Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterbacking IV

Talk about a small world. I actually know the author of this week’s essay. Sort of.

Joyce Maynard wrote this past Sunday’s column titled “My Secret Left Me Unable to Help.” Joyce was an instructor in the creative non-fiction track when I was pursuing my MFA at the University of Southern Maine/Stonecoast. Joyce was not my teacher, since I was in the popular fiction track. But I enjoyed hearing her work at the faculty readings.

I’ve emailed her to see if she’ll answer a question or two for this blog. But I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s too busy, since her Modern Love cut line makes this announcement: Joyce Maynard lives in California. Her latest novel, “Labor Day” will be published July 28 by William Morrow.

That means a book tour and other publicity events. Providing commentary for my itty bitty blog may not make it to the top of her to-do list.

Either way, Joyce’s Modern Love column and cut line are instructive because they help to hammer home something I’ve noticed of late: Modern Love authors are often already book authors. In the last five weeks, the cut line has been used three times to highlight the author's book. That suggests that the essays were not over-the-transom submissions, but instead, more calculated marketing efforts, arranged by agents and publicists.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud that. I am all for leveraging this space for marketing. I’m doing it myself (or trying to.) But it does make me realize how hard my task will be. If some – maybe most? – of the Modern Love spots are going to arranged publicity placements, that lowers my chances of making it through the publicly available email address.

But then nobody said it would be easy. Successful writers make their own breaks. Indeed, this is not Joyce’s first appearance in the Times. She secured her first byline at the age of 18, writing a cover story for the New York Times Magazine. A gig she landed by pitching the Times via good old-fashioned snail mail.

Back to writing.

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