Your Plateauing Book: How to Keep the Love Alive After the Hoopla’s Gone

“The party’s over…”

Anyone who’s ever worked long and hard on a project that demanded creative vigilance, relentless effort, and savvy timing, who’s reveled in a successful launch, a great rollout, the subsequent afterglow, and then the slow… slow… slow… lessening of… interest… energy… attention… response… excitement… etc…. knows this moment:

The plateau. The dreaded plateau.

It’s that inevitable turn when things quiet down. The ebb to the flow, descent from the summit, deflation of the high. The moment you realize the thrill is gone.

Not yours, certainly. Not even the people’s, whoever your people might be. But the zeitgeist’s. The zeitgeist’s thrill, which is temporary, ephemeral, and looks something like this: You’re six months in, your primary people have all read the book; the publicity campaign is over and you can’t afford another round. Whoever was going to leave a review probably has. The ones who said they would and didn’t probably won’t. “Influencers” on Instagram aren’t making great memes of your book anymore. Bookstores still responding to your inquiries mention, “we’re keeping the focus on new releases,” and no one is chasing after you for interviews.

It’s the plateau, baby, the one that happens after the hoopla’s gone.

It’s not that your creation is any less applause-worthy, any less “a remarkable achievement.” It’s not that readers don’t like it anymore or have stopped thinking you’re “an astonishing writer.” It’s not that you won’t sell more books or inspire additional reviews. There will likely be occasion for another podcast, you can surely wrangle a “post-launch” bookstore event, and a $1.99 ebook sale pushed by BookBub would definitely perk your Amazon rankings.

But like most romances six months in, the chemicals have cooled. Your book is no longer a “shiny new thing.” Other, newer, books are getting the heat, and you know you can’t keep chattering about yours on social media or “overshare exhaustion” will set in.

So what do you do?

The first thing many (most) purveyors of book wisdom will suggest is that you start another book… which doesn’t answer the specific question of what to do with the one you already have, the one you just finished and just put out into the world. Telling someone to assuage their postpartum blues by leaping back into the procreation cycle ignores natural attachment to the one “just birthed.”

And though I’m all for “continued creativity,” and conventional thought does say the best way to succeed in publishing is to write lots and lots and LOTS of books—I’m of the heretical belief that the only time to write another book is when you’re absolutely compelled to do so. When a story literally begs you to sit down and breathe its life onto the page. But you can argue that amongst yourselves. As for your plateau?

I’m not so arrogant as to think I have all, even any, of the answers; I do not. In fact, I’m currently wandering around my own plateau after the April 2019 release of my third novel, The Alchemy of Noise. In fact, it’s the driving need to prevent my own literary depression that’s pushed me to figure out how best to endure the slowdown. And since I’ve come up with a few solutions that are and have been helpful to me, I thought I’d pass them along in the event they are to you as well:

1. Start writing your next book. I know, contradictory. But despite my disclaimer of above, I have to put this at #1 because if you are so moved, it is, frankly, a good step. There really is a wonderfully distracting, creatively exhilarating, pleasingly accomplished element to getting back to work on a new book and letting the baby sit alone for a minute.

2. Activate post-launch book promotions/advertising via sites like Women Writers, Women’s Books, BookBub, IndiesUnlimited, Author Marketing Experts, and BookLife. These are great sites, amongst many others, with abundant information, so explore and take advantage of every opportunity they offer, particularly those designed for “beyond the launch period.”

3. Subscribe to selective newsletters that alert writers to promotional and marketing opportunities, jobs, and contest suggestions. Some excellent ones are Erica Verrillo’s Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity, Jane Friedman’s content-rich site and newsletter, Adam Cohen’s Winning Writers, and Hope Clark’s Funds For Writers. In fact, not only avail yourselves of their copious suggestions, but submit content if it pertains, ask questions where appropriate, and when you do, always mention your book. Look for every chance to engage and bring authentic attention to you and your work.

4. Enter contests. There are millions, it seems, and it does take work to sort out which are viable, valuable, and worth your time, money, and book copies, but they are excellent plateau-breakers. So do the research, compare notes, then enter your book into as many as make sense or you can afford. Additionally, crank out some sparkling short stories and enter contests for those. Write first-person memoir pieces and do the same. While your beloved book is learning to walk on its own, you can stir up interest in you as an author by winning, getting honorably mentioned, or becoming a finalist in any number of chosen contests. Plus, those wins will give you something new to talk about, which is exactly what you’re going for.

5. Book clubs. Reach out to everyone you know who belongs to one. Go to MeetUp.com and explore their many book club groups; put up a request on Facebook, Twitter, all your social media for “interested book clubbers.” Suggest your book, gift free copies to club leaders; offer to conduct a giveaway; commit to an “author’s appearance,” whether in person or via Skype (or whatever online format you use). People need content for book clubs always and forever, and they’re not stuck on “recent releases.”

6. Wrangle up some friend/family interviews. This one might sound silly, but it’s actually fun and very effective: carefully select knowledgeable, book-savvy friends or family members, invite them to present you with a list of questions they have—about you as a writer, your process, your book; why you wrote it, what you hope to accomplish, etc.—then follow-up as you would any interview request. Once it’s done, and with your interviewer’s permission, post it on your website, your blog, your Facebook page, etc. It’s amazing how questions from an industry layperson can offer refreshing insight outside the norm of marketing folks. Your readers will definitely find it interesting and possibly quite charming.

7. Write articles about books and publishing… like I’m doing here! Then send them out to top book sites, get them published and/or publish them on your own site/blog. Always find a way to mention your book (as I did! 😊), but be sure to offer honest, authentic, and useful information. If you do, odds are good that people will start asking you to provide additional content and that’s a boon—your online bio will always mention and link your book. But mostly you’ll be contributing positively to your community and that builds goodwill. Goodwill is good.

8. Host book parties. Think Tupperware. Scented candles. Arbonne. There’s never a bad time to organize gatherings devoted to commerce and wine, just as there’s no cut-off as to when you can throw a soiree to promote and sell your book. Ask a friend to host or host yourself. Maybe involve other authors to make the event even more festive. Send out invitations or choose a place big enough to accommodate the wider net of Facebook friends. Provide snacks and drinks, plan a short reading and Q&A segment, a drawing for a book or two. Have your books and a Square (card reader) at the ready. Be candid about requesting their reviews after reading, outright about asking them to help spread the word. Hand out bookmarks. Give them book cookies. Do it up. They’ll remember and I guarantee it’ll be a good memory.

9. Get involved in book fairs and festivals. Almost every city has a book event or two during the year. Two of the best in the Los Angeles area are the LA Times Festival of Books, and, in nearby Long Beach, the The Literary Women’s Festival of Authors. But there are countless others around the country, and, depending on your budget and ability to travel, you can stay close or get out there. The main idea is to get your book in a booth and in front of interested new readers. Tables can be expensive so get together with other writers in your area (there will likely be plenty of “plateauing authors” just as excited as you to be involved!). Split the cost of the booth/table, the advertising, whatever ancillary costs come up. Have lots of books on hand and be up on all necessary sales/tax info that applies. Be ready to maximize the opportunity to enthusiastically put your book in front of the thousands of readers who attend these events. Golden.

10. Perform! I have a friend who started her own YouTube channel filled with videos of her interviewing other artists and writers she finds interesting, and, of course, she always concludes with clear verbal and visual information about her own book. A couple of other friends are now starting podcasts, intending to interview artists of every ilk and, of course, promote their books. Whatever suits your sensibilities, get out there and make some noise. I actually saw a woman on the Venice Boardwalk who played guitar and sang, had a tip jar out front, and a table in back stacked with her books. She was ready for anything, which I thought that was pretty darned innovative!   

There are, no doubt, lots more ideas (feel free to add them in comments) but this is a good head start. The bonus is, once you have new things to talk about—awards, events, published articles, etc.—you’ve got brand new spanking information to share, which always presents new opportunity to talk about your wonderful book.

But, mainly, remember that your baby has a long life expectancy, and hoopla is not required to keep it alive. A plateau can offer space to breathe, reassess, re-strategize. Take that moment when it comes; refresh your mind, hustle up some new ideas, then start climbing again.

It’s the journey… it’s always the journey.


Photos in order:
Nicole Honeywill / Sincerely Media on Unsplash
MILKOVÍ on Unsplash
Other photos via LDW


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Talking ‘The Alchemy of Noise’… After Hours with Rick Kogan

When I was in Chicago during “The Alchemy of Noise Book Launch Tour” in April, I had the great pleasure of meeting Rick Kogan, iconic Chicago Tribune writer and radio personality, in the wonderful setting of my dear friends—Jason Brett and Lauren Streicher‘s—home. A warm, welcoming man with a tremendous legacy in the beloved city of my birth, I was delighted when he invited me to join him on his radio show to talk about my book.

We’ll be having that conversation this Sunday night, June 23rd, 8:00pm PST/10:00pm CT, on the “After Hours with Rick Kogan Show / WGN 720 AM.

“The Voice of Chicago is back on The Voice of Chicago! Rick Kogan starts off your week with discussion, commentary and interviews with the people – writers, musicians, artists, characters, newsmakers – who make Chicago tick. 9-11 p.m., Sundays, WGN Radio 720 AM.”

“After Hours with Rick Kogan (9-11pm CT/WGN 720 AM) welcomes Mark Caro on his latest book, Behind the Laughter; Bonnie Koloc Singer/Songwriter on her songs; Lorraine Devon Wilke on her book, The Alchemy of Noise, and Tony Fitzpatrick with some bird loving pals to talk about the Montrose bird-concert controversy.”

Again, my segment starts at 8:00 pm PST/10:00 pm CT, but odds are good the entire show will be offer fascinating conversation! Here’s the link (my segment starts at the halfway point): http://wgnradio.com/after-hours-with-rick-kogan/


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Guest Post: The Alchemy of Noise deserves to be on your summer reading list!

As time goes on & the hoopla around a book’s launch dies down, it’s sometimes challenging to know where and what your book is doing out there in the world. So, when an unexpected review pops up, one that so artfully and accurately expresses exactly the message and narrative you were hoping to convey in your story, there is something deeply gratifying about that.

Thank you, Janny Ess, for your articulate, moving review. I am touched… thrilled that you enjoyed the book, and appreciative of your taking the time to write so beautifully about it.

Review is below:

* * * * * * * *

JanniStyles1

“The Alchemy of Noise” by Lorraine Devon-Wilke is a timely story I hope screen writers and movie makers will discover and develop. In the pages of this literary work the ride you embark on will make you stop and think more than once.  The “Alchemy of Noise” is a heart wrenching yet inspirational read as the characters inner lives leave us questioning our own role in dividing or unifying human beings.

Almost poetic in some passages, Devon-Wilke weaves “The Alchemy of Noise” with an intelligent pen of compassion and soulfulness. Her characters are all relatable as you find yourself transported inside the torn social fabric of our contemporary world to first person perspectives of family matters, addiction, police brutality and racism.

https://www.amazon.com/Alchemy-Noise-Lorraine-Devon-Wilke/dp/163152559X

While reading I felt such frustration on Chris’s behalf I yelled out loud just as I have been known to do at a movie where I felt the…

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Oh, Happy Day… It’s Pub Day!

It was a day long in coming. Pub day.

I started this book over three years ago; walked down many and myriad roads in the quest for publication, often got confused and discouraged, but was always clear it was a book meant to find its place. That it found its place with She Writes Press  was a boon.

I am so pleased and proud of the end product, a book that fully represents my creative sensibilities in every way: narratively, artistically, production and promotion-wise. I’m honored by the people I work with, grateful for Brooke Warner, president of She Writes Press, and Crystal Patriarche (Booksparks); my project manager, Samantha Strom, and certainly the fabulous Tabitha Bailey, my senior publicist who has walked this walk with me on an almost daily basis and done so with such empathy and enthusiasm. Thank you, Tabitha… thanks to you all!

To those who’ve bought the book, will buy the book; will read the book, think about it, hopefully be moved and entertained by it… thank you. It was, after all, meant for you.

Today I’m going to take it all in; close my eyes, take a deep breath, let myself feel it, and revel in the celebration… it’s a very good day.

(See you in Seattle (4.10), San Diego (4/16), Los Angeles (4.18), San Francisco (4.25) or Chicago (5.3)!)


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Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, is available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

‘Empathy Is the Antidote To Everything’: my interview with author/coach Sara Connell

Eight years ago, shortly after I launched this blog in 2010, I reached out to Ariana Huffington with samples of my work, hoping to interest her in my writing for The Huffington Post. In a rare and wonderful anomaly (how many big CEOs respond to those kinds of emails?), she wrote back—in a writing style echoing her very unique speaking voice—to say she would love to have me onboard, and so I leapt. I was there from February of 2011 until January 2018 (when they shut down the program), and  it was a fascinating and pivotal turn in my writing career, one for which I’ll always be grateful.

Fast forward to almost a decade later. I’m approaching the pub date for my latest novel, and in enters Sara Connell, an author and writing coach out of Chicago, who invites me to participate in an interview with her for… Thrive Global, Ariana’s new endeavor. A karmic moment, indeed, so of course I did.


It was a provocative, far-reaching interview, covering everything from issues of racism, white privilege, my goals in writing this new book, The Alchemy of  Noise, to my perspective on  the writing process and the power of fiction to illuminate essential themes and inspire activism. It was meaningful to get that deep into topics that pull my attention on a regular basis, so I hope you enjoy the conversation we shared:


“Empathy is the antidote to everything” when sparking a movement, an interview with authors Sara Connell & Lorraine Devon Wilke

From Sara: “As part of my series about ‘How to write a book that sparks a movement’ I had the great pleasure of interviewing Lorraine Devon Wilke. An accomplished writer in several genres of the medium, Lorraine Devon Wilke, a Chicago native and one of eleven children, has built a library […]

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

My particular backstory started in Chicago, where I was born the third child of a Greek-American father whose parents emigrated from Turkey, and an Irish/German/American mother who was raised by an extended family of rowdy Irish Catholics after her mother died and father absconded. This dramatic starting point infused my own upbringing with some rather stunning polarities on all fronts, from religion to politics to sex to how to raise children, and I became a very opinionated child as a result.

While still formulating my character, however, my parents fled the city, relocating to as disparate a place as one could imagine: Richmond, a tiny (population 350 at the time) farm town in northern Illinois, bike-riding distance from Wisconsin, as homogenized and white as Chicago was diverse. Too young to grasp the impact this would have my worldview, I reveled in the insular charms of small-town life until I grew old enough to realize I’d be fleeing in reversal of my mother and father…


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Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, is available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

PODCAST: A Conversation About Fiction, Culture & The Alchemy of Noise w/ The Three Tomatoes

It’s not every day you’re invited to converse with The Three Tomatoes, but I was, and I did, and it was quite the invigorating exchange with their always effervescent podcast hostess, Debbie Zipp.

To give you a bit of background on the group: the brainchild of founder/publisher, Cheryl Benton, and co-founding partner, Roni Jenkins, The Three Tomatoes describes itself as a “digital lifestyle magazine for women who aren’t kids,” with a mission to curate and provide an entertaining, informative, bicoastal lifestyle guide for “smart, savvy women who want to live their lives fully at every age and every stage.” Within that framework, they swing from fashion, travel, and cooking, to frank discussions of sex, aging, and contemporary culture. It’s a fun, eclectic, vibrant site with a big audience, so when they invited me to come talk about my new novel, The Alchemy of Noise, in the context of a discussion a about fiction and its particular power to the illuminate, I was more than happy to accept.

Below you’ll find the link to the podcast, and I hope you  take a listen. Feel free to share it on social media, and certainly if you’re so inspired to express thoughts, comments, or questions, I hope you’ll visit the Facebook and Twitter pages of the The Three Tomatoes to join in the conversation yourself! Of course, you always  know where to find me.

ENJOY!


Episode #11: Stories, Imagination and the True Power of Fiction!

Guest: author, writer, Lorraine Devon Wilke

If you love reading and your first impulse is to pick up a book of fiction, then you are making a truly powerful choice. It isn’t always just entertainment! Award winning author and writer, Lorraine Devon Wilke, joins our LA Editor, Debbie Zipp, in a lively and illuminating conversation delving into the importance of fiction and why it has such a powerful impact in our lives. Lorraine’s award-winning novels, After the Sucker Punch and Hysterical Love, are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Her latest, The Alchemy of Noise, a literary fiction that digs deep into issues of privilege, profiling, and prejudice in contemporary Chicago, will be released April 9, 2019. Learn more at her web site.

Listen to the episode at: http://thethreetomatoes.com/happyhourpodcast


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Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, is available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

What To Give The Author Who Has Everything

Well, that’s a ridiculous headline.

There is not one author who has everything. Except maybe J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. They might. I don’t know. Probably. Everyone else? Nah. But still, I thought the title had a nice ring. I’m easy.

But if you think about all the people in your life who mean something to you, people you occasionally gift with this or that, there probably are a few writers in the bunch. And when you gift those writers, you want those gifts to be items they really want, really like, really need, right? Even in those exceedingly rare cases where they appear to have everything (which, trust me… they don’t), you want to be purposeful in your generosity to your writer pals. At least that’s the way it is for me.

And, in this particular case, we are talking about me. But not me as the gifter, me as the giftee; a writer who definitely doesn’t have everything, and would like more of what I really need (which we’ll get into in a minute).

A mentor of mine once told me, “People think you don’t need anything.” This was meant as a nod to my particular brand of independence and self-confidence, while also asserting that I was terrible at articulating what I needed, and, therefore needed to learn how to ask for what I needed since no one, apparently, presumed I did. Need anything. Which is so odd. But, OK, lesson learned.

So, in that spirit, I offer pertinent suggestions related to my upcoming book launch, an “author’s gift registry,” of sorts, to assist you in knowing what I need and would be delighted by as you join me in celebrating that event. Much like bringing flowers to an actress on opening night, except, in this case, the “flowers” are simple actions you can take that will benefit the launch in all the best possible ways, and, handily, is a list that can also be applied to any writer you’d like to honor with similarly perfect gifts.

Author’s Gift Registry for The Alchemy of Noise Launch:

1. SOCIAL MEDIA: I would be delighted if you’d share any news, thoughts, opinions you have about the book via your social media… any of the medias will do (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Share widely and freely, make jokes, coin phrases; whatever amuses you, and, if so inclined, use the hashtag #TheAlchemyofNoise whenever posting. I think we all know by now how effective social media can be in stirring word-of-mouth, and this book and I will definitely appreciate any words coming from yours. Mouth, that is.

2. PRE-ORDER THE BOOK: It turns out this is a BIG deal for everyone involved in the marketing and distribution of a new book. Pre-orders, and sales during the first few days post-launch, are VERY important for a new book (like the opening weekend of a movie). So please do me the favor of clicking right HERE to pre-order your print or e-book copy, and, if you already have, THANK YOU!

3. REVIEWS: This is another big one. Reader reviews are crazy/important in this media focused world, and every single one—no matter how long or how many stars—helps. Now I must be honest: I get squeamish asking people to write reviews for me; it feels a little bit like, “Please applaud for me, will you?” But it’s really not that. It’s a far more professional exchange, and I realized that, oddly, when I got my car windows tinted. Let me explain:

After the job was done, the guy, who’d done a great job, asked, “Hey, would you do me a favor and leave a review at Yelp for us?” I noticed I had absolutely no back off on him asking; it felt like a normal 21st century transaction where we all know posting reviews can help a business, product, book; whatever we might be reviewing. I was happy to do it and I did. I wrote a swell review about my tinted windows, all the while thinking, “If Window-Tint Man is comfortable asking, why aren’t I?”

That answer would require some deeper conversation than we need to get into right here and now, but suffice it to say I am putting aside my squeamishness to flat-out ask:

After you’ve read The Alchemy of Noise, I’d be so grateful if you’d post a review/rating of the book on the Amazon page. Just go to the book’s page, right HERE, scroll down toward the bottom of the page, click the “Write a Customer Review” button, and convey your thoughts. They don’t have to be long; candor is appreciated, and you do not have to gush (though feel free if honestly so moved 🙂 ). Know that reviews really do help potential readers decide whether or not to buy a book… as they help marketers get a sense of how your book is being received.

There. I said it. I thank you in advance.

4. GOODREADS: If you are a member of this very popular book site, I’d love if you’d add The Alchemy of Noise to your “shelf.” Just go HERE to the book’s page, then click the green button under the book thumbnail to choose your shelf. After you’ve read it, you can cut & paste the review you wrote for Amazon and copy it right there on that same Goodreads page (look, I asked again!) And feel free to “follow” and “friend,” as we do on these sites.

OH, and until March 26th there’s a Goodreads Giveaway for the book; just scroll down the page and click to take a shot at winning 1 of 10 free books being given away.

5. BOOKBUB: Similar to Goodreads, BookBub is an enormous book site that engages with both readers and authors across a deep and eclectic platform. Many of you possibly subscribe to their “deal emails,” alerting you of the slate of books on sale any given day. It’s a big site, with lots of everything, and another one where “following” my page, and copying that Amazon review over would be incredibly beneficial. Just click HERE to find me there.

6. READING EVENTS: If you’re in one of the cities where bookstores will be hosting events for my launch (in April/May)… please COME! I’d love to see you and it should be great fun. And please be prepared to purchase the book at the store so the owners think I’m one of those cools authors whose fans are attuned to supporting independent bookstores. 🙂 Check the itinerary below and/or the Facebook Event Pages for each event.

6. WEBSITE: Don’t forget to keep an eye on my website for upcoming events www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

7. MY SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES: … they’re all below… you know what to do:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lorrainedevonwilke
Facebook Writer’s page: www.facebook.com/lorrainedevonwilke.fans/
Twitter: twitter.com/LorraineDWilke
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lorrainedevonwilke/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lorrainedwilke/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorrainedevonwilke/
Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/-/e/B00K2ZOLSA
Rock+Paper+Music blog: www.rockpapermusic.com

And that’s it; that’s the “registry,” comprehensive, complete, and, at least to this writer, incredibly valuable. I thank you in advance for your generosity, and know that you’ll always have my enthusiasm in returning the favor in kind.

Happy reading, Circle!

Gift photo by jesse ramirez on Unsplash


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Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, has an April 2019 pub date, with pre-orders currently available at Amazon and elsewhere.

Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

When the Awful, Artful Task of Book Blurbs Comes To Blessings

For those who might not know, one of the more sensitive (and dreaded) tasks required during the process of readying one’s book for publication is the procurement of book blurbs. Considered a time-honored tool in promoting an upcoming book, the assignment requires that you reach out to authors you know and whose work you respect; authors you don’t know whose work you respect; those who might be notable in the arena your book encompasses, or, and most coveted, well-known authors whose status might lend yours a bump of credibility. You offer to send your book—or select chapters—in hopes of inspiring a few lines of endorsement that can then be affixed to your cover or review pages. It does feel like daunting duty, all that asking, and, frankly, I know a few authors who’d rather walk on Legos.

Because getting anyone, even someone you know much less a well-known author, to read your work and write a sentence or two of appreciation feels to be herculean. Everyone’s busy with their own projects, deadlines may make it problematic, and even those who initially agree can later back out for one reason or another. Since it requires a significant focus of someone’s time, the “ask” is approached, always, with some trepidation and a big dollop of sensitivity. You don’t want to appear presumptuous, you don’t want to come off as gushing or obsequious, and certainly you don’t want to risk the pang of brusque and/or unspoken dismissal (though if you’ve ever queried agents you already know what that feels like!). So you proceed with as much elegance and decorum as you can muster, and if you do reach out to a “famous writer,” you do so graciously and with the full expectation of never hearing back.

I heard back from Rebecca Wells.

As the author of one of my favorite books, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Ms. Wells captured my admiration years ago when I first read that book and her many subsequent and attendant titles. And while my upcoming novel, The Alchemy of Noise, is not necessarily a “comp title,” a bit darker and more urban than her own work, the connecting point—beyond my creative respect—is our shared category of “contemporary literary fiction.” It seemed worth a shot.

My letter opened with:

“I was sitting in a natural mineral pool in Desert Hot Springs, CA, when I read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I was with a group of women friends, none of whom had had my particular Catholic upbringing, some of whom shared the legacy of a loving, crazy, narcissistic mother, and as I emerged from the steaming water with teary eyes, the goose bumps on my arms were not from the cold: I had been transported. I looked at them and said, ‘I don’t know why I’d ever think of writing after reading this book…it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read.’

“Despite that earnest disclaimer, I transmuted my awe into inspiration and did proceed to write my first novel…”

From there I told her a bit about my own journey as an author; I kept it brief, I asked if I could send my new book, or just a few chapters, with hopes of a short endorsement, and concluded (as prescribed above) graciously and with the full expectation of never hearing back.

And yet I did.

Not even two weeks later I received a sweet handwritten letter on a piece of lined notepaper: “It makes me smile to think of your meeting the Ya-Yas in a hot tub!”

She went on to explain that she was knee-deep in her own soon-to-be-published project, and though she would be unable to carve out time to read and endorse my book, she concluded with:

“Many congratulations on your writing! What guts it takes to sit on our butts and do this… I do send you all the best wishes as this new one goes forth into the world. Thank you for asking me… 84,000 Blessings, Rebecca Wells.”

Wow.

In an industry (a world!) where far too many make too little effort to respond and relate to those who reach out to them, I’m always astonished when someone does, particularly someone whose high-profile comes with commensurate demands on their time and attention.

Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to contact famous authors you admire. Even if they don’t have time to read and endorse your book (most won’t), you will have made a connection with someone whose work touched you, and who knows where that may lead? And if you’re lucky, you may walk away with not only their best wishes, but their blessings… 84,000 of them, and that is something that—in this crazy world—is always, always, appreciated.

Next up: What I Learned When I Heard Back From Jodi Picoult 


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Lorraine’s third novel, The Alchemy of Noise, has an April 2019 pub date, with pre-orders currently available at Amazon.  Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to her other books, music, photography, and articles.