This is a slightly edited re-post of C.M. Mayo’s guest-blog for the Writer’s Center’s First Person Plural back on May 5, 2010, apropos of the novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.
by C.M. Mayo
What an education the last year has been. My novel came out in hardcover last May 5th; shortly thereafter, I embarked on a cram-packed, coast-to-coast book tour, beginning with a launch at the Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington, DC, then on to bookstores as diverse as Vroman's in Pasadena, CA; and Book People in Austin TX, and book fairs including the Texas Book Festival and the Virginia Festival of the Book. As a first-time novelist, I have have been fortunate indeed. That said, this is not my first book. My short story collection, Sky Over El Nido, was published in 1995; Miraculous Air, a travel memoir of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, in 2002; and an anthology, Mexico A Traveler's Literary Companion, in 2006.
One of the most marked changes since the mid-2000s is the increasing importance of guest-blogs for helping a book find its readers. What's a guest-blog? What you're reading right here. It's a new literary genre-- closely related to, variously, the essay, the newspaper article, and whatnots on a bulletin board.
I felt so avant garde back in 2006, when I wrote for Wendi Kaufman's now, alas, apparently abandoned "Happy Booker" blog ("If I Had an iPod: Top 5 Mexican Music Selections ") and for the travel blog, World Hum ("The Speed of Rancho Santa Ines").
But over the past year, for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, Holy Smokes! Among many others, I've written for:
Work-in-Progress ("How to Hang in There and Finish Your Novel");
beatrice.com ("What Connects You to the 1860s?");
A Writing Life ("Break the Block in 5 Minutes");
Largehearted Boy (Playlist for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire);
Red Room ("C.M. Mayo Celebrates a Batch of Bookstores");
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Blog ("VCCA Memories"); and more.
And I am just one of legion of writers doing the same for their books.
1. Trying to do a book tour and keep up with email and do guest-blogs, it’s too much. It’s best to start coming up with ideas for guest-blogs, and bloggers to pitch, not on-the-fly, but months before the book comes off the presses.
2. Whether you’ve gotten the invitation to guest-blog or not, don’t wait to start writing! Assemble your cache of polished, short pieces (500-750 words), including links (to your web page, your book, and anything else most readers would want to click on for more information.) If one blog cannot use a given post, another can—and if not, you can always post it on your own.
3. Once your guets-blog post appears, re-post it with a thankyou and link back to your host on your own blog, website, FB page, etc. This is not only good for your book, but a courtesy to your host.
4. If your book has a publicist, don’t forget to send her the link to your guest-blog. She just might do something amazing with it.
C.M. Mayo has been living in and writing about Mexico for many years. Twenty three, last she counted. She is the author of THE LAST PRINCE OF THE MEXICAN EMPIRE, an historical novel based on the true story, which was named one of the best books of 2009 by Library Journal; also, MIRACULOUS AIR: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico; a collection of Mexican literary works in translation, MEXICO: A TRAVELER'S LITERARY COMPANION; and SKY OVER EL NIDO, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. Herlatest translation is SPIRITIST MANUAL, the secret book originally published in 1911 as MANUAL ESPIRITA, by Francisco I. Madero.