My first novel was published three years ago, my second novel is not yet published, and my third novel isn’t yet finished. So when I was invited to join a panel of Vermont Authors at this year’s Bookstock – a three-day literary extravaganza held in Woodstock, Vermont – I didn’t see the point.
I told my friend, author and marketing maven Beth Kanell, that Into the Wilderness was currently only available as an ebook. The hard copy has gone out of print, and frankly, I didn’t see the point in spending a summer Saturday working if I didn’t have any books to sell.
Beth said, “Go anyway! Talk about your next book! Keep your audience interested.”
I did a 180, and accepted the invitation with enthusiasm.
Beth’s right, of course. I have readers – some of whom regularly ask me, “When’s the next book coming out?”
I tell them, “I don’t know. Stay healthy – and stay tuned.”
So even though a part of me wants to do nothing but hole up with my imagination, another part of me knows that it’s good to practice my lame social skills. And it’s always a thrill to meet my audience. In fact, it’s good to be reminded that there is an audience, and I’m not just writing novels as a form of personal exorcism. And it’s also good to practice dressing up and speaking in public. Because I know once the next book does hit the shelves, I’ll have to dress up and travel to promote it.
Marketing my work and my self is not my favorite part of being a writer, but meeting my readers has been an unexpected pleasure. Nor is audience building the only reason to attend this literary festival. It’s also a chance to meet other writers.
At Bookstock, I’ll be part of a panel of three writers of Vermont fiction. One of them is my neighbor Castle Freeman, Jr. whose Go With Me is one of those absolute gems of narrative fiction. He and I are carpooling, and I’m looking forward to talking shop on the drive. The other writer on our panel is Steve Delaney, a veteran journalist whose voice was familiar one on Vermont Public Radio for many years. We’ll be completely unscripted as we talk about writing in and about Vermont. Should be fun.
I’m looking forward to arriving early and staying late, so I can hear some of the other writers whose work I know and admire (like the poets Donald Hall and Galway Kinnell) and to hear the work of writers I don’t know (like Joan Wickersham, a National Book Award Finalist). There will be over twenty regional writers at this fifth annual literary event. And just as I’ve jumped on to the local food bandwagon for all its nutritive, socio-political, and environmental benefits, I’m a great believer in local stories – and local audiences. It’s great to have a home base, and I’m looking forward to becoming reacquainted with mine.
Bookstock runs for three days, starting on the morning of Friday, July 26, and ending late Sunday afternoon, July 28. My panel goes on at 1 o’clock on Saturday. If you come to the festival, please stop and say hi.
Deborah Lee Luskin’s novel Into the Wilderness has been called a “love story to Vermont” and recognized by the Vermont Library Association for its “sense of place.” Readers most frequently say, “I didn’t want it to end but I couldn’t put it down.” It has been hailed as “a fiercely intelligent love story” and “a perfectly gratifying read” and was awarded the Gold Medal for Regional Fiction by the Independent Publishers in 2011. The book is currently available in electronic format.