Characters, we have a deadline.
On Thursday, April 13, the Jamestown Philomenian Library has invited me to be part of their Author Talk series. And since the topic was up to me, I’m going to read from my current “WIP,” or work in progress, for the first time.
As the press release states, “Cronin is currently finishing up her fourth novel, Island Shell Game, which takes place on an imaginary island about three miles southeast of Beavertail.” (For non-locals, Beavertail is the southernmost point of Jamestown’s Conanicut Island.) I’m hoping that reading the first chapter aloud will inspire some feedback from the audience—and give me an inkling of how the finished book will be received.
I hadn’t planned to go public quite yet. There are still a few plot points to firm up, and a lot of details to either eliminate or clarify. But the basic framework of the story is in place, so when this opportunity fell in my lap I decided to view it as an externally created deadline. And what better way to learn how the book will be perceived than by presenting the first chapter to a self-selected group of dedicated readers?
Transitioning from author to publicist is not, for me, the fun part. But now that I know what happens, it’s time to start thinking about how to best reach readers. I’m hoping this library evening will help me answer one big marketing question: what’s the book’s genre?
I wrote this story for an adult audience who loves boats, shorelines, and the quirky characters who might be found on a small island. That’s not much different from my intended audience for Game of Sails—and as soon as that book came out, it was classified as Young Adult by several reviewers. Was that because I had already been labeled a “children’s author”? If so, this story too will be lumped into YA. Which is fine with me; I just need to be prepared rather than surprised this time around.
I’m too close to my own novels to be able to see them as just another random choice on a very crowded bookshelf. Identifying this book’s genre will help it be shelved correctly, placing it in front of the readers most likely to enjoy it.
So I need outside input to help me figure out the best way to market this new book. Do potential readers see it as young adult? If not, should it just be lumped in with all the rest of “general fiction,” or is there a more specific category that would help it reach a more receptive audience? Having reader input before the book comes out feels like a great luxury; who knows what ideas will come out of an open discussion?
Save the Date: April 13
If you’re reading this from a location within easy driving distance of the Jamestown Library, please join us at 7pm (and reach out if you need more specific details). For the rest of you, feel free to weigh in on potential genre in the comments below—and I’ll be sure to let you know what questions get answered on the evening of April 13.