Here's the thing about the to-do list: it came with deadlines. And since I hadn't had to meet a deadline in nearly 10 years, I immediately panicked. Within thirty days I had to write a biography, dedication, blurb and acknowledgements, select five choices for cover art, provide a photo, and establish a social media presence, the prospect of which sent me into a tailspin.
The blurb was easy -- I simply used the short synopsis I sent when querying the manuscript, but I wrestled with the photo, because I am the least photogenic person on the face of the earth, the biography, because I am not accustomed to talking about myself, the dedication, because I had to chose between two deserving options, and the acknowledgements, because where do you draw the line? I opted for a ten-year-old photo that was reasonably flattering, a short and sweet bio, a dedication to the most important people in my life, and no acknowledgements whatsoever, which turned out to be a big mistake.
In thinking about the acknowledgements, I feared I would either offend someone if I left them out, or bore my readers to death if named everyone I had ever known in life who gave me the slightest bit of encouragement about writing. It was only after I told my editor that I was going to pass on the acknowledgements that it occurred to me that there were four people I absolutely, positively should have acknowledged. Since I didn't want to tell my editor I had changed my mind for fear she would think I was flighty, I took the pussified way out and posted my acknowledgements on Facebook last week. This is what it said:
Heartfelt thanks to DENISE LOWEY, PAT MILLER and JILL BENDER SHADE, who read DEAR HEART before I started querying it, and made me feel like I wasn't delusional about its potential. And to JOHN SINGER, who never failed to ask about my progress while I was writing DEAR HEART, but didn't live to read it. Many friends offered encouragement along the way, but you guys were the first to read DEAR HEART and love it, which makes you more special to me than you already were!
But I digress.
With the writing behind me, I turned my attention to the cover art, which I thought would be fun and easy. That was before I discovered that my selection was limited to stock portrait-oriented images, which ruled out my first choice, and left me with 232,663 portrait images of hearts to choose from. Yes, Friends, I looked at every one of them, plus 6,056 images of cabins by the ocean, 633 images of hearts carved into trees, 5,041 images of presents under a Christmas tree, 3,231 images of Christmas carolers, and 11,558 images of mature couples in love. Was I on cover-art overload? Oh, yeah. And It took me a few days to narrow my choices to five, which I was only able to do after I decided to go with images closest to the cover I'd always envisioned for DEAR HEART.
And then came social media. I knew social media would be the bane of my existence because I had no idea where to start, and because I have always been loathe to put anything about myself out on the internet, where it will live forever, whether or not I want it to. However, I soon realized that that was just too bad for me if I wanted DEAR HEART to have a reasonable chance of success, which, of course, I do. So I sucked it up and took the bull by the horns, and over the course of one sleepless weekend created a Facebook page (which I'm still learning the ins and outs of), and a website (of which I am inordinately proud). Next came Twitter and Google+.
I am not ashamed to admit that Twitter and Google+ got the better of me. My brain was fried and I just could not wrap my head around how these processes worked. I kept at it for two days until it finally dawned on me that I could hire an expert to walk me through it, and that is what I did. Although I'm still not active on either of these platforms, I'm growing more confident about them every day and expect that I will soon be tweeting with the best of them.
If all this sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. Yes, it was challenging, and at times overwhelming, but through it all I kept two things in mind: I was laying the groundwork for a brand that I could utilize with future books and, contrary to popular belief, it's never too late for an old dog to learn new tricks!
NEXT: LIVING THE DREAM - The Practicalities