Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making Lemonade from A Slipping Release Date

In our virtual studio today, with have Jane Kennedy Sutton, whose debut novel, "The Ride", caught my attention months before it was published. The reason? Simple. The scheduled release slipped and the author cleverly ran an online competition for readers to guess when the book would finally be out. I didn't win, but I thought the promo opportunity superb.

YVONNE: Jane, how did you come up with this idea?

JANE: When I heard my publisher utter the word ‘soon’ in the same sentence with releasing The Ride, I translated that to mean ‘in the near future.’ I didn’t realize that in the publishing world, ‘soon’ could also mean sometime within the next millennium.

I immediately ran out and started telling all my friends and anyone else who’d listen that my book would be available soon. One day, after months of hearing the question, “When?” I jokingly replied, “Your guess is as good as mine,” and the idea was born.

YVONNE: That’s a prime example how to make even bad news work for your promo. Now that The Ride is finally released, I’m sure you want to talk about it. Tell us about the book.

JANE: Barbie Anderson’s journey begins in California where she finds her life spiralling out of control when a death reveals shocking family secrets and an unexpected inheritance. After confrontations with her self-cantered husband, Ken, and a chance meeting with handsome stranger, Michael, she suddenly finds herself away from her own backyard and on the ride of her life down historic Route 66.

Excerpt from The Ride:

She meant to say, “Thanks, but I have to go now.” Somehow the words her mouth formed were, “I’m drinking Jack Daniels.”
Barbie followed the stranger to a table while picturing Aunt Pat gathering up enough cosmic energy to levitate her urn, bash out a car window, fly out of the car, float into the bar, and knock her upside the head. As if waiting for the impact, Barbie hunched, tucking her chin, silently promising Aunt Pat she would eat her fries quickly and go home.

YVONNE: LOL. Where can we buy it?

JANE: You can read a sample of the The Ride and purchase it at It’s also available from Amazon and other Internet booksellers. In America, your favourite local bookstore can order it if it’s not on their shelves, but I don’t think that applies to New Zealand stores. At least not yet.

YVONNE: I’m not sure about the New Zealand bookstores, but I did ask my local library to get a copy of The Ride and they’ve ordered it through their channels. Now, in the process of requesting the book, I looked at the publisher’s website and noticed the unwelcoming submission guidelines. So... how did you land the contract?

JANE: Discouraged after wasting a year with an inept and uncommunicative agent, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I met Robert Gelinas of ArcheBooks Publishing through a local writing group. Although ArcheBooks only accepted agented submissions, he agreed to look at my manuscript after hearing my tale of woe involving the agent. A couple of months later, I received an email notifying me that a contract was in the mail.

YVONNE: Wow. It confirms what I’ve always refused to believe: what counts is networking, contacts, knowing the right people, taking your chances. Speaking of chances, you now have a chance to be published again, so what are you working on at the moment?

JANE: I am currently working on my second novel, titled Reigning Cats and Dogs, although I use the term ‘working’ loosely. Since the release of The Ride, I haven’t found much time to sit down and write. I know have to learn how to divide my time between writing new material and marketing. Maybe you can offer some suggestions on how to find a balance between the two.

YVONNE: I’m afraid it’s something we all struggle with. Oh, except for the likes of Mark Billingham: he writes for 9 months a year, and for the remaining 3 months his publisher sponsors his travels around the world to promote his latest book. The only suggestion I can offer to those of us who are not Mark Billingham is to make writing the new book our top priority, and to use our down-time, thinking time and writers’ block to do the marketing tasks.

What do the readers think?