my daughter is crying because I won’t buy her a Barbie doll and I tell her instead that if Barbie was real she wouldn’t be able to stand on her own two feet. Barbie crushes my soul; publicity doesn’t. But it almost did after my novel The Bird Sisters was published in hardcover this past April.
Back then (in the eighteen months between signing my contract and publication) my instinct was to look after the book with the same intensity I looked after my daughter from the time I found out I was pregnant and stopped drinking coffee, to the time she took her first breath outside of my belly and the doctor announced her her-ness and her shock of thick black hair. One of the big differences is that a first novel, or any novel for that matter, doesn’t automatically breathe on its own, which is why I vowed to help The Bird Sisters along as much as I could.
I emailed. I am blogged. I tweeted. I called. I Friended. I Dugg. I Reddited. I Google Buzzed. I became a good typist!
I’m dreamt about the weird bump on my right hand, and the good health insurance I couldn’t afford that would allow me to see a doctor without bankrupting us. I’m dreamt about the word tenure-track and had nightmares about the word adjunct. Oh, book, please deliver me from that mean-spirited word! I thought.
What an awful load to put on a little book! To put on myself.
I knew better, and still I did it.
Then came the book’s release day and the still upcoming months of waiting to see if all my hard work and reaching out had had any impact on the sales of the book. These were long months. But I’m thankful for them because they gave me time to open my eyes to something more important. In the nearly two years of working on spreading the word about my book to the world (because initially mine was a small book for my publisher), I made a lot of lovely friends – people I never would have met if I hadn’t been blogging and tweeting and generally working my butt off every day. It may sound like a Girl Scout troop theme song (wait, I think it is!): a ring is round it has no end, that’s how long I want to keep my friends…but it’s true.
It’s how I feel.
My wonderful new friends shouted about my book to their wonderful friends and their wonderful friends shouted about it to their wonderful friends, so on and so forth, and I really believe that’s the main reason why I have good news to share with you today: The Bird Sisters, which is being published in its paperback version today (November 22nd) has been chosen as the December/January pick for the Ladies’ Home Journal and their new, very cool book club—look for the pink sticker on the cover! It’s also the reason I believe the book was chosen to be part of Target’s Emerging Authors Program starting in December and the reason my publisher is devoting a lot of attention to it the second time around. (I screamed when I heard the new print run, which I didn’t do when I heard the first one.)
Still, no checks are popping up in my mailbox just yet. No offers of great health insurance either. But everyday I get a message from one of my friends and everyday I have something to smile about. I’m lucky. Really lucky.
Maybe publicity can be a little soul crushing if you’re only out to market your book. At first, I thought that’s what I was doing. For the first few weeks, I felt a little like Barbie—fake!—until one day I noticed a blogger who was having a hard time with her daughter. The little girl was having tantrums at every turn, and her mother was in tears over it online. I remember tweeting with her, telling her I was going through the same thing with my daughter and we messaged each other back and forth until we were laughing about our temporarily devilish she-children. At one point, I think I may have even said that it was Barbie’s fault that our daughters were freaking out at dinner and in the bathtub. And I think she may have said, “Everything’s Barbie’s fault.” And I know I said, “I’m SO happy I met you.”
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Rebecca, and best of luck with your paperback release! Readers, you can learn more about Rebecca and The Bird Sisters by visiting her website and blog, and by following her on Facebook and Twitter. Write on!
Photo courtesy Flickr’s striatic