Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Big Mouths

I think I may have solved my plot point dilemma by finding a loophole in the rules of my universe and a motivated reason for the characters to do something to create that loophole. We'll see how well it works when I get there.

This book is a bit darker and more serious than the first two, I think. It's delving a little deeper into the characters and showing them in different settings. Then again, the really funny stuff almost always seems to come in rewrites for me. I have made use of the time-honored way to add humor when the rest of the story is more serious: comic relief characters. I've only written a few pages with my new characters, but I already love these guys. It's one of those rare cases where a character jumps fully formed into my head, name, speech patterns, behavior and all. There was no character development involved. They just showed up on the scene as complete beings, and I have no idea where they came from. That's one of my favorite things to have happen when I'm writing.

On the publicity front, now that the holidays (and the transit strike) are over and the publishing world is back at work, my editor is getting ready to do a "big mouth mailing." It's a way of generating some word of mouth by sending advance copies of a book to certain people who are famous, influential or otherwise have some kind of forum through which they can talk about books. This is aside from the media. A mailing like this usually targets other authors or people in the publishing business, celebrities, people who are known to have expertise or influence in a certain area, etc. I'm probably on the lower tier of this, but I've received a few books this way (all from my own publisher). Normally, this is done with the finished book right around the time it's published, so the word of mouth can start spreading when the book becomes available. We're doing something a little different with this because it's a series. We're sending out a finished copy of Enchanted, Inc. with the pre-publication galley of Once Upon Stilettos, with the idea that it might take time to read two books, the first book is currently available, and it could generate buzz leading up to the second book. My editor and I are researching ideas of people to send books to -- people who might be interested in this sort of thing and who might be in a position to spread the word to other people who might be interested. It's totally bonus if a celebrity is photographed or spotted with a book cover visible and it's a celebrity my target audience cares about.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure how many of the frequently photographed celebrities can actually read, and if they do get themselves photographed with a book, it's usually some snobby literary work to make them appear smart and intellectual (regardless of whether they actually read it or if they just carry it around with the cover visible). It's all a long shot, but it can pay off in huge ways. My editor knows of an author who happens to live in the same apartment building with Sarah Jessica Parker. The author gave SJP a copy of her book. SJP happened to have it in her bag one day when they were shooting an episode of Sex and the City that called for Carrie to be sitting in her apartment, reading a book. SJP pulled that book out of her bag and used it in the show. When that episode aired, sales of the book shot up. Since then, my editor has been trying to send books to actresses in the target demographic or to people who produce TV shows that appeal to the target demographic. She hasn't had much luck because they all seem to think she's shopping the book for film rights, and she has to explain when managers call back that it's just a gift, something for them to read if they care to, like the book equivalent of all those handbags and sunglasses they get sent. Apparently, the idea of reading a book just to read it is a foreign concept in some circles.

I'm not going to share the preliminary brainstorming list we have going because it's likely to change, and in the age of Google, you don't want to go listing people's names for something like this (wouldn't want them to get their hopes up!). But I'm curious, does anyone have any ideas of celebrities or other influential people who might be interested in something like Enchanted, Inc.? (And no fair naming yourself just to get an advance look at the next book, unless you're famous or are closely associated with someone famous.)

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