A big, beautiful, brown box arrived at my door recently, bearing within it the Special Format Review Copies of my forthcoming historical novel, Keowee Valley. Since my two year-old was napping, I hefted the box in my arms, tip-toed across the hardwood floors of our 1940s house–trying not to trip over the 88 lb black lab at my heels–whipped a knife out of the chopping block, and went to town. I’d like to say that I slit open that box with the elegant precision of a heart surgeon, but since this is a moment I’ve been dreaming about since I was about 12 years old, I abandoned the knife halfway through and ripped, packing tape be damned.
I have to admit, it’s a bit disconcerting to see your own face and name (in my case, three of them) on the covers of an 8 x 10 copy of a manuscript that you know, in less than a year, will be a book. I set the box beside my desk, which currently resembles a Jabba the Hut of exploding English essays, and stared at it. I gave it a wide berth on my way to other rooms. I eyed it warily, as if it’d pounce. And then I got to work.
Finding the right people–authors, industry experts, etc–to review your novel and to perhaps provide a blurb or quote (or, God willing, praise) for it, is an interesting process, one into which I’m delving for the first time. A while back, after I’d finished the novel and found my literary agent, I did some big dreaming, forming a wish-list of authors for the job. Now that my novel has a home with Bell Bridge Books, and I’ve got those big, beautiful review copies in hand, that list has become a very real starting point–and a bit intimidating. Trying to convince experienced authors (some pretty darn famous) to take a chance on a debut novel and its fledgling writer is a much tougher process than you’d think.
So, I’ve reached out via whatever method I’ve found–email, Facebook, home addresses, agent addresses–with a letter of introduction and an earnest, honest request. I know that I’ll be refused by most–they have, after all, their own novels and jobs and families tugging at their time–but maybe, just maybe, one of them will remember what it was like to be in my shoes, and give me a chance. It’ll be interesting to see who does.
One very welcoming group I’ve discovered: bloggers. I’ve already had some great blogger/book reviewers request to read the novel and review it, and I’m hoping to discover plenty more. I just adore folks who love books, and love talking about books: they are my people.
My publisher will be sending out review copies to pertinent reviewers as well, but I’m all about being an active participant in the process. I think it’s an adventure. And as anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m a sucker for a good adventure.
And, just because it makes me grin like a giddy kid, here’s another photo of the Special Format Review copy of Keowee Valley: