Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catching Up—Las Comadres, AWP, Woven Voices

Las Comadres is a 25-year-old national organization that brings Latinas together through email, teleconferences, and in person to engage in dialogues around culture and other aspects of life. They have a national series of teleconferences in which their members all around the nation discuss books they've read with their authors--Las Comadres Conversations With...   

And Every Last Secret has been selected for one of these conversations in May!

This is a real honor, and I’m very excited. This is a great organization that's doing such essential work in many ways, but especially promoting reading and literature this way. So I’m really looking forward to my teleconference with these bright, inquiring Latina minds!

Right now, I’m getting ready to head to the Associated Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) national conference for a crazy, hectic week. I’ll be co-hosting the Ragdale reception on Thursday evening at the Cliff Dwellers, and I hope to read at the Guild Complex/Tia Chucha Press reading afterward—if I’m not too physically worn out by then. Then, on Friday night, I will read with the Latino Writers Collective and  Proyecto Latina at Columbia College Chicago in one of the off-site readings. With our great Chicago friends, the damas of Proyecto Latina, we hope to put a distinctive Midwestern spin on this national celebration of the written word.

I will also be on a panel with fellow Latino Writers Collective members on Saturday from 3:00-4:15 pm that will discuss our experiences with offering writing workshops to the children of migrant farm workers. This has been such a fruitful and satisfying project for the Collective, and the feedback says that we’ve really made a change in these young people’s lives. We’ll talk about how we started and how other groups could do something similar in their areas.

I will be working at the Tia Chucha Press/Scapegoat Press table (B12, like the vitamin) in the bookfair much of the time I’m at the conference. I’ll have ARCs of Every Last Secret with its gorgeous cover top show off to any of my friends who visit me.
 I hope everyone will also check out the dynamite new book I edited—Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriqueñas Look at their American Lives. This book braids a conversation of poetry among three very different but truly related poets, Anita Velez-Mitchell, grandmother and mother, Gloria Vando, mother and daughter, and Anika Paris, daughter and granddaughter.  
Ruth Behar, author of An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba says, “Woven Voices is like no other poetry book! Here is a gorgeous trio of poets, a grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter who share family ties, a common Puerto Rican history, and the twists and turns of a diasporic journey. Each speaking in her own unique voice, Anita, Gloria, and Anika write with honesty and tenderness about the big themes of home and mortality as well as about everyday lessons and losses. Read the poems together and separately and you'll find yourself singing along, entering a world of beauty and truth you didn't know existed.”
On Thursday here in the Literary Mystery Novelists series, you can read an interview with Rhys Bowen, author of two current mystery series plus an earlier one that have won many awards. An extra bonus if you’re jones-ing for a Downton Abbey fix—one series is set in that time period among Britain’s aristocracy.
Then, on Monday, we’ll return to the Books of Interest by Writers of Color series, and midweek I’ll try to post another installment of the series on Juggling the Two Jobs of Writing Novels and Promoting Books.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Juggling Novel-Writing and Book Promotion—Part 2 Next Steps

In my last post on this topic, http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com/2012/02/juggling-novel-writing-and-book.html, I gave you some awesome resources I’ve run across in my own search to learn how to handle this new dual job of writing books and promoting them at the same time. Most of those were resources for the social media/promotion half of the equation. I suggested you look at Twitter, Facebook, and the world of free blogs and add one only to whatever you already have. The other piece of that half of the equation is to build up your presence on whatever social media you are already using.

If you’re already connecting with friends, family, and old school chums on Facebook, you know the basics there, so make a little plan of what you could do on Facebook to build your professional presence there. I know there are people who say we should all get Author Pages on Facebook, but I’ve chosen not to go that way. As writers, a lot of our promotion, of necessity, is just giving our readers and potential readers the opportunity to get to know us and the tone of our voices. An Author Page is more formal and doesn’t allow our regular posts to show up in others’ timelines. So they have to seek us out always. A regular Friend Page lets our posts show in our friends’ and readers’ timelines. NOTE: This does not mean posting five status updates in one morning that all say, “Buy my book!”

Twitter is a very different kind of interface. Tweets are so short and so quickly replaced by others’ tweets that you can tweet several widely-spaced times in a day with a link to a blog or review or announcement that your book is out, is free, won an award, whatever. Again, however, if you send dozens of “Buy my book!” tweets, people will either block you, unfollow you, or place you on a list they don’t have to be bothered with (essentially making you invisible to them).

The key word in social media is social. It’s not cold-calling in sales. You wouldn’t go up to everyone at a party, saying “Buy my book!” Neither should you online. It’s called courtesy and basic etiquette.

If your choice from the last post was to begin a blog, I suggest you sit down and spend half an hour brainstorming topics for your blog, making a long list. You’ll be glad of this when your brain goes blank as you open the New Post window, and it will come in very handy later when we move into writing multiple posts ahead of time and scheduling them to publish at later dates.

I know. I know. I haven’t touched yet on GoodReads or LibraryThing. Haven’t even looked toward Google+ or LinkedIn or any of the other social networks out there. But we’re starting with basics here. We’ll look at those later as we start branching out.
The other half of the writing/promoting equation for next steps is answering the question, How do I find time to do all of this and write my books, as well? And the beginning to the answer to that is to restrict promotion to one or a very few types of social media at first, and only as we learn how to use them and combine them to make them more efficient and effective expand. If you throw yourself into every kind of social media at once, you will burn out without ever learning enough about any of them to make your efforts bear any real fruit.

As part of that beginning of balance, we need to keep reminding ourselves that promotion activities may be important, but they’re not vital, not the way writing the next book is vital. Writing has to come first in our lives if we’re writers.

One of the major problems I’ve encountered, as have many other writers I know, is how to keep the promotion/social media stuff from overflowing into writing time. This is something it will do easily. So next week, we’ll look at ways to be actively involved with promotional and social media activities without sacrificing writing time.

Friday, I’ll have a special Writers of Color post on here about the writers of the books banned in Tucson, including my most-published poem, “Spell for Banning a Book,” and Saturday, I’ll be talking on the Writers Who Kill blog about the necessity to a writer of an efficient postal service and what’s going on with our once-envied U.S. postal system.