If Gatsby Can Do It
Posted by monicamynk
In a lot of ways, writing a novel reminds me of The Little Engine That Could. The author must plug along, muddle through the tough parts, and then once it’s polished, keep propelling it forward through marketing. It takes a lot of effort. No wonder a lot of books flop.
I’m sitting on a nearly finished, highly polished “first of the trilogy.” It’s easy to worry that this sliver of my creative mind will be a flop. So many questions of doubt–if someone gives me a chance on the first book, do I have what it takes to write the second and third? Or, if I do, what if I put all that time and energy in and the first book flops, and no one ever reads the second and third? As with my last post, I know where that doubt arises, and it’s a temptation I must overcome, but nonetheless, I find myself searching for encouragement, that publishing can be a real possibility.
Yes, I know I could always self-pub, but traditional publishing is on my bucket list.
Of course, I’ve not actively queried or made a huge effort to promote at this point, so it’s really just a fear of the unknown.
I love NPR’s Fresh Air, and stumbled upon this little gem from September 8, 2014, a 38-minute interview with Maureen Corrigan regarding her book, So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures.
Here’s a quote from the NPR article describing the reception of the book in its time:
The literary readers — people like Gertrude Stein, Edmund Wilson, Gilbert Seldes, who was a critic and reviewer of the time who really got Gatsby — they loved it. …
The popular reviewers read it as a crime novel and thought for the most part that it was maybe just OK. There’s a famous headline for a review of The Great Gatsby that came out in theNew York World, and the headline reads, “Fitzgerald’s Latest A Dud.”
Fitzgerald died having no idea of Gatsby’s future success. Another quote, from Corrigan’s book:
What happened to me, a former high-school apostate (idiot), is exactly what happened throughout America, broadly speaking, in the 1940s and ’50s; like me, those midcentury critics and readers gave Gatsby a second chance and were knocked out.
According to the article, what happened was World War II. Publishers printed thousands of copies of books and sent them to soldiers overseas, hoping to give them something to distract them from the fear of war. And as we all know, Gatsby exploded into a powerhouse story.
What’s interesting to me is how well that worked as an unintentional marketing strategy. It makes me wonder what strategies I might take with my books in the future to promote and propel them.
Since I write YA, what if I purchased several copies of my own book to donate to school or church libraries? Maybe I could drop some copies off in the hospital waiting room or send them to local doctor’s offices?
Friends of mine have suggested promotional bookmarks, and offer tips about distributing them. It would be easy and cheap to print tons of them and send them out to high school English teachers.
I think, in these days of self-promotion, success comes down to how hard you want to work for it. Even for traditionally published authors.
This interesting article addresses self-promotion, from The New York Times Sunday Book Review, by Tony Perrottet. He goes through the history and points out that even back in the day, many of the greats had to engage in self-promotion to sell books.
So, perhaps I’ve written a flop. Maybe you have, too. But that old proverb comes to mind:
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
About monicamynkI'm a Christian, wife, mother, and high school science teacher, and author of the Cavernous Trilogy and Goddess to Daughter Series.
Posted on September 14, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged author, doubt, fear, flop, gatsby, publishing, self-promotion, self-publishing, try again, write, writer, writing, young adult. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.