Volume V, Issue Two | September 2010
St. Martin’s Press will publish the The Bride’s House, Sandra’s tenth novel, next June. Set in Georgetown, Colorado, the book is the story of three generations of women who live in a Victorian house built in 1881. The story is fiction, but the house is real. Sandra and her husband, Bob, acquired the derelict place three years ago, and the house has been undergoing restoration since then. We’ll give you more details on The Bride’s House in upcoming issues of PIECEWORK.
Check Me Out On Facebook!
When my first novel, Buster Midnight’s Café, was published in 1990, the book got dozens of reviews, although it sold only a few thousand copies. The attention paid to the book, I must admit, was not due to the book’s importance but more to the fact that there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of newspapers out there with book review sections waiting to be filled.
Last spring, Whiter Than Snow was reviewed by so few newspaper book sections that I can could count them on my two hands. And that was just a year after my previous novel, Prayers for Sale, made the New York Times best-seller list. The reason for the dearth of reviews: the lack of space available for book sections these days. We all know that newspapers are facing hard times. In my own city, Denver, the newspaper book review space was cut in half a couple of years ago with the demise of one of the city’s two dailies, the Rocky Mountain News. Many of the newspaper that are left have eliminated book sections altogether or else run canned reviews of best-sellers from the NY Times or the Washington Post.
All this means that promoting books has changed drastically in the past decade or two. There was a time when publicity meant printed reviews, an interview or two, and a book tour, all arranged by the publisher. (Book tours, too, are becoming a thing of the past. I did not tour with my last two books.) So like it or not—and most of us don’t like it much–authors, myself included, are finding new ways to call attention to our books. I spend almost as much time publicizing my books as I do writing them.
Promotion today means the Internet. Right now, I’m in the midst of a book review campaign with The Book Report, a New York-based Internet book-marketing company. The Book Report contacts appropriate book blogs, telling them about Whiter Than Snow and sending review copies. Of course, I have a website, a quarterly newsletter, an email address. (I answer virtually all emails.) I give speeches, meet with book groups, both in person and over the phone. I even started blogging, although I got so bogged down in rewriting a manuscript that I stopped blogging after the second post.
This technology is a challenge to someone like me who doesn’t understand it. Internet marketing is a pain in the backside, but it has the advantage of connecting me instantly with readers. It used to be that the only reader input came at book signings or through letters sent to the publisher and forwarded to me weeks later. Now I get several emails a day from readers telling me what they like—and sometimes don’t like—about my books. It’s as if we’re friends, and for writers, who work in isolation, that is the best feedback you can get.
All this is to tell you that I am going to begin playing an active role in my Facebook author page. My publisher set it up for me last year, but I haven’t been personally involved in it until now. It will be more current than my website and even my newsletter, with information on appearances and book signings, and my thoughts about things, which I hope won’t bore you. Incidentally, this is not my personal Facebook page, which I set up last spring so that I could access pictures of my grandson on my daughter’s Facebook page. In fact, I’ve discontinued that one because it’s so confusing to have two. So I hope those of you whose queries I ignored about being Facebook friends on that personal page, will friend me on the author page instead. It is Sandra Dallas Author. I hope you’ll check it out by following this link >>
As for Twitter — please no!! -SD
Prayers for Sale is Willa Finalist
Prayers for Sale is a finalist for this year’s Women Writing the West Willa Award for Historical Fiction. The awards will be presented in October at the WWW convention in Arizona. Sandra won the Willa in 2006 for New Mercies. Prayers for Sale was also a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.
The Lonely Polygamist
By Brady Udall. Norton.
A decade ago, I wrote a story for Business Week about contemporary polygamy in Utah, its cost to the state and its affects on women and children. It turned out that I’d gone to high school in Salt Lake City with one of the plural wives I interviewed. Polygamy has intrigued me ever since I lived in Utah, and I’ve read everything I can on the subject, so I was anxious to read Brady Udall’s novel The Lonely Polygamist. It is a terrific story of a man with four wives who falls for a woman he discovers later on is his boss’s wife. It sounds like a “serves you right” situation, but in fact, Golden Richards is a sympathetic character who tries his best to take care of his wives and more than two dozen children. This is really the story of a family, albeit a bizarre one, that struggles with death, loneliness, jealousy, and all the other problems of contemporary life. You agonize with the wives and especially with the children, who fight for the tiniest bit of attention. My favorite character is Rusty, a nutty kid who lives in a fantasy land where he is always the hero and reminds me of Bill Bryson in his book The Thunderbolt Kid.
By Lisa See. Random House.
I loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and Shanghai Girls is almost as good. It’s the story of two sisters known as “beautiful girls,” because they pose for cigarette and other ads. They are “superior” Chinese who spend their time modeling and partying in night clubs, until their father announces he has “sold” them as brides to two Chinese brothers living in America, to pay off his gambling debts. After a harrowing escape from Japanese invaders, Pearl and May arrive in Los Angeles, but instead of the life of luxury they expected, they find themselves living in a shabby dwelling, working in their father-in-law’s curio shop and restaurant.
The background is splendid. You learn so much about Chinese culture from Lisa See’s books. But even better is the relationship between the sisters, their lifelong devotion to each other, their secrets, their jealousies, their betrayals. Sisterhood transcends all cultures.