Here’s what happened.
Two days after my father died, and six days before the release of A Woman Entangled, I had an email from author Anna Cowan. She’d been thinking about me, she said, and thinking about the fact that I had a book coming out and probably no time, energy, or heart to promote it.
Actually she’d been doing more than thinking. She’d reached out to some other authors, and, if it was okay with me, they wanted to shoulder the promo of this book for me. They’d already coordinated, among themselves, a schedule of blog posts and giveaways. But they wouldn’t go ahead with the plan unless I was comfortable with it.
I wasn’t, at first. I couldn’t help feeling like I’d be taking advantage of my father’s death, or at least profiting from it, by accepting this promotion that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. It felt unclean.
Besides, at that time none of the authors in question had read A Woman Entangled. And I was uneasy with the idea of them plugging a book that, once they’d read it, they might not even like. I’m a book-buying reader as well as a writer, and when a writer plugs someone else’s book to me, I want it to be because they read and loved that book. Not because they’re friendly with the author, or feel for her on account of the difficult life chapter she’s currently going through, or even because they liked her previous books and think there’s a good chance they’ll like this one too. I want my word to mean something, when I recommend a book, and I want other writers’ words to mean something too.
So I wrote back to Anna, thanked her for her kindness, explained some of my reservations, and said I needed to think about it.
And I thought about it. And one of the things I couldn’t help thinking was that I’m not the only person with a stake in A Woman Entangled‘s launch. A whole team at Random House, from editor to copyeditor to cover designer to marketers to the person who put together the book trailer, had invested time, creativity, and money in making this book a success. Surely they, and their investment, needed to go into the balance scale along with my nice thoughts about principle and integrity.
Maybe more to the point, after I sent the email to Anna, I didn’t feel like a person of principle and integrity. I felt like an ungracious jerk. Here were these authors, all with careers and deadlines and promo of their own to manage, carving out time to help me, stepping up to lessen my burden in what way they could, as humans have done for one another since at least the invention of the funerary casserole. Shouldn’t my answer be, “Yes, thank you so much?” Shouldn’t I trust these people to decide for themselves whether they wanted to plug my book (and to be capable of staging a giveaway that doesn’t come with an outright recommendation, in the event they don’t like the book)?
So I wrote back to Anna and said Yes, thank you very much; you’re absolutely right that I’m in no shape to promote a romance novel right now and I’d welcome your help.
This explains the links in the box at the top right of my blog. These are the authors whose kindness I decided to accept. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to spend time being sad with my family these past couple weeks, without feeling like I’m leaving my publisher altogether in the lurch.
Principle and integrity or no principle and integrity, I’m deeply grateful.