Over the last few months I’ve learned that there are many steps in the path I’ll call “getting my book out there.” Before I could even begin, there were the hurdles of actually publishing it: completing the manuscript, getting the cover design right, proofing, submitting it in the format required (especially tricky for the Kindle edition) getting the library of congress and ISBN numbers— and all of these things took much longer and required far more energy than I had expected. The second step involved building my “writer’s platform” and this blog has been an important and entertaining part of that process. I’ve also had to create an “author fan page” on FaceBook, a twitter account, and a Pinterest account (which, sorry to say, I don’t pay much attention to). Now I am approaching book stores, arranging book signings, imploring everyone who reads my book to write a review (not much luck there, so far—only 5 kind souls have responded) and I’m entering contests.
Each contest I enter is like going through a job interview: my book is competing for recognition, jostling with heartfelt works that others have produced, hoping that the interviewer (or judge) is in a good mood when s/he reads it, and then waiting on pins and needles for the clock to tick by and the results to be announced. Yesterday I got the first result from a contest that I entered, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and…I made it to Round 2!! You should have seen me jumping up and down, even though it’s really only a small step and there are another 4 rounds to go. But still, the fact that Bueno survived when 4/5 of the entries (1600 novels) in its category were eliminated, is exciting.
As with each job interview, every contest focuses on different aspects of the author’s handiwork before the final decision is made. For this first round in the ABNA contest, the judges looked only at my “pitch”, which had to be no more than 300 words. That’s it. Just 300 words to either survive to the next round or be washed away with the masses. In preparation for this contest I wrote 12 different pitches, then narrowed them down to the three best, then worked on these till the final one emerged. Once I knew where I was going with the pitch, I re-wrote it another 4 or 5 times, and it’s this pitch which I’d like to share with you today:
Shhh. Harvey has to think. When he left the kindergarten classroom most of the children had stopped crying. But pig’s blood still stained the grass and he knew that the students would have nightmares about what they had witnessed at recess. The farmer had sworn that he had sent a letter to the school informing of the planned slaughter. And then, when he returned to his office, Harvey had noticed that his in-box was inexplicably neat and tidy. With a sinking heart he reached for the pile of letters and found the one that had not been there earlier.
Harvey had expected his interim position to be challenging. After all, he was a foreigner: a tall, red-headed Texan whose high school Spanish was barely passable. And he was relatively inexperienced, having never been a headmaster before, but he had trusted that his graduate degree, hard work and determination would suffice.
Closing his eyes, Harvey thought of Carmen, who had brightened his life tremendously. But now with this crisis, the worst since he had begun working in this hornet’s nest of a school, would he be able to remain in Spain, the country his late brother had loved and where he could be with Carmen?
He scanned the letter again. It was obvious that he had been framed. Why was it that nothing he did seemed to work out? How should he handle this situation?
Teeming with sympathetic, believable characters and masterfully interweaving humorous and poignant moments, Bueno is a truth-telling, engaging novel which explores shared human experiences that cross national and cultural boundaries.
What do you think? Have I enticed you into a) reading my novel; b) writing a review on Amazon for me (this will be super important if I make it to later rounds in the ABNA contest); and c) recommending my book(s) to your friends and family?
Thank you for your help!