When I noticed that M.J.'s "Buzz Your Book" course was being offered again, though, I thought I'd do a little faux-journalism--not just give the sort of friendly (b)log-rolling endorsement one friendly does for another [sidebar for newcomers: M.J. Rose has been a vocal champion of this site], but try to track down someone who's actually taken the course.
One such "graduate" is Andrea Buchanan, whose first book, Mother Shock, about the real experience of parenthood, is perhaps best characterized by its subtitle: "Loving Every (Other) Minute of It." The peripatetic Andi Buchanan is managing editor of Literary Mama, and has several anthologies coming out in the months ahead from Seal Press:
- It's A Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons (Nov. 2005) with Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Lauck, Marion Winik, and others;
- Literary Mama: Collected Writing for the Maternally Inclined (Jan. 2006) featuring the best writing from the online literary magazine Literary.com; and
- It's A Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters (May 2006) with Hope Edelman, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Katharine Weber, and more.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm Mad Max welcome to Andrea Buchanan! [Crowd, urged on by menacingly-assembled "APPLAUD WILDLY, YOU BASTARDS!" signs, applauds wildly.]
Hi, Andi. So how did you find out about MJ Rose's "Buzz Your Book" class?AB: I first came across it online a few years ago, when I was looking for something to help with guerilla publicity for a website. Then I got to know MJ on Readerville and finally connected the dots.
What made you decide to take the course?AB: I did a ton of work promoting my first book, and as excited as I was about the anthologies I have coming out this year and next, I couldn't shake off the feeling of dread just thinking about the work I had ahead of me in terms of PR for these next three books. I felt like I had a pretty good handle on what worked to build buzz for my first book and what turned out to be a waste of time, but I also knew that it was going to be really hard to do alone. In short, I felt overwhelmed. So I thought MJ's class might be a great place to get inspired, become enthusiastic about the promotion part of the publication process, get a fresh perspective on what pushing these books might entail, come up with new ideas, and brainstorm with someone who knows the industry.
Was it worth it?AB: Definitely. Doing the class exercises helped me get motivated again, and helped breathe some fresh life into ideas I'd only half-considered before. Just knowing I wasn't going through it all alone was a big motivating factor. Now I feel excited about things, I feel proactive and prepared, and I have a great plan that will support and complement the work my publicist and publisher are doing.
What would you say is the single most valuable thing you took away fromit?AB: To not be complacent -- to not talk myself out of "pie in the sky" ideas, or be satisfied with the first thing that pops into my head.
To sign up.
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
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