Pages

Friday, June 20, 2014

What We Can Learn from Miley Cyrus and James Patterson by Jacqueline Seewald

How do writers become bestselling authors? Publicity seems to be one crucial element.
To get fans, writers have to become known in the first place. Miley Cyrus has done outrageous things to draw attention and it’s worked for her. Ironically, she’s been criticized by fellow performers who in their heyday were just as outrageous in courting publicity. Donald Trump has observed that there is no such thing as bad publicity, only publicity--which draws attention to an individual and his or her work. In the case of writers, publicity traditionally would be accomplished through the efforts of a publisher who has a PR staff that solicits significant reviews and promotes an author through numerous channels. But nowadays, this is often not the case. Also, many writers are currently self-publishing their work. This too changes how publicity can be obtained.

In the current issue of AARP Magazine, James Patterson wrote an article entitled “The Book That Changed My Life.” Was he talking about something shocking and contemporary? Perhaps a bible on how to obtain recognition and publicity?  Not exactly. He was actually discussing one of my favorite books: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen, written in1759. Novelists in that era weren’t afraid to be different, original and creative. As Patterson observes, Laurence Sterne broke the rules of fiction writing and created a masterpiece. Maybe we can’t all be that talented, but who’s to say? Patterson says that authors shouldn’t write to any pre-conceived formula. We need to express what is unique to ourselves in our own way. By writing work that stands out from the herd, we can get recognition and acclaim.

As for me, I have a recently published YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER  from Astraea Press to publicize which I hope will draw readers--not solely teenagers either.




  THE BAD WIFE, 4th in the Kim Reynolds mystery series, is collecting some very good reviews. You can check them out on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J6PCKVW


Two historical romances are currently available from SteamEreads:

THE CHEVALIER 

Winner in the “Some Like It Hot” writing contest

and

TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS


Tea Leaves is a Regency novel previously published by Five Star/Gale in hardcover and Thorndike Press in hardcover large print. This novel received a cover blurb/endorsement from Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick. Mary Balogh provided editorial suggestions early on as well.

Forgive the commercial message. Getting back to the subject at hand, Miley Cyrus is a fine performer. She behaves outrageously, but in the end, it will be her talent by which she will be ultimately judged. That is true of all artists including writers.  James Patterson who is a mega bestselling author provides us with the key to success. We must be unique and original, not imitative in our writing. However, promotion and publicity won’t hurt either.


What are your thoughts and opinions on this topic? Is there anything you recommend from the perspective of reader and/or writer?

40 comments:

Patricia Gligor said...

Jacqueline,
I agree with James Patterson; we need to write our own stories in our own way. My Malone Mystery novels have been called "uniquely different" and that makes me smile.

Karen McCullough said...

I agree with the concept of writing your own stories in your own way, but there are some big "buts" that go along with that. You have to accept that writing the story you want in the way you want may mean you're producing a story no one else wants to read. And too many beginning writers think that anyone who tries to change a word of their work, including a professional editor, is trying to stifle their unique voice rather than fix mistakes.

Stephen L. Brayton said...

I enjoy Patterson's books. However he says about not writing to preconceived formula, yet many of his early Cross books had a cop/detective as a bad guy. Pretty predictable.

Janis Patterson said...

We are fortunate to live in an age were 'different' books can be published, by the author himself if his works are too 'different' to interest a big publisher.

On Miley Cyrus - I am not sure her talent will override her current behavior. There is a limit to what people will accept and some things cannot be backtracked from. Styles change, and talent alone is not a 'get out of jail free' card.

Susan Oleksiw said...

The publishing world has become so complex and various that it is hard to say how any one person can achieve success. We can only write in a way that is true to who we are and what we think, and then put it out there somehow and take our chances. If I had the answer to all the question of how to ensure success as a writer (with or without publicity), you'd be buying my books and I'd be sweating over what to write next.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Pat, Karen, Stephen, Janis, Susan,

You've all made excellent, thoughtful comments. Thank you for taking the time to read and discuss the ideas set forth in this blog.

Bonnie Tharp said...

You're so right about publicity being an important ingredient to success. I'm still not comfortable with "bad" publicity, although I know we can't please everyone. Maybe I'm just not comfortable with being "outrageous." It's not me. But writing what we write best, in or outside of the box is important. The "key"? Good question. Time will tell. Great post, as always.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

Thanks for joining the discussion. I confess I'm not comfortable with "bad" publicity either. Like you, I don't intend to behave outrageously just to garner attention. So that just leaves us with writing the best quality material possible and hoping that will draw a readership. As you say, time will tell!

Betty Gordon said...

Jacquie, your blog gives much food for thought. Some years ago when I was writing mostly mysteries that featured detectives as the lead character a close friend commented that I wrote like a man (she didn't mean it complimentary). Her comment threw me off center for a bit. After some thought, however, I realized that it was actually a compliment. The public has differing opinions as they should have, but it would benefit authors to remain true to themselves in their writing. (I didn't mean to sound preachy -- just my opinion.

Victoria Adams said...

Does this mean I have to twerk somebody??
Great post.
Tweeted.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Betty,

You bring up an important point. Women often use initials when they write from a male point of view. This is due to a certain bias of some readers. Men who write romance novels often use female names for a similar reason. The fact is that writers are imaginative people who can write from many viewpoints. Hopefully, modern readers accept this.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Victoria,

Hope we writers don't need to twerk! But you never know.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Jacqueline, I love the cover and title of your YA book! It looks like a great read. I think readers always wonder about the authors whose books they enjoy, so being an interesting personality as well as a good writer can certainly increase a readership. But, I think what's most important is that an author be true to him/her self in presenting a public image. That ensures both integrity and good writing!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Paula,

I'm glad you like the title and cover of my YA. So far, good reviews, but not as yet reaching many readers. Hopefully, that will change. We all wish for word of mouth.

D'Ann said...

Very thought provoking! I can't stand Miley Cyrus, but she definitely gets attention. Hmmm...maybe I need to swing nekkid on a wrecking ball, or rub all over Robin Thicke....!!!

Nancy Means Wright said...

I agree with Susan O. We have to write in our own personal way--no imitations or formulaic writing like many bestsellers. We try to write our own truth, with believable characters. Good thoughts here, Jacquie, from you and other commenters.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, D'Ann,

If Miley turns up in your next book, I'll take the credit!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Mary,

I truly believe that formula writing should be avoided. Even when we write mystery or romance, it should always be from our own unique perspective and not imitate other writers.

JoAnne Myers said...

Good article. Very informative. Good luck with all you do.

Mary F. Schoenecker Writes said...

Good to see all your titles, and the many contributors to the topic. It was a good post,Jacquie.

Mary F. Schoenecker Writes said...

Good to see all your titles, and the many contributors to the topic. It was a good post,Jacquie.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joanne,

Thanks for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed the post!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks, Mary, we've had some wonderful comments to the blog today. I appreciate all the contributors.

Jan Christensen said...

Wearing big hats is about as outrageous as I want to get. Very thoughtful post, Jacqueline. I try to always remember--the one rule to remember about breaking the rules is that you have to know what they are first, and then why you're breaking them. Oh, and which ones are just fashionable now. For example I changed three words today in my WIP to a "was" breaking the "no wases" rule, but following the "write tight" rule. LOL

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Jan,

I have the same philosophy: it's okay to break writing rules, but you first have to know what they are. As an English teacher, I taught grammar even after it became unfashionable because I didn't want students to write in an ignorant manner.

jrlindermuth said...

I'm not sure all of us would be willing to go the lengths of Miley Cyrus or even Trump. But there's no denying most of us are on our own these days when it comes to publicity. And, if you can salt the mix with something different, go for it.
I share your love for Tristram Shandy. Sterne would be obligated to self-publish these days. Traditional pubs would frown on his difference.

Helen Henderson said...

Interesting post. And a sidenote, I read and enjoyed Dana Websters interlude with the Devil. And I'm a senior, just not the kind Dana is.
Congratulations Jacqueline on the release.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, John,

I do agree with you that Tristram Shandy would be a difficult sell in today's market. Publishing is much more conservative in modern times.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Helen,

Thanks for your comment on THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER. I'm really glad you enjoyed the novel!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I do believe in writing our own stories in our own way. Maybe we need to apply that to the publicity phase of publication, too. Alternatives to traditional launch parties and booksignings, for instance. I'm working on it.

Susan Coryell said...

Jacqui: I was a lucky ARC reader for your new YA book about Dana (and the Devil). It is a lovely read for both kids and adults--hits on many relevant themes such as class-consciousness, friendship, and moral choice. I say, keep writing what you feel in your gut to be genuine and to reflect your unique voice.

Joan Reeves said...

Interesting post, Jacqui, and I agree with you. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes those like Miley, in their quest for constant recognition, lose sight of why they began the quest: to draw attention to their talent. Too many writers in striving for similar recognition, get lost in the effort and forget the need to write.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Susan,

Thanks for your kind comments about my YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER. I appreciate your support.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joan,

You're so right about this! Writing these days is a delicate balance.
We would all just be able to write. However, we're being forced to promote our work as well. But if we spend most of our time on striving for publicity, our creative efforts will most certainly suffer.

dkchristi said...

Well, finally got on a computer other than my android to enjoy the post and the comments. I think Cindy Sample does a great job of getting noticed with class. I have always been a little shy and reserved so I expect my literary talent to stand for itself - and that's a bunch of beeswax. It's food for thought though as I go to press with Ghost Orchid republished and The Bamboo Ring - newly published. Covers might help...titles too. www.dkchristi.com - sex, myths & magic - the ghost orchid

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, D.K.,

I agree that Cindy does a great job. But each of us has to find our own way. I do think the distribution of the publisher has much to do with book sales though. Good luck with your new novel. Ghost Orchid is certainly worth republishing.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Jacqueline: Have to say, I LOVE the cover of your YA, The Devil and Danna Webster. Cute and realistic. Enjoyed your post.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joyce,

Thanks for dropping by and for the kind words. Hope you'll do another blog for us soon!

Nikki said...

Chiming in late. Excellent post as usual. Love the title of your YA! I recognize the need to self-publicize, but like so many writers I find it very intimidating. Between my day job and marketing Framed, when do I find time to write the next book?

Christine Henderson said...

Yes, it's easy for James Patterson to say "be unique" which is what he was when he switched to MG books, however, he already had a name and following. If only all writers had that!