“You ask the best questions,” Kristy Woodson Harvey exclaimed, if you’ll lend me the liberty of saying people can exclaim via email. Working at home as a writer can be a lonely business, and I’ll take human contact and emotion in any form I can get some days! But through the beautiful world of the internet, I stumbled upon a way to get more connected without risking leaving my writing desk.
As I considered placing my novel, Triple Love Score , for publication, advice I kept encountering admonished writers to start building their platform now. Start marketing your book before you even sell it (go ahead, try an wrap your brain around that oxymoron!) Publishers will want you to have connections, they chided. I wracked my brain to figure out how I could do this platform building. I couldn’t exactly hire a PR press for book that existed only on my hard drive. But fate, and a real life connection intervened, in the form of Ann Garvin , and her fledging group at the time, Tall Poppy Writers. This group of women’s fiction writers, which Ann amazingly invited me to join after we met at a pitch conference, pledged to support each other and promote each other’s books via all forms of social media. This immediately expanded my platform, but it opened up another challenge—how could I give back to this group that offered me so much?
Luckily, curiosity kicked in and helped this cat to find a way. I started to notice that many of the Poppies published their first novels after turning forty. I had so many questions for them, but I didn’t want to be the weird new girl asking odd stuff. I wanted to be someone contributing to the group. And then it hit me—I could interview these fabulous women writers for my blog that appeared on the Huffington Post (thanks to my writing about divorce —which could be a subject for another article entirely!). All of a sudden I realized my questions could be an answer to multiple concerns.
I began interviewing this first group of lovely ladies and quickly moved forward from there. I gathered up the courage to ask Sara Gruen if I could interview her about Water’s Edge, and body positive blogger, Brittany Gibbons about her memoir, Fat Girl Walking. Tall Poppies eagerly shared their books with me for interviews. In addition to getting to ask questions and be nosy, all sorts of authors and PR people sent me books to read! An extra windfall emerged—I found a way to be paid in books while giving back to my tribe of Tall Poppies and writers in general.
Here are some things I learned from this business of asking questions that might help you do the same:
- Read the book, the whole book. You would be amazed at what surprises lurk at the end of many books you thought you had figured out. (Example: Karma Brown’s Come Away With Me.
- If you are curious, other people will be too. Don’t be afraid to ask the question. Just remind people that they don’t have to answer. To be polite, you know.
- Even “famous” authors are looking for more PR opportunities. It can’t hurt to ask for an interview.
- Enjoy it or take a break. Sometimes I need to remember to find balance in my efforts. Now that I started posted interviews regularly, I get a lot of unsolicited books. As much as we need to build our platforms, we still need time to write.
- When you give back to others, amazing things happen. My interview with Sara Gruen (l) for example, got published in the paperback edition of Water’s Edge. A friend of a friend saw it and reached out to me about my own novel Triple Love Score. A local restaurant owner, Natta Price, engaged me in conversation and found out about my interview series. She passed on her sister-in-law, Rebecca Villarreal’s book, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon. After I interviewed Rebecca, a local author gave Natta her book, which inspired me to create River Reads, a book festival in Stockton NJ on October to connect local readers and writers. This never would have occurred me had I not already been interviewing and connecting with authors.
So no matter what avenue you take to give back to the writing community, I appreciate your efforts. As the Tall Poppies are fond of saying, a rising tide lifts all boats. We are in the business of bookselling together, and I love playing my part in stoking the conversation.
Brandi Megan Granett is an author and writing coach. Morrow published her first novel, My Intended, in 2000. Her novel Triple Love Score, has just been published by Wyatt MacKenzie. Her short fiction appeared in Pebble Lake Review, Folio, Pleiades, and other literary magazines and is collected in the volume, Cars and Other Things That Get Around. She is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers and the Women Fiction Writers Association. When she is not writing or teaching or mothering, you will find her on the archery range.
She can be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BrandiMeganGranett/
and Twitter @brandigranett