Karen Brichoux

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"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Road to the Shelves: More Promotion

May 3, 2004

May 2004 Newsletter from the desk of Karen Brichoux


*Article: “The Road to the Shelves: More Promotion”
*What I’m Reading


*The big news is that I sold a third novel to Penguin/NAL. RESTING PLACE is tentatively scheduled for release in July of 2005. A quick synopsis:

"One day, nineteen-year-old Katherine Earle simply drove away. From her life. From her husband. From her past. She’s been driving ever since. Never stopping for long and never resting. Now, three years later, she inexplicably finds herself driving back into her old home town where she will have to face the ghosts of past and present, and discover that sometimes finding yourself means being willing to get lost all over again."

Penguin/NAL also bought the rights to a fourth novel, but it’s still in the “What in the world am I going to write about?” stage.

*Contest News! Congratulations to Carol, who won the April 30 drawing for a signed ARC of SEPARATION ANXIETY. Stay tuned for future contests.

ARTICLE: “The Road to the Shelves: More Promotion”

If you’re getting tired of reading about pre-publication promotion, just imagine living it! I’m not a fan of self-promotion. I adhere firmly to the theory advocated by top literary agent Donald Maass who says (and I paraphrase), “If the publisher doesn’t promote the book, nothing the author can afford to do is going to make up for it. Just write good books and save your energy.”

This is true. Terribly, awfully true. Unless the author has contacts with nation-wide television, everything she does on her own is like trying to fill up the ocean with a teaspoon. Which is pretty energy-consuming and distracting.

However, being the genetic result of some very thrifty farmers and ranchers, I can’t stand to see things go to waste. Last month, I mentioned advertising. Advertising saps the budget, so what’s left has to be almost free.

Enter the cover flats.

Cover flats are the cover of the book with no book. If you were to take a large (trade size) paperback, rip the cover off (I don’t advocate doing this), and spread it out flat, you would have a cover flat. My editor usually mails me about thirty or fifty of the flats after they are printed. I could wallpaper my bathroom, but I prefer paint. So what do I do with these things?

I make postcards to mail to bookstores in a three- or four-state area by cutting the front cover from the flat. On my computer I write up the book’s information (release, ISBN, etc) and use some blurbs from my “brag sheet,” setting them up so they will fit on the back of the cover in post-card style. Then I just run the covers through my printer and have a quick and easy and (best of all) free reminder to mail to bookstores (addresses for the bookstores are easy to get off the internet). The only drawback is that my cover is trade size, so it means the cards cost the full .37 to mail. But it still works out to be fairly economical.

How much good does this do? I’m not sure. There’s no market research. The cards might result in sales or (just as likely) they might merely increase usage of local landfills. But if I didn’t figure out something to do with those flats, I’d be using them for scratch paper. And that might bring down the ghostly wrath of my thrifty ancestors.


An eclectic mix this month:

THE THREE MUSTANGEERS by Will James. Three horse and cattle thieves go honest--sort of--and become one of the bigger outfits in the area. This book is about smarts and friendship, and not just another range war story.

THE THANATOS SYNDROME by Walker Percy. A bit more mystery/thriller than Percy’s usual fare, but with his usual focus on what it means to be human.

THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD by John le Carré. I usually don’t read these kinds of books, but Carré fascinates me. His writing is beautiful, spare, and highly emotional without a lot of extra words. I’m catching up on hero George Smiley so I can read the newer novels.

MONSIEUR MONDE VANISHES by Georges Simenon. A wonderful story about self-discovery and friendship.

THE CANTERVILLE GHOST by Oscar Wilde. Basically a pamphlet, but a bit funny in typical Wilde fashion.

FIVE T’ANG POETS translated by David Young. If you’ve been to my website, you’ve seen snatches of these in the daily quotes. As always, the T’ang poets are masters of evoking the natural world and feelings of joy, love, loss, and pain.