From Kathryn Jordan, to my knowledge the only author to successfully combine hot sex, humor, and a discussion of Hannah Arendt with a red Lamborghini:
Like most authors of “first” novels, my story is not without pitfalls. Yet nearly two years after my novel, HOT WATER, hit the book stores and my promotion frenzy started, the bumps in the road now seem small. Mostly I am overwhelmed with gratitude at where the path has taken me. And especially grateful for Bella’s Book Promotion 101.
Here’s what happened. After three "practice" novels written in early morning hours while teaching high school English full time, I decided to write a book so sexy, fun and smart that no one would turn it down. HOT WATER sold in three weeks to Berkley/Penguin. I retired from teaching.
Soon after my agent, B.J. Robbins, called with news of the sale, I attended Bella Stander’s Book Promotion workshop in Los Angeles. In one long, productive day [make that two long days--she attended twice] I absorbed tons of priceless marketing tips, including the idea to pitch HOT WATER as the "Ultimate Spa Novel." It IS every woman’s fantasy: A midwestern housewife escapes her stifling life for a weekend at a lush spa resort, where she rents a red Lamborghini and hires a hot male escort (a combination of Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp with a philosophy degree--hey, I did say fantasy). And what better niche market than spa resorts! Just for fun I added what I call "HOT WATER House Parties." (Like lingerie or Tupperware, only with me and my hot novel).
It worked. Grassroots word-of-mouth marketing. I went on the road, touring spa resorts from California to New Mexico, with stops in Colorado, Texas and Florida. Oh yes, and the Aladdin and Paris hotel spas in Vegas! Tough job, but someone has to do it. I even did an event in Bisbee, Arizona, at the Hot Licks Barbecue & Saloon: "HOT WATER at Hot Licks on Hump Day," complete with a woman sitting on the bar singing sultry love songs, belly dancers, a sexy lingerie show, and me pinching myself--an author doing readings to a packed house in a bar!
Books sold like crazy...at least compared to the four bookstore signings my publicist at Berkley set up. Four! Women loved the book, read it in one sitting, passed the word. Since January 2006 I’ve done more than 80 events--at bookstores and book clubs, parties, libraries, festivals, blogs, and, best of all, spa resorts. I’ve returned to the Oaks at Ojai four times. They comp me room and meals. Some spas even carried the novel in their gift shops. Still do.
Now for the bumps. A month before the novel was released, my editor at Berkley passed away. Leona Nevler was a veteran, nearly 50 years in the business, one of the first women to run a publishing house. Terrific lady; I flew to New York and had lunch with her. Three months later she was gone. Berkley assigned me an editor whose name I won’t mention (no longer with the company). She never connected with HOT WATER, wasn’t interested in STEAM, our proposed sequel. With a 13,000 print run, sales were decent, but not spectacular.
Last summer, Anne Weston of Gross & Weston Productions contacted me about a HOT WATER movie for Lifetime. They loved the book, really wanted to do the movie. They had great credentials: over 30 films, many for Lifetime. Wow! Rebirth, I thought. But Lifetime said the novel didn’t have a big enough name, not a bestseller. I guess #2 on a bestseller list in the San Luis Obispo Tribune (with DA VINCI CODE at #4) didn’t cut it.
Never mind, by then I was well into a new novel. One day when I was delivering copies to the resort where the story takes place--Two Bunch Palms, near where I live--I met a man named John Walton, the son of silent screen star Gladys Walton, who was also Al Capone’s girlfriend. He asked me to write a novel based on their story. Who could refuse?
Today I sent the final draft to my agent for submission. THE GLAD GIRL: A Novel Based on the True Love Story of Silent Screen Star Gladys Walton and Al Capone. Now there’s movie material!
What an adventure it’s been. Follow the flow. And be grateful. I am, eternally.