ann_amalie (ann_amalie) wrote in historicalfic,

Publication eve

My "debut novel" (how's that for making me feel eighteen again?), Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, is being released tomorrow. In this age of the life lived online, I have this nagging feeling there's something I'm supposed to say, something I should do to mark this momentous (to me) occasion. How can I expect potential readers to notice me and, more important, seek out my book, if I just sit quietly and let the moment pass?

I'm old enough to remember a very different time, not that long ago, when a serious author tried to be anonymous, sometimes literally. An author photo? Absurd! What could it possibly matter what a writer looks like? Even a short bio seemed, somehow, unseemly. It's the work that matters, the writing. The author isn't the point of this endeavor; the book is.

Sometimes anonymity or a pseudonym are essential. Think of the original Flashman, written by George MacDonald Fraser and first published in 1969. I've heard that some early readers genuinely believed this darkly satirical work to be the memoir of a cad, coward and blackguard who lived through every major British campaign from the Afghan wars of the 1840s to the Boer War. Fraser wouldn't have helped his cause if he'd tried to make more of a splash than his antiheroic creation.

And of course, many women writers of the past simply couldn't be published under their own (feminine) names. Currer Bell is Charlotte Bronte's now-familiar male alter ego, and Jane Austen and Frances Burney published their first works anonymously.

But we live in strange times. Readership for traditional novels is down. Everybody and her sister is blogging, writing, posting, making videos. New authors are supposed to publicize themselves; it's practically a required clause in the contract. Even a big publisher like HarperCollins can't work miracles for every new, unknown author. So: Get the word out! Send email blasts! Don't have a MySpace page? What are you, crazy? Update your website for crying out loud! And blog! blog! blog!

The one danger in all this is that the diligent publicist/writer will alienate just about everyone after the fifth or sixth blast. I received a wonderful "reply" to one of my blog posts announcing yet another good review: "At this very moment," one exasperated reader wrote, "I think I'd particularly enjoy a romance [like Phyllida] ... But I certainly wouldn't read it if I knew you wrote it."

Well, there's the rub. I did write it. I wrote the book and I wrote the blog and the website content and the emails and...

What can I say except: I've loved every minute of it. I wrote what I wanted to write, what gave me great pleasure, what I wanted to read. Tomorrow--in a few hours--it will be on sale in bookstores for everyone to read. I hope that some of you will find in this humorous, romantic story of the spirited, beautiful authoress, her glamorous bisexual husband and his honorable gay boyfriend the same joy I had in creating it.

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Congratulations to you. You've accomplished what us writers always dream of. I'd totally review it, but it's not my genre, but it still sounds like a fresh and progressive plot for a romance novel. Good for you and enjoy the great thing that you've accomplished. I work at a bookstore, so I'll be sure it's featured on our new paperback table!
That sounds awesome! Thank you for helping Phyllida out in this very useful, practical way.

Book reviewing is tough even if the book is your genre, so no worries over not reviewing it.

Thank you so much for your support. I apologize deeply for not replying before, especially as I see I did reply to the comment immediately after yours. All I can say in my defense is I hope I'm a better novelist than blogger.


Yes, self-promo is a pain, but as you say, even the big guys these days don't cover it all. My contract for Transgressions included a massive questionnaire about local papers and television stations and radio stations and gawd knows what, although I can't see that people in Norfolk are going to rush out and buy gay Civil War.

I'm sure you are on all the GBLT promo groups etc, if not give me an email and I'll see if I've got anything that you haven't got.

How changed is the book? I'm happy to review it for Speak Its Name but if it's changed significantly that wouldn't be fair to you.
Thanks so much for the offer to review. The book is not substantially changed; that is, the story is the same and it has been copy edited but not "edited," if you know what I mean.

The presentation has changed; its subtitle is now "a novel," not "a bisexual Regency romance." Most different is the historical note at the end. This new essay changes the feel of the book, or its deeper meaning (it seems to me, based on a few reactions I've been privy to), for readers who are just approaching it now.

btw, Is that "Civil War" as in English Civil Wars, 17th century? Man-oh-man, I would love to read ECW gay fiction. (Hope to write some "bisexual" ECW fiction, too, but I will need to become very clever to get the tone right.)

Hi Ann,

That's great, I'll dig it out, re-read and review it asap.

Yes, English Civil War, it should be out in Spring 2009, I signed the contract last week, so it's all still very exciting. It's very encouraging that both Harper AND Perseus are showing interest in gay historical, and I hope fervently that this means that others will follow suit.

It was pretty challenging, I have to admit - It was my mother's suggestion that I do that era (due to the whole "brother against brother" thing, but it wasn't until I started that I realised how much I didn't know.
Congrats! I echo everything. It is hard for an author these days--especially for those who write different historicals. I know I will have to blog my butt off for when my Austrian historicals release and for now my debut novel releasing this fall (expanding Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera) thankfully has a large niche market to help it along.

But no matter how hard we have to work it is worth it in the end I think.

Congrats again!
Yes, it is most definitely worth it.

But getting supportive messages like yours helps with the agony of the self-promo.

Thank you for your good wishes, and I apologize for late reply.
Hi there, well... you got me. I just put it on my list of books to read this summer!
I love your name (mindlikeasieve)! I'd try to steal it, but I'd forget it two minutes later ;)

Thank you for your support and I apologize for the late reply.
Thanks for the reply! I'm sure you're busy being an important author right now! Also, thanks for the compliment on the LJ name... though, unfortunately it is rather true. (And not so humorous when I take history classes and such!) I look forward to reading your novel! Let me know if you are going to be doing any events in San Francisco/the Bay Area.


9 years ago

You got me, too--the plot sounds right up my alley!
I tried to make it a fun read as well as "well-researched."

Thank you for your good wishes, and i apologize for the late reply.
I just picked it up at Borders today! I'm just finishing up (re)writing a book myself, a Victorian era YA novel, and reading your book is going to be my reward for getting it done. ^_^


9 years ago


9 years ago

Well, your advertising just sold one copy. you must be doing something right!
That's great! Thank you.