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28 April 2008 @ 07:31 pm
Publication eve  
My "debut novel" (how's that for making me feel eighteen again?), Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, is being released tomorrow. In this age of the life lived online, I have this nagging feeling there's something I'm supposed to say, something I should do to mark this momentous (to me) occasion. How can I expect potential readers to notice me and, more important, seek out my book, if I just sit quietly and let the moment pass?

I'm old enough to remember a very different time, not that long ago, when a serious author tried to be anonymous, sometimes literally. An author photo? Absurd! What could it possibly matter what a writer looks like? Even a short bio seemed, somehow, unseemly. It's the work that matters, the writing. The author isn't the point of this endeavor; the book is.

Sometimes anonymity or a pseudonym are essential. Think of the original Flashman, written by George MacDonald Fraser and first published in 1969. I've heard that some early readers genuinely believed this darkly satirical work to be the memoir of a cad, coward and blackguard who lived through every major British campaign from the Afghan wars of the 1840s to the Boer War. Fraser wouldn't have helped his cause if he'd tried to make more of a splash than his antiheroic creation.

And of course, many women writers of the past simply couldn't be published under their own (feminine) names. Currer Bell is Charlotte Bronte's now-familiar male alter ego, and Jane Austen and Frances Burney published their first works anonymously.

But we live in strange times. Readership for traditional novels is down. Everybody and her sister is blogging, writing, posting, making videos. New authors are supposed to publicize themselves; it's practically a required clause in the contract. Even a big publisher like HarperCollins can't work miracles for every new, unknown author. So: Get the word out! Send email blasts! Don't have a MySpace page? What are you, crazy? Update your website for crying out loud! And blog! blog! blog!

The one danger in all this is that the diligent publicist/writer will alienate just about everyone after the fifth or sixth blast. I received a wonderful "reply" to one of my blog posts announcing yet another good review: "At this very moment," one exasperated reader wrote, "I think I'd particularly enjoy a romance [like Phyllida] ... But I certainly wouldn't read it if I knew you wrote it."

Well, there's the rub. I did write it. I wrote the book and I wrote the blog and the website content and the emails and...

What can I say except: I've loved every minute of it. I wrote what I wanted to write, what gave me great pleasure, what I wanted to read. Tomorrow--in a few hours--it will be on sale in bookstores for everyone to read. I hope that some of you will find in this humorous, romantic story of the spirited, beautiful authoress, her glamorous bisexual husband and his honorable gay boyfriend the same joy I had in creating it.

-Larry-: me on Dec 1 2005lordlnyc on April 29th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)

Hi Ann, I have to work tomorrow night and therefor unable to make it. I woukd like to wish you the best of luck and I hope all goes well.


Helysoune: queer pride - rainbow HRC handsemotionalwench on April 29th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
Hey Ann, I friended your livejournal after I heard about your book on one of the bisexual communities here. As a fellow writer of historical fiction (I'm writing my own first novel, which also contains bi characters/themes), I have to say congratulations on not only getting your novel finished, but also published! That's such an accomplishment, one I hope to have myself one day. Your book sounds really fun and interesting and I can't wait to read it. :)

I heard you might do some touring the country to promote your book...any chance you might go to the south? I live in North Carolina and I'd love to go to one of your book signings. :)
ann_amalieann_amalie on April 29th, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
Touring...I wish
Many thanks for your good wishes.

As a new author of a most unusual work, I am unlikely to be sent on any book tours by HarperCollions in the near future. However, if it becomes possible for me to go on a "tour" that I pay for myself, I do have a very good friend in North Carolina who lives near Asheville and, apparently, a very interesting bookstore.

So who knows? Perhaps I'll be able to meet you and sign a book. That would be terrific.
grondficgrondfic on April 29th, 2008 07:37 am (UTC)
Hello. I noticed you quietly Friended me, so I Friended you back.

Congratulations, and all the very best for The Novel. Any chance of it coming to a UK outlet anytime soon?
ann_amalieann_amalie on May 2nd, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
UK outlet
As far as I know, it's not on sale in stores in the UK, but it may be possible to purchase it through amazon.us (?)

Thank you for your good wishes and for wanting to read Phyllida>
Jennifer aka: Maverick (Mav): covermadrigalist on April 29th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for requesting me as a friend. I added you back. Many on my live journal write bi or slash historicals. They are mixed in with the writers following the idea to publisher aspect of writing a book, and the many Phantom fans of course. (must appreciate that niche market)

All the best on the release.
ann_amalieann_amalie on May 2nd, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for mutual friendship. We slash and bi writers are the future, don't you think? We must stick together.

I am grateful for your good wishes and apologize for late reply.
(Deleted comment)
ann_amalieann_amalie on May 2nd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your good wishes. Yes, the publishing process has been a wild ride.

If your signing question is serious: where are you located? I'll gladly go anywhere in NYC area for a fan. Otherwise, hmmm, could be difficult--but many, many thanks for asking.
Annwyn: musician in the rainannwyn55 on May 3rd, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Congratulations and felicitations! I'm glad your dream has become reality - and I applaud you for having the courage to write something out of the ordinary. Haven't seen it in the Canadian bookstores as yet, although it shows on Amazon.ca, and I'm definitely planning to give it a try.

I must confess that I was puzzled as to why you 'friended' me - although I do love slash and adore period romances, but I'm glad you did. :D
ann_amalieann_amalie on May 4th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Thanks for your good wishes.

Yes, I think we have two common interests: slash and historical romance. I used to call my book a "bisexual Regency romance," but not everyone thinks a "romance" can involve more than two people. But I believe it's a genuine love story.
Mama Debmamadeb on May 4th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)

I just finished reading your book (and I found you because I was searching for the person who recommended it - I had no idea you had a livejournal).

It was completely *delicious*. I could not put it down.

May you write many, many more.
ann_amalieann_amalie on May 5th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
Oh, what a delightful way to end a weekend and face the miseries of Monday!

Thank you, thank you for your kind words.

Well, there's no reason you'd know I have a LJ, as I've been terrible about keeping it current. If it's any excuse, I have been busy writing. I'm near to finishing my next book, a "bisexual" version of Pride and Prejudice, which I hope will appear next year.
Mama Debmamadeb on May 5th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
That would be *amazing* - there are a lot of Austen and slash (and Austen slash) fans on my flist...

I suspected you might have one. I also suspect you might have other works out there I might have read. My husband had already volunteered to find out if you had (and maybe if you, um, knew of anyone who wrote fanfic in a similar style) by calling upon the old school tie - he's Princeton '87.
ann_amalieann_amalie on May 5th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like my Austen idea. But I truly don't have any other published works out there (yet).

I'm also sorry to say I don't know of others writing in my "style." Most of what I've found is m/m (gay male) romance and historical fiction, some of it excellent, but very little of it comedy.

I am proud that I seem to be one of very few (the world is too big to say "only" with confidence) writing m/m/f bisexual, apart from erotica. Yes, my work is sexy (I hope) but I don't consider it erotica because I think there's more to it than that.

If I learn of any others I'll let you know.

Thanks again for your good "review"--it really does lift an author's spirits to hear--and say Rah, Tiger to your husband.
renesears on August 22nd, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
Hey, I just finished Phyllida, and I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it in one sitting last night. The characters were all realized so well, and the humor was delightful. Thanks for the fun read. (It's my first romance!)
ann_amalieann_amalie on August 22nd, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
I'm so pleased that you wrote to me. I was wondering why there was a "reply" to my post from back in April--now I see it was for the best possible reason.

As I mentioned in a later post, I wasn't sure when I finished writing Phyllida that it really was a romance. HarperCollins wasn't sure either, which is why the book was subtitled "a novel" and shelved in the Fiction section of stores, not the Romance section.

But it seems that Phyllida does work as a romance, at least for some readers.

Many, many thanks for telling me so.
renesears on August 22nd, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
OK, that makes sense. I mentally categorized it that way because I read about it first on Smart Bitches, and that review along with your response really made me want to read it. Time being what it is, I just got around to it now.

As I mentioned, I don't have a lot of experience reading romance, so the focus on love made it seem like a natural fit there to me. I found the ending satisfying-- not everyone's happy ending, but certainly the characters'. I also appreciated the historical notes, and the research you put into it.

I look forward to the next one.
ann_amalieann_amalie on August 25th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
Yes, I think I gained a number of readers from the Smart Bitches' original witty and professional review of Phyllida, and their support and good wishes once the book was picked up by HarperCollins was a lovely, generous gesture. Although I shouldn't seem so surprised. They are a real class act.

Please don't feel you need to apologize for reading it now. I was just making conversation. I hope people will continue to discover the book over time.

As to whether it's a romance, I tend to find that an interesting question, probably because I'm a cataloger. But ultimately it's all about connecting with readers. Some, like you, are new to romance; others read a lot of it. I agree that the focus on the love relationships and the happy ending are the important qualities.

I'm glad you mentioned the historical note. I put a lot of work into writing that :)

My next book is a little different, but it will have the same "bisexual" theme and is set at the same time as Phyllida.

Thanks again for writing.