Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Year, Two Novels, and Five Rules for the Road

by Chuck Greaves

For me, the year 2012 proved a wild ride indeed, in which HUSH MONEY, my debut legal thriller, was published by Minotaur in May, followed by HARD TWISTED, a literary/historical/true-crime novelization, published by Bloomsbury in November – all while writing and editing GREEN-EYED LADY, forthcoming from Minotaur in June of 2013.   

The result was a crash course in Publishing 101 from which, employing a metaphorical Jaws of Life, I’ve prized five useful insights for those approaching or just entering the authorial highway:

1. Watch Your Speed.  Having come from a legal background, in which clients expected results yesterday, I was shocked by the slow pace of traditional publishing.  Months from deal memo to final contract?  Over a year from acquisition to publication?  Book Street is more construction zone than Autobahn, and everything takes twice as long as you think it should, so settle back and adjust your expectations accordingly.

2. Bring Toll Money.  No, they won’t be sending someone over to shoot your jacket photo, and yes, that car waiting to take you to your next book signing looks suspiciously like your own.  In other words, plan on spending some of your advance money on self-promotion – from a web site to a book tour to a few writers’ conferences – both because it’s a good investment in your future and because, in all likelihood, your publisher will expect it.
3. Anticipate Traffic.  There’s a stretch of busy roadway that begins about six weeks before your publication date, and that ends (depending on sales) around three months after, during which you’ll be driving the pace car and leading your publisher’s pack.  You’ll be reviewed, you’ll blog, you’ll do signings and media, and your in-box will fairly bulge with urgent messages from your agent, editor, and publicist.  Prepare for this time, and make the most of it while it lasts, because it won’t last forever – and thankfully so, because you have your next book to write. 

4. Keep Your Eyes on the Road.  You had the luxury of writing your first novel without (publishing-related) interruptions and demands, but not so the second.  While self-promotion becomes especially important after those phone calls from the publicist have ceased, remember our friend Narcissus.  Every minute you’re posting on Facebook or self-Googling is a minute you could, and should, be writing your next novel.  Aim to strike a healthy balance.

5. Carpool.  One of the great pleasures of publication is that you’re joining a virtual community of smart, talented, and creative individuals, all of whom are, at different speeds, traveling in your same direction.  Embrace them!  Go to conferences, and meet your writing contemporaries.  Attend signings at your local bookstore.  Blurb books when given the opportunity – and the honor.  Writing is not a zero-sum game, and all of us benefit when each of us succeeds with the book-buying public.  Enjoy the ride!

About Chuck:

Chuck Greaves won the SouthWest Writers’ Storyteller Award for his debut novel HUSH MONEY, which has been named a finalist for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award, the Rocky Award from Left Coast Crime, and the Reviewers’ Choice Award from RT Book Reviews.  You can visit him on-line at  He’d love to hear from you.


Hailed as a "gritty, gripping read" (Los Angeles Times) and a "taut and intriguing thriller" (The Sunday Times), HARD TWISTED, the noirish sophomore novel from author C. Joseph Greaves, tells the true story of 13-year-old Lucile Garrett's harrowing year on the road with her father's murderer, in which the unlikely duo traverse the Depression-era Southwest leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. 

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