Listen. We’re so excited to have you on our team. We’re all so excited about this novel! It’s for a niche market for sure, but we’re very confident we can position this. We’re just now running your manuscript through Editmaster to get all your adverbs stripped out. So it’s time to talk marketing.
Oh good–I was wondering where you were going to send me on the book tour.
We send you! We send you? Omigod, you’re precious. Now, we certainly want to encourage you to do as many readings as you can. And keep in mind it doesn’t have to be in a book store. It could be in a coffeehouse. It could be in the subway. Use your imagination. How’s your platform coming along?
You mentioned you started a blog. How’s it tracking?
I haven’t thought of anything to put in it yet.
Oh that’s easy. Just break it down into thirds. You have a cat?
That’s one-third right there. How easy is that? And then for the second third you can do rants, you know, things that happened to you in the parking lot, or the grocery store line, etc., etc., or you could take pictures of what you had for dinner–or both, you could divide the second third into two, and that would make it, what, fourths?
Not even. Evenly. Sorry for the adverb.
So then that leaves you the last third for building buzz for your book. You don’t want to hit this too hard. You want to bring them in for the cat pictures and then make sure they know you have a book coming out. You want to make them yearn for that book. Little excerpts, or mini-stories featuring your main characters. You could even have a little weekly feature, “what would Mrs. Cartwright do?” You know, set up a scene, and then ask your readers what they’d do if they were in Mrs. Cartwright’s sensible shoes. They’re going to know Mrs. Cartwright. They’re invested in Mrs. Cartwright.
And then you’ll need a twitter account. You’re going to want to put in at least five tweets a day. I can see that look right over the phone, missy! Listen, you don’t have to like it. You just have to do it. I’m going to ask you to grow up a little and do your part. It’s easy peasy. You can set them up to fire off in advance.
I don’t even get why anyone looks at twitter. I just don’t get it.
Doesn’t matter. It’s easy peasy. One of your daily tweets could be linking to someone else’s cat picture. That’s 20% right there.
I don’t know.
Or, I know! You say you don’t like twitter, so out-twitter them! The heck with 140 characters. You’re a word person, right?
You could do your favorite words.
You mean, verbs?
Verbs, sure! You like verbs, you get known for your verbs. Put in five tweets a day, all single verbs. Plummet. Honk. Wangle. Pretty soon, you’ve got people wondering, what is this girl up to? And then they start to figure it out. They’re all verbs! Now you’re the Verb Lady.
You are! And then with Facebook, that’s easy. Just set aside a half hour a day to comment on other people’s threads. Pretty soon their friends know your name even if they’re not your friends. Start to work it into conversations. “Well, call me the verb lady–but that cat of yours sure knows how to sashay.”
I don’t know.
And ask everyone to like your book page.
Oh, honey. They don’t have to like it, they just need to “like” it. Trust me, darling. Now. Can you dance?
Can I what?
Dance. Doesn’t matter. Even if you can’t dance, it can be cute. In fact, it’s even cuter. There you are, dancing kind of wacky, and people start to notice. I mean, lots of people have videos of themselves dancing. But bad dancing? Those are the ones that get shared.
Where am I dancing?
Oh, use your imagination. Manhole cover? City Hall? Mt. Rushmore? There you are, just hopping in circles on one foot, flapping your arms. It’s your signature. People will wonder where you’ll show up next. Ooo! You said you have a cat. Can you hold your cat up in the air and hop around on one foot?
No, we need consistency. Think. What else?
I have chickens.
Yes! You’re a creative genius, that’s why we love you! Hopping around on one foot holding a chicken above your head! Omigod, that’s perfect. You’ll be the chicken lady. The Chicken Verb Lady.
I don’t see what this has to do with my novel.
It has to do with buzz, my darling girl. You’re building buzz. Before long, people are wondering, where is the Chicken Verb Lady going to dance next? Can we get a picture of the two of us together and put it on Facebook?
But my novel has nothing to do with chickens.
It has nothing to do with vampires, either, darling, but we’re publishing it anyway. We’re going out on a total limb for you, sweet cheeks, don’t forget that. Try to work with us here.
I’m sorry. I’ll try. But my novel is about two sisters who grow apart and then realize that their differences are just two sides of the same coin of contending with their difficult mother, and they come to an uneasy truce over her long-term care.
And at the end there is some intimation that their own daughters are falling into the same patterns. Are you still there?
Okay, we don’t want to stress all that. We’re trying to build buzz for your book, not put people to sleep! All right. I think this market plan is shaping up. We’ve got six months before the book comes out, plenty of time to get this show on the road. Whenever anyone Googles “dancing chicken verb lady” they’ll get sent right to your book page. Your blurbs, we’ll have a bit of flash animation of you dancing with the chicken across the top. Oh! And we’ll send you to the World Series.
I love baseball! You’re sending me to the World Series?
There’s nothing in the marketing budget for airfare or tickets or anything. So you get to the World Series somehow and you make your way down to the first base line and hop around on one foot with your chicken in front of the dugout. Everyone in America will see you. I think we can get Publicity to cut loose enough money to set you up with a hotel room.
We can probably get enough out of Legal for your bail. But not too soon! Buzz, baby, buzz!
MURR! Are you making an announcement? Should we expect a bouncing baby booklet in six months? The World Series will be in Detroit this year. We have a nice guest room. I'll put you up.
Oh hell no. I have now written not one, but two novels and can't get a literary agent to take a sniff at either manuscript. The first one I only sent queries about to five or six people and then got distracted writing the second. The second I've tried about thirty agents. I'd feel better if they read the whole thing and then rejected it (maybe) but one does suspect they're not even taking a peek. Anyway, with the new year, I'm all fired up to keep trying.
Hey, the World Series? I might take you up on that anyway!
Just keep in mind all the publishers that turned down Harry Potter before Scholastic took a chance. Keep swinging away, my talented friend. Those who succeed are usually those who are as persistent as a tick on a hound's butt — and I know you've got it in you. 🙂
I wonder if Stephen King or JK Rowling had to contend with this. It might be simpler to actually write a novel about dancing with a chicken.
And be named Stephen King or JK Rowling.
Yes, Rowling had to battle to get published. Her book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript.
Bet each one now wishes they had taken it on!!!
A dancing chicken verb cat lady…hmmm…I'd read a book from that person…why yes I would!
See? SEE? Tell them.
If I saw that I would run in the other direction.
Ahh, marketing. Maybe you could get a dancing vampire chicken that sleeps with your cat. That would create great buzz.
Yeah, no. Vampires are out. This second book mentions zombies so I kept putting that in my query as a hook even though it's not a zombie book. Now I have learned that zombies are over and so the next round of queries will not mention zombies at all, even though the book does.
Better yet, photos of your vampire cat dancing with the chickens.
Obviously you've met my cat. Doesn't "dancing with the chickens" sound like a metaphor for death?
Sounds like a metaphor for something. A drug-induced lethargy perhaps? Wait – no! It's a metaphor for trying to interest an agent in the latest novel! As in, "I am so sick of dancing with the chickens!"
How about Roxie dancing with the cat to the music of the chickens clucking??? Now that would be quite a sight!
Actually, I can imagine that.
Well, you'd better get going I have googled "dancing chicken verb lady" and you haven't hit the first page yet. It is going to take some serious dedication in order to beat Lady Ga Ga. She is on the first search result page. Maybe dancing with Pootie would put you on a higher search result.
Good luck with all of it. Sounds crazy, weird, and sort of exciting. A subject for a next novel?
Sadly (see above), this fantasy phone call is what I have to look forward to if I'm LUCKY. I haven't reached this stage of disappointment yet.
Here is a dancing chicken:
Well, you have pretty much cured me of every wanting to publish anything. Here you have talent and you still have to go through this??? They didn't mention sex…so at least you are not going the Mylie Cyrus route.
I'm not sure if trying that would get me anywhere, at this point. Hmm.
I would not have enough money to pay for the sex but maybe you do. OHHHHHH, you mean Murr providing sex!!!???
Murr is not providing the sex. Anytime soon. Here.
To cheer you up, I'm going to go buy a copy of Weasel Trousering right now. Trouser Weaseling. Weasel Trousers. Troweling the Weasel. Right now.
Yay! A vote of confidence! Want me to send you one?
"check's in the mail", as they say.
"Position This" – your title is how I'd certainly feel after a phone call even one-tenth that obnoxious 🙂
I haven't given up yet. I Have Only Begun To Query! (add heroic inflection here)
Never attempted the publishing thing, but I am told by sort of reliable sources that your experience here is pretty standard. Your report, though, is hilarious. Good luck.
I found a whole new lode of agents. Second-tier possibly, but I'm going for them. Look out world. And then of course once you have an agent you're still not published.
Aaaargh. As a non tweating, non Facebook type of girl, this is scary. Fortunately I am also a non writing type of girl.
Good luck. Because I am most definitely a reading type of girl.
I like that in a girl.
Hahaha. I don't know which is funnier: the text or the decreasing excitement in the series of photos. Wish I had something encouraging to offer up, but alas, nothing comes to mind.
It's not like I'm going to stop doing this shit. I never get THAT discouraged.
There is a machine called Editmaster that strips adverbs? I wonder what it would do if you fed the market-y person through it!
The only time I dared send a couple of sample chapters I got a gushing letter about how right on the mark and punchy(yes, the word they used) this was. But, see, the thing is, it's so on the mark, by the time we get this edited, and proofed, and dummied and into our timetable, it will be off the mark. It's the language you use that dates, see?
Will you book have pictures of Pootie wearing the tin foil hat?
That one was a favorite, wasn't it? But funny how a handsome man look good in any old thing he throw on.
Hilarious, and all too true.
Some day I hope to get to the stage of getting this phone call.
My god – so much in common it warms the heart.
The Hot Shoppes in Arlington, ownership of black cats, and now rejection.
The instant I finished reading this I sent a link for it to my writing group. And good luck with that chicken.
Thanks! Please go have a hot fudge brownie sundae in my name.
You made me laugh my fool head off – this is far too true!
After I'd written my first three novels, I sent out one query. I was literally rejected faster than humanly possible: When I submitted, I got a an automated "out of office" email that said the agent was gone until the end of the week, but two days before he was due to return I got a form-letter rejection.
Being the patient, self-effacing sort I am, I said "F*#@ this" and self-published. Much to my amazement, readers found my books and liked them. And more to the point, they *bought* them. It was a helluva lot of work and I don't know if the strong sales will last, but so far it's been 'way better than curling into fetal position in a corner.
That's not as fast as one of mine. "Out of office?" I got the actual rejection in the immediate return email. Causes me to suspect he didn't read anything. You think?
And good good goody for you! I don't know if I have the heart for all the marketing it would take. Not that you don't still have to do it–but at least some of the drudgery is theoretically taken out. I have so little interest in doing any more work than writing the book.
I LOVE your scarf. Really. I do.
Fabric Depot cheapie, I believe.
Thank you Murr, you have given me a good idea about how to structure my 'platform'. One third on my dogs, one third on the grandlings and the last on rants and raves. It's just what the Internet needs (insert sarcastic exclamation point here).
Another way to draw attention to your writing would be to start a campaign to rescue adverbs. You could call it the Royal Society to Prevent Adverb Cruelty (RSPAC). Ask Prinz and Queen Latifa to be Patrons so you have the royalty part covered, make big posters declaring "Down With Editmaster) and you, Dave, Pootie and the chicken could march around a publishing house, or book shop, whichever is nearer. That should draw some attention to your book.
By the way, I love the colour of your wall, the one behind the phone base, and the colour and shape of your chair. Just don't let the chicken get anywhere near them!
Actually (!), I think adverbs are weak, myself. But I still use them. Sparingly. And thanks! We loves green.
1) I need your chair. Send it pronto?
2) You really *are* known for your verbs.
3) The question remains: what would Mrs. Cartwright do?
1) Stickley. Thanks for liking. You'll have to visit it.
2) Aw, sweetie.
3) I don't know. She isn't in MY novel.
Any more of that buzzing we'd have to rename you Bee. What's this about a book now? Is Trousering Your Weasel available for kindle?
I really like the way you've tied that scarf, can you print pictures or details of how to do that? Please?
It isn't in e-book format yet. It probably shouldn't be. You shouldn't put your expensive devices on the toilet tank. And here is one way to tie a scarf.
Thanks for the scarf tying page, I'll practise.
My toilet tank isn't flat, nothing will sit on it, even the stupid laundry hamper next to it has a curved lid!
Maybe if you posted a picture of you and your cat on Facebook dressed as zombies eating a live chicken and reading your book of verbs it would go viral. Or do like me and go have a beer and take a nap.
Guess which one of those options I am going to choose?
Tell me the chickens are real. Tell me they are.
I would like to tell you, of all people, that they are. We almost had chickens. We were going to build them a cool house with a tower and everything. We were going to raise them for their poop, because we're chicken poop people, and get the eggs as a bonus. But we abandoned the idea and planted asparagus where the chickens would have been. I'm sorry.
Pootie wants chickens.