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Lessons learned from a Book Promo Frenzy

01 Nov

Sharon A. Crawford holding up copy of Beyond the Tripping Point

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

Tennessee Williams

With the windy and rainy remnants of Hurricane Sandy hitting Toronto, I wasn’t sure I would even make it to the TV taping. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before. But Sandy’s winds died down Tuesday morning and I showed up for the Internet TV interview about my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point.

And if you are thinking, “I’m just writing my book so why would I be interested in doing interviews?”  Besides thinking ahead for the PR aspect (self-publishing or traditional publishing, you have to do PR), interviews (in front of a camera or not) can provide a good experience for you to focus on what your book is about, how you came to write it and who your characters are. I’ll cover just the highlights of my interview because once the interview is edited it should be online.

The studio is on the fourth floor of an old five-story building in downtown Toronto. The elevator didn’t look too promising so I took the stairs, went around a corner and opened the door to the studio. Everything is one room and the atmosphere is a combination of professional, friendly and helpful. I signed in, met the host and co-host, handed them a copy of my book and after their beginning preamble, I was introduced.

I wasn’t really nervous, probably because I do public speaking, readings, teach writing workshops and run a writing critique group. And I had prepared – just a brief list of what to expect from the channel’s previous podcasts, but mostly I had done practice runs in my head and verbally (Confession: I sometimes talk to myself). In the back of my mind was the editor at Blue Denim Press’s warning to try to stay on topic as the host sometimes wanders off topic.

In the 20 minutes we covered a lot of territory, including my background as a journalist, book editor and fiction writer, as well as some of the quirky characters in the story. I talked about the fraternal twin private investigators, Dana Bowman and Bast Overture in the four linked stories and the control freak protagonist in “No Breaks.” For the latter I delved into how that story came into existence – based on a true experience when a friend and I were driving up Highway 11 and her brakes failed. She was driving and knew enough to use her parking brake; we also went in and out of gas stations trying to find a bay so the brakes could be fixed. That’s where the true story ends. In “No Breaks” (the word has a double-meaning, hence the spelling), the story is told from the point-of-view (had to get POV in here somewhere) of the protagonist, Millie, who is not attractive, lost her job a few months previously, and has decided when they get up to the cottage owned by her friend, Jessica’s grandmother, she is going to jump in the lake. Things don’t go as planned and Millie, for once, goes over her tripping point and spontaneously commits a crime.

The co-host seemed to connect with my book’s characters. And the host had fun playing with some of the items I had brought along – items appearing in or used by some of the characters in Beyond the Tripping Point – an oversized magnifying glass (Great Aunt Doris in “Digging Up the Dirt”), a toy-size steam engine that sometimes starts “whoo-whoing” (“Porcelain Doll”),and a toy ambulance (“Missing in Action”). I even had a chance to read about a page and a half of one story, “The Body in the Trunk” and I could see to read from my book. In answer to a question about upcoming readings, etc. I plugged my book launch this Sunday, Nov. 4 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard time) at The Rivoli in downtown Toronto.

How the interview actually turned out will be seen once the edited version is up on the station’s website. It is live-streamed when being taped but the recorded version isn’t up yet, so I’m feeling a bit apprehensive. Did I curse the taping? My editor says it takes a few days for it to get edited and up.

So, back to an author with a book in-the-works being interviewed. You can do like I did years ago (back in the grey ages) in the writing courses I took. The instructor had us pair up and interview each other. For your practice interview, get someone (but not a close friend or family member – they know you too well) to interview you. If the person is in the interview biz, all the better – they can come up with pertinent questions about you and your book. You can do some prep beforehand like I did with the brief list and head/talk-to-myself practices. But the best bet is to know your book – plot and characters – and why you wrote/are writing it. You’ve been living with your book so it should be in your head. You may feel nervous but take a deep breath and go with the flow. You might even want to video record it (and perhaps put it on You Tube and connect it to your website or blog).

At any rate, the interview experience can bring you closer to your book’s characters and plot – and maybe even help you sort out any inconsistencies in plot and character. Consider it a learning experience for the real deal when you publish your book.

Meantime, check http://www.thatchannel.com later on for my interview on The Liquid Lunch. Hopefully it will be up there soon.

If you are in the Toronto area, come to my book launch at The Rivoli Nov. 4. More details at http://www.bluedenimpress.com  – click on “Toronto. Or go to http://www.amazon.com for copies of my book. O better still, click on the book cover image below.

Now please excuse me while I send out some book launch reminders and drop off a copy of Beyond the Tripping Point for review at a Toronto newspaper office.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon’s book Beyond the Tripping Point up close

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