guest-interview by Linda FrankGuest Author Interview with Linda Frank

Please join me in welcoming Linda Frank, a resident of San Francisco, avid reader and author of After the Auction.

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Yes, traveling (a Midwest swing bookended by a Little Rock meeting and book talk and a St. Louis wedding and book talk, with stops in Louisville and beautiful Lexington, KY; Indianapolis; alma mater town Ann Arbor; Milwaukee homeland; Lincoln’s Springfield). Hardly the dizzying foreign destinations of the Today Show host’s annual odyssey this week.

But, more significantly, I’ve been AWOL from writing.

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“A 60 year old female protagonist is an automatic problem with most mainstream publishers who prefer much younger characters.”

This is part of the email response I got yesterday morning from a New York literary agent, who shall remain nameless. I read it on my IPhone, while my husband and I were driving back to San Francisco from a quick weekend trip to Los Angeles. The thumbs-on-phone approach wouldn’t work for my reply, and I wouldn’t have time to write back on my computer until later in the evening. But I had plenty of time to think about it the challenge it presented. Those “fighting words” were a clarion call to action!

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Goodness, this is my first blog post of 2011!

Not that I haven’t thought about blogging. I’ve even felt guilty about not blogging. But I’ve posted on Facebook (even developed a new Facebook page–please LIKE me!) and tweeted on Twitter (FOLLOW me, please). Does that count? Even if I haven’t blogged since 2010?  Writing the next book? Not so much.

Yes, I know that social networking is the marketing mode of choice. I know I have to do it. I’m doing it. I see results, actually, as when I tweet several times a day I gain a new follower or two. Facebook, well, I saw a small bounce in my book sales when I mentioned a “promotion” during National Read an Ebook Week, which was also on International Women’s Day (is there a National Week for Self-Published Authors? Or Baby Boomers on Facebook/Twitter?).

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Now available for your Kindle, Sony reader, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple IPAD!

After the Auction may be set in 1990, but it’s cutting edge when it comes to 21st century access. It’s just been released in e-book format, which a few friends have asked about for months. I deliberately delayed this to take advantage of separate marketing opportunities and generally test the waters in print first.

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This author thing is a new experience for me, of course, and people are naturally curious as to how it’s going.  I’m not on the best seller list, but my status on Amazon varies from 100,000s to the 400,000s in rankings of books sold.  That doesn’t count what I’m selling myself via the web site or in person.  And I’m flattered by those who’ve posted favorable reviews on my Amazon page.

But, important as sales are, that’s not my sole criterion in assessing how After the Auction is “going.” I am intrigued by the reactions of readers and SHOCKED that many I’ve heard from like/love it.  Why am I shocked?  Let’s face it–this is a new venture for me–writing fiction.  From the trials and tribulations I’ve had–for instance, not hooking up with any of the myriad of agents I queried–let’s say that I had considerable self-doubt.

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Book Expo America 2010 was my first Book Expo, other than a pre-Expo writers’ conference last year, so I’ve nothing to compare it to, in terms of the volumes of volumes represented at this annual event, the largest book fair in the world.  If it was bigger and more extensive in the past, I wouldn’t know.  But, the place was packed; if you’ve ever been to a convention or other expo at the Javits Center in New York City, you know that it’s cavernous, seemingly miles, definitely many Manhattan blocks.  There were more than 2000 exhibitors, reportedly 500 authors, conferences, speakers, and Barbra Streisand (yes, she has a new book coming out–on design) the opening act of Expo special events (we opted for Broadway that night).

The biggest exhibitors are the major publishers–the MacMillans, Random Houses, Knopf–of this world, despite their b…… and moaning about how tough the business is.  These exhibit areas are lavish, with video, state-of-the-art signage, giant logo-ed carpeting. Not surprisingly, Google was there too, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble–as well as major distributors to independent bookstores, including Ingram and Baker & Taylor.    There were whole aisles–several of them–of displays by university presses, as well as hundreds on lesser known small publishers.  Plus, the e-book and audio book people.  And printing companies, collective promotion companies, foreign publishers (from Belgium to Israel to Saudi Arabia), and the San Francisco Writers Conference, the only entity like it I saw with a booth.  Attendee categories range from exhibitor to agents to booksellers to librarians author to book club member (how Eli registered: husband of published author was not a category!)

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My book-related travels have taken me to New York City the week of the annual Book Expo event.  Specifically, I came to present AFTER THE AUCTION to a Jewish Book Network (JBN) “Meet the Author” session.  The audience, the members of the JBN, consists of Jewish community center, educational agencies, and synagogue programming staff members who “book” author speakers for their sites.  The JBN schedules 4-5 of these sessions over a three-day period during its annual conference just ahead of the opening of the huge Book Expo exhibition at the Javits Center here.

I’d really targeted this year’s JBN meeting as my timing goal for getting my book published.  And I was amazed at how many other authors apparently had, too.  The sessions run like a well-oiled machine: Each author gets two minutes to speak, and the next speaker sits in an “on deck” seat.  While the timekeeper doesn’t exactly use a hook or play Oscar night music, her bright red signs announcing 1 minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds and her ultimate times-up rise from her seat are pretty effective in keeping the speakers in line.  That is, except for a couple–including at least one prominent novelist, Cathleen Schine, whose latest book, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, only got a great front-page review in the NY Times Book Review (which she did mention, but who wouldn’t?).  It surprised me that such a relatively well-known writer would appear for this try-out session; maybe it surprised her, too, but that was no reason for her to disregard the rules and ignore the timekeeper trying to be polite but firm.

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This is it!  I’ve decided that, come what may, it’s the Year of the Book.  I don’t know how yet.  Pieces of it are still out to agents, and one editor is still reviewing the whole manuscript.  I think so, anyway.  Let’s just say there are long silences.  And patience is not one of my stellar virtues.

An e-publisher is courting me.  We had a long talk a few weeks ago during a week in which there was so much e-publishing buzz that I felt very cool and with-it in today’s world.  William Styron’s family was making news about the fact that his longtime publisher, Random House, didn’t have rights to e-publish.  E-publishing rights weren’t even thought of in Styron’s heyday. In December Media Bistro sponsored a New York City digital publishing summit in led by Jane Friedman, a publishing industry luminary formerly with Harper Collins, who’s made the leap to e-publishing (of old titles, such as Styron’s) in a start-up, Open Road Integrated Media.

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GENRE

Pronunciation: ˈzhän-rə, ˈzhäⁿ-; ˈzhäⁿr; ˈjän-rə
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Middle French, kind, gender — more at gender
Date: 1770

1 : a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content
2 : kind, sort
3 : painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life, usually realistically

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