Monday, November 25, 2019

PROMOTION AND THE REVIEW By Nancy Nau Sullivan #authorslife #memoir


Please join me in welcoming my guest, Nancy Nau Sullivan. Once the muse has pronounced "the end" an author is on her own with a hard road to becoming known. Nancy explains it nicely.

As a first-time author, I was the last one to know the rigors of promotion, and, in particular, the way to reviews. Writing the book was one thing, promoting it another. I had to dive in. Then I hit cold, hard reality. No stopping in mid-air to think about it. I had to go all in.  From start to finish, it had taken years to bring my memoir THE LAST CADILLAC  to market, and by the grace of God, I had to get out there and push that book.

I did get suggestions for promotion from my publisher, but I had to do the legwork. With so much to choose from, I didn’t know where best to start. I came to realize how very specialized every book is, how every choice to promote it is individual, and the avenues of publicity are pretty generic: social media, traditional media, interviews, calling, writing emails, getting a table at the local fest. So, it seemed, I  went everywhere. A scatter shot approach, if you will. The first bright (ahem) idea was to take out an ad for my book – four months before publication – in a prestigious writing magazine. It cost $ 750 (what was I thinking?). There are a lot of good ways to spend money on promotion, but this was not one of them.

Writing emails and phoning with both hands, I took a break and walked into my neighborhood branch of the Chicago Public Library. I got up the courage and handed  the manager a newly minted copy of my memoir for review. “Here. You’ll love it.” He was gracious. We chatted. “Get more reviews,” he advised, warmly. “Get one of the biggies if you can.

It was too late for many of the “biggies” now that the book was published. (And, sadly, my publisher had missed all the deadlines for submission to get those reviews.) But I could send my book around to Kirkus, and I did. The review came back, and it was good. In fact, it was great!

And what did the branch manager at the library think of THE LAST CADILLAC? I was still waiting to hear. The days  ticked by. No comment. I called one time, and then again, and I felt like a pest, and that’s what I was. A first-time author, A PEST. Because I had to bug people. Constantly.

I finally reached him. He said he loved the book. It’s now in the Chicago Public Library collection.
Whew. That was good news, but I still needed reviews. I checked Amazon. Andre Agassi with his autobiography, OPEN, sat next to me on  Amazon with more than a thousand reviews. 


I had in my possession a list of hundreds of reviewers, obtained through some research and persistence. How hard could this be, to reach out and request reviews? To sift through these names, many of them residing in Scotland or England with a super abundance of interest in the paranormal? But I dove in and heard back, mostly from bloggers, who were courteous and accommodating. Only one declined because we didn’t have “chemistry.” To my surprise, I enjoyed the process of reaching other readers and authors who were promoting their own work. We shared ideas. We learned from each other. One of the most satisfying “book exchange” I found was BookBub. I posted my book, my profile, and I get to recommend books I love. It’s a real book-loving experience.

And now for a shameless pitch--How about a review? From you. On Amazon or BookBub? On your own blog? Facebook? May I ask you to watch for my first mystery, SAVING TUNA STREET, due next June from Light Messages Publishing?

The promotional route is circuitous, and I’ve learned a lot. I keep circling back to the main premise: to connect to the audience. It’s what we do when we write and publish. We want to reach readers. We want that special exchange that only comes from one-on-one, putting eyes to the page—whether writing or reading—and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Middle-age is challenging enough, but when Nancy Nau Sullivan suddenly finds herself caring for two children, grappling with her mother’s death, and caring for her ailing father while at the same time navigating a contentious divorce and dealing with long-simmering sibling rivalries, she wonders how she can keep herself sane. Things get even more complicated when her siblings accuse her of “kidnapping” their father and carting him—and his Cadillac—off to Anna Maria Island, Florida, where they are greeted by Hurricane Josephine. In this gripping memoir, Sullivan guides the reader through the chaotic whirlwind of unexpected and unwanted change and offers a common sense and humorous guide to surviving family relationships.


  1. Nancy, you have put the dilemma very well! When people tell me that writing a book is hard, I think, "Writing is easy! Marketing is hard!!" So many of us are not at all prepared for this part of producing a book!

    1. Dee, you are so correct. If only all we had to do was write!

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