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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Interview With Queen of the Road Doreen Orion

Doreen Orion's book is Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own. It debuts today, and she was kind enough to answer some questions about her mega successful publicity campaign for the book.

Doreen, you've had outstanding success getting your book out there. How did you get your book in front of Elle Magazine (as a Readers' Jury contender), Target (as a Target Breakout Book), Borders (as the June nonfiction book club selection) and Celestial Seasonings (as the June book club selection)?

I wish I could take the credit - other than, of course, writing a book people seem to be responding to :). My publisher got it in front of the right people, and... to paraphrase what the airline I'm about to take many trips on for my book tour says, "I know booksellers have many choices when they read, and on behalf of the QUEEN OF THE ROAD crew, we appreciate their picking this book." I will say that as I wrote my book, I read other memoirs and tried to figure out what I liked and didn't like about them (good writing being a given). My favorites were those that not only entertained, but provided inspiration based on some change the author went through. Particularly for travel memoirs, I not only want to be transported to another place, but another way of thinking. So, that's what I tried to do.

How much do you recommend budgeting for publicity? A certain portion of your advance?

I don't think there's a set amount. What I do very strongly advocate is that the author look at her advance as an investment in her book. I kept my day job (not that my advance would have allowed me to quit, anyway), so didn't need to rely on the advance to live on while I wrote. As a result, I never really looked at it as "my" money. It was my book's money, so it was easy for me to spend a portion of it on things like a killer website and fabulous outside publicist to complement the great in-house team at Broadway Books. (Look, for all they've done for me, I had to plug my publisher, OK?)

Where do you think you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to publicity?

First and foremost, an author needs a fabulous website. In my view, that is the foundation upon which all other aspects of publicity are built. Then, it all works together, but the website is the hub of the wheel. (Sorry, you can take the gal out of the bus, but I guess you can't take the bus out of the gal.) Publicity is also not just about the bucks. Authors have to be extremely proactive for their books and not assume that everything is going to be done for them. In fact, when an author puts a lot of effort and energy into publicizing her book, that gets the publisher even more excited about it - always a good thing.

What would you tell a new author about publicizing his or her book?

I really should talk to her about getting a kickback, as I've referred so many authors, but as soon as you get a contract, chill the champagne and (before you imbimb, please! You want your email to be coherent - plenty of time for celebration later and besides... warm champagne?) contact Bella Stander - author consultant extraordinaire. Every author I've referred has thanked me again and again. She can not only suggest website designers and publicists in your budget that are good fits for your book, but is one of the most creative people I know. She came up with a wealth of (very inexpensive/free) ideas for publicizing QUEEN OF THE ROAD that I would never have thought of on my own. I only hired her for a total of 1.5 hours and that saved me so much in terms of money (she's also great at figuring out what you don't need), time and work.

Thanks for the interview and congrats on your newest book's debut.

You're very welcome. Soon, I'm going to be adding a link to my website specifically for writers about the publishing process as it can be a very challenging, winding road and although I normally have no sense of direction (just ask my long-suffering bus driver... er, husband), I hope to provide some insights.


irishoma said...

Great interview, Tricia, and lots of good advice from Doreen.
Donna V (aka Irish Oma)

Tricia Grissom said...

Thanks, Donna. Doreen is super nice.

I liked her idea of considering the advance "your book's money" - minus operating expenses, of course :)

Tricia Sanders said...

Great interview. I like the idea that the advance is "your book's money", too. Just makes sense. And I'll be checking out the links she suggested.