Thursday, December 26, 2013

IS YOUR LAWN YELLING AT YOU? AND OTHER HORRORS OF WRITING YOUR FIRST NOVEL by Stephen K. Ryan



The first question I get from folks who have read my book, those who liked it of course, is: “Loved your book - when are you going to write your next one?” I would smile nicely then offer up a full plate of polite baloney, because the first thing that goes through my mind is my wife and the thought of her dashing off to Wal-Mart’s gun department. I have given serious thought of opening my next book with the line: “Honey, great news- I have my next book in mind; I start tonight”. This would be followed by two quick blasts from a hand gun. The lap top gets it first, then the clueless dope gets it between the eyes. The second thing that goes through my mind, oddly enough, is my lawn. For some reason it was my lawn -sullen, demanding, and often run amuck – that reminded me, more than anything else, how much time I spent writing my first book. But I loved every minute of it.

The honest reason why I have not started “my next book” is I have been incredibly busy marketing my debut novel. Personally, for me, I found myself feeling a bit pretentious starting another project until I felt my first book had achieved some measure of success. So I have been totally motivated to promote my book – not to get rich – we all know that reality – but to prove, to myself, in the cold, brutally honest world of the market place, that I belong - that “yes, damn it – I am a writer”. Not until then would I start a new book. My publisher has been delightful to work with but they are not part of the big five so promotional efforts are limited and so unless you are Bill O’Reilly, book promotion is tough, time consuming work. Reaching and motivating people who can bring attention to your book takes a lot of effort but it must be done or your book will not get read – period.

What has worked for me so far. I am fairly certain I am not breaking new ground with my helpful tips, but here goes.
  1. My book is a religious thriller with a twist. The Catholic Church, in my book, is not the dark sinister anti-Christ that we often read about but rather the hero is a priest. He is a “miracle detective” – a decent guy. Because of this I have had some luck with Catholic / faith based media. This niche has real upside.

  2. My novel, in part, takes place in my home town of Alexandria, Va. My local paper is doing an article about my book. This is book marketing 101 – everybody knows this. The important point is that it takes a lot of time and persistent to make it happen. I called my local paper for the first time in July of 2013 and it was not until this December that I sat down with a reporter.

  3. One of the main characters in my book is an avid sailor. There are boating scenes that take place on the Chesapeake Bay. In my real life I spend a lot of time on boats as well. This led to an article about me and my book in a popular sailing magazine.

  4. To be successful, unfortunately, your book has to be successful. This advice came to me from a top Washington, D.C. literary agent. We are friends, we play tennis together. He told me “make your book really successful, Steve, and we can help you with your next book – keep pulling on the oars.”
The old line “write what you know” can be useful in book marketing as well. My recommendation for a new novelist is to reach out to groups that have some connection to the subject matter of your book. Be creative and be a grinder.

About The Madonna Files

On the quiet campus of M.I.T., a math professor is asked by the Vatican to determine the probability that six children are telling the truth. The children, from a small town in Bosnia, a town filled with sacred drama, say they see the Virgin Mary. The children claim the Virgin Mary has given them ten secrets that include apocalyptic warnings for the entire world.   On the other side of the world, as a Russian Freighter with a mysterious cargo vanishes off the coast of Iran, a letter goes missing from the Pope's apartment.. A priest - a Vatican "Miracle Detective" - is asked to find the missing letter, and as the miracle detective closes in on the secret letter, world events begin to hurdle out of control.

Stephen Ryan's explosive debut novel challenges the prevailing orthodoxies of American history and Christianity, and reveals the dynamic presence of the Virgin Mary throughout the ages. With unexpected turns and a full dose of scholarly intrigue along the way, The Madonna Files is a contemporary religious thriller that explores the hidden secrets of the Virgin Mary.

About Stephen Ryan

Stephen K. Ryan is publisher of Mystic Post .com and manager of  Castine Investment Management, a wealth advisory firm. Stephen's writings about mystics, mysteries and miracles of the Catholic Church  have been internationally recognized.
Stephen is married to Tania and lives in Alexandria, Va.  Tania and Stephen  have two children - Andrew and Meredith.   When he is not banging away on his computer, he can often be found somewhere on an ocean racing sailboats.




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