One year ago I signed my contract with my publisher, Brooke Warner, to achieve my goal and in four months I’ll have a published novel, Freedom Lessons (She Writes Press). I quickly learned that writing The End is NOT the end. Two years ago, I started the search for an agent. In that search I had some interest and a number of requests, some for the first five pages, or the first 50 pages, and even the entire manuscript. But no one believed in my story like I did until I submitted it to She Writes Press. That led to a phone conversation with Brooke and when she offered a Fall November 2019 Publication date I knew I was in the right place. That date is exactly the 50th anniversary of the events in my story. From the start, Brooke and the community of She Writes Press Authors have supported me in every aspect of this publishing journey and then I realized I was and I am my own agent. It is my job to get myself and my book out there. I know I can count on my family and friends. They have been there for me but my job is to find the next circle beyond them. Following the advice of another She Writes Press author, Belle Brett (https://deaddarlings.com/months-publication-tentative-tips-debut-novelist/) here are some of the many actions I’ve taken. I updated my website, got a professional headshot, hired a publicist, set up my book launch, continue taking webinars, upped my game on social media and I’m finding joy in the marketing process.
Joy is more than being happy. It comes from a deep place in me. It rises up and fills me with a glow. I typically reserve “joy” to describe the day I married my husband, the births of our daughters and our grandchildren. But last week I left a local library with a spring in my step and that feeling of joy rising up which carried me through the day. I have bundles of 50 bookmarks to promote my book and a plan to visit every local library around (I have enough for 50 libraries!).
It takes some effort to convince my introverted self to walk in to deliver my pitch and offer a librarian a bundle of bookmarks for patrons. But I’m doing it “bird by bird”. Every time I’ve given my pitch the librarian has been welcoming and receptive. Last week, a librarian who appeared to be twenty-something was VERY interested and asked to look at the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in my hand. Here’s an example of the perennial mindset - we just chatted like girlfriends of the same age. She then encouraged me to contact her supervisor who schedules events in the main library and the two other branches. I did. Today, a librarian I met three months ago, before I had bookmarks or an ARC to offer sent me an invitation to her library for an event for my book. I said yes.
And, this morning before I had the idea to write this blog post, I spoke with a representative of a national technology company for school leaders. They offer free resources to support the professional development of educators. I’ll be doing a podcast! A first person perspective of mandated school integration in the era of Brown v. Board of Education which will share my story to a broader audience than I could have dreamed. My career path as an educator and an administrator is a good match but I didn’t do this alone wearing my '‘agent hat.” One of our daughters made this connection for me and I am grateful for family and friends who are helping me share my story. And thanks to Belle Brett, I’m going “to regularly remind myself that I wrote a novel, for heaven’s sake”, and someone wanted to publish it, and someone wants to help me “make the magic happen.” That magic is bubbling up as joy as I put myself out there.