This year has folded, spindled and mutilated happy endings, as it has everything else. If Cinderella had happened in 2020, our sweet heroine would have ended up waxing Stepmom’s floors for life, after the prince got eaten by a giant lizard. Or maybe the murderous hornets would have ended his life.
But in March none of us knew that 2020 would be a killer. So, I was looking forward to my big April 28th debut-day signing at the nearby Yale Bookstore like it was actually going to happen. It had sure been a hard road to get there, with 200+ rejections for two earlier projects, while in the middle of a family health crisis. Finally, my husband was okay, and this book was a go. I was actually fool enough to tell a few friends that the signing was our big happy ending.
Not one has reminded me of that. I love my friends.
It was only in the middle of April, after maybe three weeks of work-from-home and virtual fourth grade in my son’s bedroom, that it hit me: This is not an intermission. This is the show, and it is not going to include a curtain call.
By then, we were also well aware that the book was the least of our worries. Our immediate family was lucky, but many people close to us were not. If all I lose in the pandemic is my debut, I’ll thank G-d every day for my good fortune.
But it’s still April and that book is still coming out…and someone’s got to try to sell it. And that someone is me. Kensington’s publicist is amazing, bailing the Titanic with a Dixie cup without so much as a mayday, but there’s only so much she can do. Not to mention that it’s my book, and I have to do my part.
So where do you go to sell a book when you can’t go out, period? Only one option left: social media.
Like every hopeful writer these days, I had a little bit of “platform,” with accounts on the major social media sites. But I’d always been extremely leery of social media because of my day job; some of my radio colleagues have had terrible experiences, and I didn’t want the trolls coming after me and my book. Still, when every door is closed, you climb out the window and hope the drop isn’t too bad.
And surprisingly, it wasn’t. Kensington’s social media manager, another heroine bailing with a Dixie cup, gave me some invaluable pointers to avoid an ugly first-timer splat. I found contacts and mystery groups on Facebook (I’m actually an admin on Cozy Mystery Village now) and the unexpected support of the #writerscommunity on Twitter. Took my agent’s advice and joined the Author’s Guild and Sisters in Crime for more online help.
As the weeks went by, I developed a routine, and made a lot of actual friends along the way. It’s hard, but nothing related to writing is easy. Who are we kidding? Nothing related to LIFE is easy!
These days I go through my social media feeds each day, looking for what other authors are up to, and for reviewers/bloggers/podcasters who might be interested. Then I track them down and pitch myself. People have been surprisingly kind to this debut author showing up like a big sloppy puppy begging for attention. Nobody’s told me to take my lousy book and go away.
I’m not going to be a bestseller, but I probably wasn’t anyway. Still, I’m here, and I’m trying, and I’ve learned a lot for the next one. A Fatal First Night is due April 27, 2021, by the way…and I’m happy to tell you it’s a good, fun read.
And I’ll be telling you that anywhere I can, anytime, as long as it’s not illegal, unethical or coronavirus-spreading.
A Fatal Finale features swashbuckling opera singer Ella Shane, best described as part Beverly Sills, part Anne of Green Gables, and part Errol Flynn, investigating a young colleague’s death with help from her “confirmed bachelor” cousin, colorful friends, and a mysterious duke, culminating in a dramatic duel with the killer. (And yes, Ella handles the swordplay while the Duke waits in the wings!)
Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone and a keyboard. She’s now a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS New York, capping a career begun as a teenage DJ in Brookville, Pennsylvania. She worked her way up through newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Vermont, and Connecticut, developing her skills and a deep and abiding distaste for snowstorms. While she wrote her first (thankfully unpublished) historical novel at age sixteen, fiction was firmly in the past until her son started kindergarten and she tried again. She, her husband, the Professor, and their son, the Imp, live in a Connecticut house owned by their cat.