“Maybe you’re being a bit too American,” said a writer friend when I told her the trouble I’ve been having reaching local readers in the small English town I’ve moved to.
I’d imagined that the best way to begin the journey to instant recognition when walking the streets of any British city would be to start locally. The library system has an online form you can fill out if you want to join one of their reading groups, so I thought I’d drop them a line and tell them there was a writer willing to chat in town. But there was a note on the page saying solicitations were unwelcome.
That’s not super American, right? Hesitation? Not only did I hesitate, I also walked over to my local library to inquire. Sure, I took the copy they have of my novel off the shelf and brought it to the people who seemed to be in charge and introduced myself first, and then I inquired, but I didn’t really see any way around that. The woman I explained myself to was a volunteer. When I got to the “no solicitations” part of the story she said, “Oh, they don’t mean you!” Encouraged by an actual English person, I wrote to all five reading groups in the locality.
It’s been over three months since then.
My husband visited the biggest bookstore in the closest city to us, and while there he mentioned my novel to the staff. They weren’t carrying it. (No, it’s okay. I’m fine with it. I’m fine.) They recommended I write to the leaders of the bookstore’s monthly book group. I wrote.
Okay, okay. I give up. No more reading-group outreach for me. I told myself just to keep writing the next novel. Write good stuff. See what happens.
And then I attended two literary festivals in rapid succession, and benefited so much from the listening and learning and mingling that I thought I’d attend a bunch more. I was looking for an interesting writing workshop (part of the Write Good Stuff commitment) and found one at a festival not far from me. The sign-up link didn’t work, though. I filled out a contact form to ask why, and if there were still places available, and the form didn’t appear to work either. Then, a day or two later, I had an email from the director telling me that the festival had been several months before. I had missed it completely. (Nothing to do with being American. I just need to remember to take my Ritalin when looking at a dozen lit fest websites in a sitting. I get confused.)
That was nice. An email from the festival director. I wrote back with thanks.
End of story.
What? Are you crazy? Of course I added a note about who I am and when my next novel will be out (July 13th, published by John Murray, thanks for asking). And this time, this time, the bait got a bite. She wrote again to ask me to have the publisher send her the details.
So, I’m American. I’m a gun-control-supporting Democrat, but when it comes to doing publicity for my work, it looks like I’ll continue to take the machine-gun approach. I recommend it.
That, and skin as thick as a bulletproof vest.
Because crickets hurt.