Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Timothy Taylor, Guest Blogger

I'd like to welcome Timothy Taylor as guest blogger today. He's the author of The Blue Light Project, a book that was scheduled for blog tours. I'm going to let Timothy tell you what happened.

Thank you, Lesa, for asking me to guest blog. My book, The Blue Light Project, arrived in the mailboxes of about 20 bloggers a couple months back. Some people thought the book was mis-targetted and Lesa asked me to comment on what happened. Any writer would really appreciate that gesture. Thanks sincerely.

Let me just start by saying that the book world has changed since I published my first novel, in Spring 2001. One change is the explosive growth of book blogs which now attract huge, attentive, smart readership. As a result, while newspaper reviews used to be the big score, now it’s blog tours. (Like those conducted by the wonderful folks at TLC. Thanks Lisa!).

Unlike newspapers which are general interest, however, blogs are quite specific. They reflect one blogger’s interests, so they tend to be about particular types of books: crime fiction or romance novels, thrillers or cookbooks. As a result, Blue Light had to be categorized more specifically than my previous books.

We discussed this for awhile – my agent in New York, my publisher in San Francisco, and me in Vancouver – and eventually agreed we should approach bloggers who like thrillers and crime fiction. Why? Well because compared to most works of literary fiction (which is the loose category my book would belong in otherwise) Blue Light has a lot of crime and thriller-type action in it (hostages, cops, SWAT teams, bombs etc). Also, I’m an admirer of both the thriller and crime genre (I like James Lee Burke particularly, who writes like William Faulkner on 18 cups of coffee) so perhaps I was secretly hoping Blue Light would fit under that heading.

Was it a mistake? Well, it depends who you ask. Some bloggers loved it (phew). Others found it not what was expected. For me, all I can say is that it was the book I wanted to write: a picture of the chaotic times in which we find ourselves. (And they’ve become quite chaotic lately, haven’t they? Speaking personally, I read the news each morning hoping and praying not to learn of another disaster or outbreak of mayhem or economic collapse.)

But, aside from offering an insight into how books are marketed, this blog post is also about saying thanks. Being a writer was my dream from the time I was a kid. I quit a perfectly good day job in finance to pursue it, with the support of my wonderful wife. 10 years and four books into it, we’re both thrilled that I’m still at it. So: thank you for having a look at my book.

In the meantime, I’ll return to the novel-in-progress. It’s about a woman who survives a devastating airplane crash in which she is one of seven survivors. After surviving, however, her luck seems to go bad. Her husband has an affair and leaves her. Things go sour in her once-successful business. Late one night, alone and depressed, she gets a phone call from one of the other survivors. He wants to meet, he says. He has something to tell her. Why the urgency? Because, he says, he’s been trying to contact all survivors and in the process learned that the other five are dead, each by reported suicide.

What kind of book is it? Well, I would have told you thriller/crime up until a few weeks ago. Now I’m not so sure. All I know is that I will finish it and I will remain hopeful that people will check it out and make a connection with it.

Again, thank you, both for reading this and for being readers.

Timothy Taylor

Thank you, Timothy! And, thanks for not giving up. I'm glad you were willing to talk about The Blue Light Project. And, that next book? Sounds like a crime novel I'd like to read!

The Blue Light Project by Timothy Taylor. Soft Skull Press, Inc., ©2011. ISBN 9781593764029 (paperback), 352p.


Sandie Herron said...

I agree with you there Lisa. The next book with the plane crash survivors sounds like a thriller to me. I'd read it from what you've shared. Perhaps knowing now what people expect from a thriller will help your writing to become a little edgier and so on to fit the category a little bit more? Just an idea. Sure sounds like a topic that would lend itself to that.
The category of thriller doesn't mean that every minute has to be that way either. I'll use Stephen King as an example. His books are not all horror. However, even the ones that are do not necessarily introduce that horror element until we're well into the book. He takes the time to get you to know his characters and care about them before things go haywire.
Ah well, enough from me. Good luck with this book. And I do hope you get Lesa a copy of your next book. We may have to fight over it!
And while you're out on the rest of your blog tour, perhaps you can share more of what THE BLUE LIGHT PROJECT is about, since I didn't get any clear picture of the plot from what you've shared so far.
Sandie, from Sandie's Corner

Liz V. said...

Genres are so confusing, and, unless books are written to formulas, they are unlikely to fall into only one.
I've certainly read "cozies" that weren't; thrillers that seemed sci-fi (admittedly, I can't use all the functions on my cell phone); and romantic "ghost" stories.
Perhaps the only approach for a multiple-genre book is review by readers who enjoy eclectic tastes.
Best wishes on success of The Blue Light Project and your WIP.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Sandie & Liz.

Genres can be confusing for marketing and readers. And, if it's marketed wrong, the book may never reach the readers who would appreciate it. I think that's what happened with The Blue Light Project.

Sandie Herron said...

Remember when Charlaine Harris published DEAD UNTIL DARK, the first Sookie Stackhouse book? People didn't know what to do with that one. It was billed as a Southern Vampire Mystery.

Where do you shelve a southern vampire mystery? Horror for the vampire connection? Mysteries for the obvious connection? Or romance for the Southern connection?

The publisher was Ace, not one for mystery or romance. Charlaine took a big risk with that book, one that paid off. All of us in the grass roots movement would make sure the book (a paperback original, to confuse things more) itself was "turned out" in every bookstore or library we went to. We wanted everyone to see it.

I remember mailing Charlaine the review from Locus magazine(!) since no one else had seen it yet.

So you are absolutely right Lesa. Charlaine was lucky for several reasons, not the least of which was that she was already an established author. I bet the book would have flopped if she didn't have the support she did.

So I hope you keep all those factors in mind Timothy.

Oh, one more I just thought of. No matter what format your book takes (hardcover, paperback, e-book), it is much harder to just "browse" a bookstore online, where many books are sold today. Categories matter even more then.

You've got a hard job, but as long as you tackle issues you know will come up beforehand, you'll do us proud!

heathertlc said...

I loved this post! Thanks for featuring Timothy and getting his take on things.