Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sarah Stonich Guest Post + Giveaway

Sarah Stonich Guest Post + Giveaway

Sarah Stonich is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of July, here on BookSnob's Blog.   Her latest book Vacationland is the perfect summer read and an excellent choice for your book club.  Sarah has written a guest post on the importance of book clubs and on reading and reviewing what you read.


I’m often asked to visit book clubs, and since it’s among my favorite of the ‘writerly’ activities I try to make time for whenever possible. Over the years I’ve realized that a personal visit can earn a loyal readership, plus, they’re fun – groups have grown increasingly inventive, often borrowing a theme from the book. During the launch of my first novel These Granite Islands, one group hosted a fancy hat dinner, another canoed to a picnic on an island. Recently, one resourceful group opened their event up to a wider net of friends until they needed a large public venue in which to host it. For Vacationland my publisher agreed to print beer coasters (there’s always beer at resorts) a group in Stillwater picked up on that theme and are hosting their event in a brewery and opening it up to the public (Lift Bridge Brewery, July 30th 7pm – c’mon down if you’re in the area – they’ve even arranged for a food truck!)

Only recently – after four books, has it occurred to me what power book groups can exercise in helping spread the word beyond their own group, even to point of making a book a bestseller. Reading a book honors the author. Buying the book is a concrete support of the writer, but I understand we can’t all afford to buy the books we want.

Some authors ask for a fee to visit book groups. While I consider this bad form, my Gran would spin in her grave - I mean, they are basically hosting a party for me, I would never expect to be paid. Still, there is something much more valuable than gas money that be very much more welcome in return for my visit: Your thoughts and opinions, that members consider taking a few minutes to rate or review my book in an online book community like Shelfari, GoodReads, or LibraryThing. Customer ratings on retailers like Barnes & Noble or Amazon are very helpful. (Channel your opinions through the goliaths, but please support local independent booksellers whenever possible, next to libraries they are, to borrow a phrase from the hot Benedict Cumberbatch’s on BBCs ‘Sherlock’, our Mind Palaces.) All this rating business helps nudge a book up in those algorithms, ala ‘If you liked Olive Kitteredge, you’ll love Vacationland’. A review can be as brief as a sentence or long as a sermon. Besides the priceless online exposure, I have come to rely on reviews to let me know how I’m doing, so honesty is key – only the stars I deserve, please. If you love a book, rate it, if you really love it, support the writer and post a review. Buying it is nice, too, of course.

I’ve often been asked when I first felt like a ‘real’ writer. You’d think it would be opening the actual printed galley, or seeing a translation of it in a store window (in Milan, no less!) but I can clearly remember when genuinely, finally I felt like a writer: when a woman wrote to say she’d related to the plight of a character going through some of the same difficulties as herself. I’d spoken to her and she thanked me for writing my book. Thanked me. I understood then that what I’d done for her was what books had done for me all my life – they’d just…been there. No one is completely alone with a book in their hands.

Thanks, BookSnob, for helping get the word about Vacationland out there!

If you would like to win a copy of Sarah's book, Vacationland, please enter here:  Vacationland Giveaway

Visit Sarah's website here:  http://www.sarahstonich.com/home.html