Sometimes the books are a complete mismatch, and other times they are right up my alley. Sometimes the timing is just horribly wrong, and other times the timing is perfect.
Either way, when I know I can't get to an author's book in a reasonable amount of time, or if I decide to turn it down because it just isn't right for me, I still want to help spread the word. Who knows, maybe the book is perfect for one of you?!
That was the original idea behind this spotlight series. To draw your attention towards the small press and self published authors who have a book to pitch, a story to tell, and a little insight to share.
Today's spotlight shines on Lisa Rosen, author of the self published novel Motherline. Motherline is a story about those days in a family--weddings, funerals, births--when everyone comes together, you know those days, where all that history and garbage begins to fester and boil and starts to explode?
Today, Lisa shares a short essay on why she writes:
Why I Write
“I’m not sure how we’ll sell it.” “Sorry, it’s not right for our list.” “Your writing is beautiful, but it’s just not commercial enough.”
I got tired of hearing the refrain, and that’s how I wound up self-publishing. It’s also how I developed a raging chocolate problem—as far as self-medication goes, it’s probably a relatively harmless addiction.
So it’s not surprising that last weekend I dropped by the local chocolate shop to get a fix—sometimes a little square of dark-chocolate-salted-honey-caramel is the only thing standing between me and total shrewishness—and got to chatting with Starr, the owner. Starr knows vaguely who I am, mainly because I always drag her away from her actual work to yak about how much I love chocolate (a fact which makes me exactly like everyone else in the chocolate shop).
Anyway, Starr asked what I had been up to. I mentioned that my novel, Motherline, had come out the weekend before. She knew, but had forgotten, so I gave her my card. The cover art piqued her curiosity, so I gave her the two-sentence summary.
Now, Starr is the mother of a toddler, so mothers and babies and stories of birth and death and family baggage get her attention (she’s not terribly unusual in that respect). And I knew this—I fully acknowledge that I’m targeting that audience particularly. But I was unprepared for her response. By the time I left the chocolate shop, I’d heard her whole birth story—about her mother crawling into the bed and holding her during the contractions, about the panic when they realized the baby was stuck, the emergency C-section, the grief and fear and the life-altering joy of her baby’s birth. She teared up a little telling me, and we hugged when I left.
Is Motherline commercial enough? Honestly, I don’t know—only time (and my best marketing efforts) will tell. But what I do know is that Starr’s feedback—before she’d even read the novel—is all the encouragement I need. I’ll take Starr’s hugs, or the emails and tweets and Facebook messages I’ve gotten from early readers. When my novel strikes an emotional chord in a reader, and she reaches out to tell how meaningful it is, I think maybe this is a new definition of commercial that I can live with.
Lisa Rosen is currently a writer and a stay-at-home mom with a bad case of wanderlust. As soon as their teenagers leave the nest, she and her husband intend to take their laptops on the road full-time. In the interim, she lives and writes in North Carolina, where she earned a PhD in literature from the University of North Carolina.