No Calm Before the Storm

Tap Out releases in twenty nine days. My world may flip on its head. Or not. I have no idea. And that fact scares me.

I’ve been doing well, keeping my emotions at bay. I’ve kept busy this summer, vacationing and writing and working on my local markets for promotions and signings. But now that I’m a month out, I feel as if I’ve run out of time.

I’m misinformed and I’m well informed, all depending on which topic of the publishing industry is being addressed. Examples: I had no idea how important the first two weeks of sales are until two days ago. I also didn’t know pre-orders don’t always work in your favor, depending on when the books are shipped to the distributor.

I did know to set up both newspaper and television interviews, as well as three signings. I have additional plans, but are they enough? Probably not.

There’s always more that could be done, and I’m sure there’s always more that should be done. Up until now it has always been about the writing. That is literally all I have ever cared about. Now, it’s so much more. It’s business, a word in this age that has a multitude of meanings, because everyone is vying for attention, and trying to figure out how. I have no fear of hard work, but misapplied labor, fruitless endeavors and missed opportunities unsettle me to no end.

So I’m not calm. Far from it.

September will arrive, and with it a return to school and work and schedules. Amidst that chaos, Tap Out will emerge. Somehow this is fitting for a novel that is about a world of struggle, born out of my own desire to be where I am.

My wife asked the other day if I am happy now that the realization of this hard work is almost here. I had to be honest. I said, “No, I’m nervous.”

The joy is in the writing. And I believe that will be amplified by the reaction of those who read and respond positively. But until then, I’m on tenterhooks. Come see me on them at any of the dates and events below:

 

Tap Out will be available on 9/11 via all major online retailers and through my publisher, Running Press. It will also be available locally at The Book House in Albany, Market Block Books in Troy, The Open Door Book Store in Schenectady, and Barnes and Noble in Colonie.

9/25: signing at the Clifton Park library from 7-9 pm (books will be available for purchase)

9/29: signing at The Book House from 3-4 pm (books will be available for purchase)

10/6: release party/signing at Legion Training Center: 1208 Rt 146, Clifton Park (next door to Northern Lights) from 2-4 pm (books will be available for purchase and there will be discounts available on MMA merchandise and various training packages–for all ages)

The first two chapters of Tap Out can be found included in the free online download: Buzz Books 2012

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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.