A few years ago, before moving to the UK, I cancelled a few magazine subscriptions and changed them to digital only. When I returned stateside, I again ordered paper subscriptions to my regularly read publications—The New York Times, The New Yorker, Poets and Writers (P&W), and Jacobin Magazine. I would have ordered others, but I can only handle so many demands on my time at once. So while I read, The Nation, the LARB, and The Atlantic online, along with occasional others, including digital sources of news and views, such as Slate and RH Reality Check, I limit my mailed subscriptions to these three for now.
Despite the best of intentions, except for the NYT, the other two still pile up in my office until something—usually serendipity—brings them to my attention. Today, having already read the latest P&W, I picked up the previous month’s issue and opened the covers to “The Practical Writer” column, intrigued by the article’s title: “My Book is a Year Old, Now What?”
Diving for Pearls: A Thinking Journey with Hannah Arendt isn’t yet a year old, but I have been struggling with keeping it in the public eye for some months now. Given lectures and workshops, mailed copies of review, contacted folks on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, followed suggestions from indie writing blogs for how to sustain interest. All that produced, I have to confess, limited results. (My biggest support came from the book’s first review, written by fellow writer, the UK author also named Kathleen Jones. Truly, we are two different people!! Equally important were invitations from my colleagues Jennifer Disney, Lori Marso, and Jocelyn Boryczka to lecture at Winthrop University (last year) and at Union College and Fairfield University respectively this coming fall.)
Midge Raymond, who wrote the P&W essay, is the author of a prize-winning collection of short stories—Forgetting English—as well as two books of guidance for writers. She had some interesting suggestions for creating buzz—team up with another author for joint book readings (have ideas for that one), keep submitting your book for awards (created a list of those, especially ones that don’t cost too much to enter), connect with your local community (am trying to reach out to the Bay Area about my book and have succeeded in getting a few gigs, including one last week at Polis, a community-based discussion center for adults interested in talking about Big Questions). But what really caught my eye was advice from one of Raymond’s informants, Susan McBeth.
Susan was a member of a writing group I had been a member of in San Diego, where she continues to offer author and reader services through her Adventures by the Book. “It’s about finding the right audience to connect with your book,” Susan said in an interview with Raymond. And she ought to know; she works with authors before and long after their books have been released.
Turns out I had promised to send Susan my book and asked her to help me find new ways to connect. But I’d dropped the ball on my way to the east coast earlier in the summer, where I was headed to direct an NEH seminar on Hannah Arendt for schoolteachers. Wasting no more time, I sent Susan an updated email, including notifying her that I would be speaking on September 22 about my writing career and my latest book in San Diego later this month, at the San Diego Writers and Editors’ Guild (Meets at 3851 Rosecrans Street, San Diego). I suggested we find time to brainstorm, once she’d read the book, which I will put in the mail to her tomorrow.
So, the moral of this story? Peruse those magazines you’ve stacked up; there might be good advice even in the older issues. And keep discovering new ways to continue to get the word out about your work, including creating new writing!