Audience

As anyone who is trying to connect with the world knows, audience is key. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, musician, artist, or businessman, it’s all the same. The connection to those people who you believe your “product” is for will make or break you.

I’ve been thinking about this because of recent chatter about the negative vibe between authors and reviewers on Goodreads. I’m not entering that fray. People more knowledgeable than me have already addressed the issue. My takeaway, however, is that somewhere there is a disconnect with the audience. The people who the author wants to read his or her work either are not, or are, and are behaving inappropriately. It’s a sad state of affairs because often a good review can elevate and enough negative can achieve just the opposite.

This, of course, has forced me to think of advertising and marketing and what I know of the “business model”. I am an educator and a writer. I do not hold an MBA, yet I am faced with these principles of business every day. Education is changing towards this end and writing books is a business. Therefore, I must market, I must advertise, I must reach that audience who is everything. But how do I do that? How do I reach the teens who I know will be changed by Tap Out, or whose eyes will be opened, or those who will be able to hand my work to someone and say, “This is my life”? How do I achieve this and at the same time avoid those who will shoot down my work because it’s uncomfortable?

The short answer is that such is an impossibility. The long answer comes from Seth Godin’s blog this morning. I’ve included the image from his post below:

For me, it’s the story I must now build. Not the one I’ve written, but the one around Tap Out. Why does Tap Out matter? How is it different? Why should anyone care? Fortunately, I’m gaining help with this. Below is a review from the School Library Journal that says it all:

DEVINE, ERIC. Tap Out. Running Press Kids, September 2012. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780762445691.

62012tapout(FullStory)

Gr 8 Up—Tap Out by Eric Devine is the memorable and heartbreaking story of Tony, a boy whose mother has constantly been dating a variety of abusive boyfriends throughout his childhood. Even though he wants the abuse to stop, Tony knows he can’t win a fight between any of them. When Cameron, one of the worst abusers, comes along and gets his mother to start doing drugs again, Tony knows he needs to get rid of him. After agreeing to go to a mixed martial arts class with his best friend, Rob, Tony instantly falls in love with the sport; it helps him relieve his anger at his mother, Cameron, and his terrible living situation in the trailer. When a drug problem arises in the neighboring trailer, Rob and Tony unwillingly become tied in as well. While Tony and Rob both share problems, each deal with their own by themselves. Tap Out deals with social status, teen pregnancy, heartbreak, and drugs, all situations today’s teens might relate to.

Starting with the first page, Devine instantly captures your attention and holds it until the very end. Something is always going on whether it deals with drugs, fighting, or just what the characters want to do with their lives after high school. When I first read about mixed martial arts, I thought it would be a story that only guys could relate to, but after reading it, I realized that both genders can enjoy the novel equally. However, I didn’t like the ending. It was good as far as the plot, but the outcome was terrible. Overall, I thought the storyline, the drama, and the characters were all thoroughly put together. Personally, I’d recommend this book to any of my friends.—Sarah A., age 15

This article originally appeared in School Library Journal‘s enewsletter SLJTeen.

Thank you, Sarah.

To my audience:

I’m here and I’m trying to reach you. I’ll keep trying, I promise.

To those for whom Tap Out is not for:

Please, do me a favor, pass it along to someone for whom it is. Build the story of my work. You have the power.

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Scripts and Scribes Interview

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Scripts and Scribes while at ALA Anaheim. The video below is that interview. I only stumble over my words once, which is pretty darn good for me.

I can’t thank the good people at Scripts and Scribes enough for producing quality footage of so many authors. Putting a face with a name means the world in a business with so many vying for attention. Allowing us to speak candidly for an audience is a step toward achieving that recognition. Thanks again for the work you do.

Volume

My family vacation had many moments just like this:

Fortunately, I had my notebook with me and have an understanding wife who gave me moments to scribble what I needed. Because now that I’m back I’m using those notes and it’s all about volume.

For the next three weeks I have the luxury to write from whenever I get up (usually 6 am) until 1 pm. My wife is co-teaching three, week-long, art camps that my daughters are attending. Therefore, it’s just the computer and me.

Yesterday I wrote for five hours. Today four and a half. I am not used to this volume, and I have to admit it’s a bit scary. I am very used to writing brief scenes every morning for months on end and hoping like hell they all string together well. Never before, because of various work commitments over the summer, have I had such luxury to spin and spin and spin the web. I’m honestly afraid that I’ll go too fast, will get too far ahead of myself and will not have the ability to reign it in and reflect.

Then again, I may be able to produce a massive volume now, and with the remainder of the summer, go slower with introspection. Or possibly I’ll just keep churning, caught in the turbulence of the story I’m now creating, and will get spit out come fall.

Right now, I have no idea, but I am enjoying the change of pace. I am also revising my next work, under the superb guidance of my agent, Kate McKean. Granted all goes well with revision, the manuscript will be off to my editor, Lisa Cheng by August. It’s another high octane story, so for those of you who will fall in love with Tap Out come September, get ready for another ride.

Here’s to the summer.

I’m Back

I finally made it home from ALA. The delays were insane. Kidding. I returned this morning from a family trip toFlorida, following myALAwhirlwind. I have traveled so much in the past nine days that being home feels awkward, but the trips were well worth the while. I apologize for how late this post is, but putting family priorities ahead of writing allows me to write.

Following is a bulleted list of my ALA highlights:

  • Marriott Anaheim finagled a way for me to check in at 1 pm, because the customer service agent could tell I needed a nap.
  • YALSA Happy hour with Bethany Crandell. It was refreshing to be around so many people committed to books and to have drinks and swap stories with my sister author.
  • Dinner at Catal with my Running Press family and a diverse group of librarians. I barely stopped talking to eat. Writing, authors, education, parenting. What a down-to-earth group. And the food was amazing. Craig Herman is an excellent host, and I am so thrilled that his ninth grade English teacher gave him The Hobbit to read.
  • The signing. Could I ask for better company? Ken Baker is one chill individual. We sat elbow-to-elbow with a steady stream of ALA attendees for two hours. I can’t thank enough all who stopped and picked up a copy of Tap Out and my signature. I look forward to the reviews.
  • The librarians who stopped and thanked me for writing a book for boys, for those who are going to use it as a prize for their summer reading programs, for those who were appreciative of the fact that I was at Anaheim. That still blows my mind. Seriously, thank you for what you do. As an educator I know how difficult the work can be, but so very worth it. If I can make our jobs easier, I’m glad to do it.
  • Lisa Cheng deserves an award for not only being an amazing editor but for watching out for a newb like me, making sure I knew what to do and when, and for even supplying me with a meal before my flight. You are phenomenal.
  • To the taxi driver who asked me to write a note of inspiration for his daughter on my ride out of town. You have no idea how awesome that made me feel. From him: “Those little words, they are so powerful, you never know what impact they might have.”

I can’t say it better myself. He succinctly summarized the entire point of the trip and I am so glad to have been a part of it. Thank you again Running Press. I look forward to the build-up to the September release, and any future trips we may have together.