• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, Sweet Darlin’

My new look

One of my back to school projects involves trying to promote the revised edition of The Forest for the Trees which is coming out in early October. Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Writing personal letters to every bookseller and person in the media I know
  • Sending an e-card the publisher created to the heads of writing programs, writing conferences, writing/agenting bloggers
  • Supposedly setting up a Facebook fan page
  • Sending a finished book to writing program directors in the tri-state area with the hope of getting speaking gigs
  • Writing a spec essay for Modern Love (I have a rough draft)

THe publisher is also doing a big mailing and some giveaways. I’m going to do some giveaways from my blog, but I have to figure out a contest of some sort.  I’m also supposed to tweet more, but  I’m hoping Twitter falls off the earth before I get around to composing any more 90 character salvos from the dark side.

I devote a whole chapter in Forest for the Trees to self-saboteurs to self-promoters. When I first published the book I was a SS. Now, I’m happy to report that I’m a card carrying SP. So if anybody out there has any thoughts about how I can turn Forest For the Trees into THe HElp, let me know. ALSO, if you can get your local reading groups, colleges, brownie troops or kennel clubs to invite me to read, talk, video chat or lap dance, please let me know as well. THanks!

Or just tell us what’s been effective for you promoting your work.

58 Responses

  1. Friends of the Library—esp. in tri=state area…should be large groups….promote your books, libraries, and reading/writing….give talks.

  2. I’ve got a big-ass book blog. I’ll give you a shout out. I loved that book.

  3. i think you should make some kind of lady gaga esque outfit of pages from your book (origami stylee) and stand on the streets in NYC. whilst wearing doc martens.

    be yourself.

    you’re a star.

  4. “I devote a whole chapter in Forest for the Trees to self-saboteurs to self-promoters.” I wonder if this chapter contains something about Tao Lin. I’m not yet sure if he’s a self-saboteur or a self-promoter or both. (Any coverage is good coverage?) He’s used his blog and various other internet platforms to run contests about his books, sell shares of profits on an unreleased book, brainstorm iPhone apps, etc. I find the writing itself sort of eh, but the internet stunts are amusing and he’s getting quite a bit of attention.

    The truth is, I love your original book and I almost can’t bear to think of some new-media-oriented version of the book, though I will buy and read it, recommend it, etc.

    • Oh god no. It’s the same book. Just updated some examples, tell people not to tweet, facebook, blog, or use any other social media. Some sad new pages about writers we’ve lost. Less oogy ending, but still oogy. In other words, it’s the same motherfucker.

      • So glad to hear this …

        … I had dreadful visions of chapters on the importance of cultivating an internet following … promoting one’s work … tweeting every 7 seconds … “just wrote a line for my new novel to be released in 2012” …

        Waves of relief.

  5. If you came to my school I would be there listening to you! How to get you here, I’m not sure…

  6. Free booze parties. Haha. You were waiting for that one to hit the board.

    Trolling mothers groups? Thousands of women are trying to figure out how to fit me time and work into motherhood. Writing is always at the top of the list as a wishful possibility. It’s not necessarily a group with a high rate of follow through but they are well intentioned and do buy books. To that demographic: don’t throw eggs at me because you know I’m right.

    • Deb — You are absolutely right (re the working mothers, retired mothers, not-even-yet mothers). I saw it with a writing course I helped with (logistically, not creatively) this summer. And those were the people who decided they had enough money to pay more than a couple of thousand dollars to go overseas for a week of instruction. That market for books has got to be enormous if one taps into it.

  7. If only you had a core group of fanatical followers who knew where writers lurked online and were willing to organize some sort of unofficial promotion, or at least jump-start word-of-mouth, in the weeks before the pub date.

    If anyone knows a lost soul who fits that profile, email me at thebetsylernerwebinar@yahoo.com.

    No idea why, or what, or how, or even if. But what the fuck–I’ll send a link where we can talk, if there’s sufficient interest. At the very least, we can bitch about Betsy behind her back.

    (And no, I didn’t ask Betsy’s permission before posting this. She is in a position of immaculate deniability.)

    • Am I missing something, or are we not that “core group of fanatical followers who knew where writers lurked online and were willing to organize some sort of unofficial promotion”? Of course we are.

      Wouldn’t most, if not all, of Betsy’s clients be willing to give a shout out on their blogs (if they have them) too? It’s the least they could do.

      As soon as I get a graphic, I’ll post it on my Facebook, and my blog (once I get it running again).

      I just registered at a weight-loss site called SparkPeople (aka Facebook for Fatties). There is a 1000-strong, very active writers’ support sub-group on the site. I can spread the word there. Food and Loathing would go over big as well, I’m sure.

      • That’s us, indeed. I just thought that perhaps it might be worthwhile trying to coordinate efforts somehow. So anyone who emails me, I’ll send a link to some site were we can try to figure this out.

        At the very least we can love-bomb the Amazon reviews.

      • I’m on Spark People! Had no idea they have a writers support group. I thought it was just a calorie counter!

      • It’s a total social networking environment, centered on fitness and weight loss. It’s huge! Look up YOOVIE; she’s a rock photographer in NYC and writing a book. A very funny, witty girl. Maybe you know her already.

    • Don’t think I missed the “love-bomb” reference, August. 😉

  8. Knee pads.

  9. Also on the Melville House publishing site there is a rundown of their marketing campaging for Hans Fallada’s books. Very interesting – see t-shirts with the book that say “I can see the forest for the trees” green with white letters.

    • I’d buy that shirt.

    • Lyn – you’ve got me curious as to the possible parallels between Betsy — alive and kicking and in the original — and Hans – only discovered of late– MUCH after his demise — by English-language readers!! I’ve gotta go check out the campaign material you mention.

      I’d buy that t-shirt too.

  10. I’ve been buying a lot of books lately based on recommendations on blogs–but it needs to be mentioned a few times and then I pay attention. You might want to do guest posts on some of the blogs you have at the side (Rachelle Gardner etc)–ie, the blogs that aspiring writers read. We writers are always looking for new books about writing (I must have 20 of them). I think personally going around to bookstores in NYC might help, too. The Borders (?) on 9th and 6th ave has a good writing section (and other bookstores as well)–or perhaps have the stores schedule a book signing along with a talk/mini-writing workshop…and all those writing conferences–maybe send a personal letter to the organizers with a copy of book. good luck..

  11. If you’ve got a pair of fishnets and a bra that shoots sparkles, who needs anything else?

  12. you gotta do a video.. those of us reading and loving your attitude in print and I suspect many others who haven’t yet discovered this blog, the video version would be to die for.
    Get your kid or her friends to show up with a video camera and feed them for their effort…then get an art student to do an animation style look of you for an intro and logo…you’re made for TV.

  13. Sorry, wish I could help, but everybody else’s ideas are better than any I could come up with. Knee pads should be a last resort used only in carefully selected circumstances; otherwise, they lose their panache. The bra that shoots sparkles is interesting, but seems a flash in the pan.

    For my own work, I’ve tried sitting in the middle of the highway, waiting to get hit by a truck, but that hasn’t worked yet. Time to return to the drafty garret and the scribbling at the upturned crate.

    • Maybe if I put on my own knee pads, a bra that shoots sparkles, some fishnets – AND knelt in the middle lane of the I-15 screaming for takers, the combined effect would do the trick.

      Plus we’d have that lovely Pollock effect for the 6pm news chopper.

      I’d do it for Betsy.

      • Of course, the combination plate, it evaded me. It might be worth a try, though I’ll need to get new knee pads, mine are quite worn through.

  14. Betsy, that book is my staple. I recommend it to everyone I know who writes. I actually loaned it to my roommate and really want to sneak into his room and take it back. I’ll spread the word about the revised edition.

  15. When I announced to friends and family that I was going to quit writing for the newspaper and write fiction, I received nine books on “How to Write” the next Christmas. The first one I opened said never join a writers group and never read a book on how to write.
    This produced a quandry from which I have not yet recovered.

    I have, however, read your first edition, and I am just finishing Bird by Bird by Lamont. So how many copies of the new edition do I have to buy for a lap dance.

  16. I think the blog tour would generate a lot of publicity for your book. There are so many sites aimed at aspiring writers that have guest blogs or Q and As: Writer Unboxed, Debuntante Ball etc. Even better if you have some ARCs to give away.

  17. If you come to Charlotte, NC I’ll throw a book party for you. Seriously. I have lots of smarty-pants friends who buy books.

  18. If you decide to give away books to bloggers, vet them first for readership. Anybody can write a really good groveling application.

  19. When will the new version show up on Amazon?

  20. I read the first version of your book and loved it. I found your blog after enjoying your book so much I google-d it. I’ll read the second too….

    …Especially because I’m intrigued- what do you mean don’t blog?
    (Even if you give me a mini-answer now I promise to still read of course, haha)

    P.s. Margaret Atwood tweets… And I read them 🙂

    • I was just being a little sarcastic. I just think that most of this “social networking” takes away from time writers should use to hone their craft. Meow.

  21. BL’s book comes out in October. Nanowrimo starts in November. BL writes fabulous pep talk for participants and offers contest giveaways. Can you say best-seller!

  22. Is someone who uses Twitter a “tweeter” or a “twitterer”? Or are both acceptable? I don’t even know. Anyway, have… fun?

  23. I will tweet. Others will retweet. Ain’t to proud to tweet over here in shameless promotion land, and have found surprising numbers of writer-twitter-friends. . . oh, wait–I think what I have is a group of writers following me and I follow them. Not so wise for me, but I have your natural book-buying audience.

    I will happily revise my post “THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: An Instant Shrink for Writers” in honor of your revised book, and this time I’ll post it to Huffpo. And then I’ll copy it to Red Room and She Writes.

    I will pre-order on demand.

  24. I work at the biggest English-language bookstore in Paris . . . .there are, ahem, a *few* aspiring Anglophone writers in this fair city. Will push our buyer to order FFTT (in addition to my own copy).

    Question, Betsy: is the book being published in the UK as well (though it doesn’t really matter, we order from the States too)?

    • Dear Kim: Thanks so much for any push at all. It’s gone out of print in the UK and I don’t think they’ll take it up again. Thanks also for reading the blog and commenting. Betsy

      • I’m thinking I could suggest a table theme like The Writing LIfe and we can stack it full of novels featuring writers, some of our cool journal/notebooks, writers’ memoirs (Graham Swift, Nabokov, etc) memoirs about writers in Paris (THAT’s easy), Strunk & White and a dictionary/thesaurus or two, 2010 Writers’ Yearbook, and bring it all together with FFTT (oh and maybe one or two other writing coaching books. Hey, that’s not a half bad idea! I’m going to put together concrete ideas on that table and present it to our marketing/PR guru by the end of the weekend. Sounds like fun, and I can help another friend promote her book at the same time (Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah — a thinly veiled autobiographical novel about a girl leaving the NY publishing world and going to write in Beijing as a Chinese-American) . . . .

      • But it will be available to purchase on Amazon UK – have preordered mine.

      • Downith, how did you pre-order on Amazon UK? I can’t find it on Amazon US. Why would the Brits get it first?

      • English people suck and have no taste. I know this from experience.

  25. I just searched for it on Amazon UK and it came up as available for pre-order so I went for it. I have no idea why the Brits would get it first – I’m just a dumb immigrant there, but I’m back in Canada on vacation right now and it’s also available for pre-order on amazon.ca.

  26. Betsy! I’m recommending your book to all aspiring writers on the MFA blog, and trying to link to the reissued version on Amazon and not finding it….where can I send all those hungry readers to pre-order?

  27. what? what? heard my name!

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