All the Details Fit to Print

Prospective or emerging writers place so much emphasis on landing an agent or publisher that we may forget there’s a whole lot to do after the contract is signed. Rather than sitting back and waiting for my 5-star reviews to come in and my phone to ring off the hook (not that my phone even has a hook anymore), I’m working hard on getting my literary ducks lined in a row. I’ve created a press kit, gotten head shots, staged a fake interview so I have a Q&A to give to bloggers and readers, talked to the cover designer, lined up some reading gigs, and asked a few author friends for blurbs or to be part of the blog tour. And there are still more items to consider here.

What’s the ISBN? Are there advance reader copies available, because some reviewing organizations have a 3-to-4 month lead time or won’t run a review after the publication date. What’s the expected price of the hardcover or paperback? Will it be available in Canada? The UK? Which ebook readers is your publisher working with for the title?

I have to decide how long the blog tour runs, or if there’s a particular order of reviews that would specifically benefit the book release. Because it’s a title with LGBT themes, I want my publicity team to send it to Ellen DeGeneres’s publicist, even though I know this is a long shot. Why not send it out as far and wide as possible? Why not use a small press as a spring board to a wider angle of buzz, if I’m willing to do a lot of that legwork?

I’ve written before that writers help themselves when they realize their labor of love is someone else’s sales project. I maintain that this is true-distance as a writer can be a very good thing–but when working on the production side of a book release, it aids me to remember the reason why I wrote the book in the first place, because those goals become a kind of prioritization for me. I was ready, after all, to self-publish this memoir, because I believed so firmly that it needed to be on the market for all of the unsure transgender and gender nonconforming youth out there. I held and still believe that we need to have hopeful, funny stories about transition in the cultural conversation, narratives that show people can succeed through transition. We do come out the other side, and we can be fulfilled, happy people. Having a sex change, as onerous or out of left field as it sounds, is a solid path for some of us. And I want people to know that, and use their sense of humor to make it to their goals as human beings.

My face, in my head shot, singles me out at the precise moment that it takes these general ideas and locates them in my own personhood. Yes, I transitioned in a specific time and place. I had my own individual resources, strengths, and weaknesses. I had my own social position that differs from many other people who are making a similar decision to transition or be more open about their gender identity. I hope that my book becomes one in a sea of voices who describe their own journey, because then we don’t need to conflate my story with everybody else’s.

In this light–that this is my story and I hope others find it useful and/or entertaining–I set up my release strategy. LGBT bloggers get advance copies, I’m trying to find reading gigs at LGBT youth centers instead of bookstores. I’m open to any phone or online interview, and if someone were to pay me to come to their campus to speak about the memoir and the issues in it, I’d donate any speaking fee after my costs. I promise I’ll stick to my approach to life:

Keep laughing so you can keep fighting.

Now then, back to working on making this release go well…

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Categories: LGBT Civil Rights, Pop Culture, Writing

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