Tuesday, June 01, 2010

An Author's Best Friends ~ Lena Nelson Dooley

Lena Nelson Dooley has written more than 25 works of fiction and nonfiction. She and her husband, James, have two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They make their home in Texas.

When you think of your best friends, you probably don’t list these two, but if you want to be published, you should add these at the top of your list: editors and bookstore managers and employees.

What do they have in common? They are interested in your book being a success. And they wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for authors.

What can they do for you? The answer to that question would take more space than this one blog post, but here are some things to think about.

Let’s look at editors. An editor is the person who has to really love your book and purchase the manuscript, but it doesn’t end there. An editor, the purchaser or another one, will help you polish your manuscript until it sings. The words will leap straight from the page into the reader’s heart after a good editor get finished with it. Because most of these editors have been in the business long enough to understand the market at the time your book will release, the suggestions that are made will enhance the story.

But that same editor also realizes the book really belongs to you. I love having an editor, as I did on Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, who works alongside you, making sure he/she understands what you really want to say in a particular scene. And you don’t have to agree with every little change the editor suggests.

When I first started selling books, I was totally intimidated by an editor. I felt overwhelmed by the rewrites and did every single one suggested. As I grew as an author, I understood that I could disagree, in a kind way, and either explain why I wanted to leave it as it was or suggest other possibilities for the change. But I did “choose my battles” so to speak. I only asked for something else if it made a real difference to the finished product. I feel blessed because most of my editors have become good friends as well as colleagues.

Before your book releases, you should get acquainted with personnel at bookstores near you. I know the people at Mardel Christian store and Barnes & Noble near me. I’ve shown an interest in the store and products they sell long before any book comes out. And I’ve had booksignings at both places. When I go for the booksigning, I always take a box of chocolates for those who are working that day to share, and I help promote the event.

At the last booksigning I had at Mardel, I asked the manager if they had ever hosted a book release party. He told me they hadn’t, but he’d like to, so I introduced him to my book that would release this month. He checked with their company’s marketing department to make sure they would carry the book, then let me know they would love to host the party. Because I stayed in contact with them about the party, their graphic department created a wonderful full-color flyer, which they used for promotion. They also sent me an electronic copy for me to use.

The Book Release Party May first was a rousing success, with a good crowd, lots of fun, and we sold all the books they ordered for the party as well as what was on the shelf.

So don’t forget to make friends with your editor(s) and bookstore personnel. These types of relationships will be beneficial for them and for you.


Ane Mulligan said...

Good advice, Lena. I'm making notes! :)

Latayne C Scott said...

Lena, you are always so supportive of other writers. I really appreciate the hints about editors and bookstore personnel. I have had the same experience with editors and love working with them.

Unfortunately, the Christian bookstores in my area have been reluctant to do any book launch events. However, Barnes & Noble has been ready and welcoming.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...


I think the trick is to establish a relationship with the Christian bookstore personnel far in advance of the launch, and ask them at about the launch at least three months in advance.

The key is allowing time for preparation on their part and yours.

A J Hawke said...

Great information about getting to know the bookstore managers ahead of time.

A J Hawke