Here's a run-down of what I'm working on - all of this keeps me from freaking out about having two books out next week. Despite what you may have heard, there's really no way that most authors can really promote their own books. We can plug them on twitter, blogs, etc, but what happens to them is really out of our hands, and none of the things we do on our own really affects their future in any meaningful way. Getting a lot of blog buzz is nice, but it means nothing in terms of actual store sales. Those are driven by store availability/visibility (publishers pay for things like table space), and major media attention. Once I was a guest on a late night coast to coast radio program, and in the first 60 seconds I got ten times as many web page hits as I'd accrued from all the blog posts about my books combined.
So, what happens with EXTRAORDINARY and SPARKS, the two wonderful books you see in the sidebar on your right, is really out of my hands at this point. I'll do some events and interviews with pretty much any blogger or reporter who asks, and there'll be a cool web app for EXTRAORDINARY soon, but all I can really do is fret. I'm not exactly an A-lister, and the books may not fit the current trends well enough to be of interest to most stores. There's a good chance that their only chance to become widely available is to win an award that gets them a lot of media attention or something.
So, here's what I'm doing to take my mind off of it:
a. some science textbooks I was hired to write. My old science teacher probably rolled over in her grave when I typed that (assuming she's dead - she DID smoke...)
b. Smart Aleck's Guides to four Shakespeare plays, as well as several other guides. I'm a bit behind schedule on these. Drafts are done, but I think I can make them better.
c. in talks with a publisher or two about putting out a longer version of my Chicago ghostlore book.
d. Cleaning up the proposal for a book I'm doing about the silent film business in Chicago with Michael Glover Smith, with whom I wrote the short film At Last, Okemah.
e. Punching up a proposal for a book about three very different criminals in 1921 Chicago who became friends while plotting very different schemes to get out of being hanged. Yesterday was a "research day" spent in the microfiche room at the library for this one. There are more of them ahead!
a. writing drafts to a pair of middle grade books, code-named DIARY OF A WIMPY TIME LORD and MAGWITH PARK. I'm dividing my time between these two lately.
b. polishing up the "Satanic YA" book and dreaming up ways to get it out in the world (given that a third "leon" book is almost completely impossible to market in today's YA scene).
c. nibbling my nails over the mystery YA book that my agent sent to editors recently. This could be a really fun one to market. Not talking TOO much about it, because I think it'd be fun if the author was anonymous on this one (also, I'm superstitious).
a. fixing up the living room. We have what I refer to as Carl Weathers furniture at the moment: "Get yourself a couple of pillows and some duct tape, and you got yourself a couch going, man!"
b. more ghost tours! I'm back in the business now, running bus tours for Chicago Hauntings. Some of the tours I've done in the last month have been among the best I ever did.
c. more podcasts for Chicago Unbelievable. We'll be doing a few more ghost hunts before it gets too cold to work outdoors.
d. rehearsing some music - I MAY be playing a set at Windycon next weekend. I'm still not completely sure. It'll likely be a loose, off-the-cuff gig if I do (but those are usually the best ones).
e. introducing James Kennedy at the 90 Second Newberry presentation at the library in a couple of weeks.
And here's my recipe for pumpkin chili - DELICIOUS for fall:
1lb ground beef
1/2 can pumpkin
1 can diced tomatoes (or two cans)
cinnamon (to taste)
Mix, adding ingredients to taste, and heat. This is chili, so if you start to run low, just throw in a can of beans, more meat, more pumpkin. Go nuts!