Unequal footing and a first peek into St. Martin’s Press

Prior to performing at The Moth last Tuesday, I stopped by at the beautiful Flatiron Building for a meeting with my editor, her assistant and the social media director for St. Martin’s. It’s always slightly surreal to meet someone who knows me through Twitter and my blog but who I do not know at all. Paul, the social media director, had clearly spent a good amount of time reading my blog, my Twitter stream and my Facebook fan page in preparation for our meeting, and so there was an immediate imbalance in our relationship as I sat down at the table.

I was meeting him for the first time, for example, yet he already knew how I might feel about his watch.

“Hi, I’m Paul,” he said. “And my watch cost 80 bucks.”

Last week I met with a DJ client in my home, and the bride-to-be told me that she already felt familiar with the layout of my house based upon her faithful reading of my blog.

Again, a slightly surreal imbalance of the relationship.

Last week, my wife had lunch with a friend who reads my blog, and she told Elysha that because she reads it so regularly, she feels that she knows me intimately.

Again, an imbalance.

This is probably a good thing. I write my blog simply because I desire a venue to express my thoughts and ideas, and I use Twitter and Facebook for many reasons, but one is to connect to people.

Apparently all this is working.

One of my friends likes to say that I “live loud.”

Paul was exceedingly helpful in terms of social media. He had a list of ideas to fine-tune my use of Twitter and Facebook, including the importance of remembering that my Twitter followers and Facebook fans are probably two distinct audiences with differing interests and needs, so I should be catering my posts more specifically to each one.

Very true.

He also reassured me about my scattershot approach to my blog. There are competing theories when it comes to blogging. Some people believe that it’s important to find a niche and become an expert on a specific topic, and that this is the way to draw an audience.

Others (like me) use blogging to express thoughts and ideas and share aspects of my life with others, and I believe that as an author, this is the best use of blogging. Rather than focusing my blog on subjects like writing or teaching only, I attempt to achieve broad appeal while giving readers and fans a peek into my life.

It is what I wish some of my favorite authors would do more often.

And Paul approves.

Paul and my editor also suggested that I share more of the inner workings of the publishing process with my readers, since this is an area that many people are curious about and have no access.

And since I have a new book coming out next year and am in the process of writing the next, and I am now with a new publisher, this is a good time to share the process with readers.

Thus this post.

As my next book, MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, begins its way through the publishing process, I’ll be sure to share as much of the process with you as possible, and if there are any questions that you might have about the publishing industry in general, please let me know!

A couple other random thoughts from my afternoon at St. Martin’s included:

  • I discovered that it is exceedingly easy to read the body language of my editor, Brenda Copeland. Also, if slightly pressured, she is willing to be photographed wearing a red cowboy hat.
  • I sometimes worry about the structural integrity of the Flatiron building based upon the sheer number of books contained therein.  Our meeting with Paul took place in a room that was wall-to-wall books, and I have yet to leave the building without new books under my arms.
  • I want an assistant. Brenda has an assistant named Laura, and I am jealous. I forget that an assistant isn’t just someone to help you get things done. It’s like having a second brain working for you.
  • I like the look of my printed manuscript. I never get to see it in actual page form unless is has a bunch of red marks all over it. It looks so nice, sitting on its shelf, so clean and presumably perfect.