Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eratic Confessions of a Debut Novelist

I'm with Maureen, 2009 has been wild, highly emotional, exhausting, over-the-top crazy, and just downright wonderful. I wouldn't trade it for anything. There are a few things, though, that I intend to remember next time around.

Okay, I'll go ahead and confess right now my biggest surprise over debut book promotion. I wore myself out. I had no idea that traveling around promoting my book would cause me to lose sleep and forget what day of the week it was much less what date and what month! At one point, my adrenaline was rushing through my body so fast and furiously that I lost four nights sleep in a row. I mean I never got one wink's sleep in four freaking days!! This happened while I was in my home-town of Memphis promoting Whistlin' Dixie. In looking back on it I realize now that it was because I had not ever experienced that kind of a high.

The week was crammed with interviews and book signings (as well as a lovely launch party given by my childhood friends) and I was for a brief moment in time someone else other than myself. I was autographing books. Wow. What a new concept for me. For years I worked for a famous musician as his behind-the-scenes, right-hand person. I watched as he was hounded for autographs time and time again NEVER imagining that I would actually scribble out my own for anyone, anywhere, even one time. While I know the very few times I signed books are minuscule in comparison to that of my heroes Fannie Flagg or Pat Conroy, it still blew my mind that I would ever be asked to sign a book.

I've also learned that promoting your own book and not sitting back and expecting your publisher to do it all is also very important . . . especially when you're a debutante and no one knows who in the world you are. As a writer, you need to be prepared to promote your book, dream up ways to get the word out, use every contact or insider you can find and call in your favors!!

One other thing I learned is that I'm not the best at time management. I rarely had time to write while I was promoting my book. I remember distinctly Peter Wolf at Thomas Dunne Books explaining that very concept to me while we were sitting at lunch on a visit to NY. I heard him, but now I believe him. Don't count on being able to write much while you are in book launch mode.

Lastly, I learned to soak up the fun. Live in the moment. You only make ONE debut as a writer. You've worked for it, you've earned it and let no one deprive you of it . . . by all means have the time of your life.

4 comments:

Tracy Madison said...

Awesome post, Lisa! Wow, though, four days without any sleep? That totally breaks my record.

Jillian Cantor said...

Lisa, it sounds like you had an amazing debut month! I agree with you, that it definitely felt a little odd to be signing a book with my own name in it at first.

L. W. said...

Ms. Patton (I have trouble addressing people I don't know by first name and apologize if that's old-fashioned),
I recently bought your book and just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed it, especially the last few chapters. It'd be a spoiler if I put the reasons why I appreciated those especially, so I'll just say they were very nicely done. Hope you've caught up on sleep and congrats. on your debut.

Lisa Patton said...

Tracy, sleep loss? I bet you're getting used to it, too. And I don't know what to do about it!
And Jillian, I'm with you for sure. Signings are surreal.
And L.W., thank you for taking the time to write to me. I'm grateful to you for buying my book and am even happier that you enjoyed it!! And PLEASE call me Lisa. I know what you mean about being old-fashioned, I still do the same thing!

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!!