Friday, June 2, 2023

What Works When Sharing Your Work? Unexpected and Traditional Publicity Tips from Five Published Writers

Be sure to scroll down to the Shout Out! at the end of this post for some exciting news.

I've been learning--somewhat to my private self's dismay--that reaching out to readers requires not only persistence but exposure.

It's risky to share the author behind the book.

Yet this week I interviewed five published writers--and former students of mine--who have gone on to reinvent their outreach and succeed beautifully in touching readers and building a worthwhile, supportive community in the process.

What if you don't want to build community? Or have readers know you behind your book?

I've heard this a lot from writers: "You mean, after all the years of putting together a publishable book, I also have to welcome readers into my private life and be glad about it?" It's certainly up to you. And in past times, that worked--the writer stayed in her cozy room and her book got whisked into the hands of readers without much effort. Or so it was true with my early books.

Promotion when I began publishing in the eighties was also more about how you appeared than anyone getting to know you as a person. When one of my nonfiction books was published, the publisher hired a wonderful publicist who got me interviews on over 100 radio and television programs, and my goal was just to look and talk like an expert--or at least someone who knew what they were writing. Of course imposter syndrome flared--I ran the gamut, grateful when my book sold well, but all the time wary of being outed for my real life. I didn't want readers coming too close--I'm able to admit that now, looking back.

Today's author needs to be more focused on building community with readers. Podcasts, "in conversation with" events, how we share on social media, all this is about getting to know the story behind the story. Readers want to relate to the person who wrote the book we so admire--or are curious to read.

It means the writer becomes known, not just for her words but for herself.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Subscribe to this blog on Substack!

Dear wonderful subscribers,

This is just to let you know that I'm moving my blog to Substack this week, which allows you to receive my weekly posts in your inbox each Friday morning.  If you prefer that option to reading it here, please go to Substack and enter Mary Carroll Moore in the search box then click on People.  My name will come up with my tiny photo. Click on that and subscribe.  It's free!

Substack has the advantage of a cleaner format, easier reading, and cool links to browse.  Check it out.

Thanks for being a subscriber!


Friday, May 26, 2023

Bringing Authenticity into Your Writing: The Challenges and the Benefits of One Writer's Journey with His Memoir

Many of us say we want to write with authenticity.  Of course, that's a worthy goal, as is living an authentic life. But it can also be a challenging one. In our lives, we can decide what to reveal or not reveal, and still live authentically within those perimeters, I believe. On the page of a book, it's different. You share a story from your life, from your heart and core values, and readers can take it anywhere they want.    

I've been drafting short essays about my mom, who was a pilot in World War II.  Her story of being in the Women's Airforce Service Pilots program was recorded in a Library of Congress interview. She died several years ago at age 98. Reading about her flying years, now that she's gone, made me realize how little I knew of her life, as her daughter. We get to know our loved ones even more after they're gone, a bereaved friend once told me, and I'm seeing that now.  I have so many questions:  how did she get to be so strong, such a survivor? At twenty-two, she was ferrying B-24's across the US to Canada. Once, her plane engine caught on fire and she had to do a dead stick landing at LaGuardia.    

One of my past students, Jody Lulich, was another example to me of surviving. I had the privilege of working with him both in classes and as a private client after he won the prestigious Loft Mentor Series in 2015 for his memoir-in-progress. Jody struggled to structure the story of growing up in a biracial family with a mother who committed suicide when he was a boy. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Good News for Older Women Writers: Your Age Is a Bonus!

Imagine my surprise when I came across this article in The Guardian: older women writers (in their fifties, sixties, even seventies) are now a hot item with publishers.

The trend is slow but steady, according to the editors and agents interviewed. My surprise came because of decades of reading the "30 Under 30" lists and being dismayed at the publishing industry's romance with youth, youthful appearance, and many years ahead to write.

I was even told--before I signed with my agent--that trying to get another agent after sixty was iffy. You may have a good track record, you may write publishable books, but do you look like an author with a long future? How do you look, actually?

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Personal Narrative--What You (and Your Book) Are Trying to Say

Now that review copies (ARCs) are being readied and I'm entering the window of pre-publication excitement with my new novel, A Woman's Guide to Search & Rescue, I'm studying up on something I never took time for while I was busy writing: the book's narrative and how it intersects with my personal narrative.

Turns out, this element of your story--its message, its meaning--is the way readers most engage with your work.

Sure, an exciting plot is important. Great people to populate your book's stage. But the take-away, the story's impact, is what makes a book truly loved.

This isn't just a question for pre-publishing time, by the way. You may be in the throes of creating your first draft, an exciting and wonderful stage. Or you may be struggling with your structure, via a storyboard or chapter grids.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Rituals for Writing--The Relief of No Choice

A Woman's Guide to Search & Rescue, my second novel, is getting its cover designed this week. A huge step in making any book real and soon to be released. It takes all my patience to stay patient! Good distractions are needed--and there's only so much pie in the house--so gardening is my answer. Getting deep in the dirt, getting way out of my head. Allowing time to pass and trusting the process.

All those good things.

Spring in New England is an iffy time, too--kind of like my own temperament these days. The week begins with temps soaring into the lovely 70s then plummeting to thirties at night. Birds are loud--they don't care--and spring peepers in our vernal pond are too. My masses of perennials are up, daffodils and hyacinths are a riotous mess. It happens every year, the beautiful routine.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Detail That Matters and Detail That Doesn't--What's Too Much, What's Not Enough?

Some people love lots of sensory detail in writing. I'm one of them. If a writer shows me the place, what the people wear, the smells and sounds, I'm right there with the story.

But I've learned over the years that detail only works if it's relevant to what's happening. One of my teachers called it "salient detail." In other words, if the character or narrator isn't experiencing shifts because of the detail, it's irrelevant to the reader. It can even derail the story's pace and purpose, dulling its shine.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Finding Character in Landscape--Working with Reflective Surfaces in Setting to Enhance Emotion

A memoirist in one of my online classes was trying to write about the sadness she felt at her father’s unexpected death. Her feedback group gave her an unexpected response: while it was clear she was very sad, when they heard her speak of his death, her feelings on the page were abstract, hard to really grasp.

“They don’t feel any of the sadness I feel,” she told me. She cried as she wrote, so this bland response confused her.

When I read the chapter, I too noticed how distant the writing felt. My take-away was an almost-intellectual sorrow, a wistfulness. Not a strong emotion.

Friday, April 14, 2023

How to Find a Writing Group or Publishing Partner Online

Some people feel Covid is behind us, some are still being cautious about in-person meetups. Whatever your preference, it's also sweet to have the freedom of online connections when you're a writer. Or maybe you're a new parent or travel a lot for work, and you can't imagine a schedule where you can meet physically with other writers. Such is our life now, or so it is for many of us.

If you're working on a book, as I've said often in these posts, you need ongoing support. It's very challenging to write, develop, and submit a book in isolation. It speeds and smooths the way if you have fellow book writers creating a community and lending their enthusiasm.

When I poll student in my online classes, at least half the group belongs to a writer's group or has a writing partner. Writing is solitary; it's easy to get a little nutso when you've been on your laptop, deep in your story, for hours without interacting with another human. I know this well! Even virtual interaction with someone else who gets it can ease your way back into your normal life. Fellow book writers also give needed perspective on what you've been doing (even if it's a universe in itself). And of course, there's the immense value of feedback along the way.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Three Tools for Getting through the Post-New Year's Resolution Slump

We're a few months past the "whee" of New Year's resolutions when anything seems possible. I love setting them, but I also know how to create ones that I will keep.

Around mid- to late March, the truth comes out--how many did I actually make progress on this time? If I've used three essential tools, the odds are more in my favor.

Because I've written and published thirteen books in three genres, working now on my next two, I've had a lot of practice at success or failure with this. I also know how down I can get when I don't meet my own promises to myself, especially in an important arena such as my writing life.

So back to those three tools I rely on. In order of how much they matter, they are: (1) accountability, (2) inspiration, and (3) determination.