Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Author in the Spotlight - Larry Mike Garmon On Marketing His Work-In-Progress, NEVЯLAND

Larry Mike Garmon began his writing career at 16 writing sports and news for the Wyoming State Tribune. He soon took up photojournalism, and by the end of high school he had worked as a stringer for UPI, AP, Rocky Mountain News, LA Times, New York Times, and the National Editors Association.

His publishing career began with the Hardy Boys Casefiles mysteries series, writing five, including one Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys SuperMystery set at Quartz Mountain, Oklahoma.

Because of his experience with the Hardy Boys series, Universal Studios and Scholastic Books, Inc., contracted Garmon to develop and write a six-book young adult series based on the classic Universal Studio monsters: Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

He has written for the RollarCoaster Tycoon middle grade series.

Garmon is currently marketing his work-in-progress, a young adult novel, NEVЯLAND.

Tell us about NEVЯLAND.

NEVЯLAND is a post-apocalyptic middle grade-young adult transitional novel about Laynie Price, a 13-year-old eighth grader who wakes to a world where all adults have disappeared. Everyone 18 and older is gone, plus the remaining 4,000 plus children are trapped in the city by an invisible wall. And, they discover that when any of the 17-year-olds turn 18, they disappear as well. Does that mean, then, that eventually everyone will disappear? And why 18?

I’ve wanted to write a post apocalyptic thriller for some time, but I didn’t want to go the typical route of the zombie craze or have anything to do with recombinant DNA.

The story came from two simple questions I asked myself after a day of teaching. I don’t know why these questions came to mind, but they did:

1. What do young teens especially wish for?
2. What do young teens fear the most?

I thought about these questions for a day and a half, and just as I was about to go to sleep one night, the answers came to me. Rather, the ANSWER came to me because the answer is the same for both questions—for parents to disappear.

That answer begged another question: If all the parents were to disappear, what would happen?

I’ve raised five children and have taught high school for 27 years. Teens both hate and desire the presence of adults. We’re the security and stabilizing force in their growing chaotic world. We’re the obstacle keeping them from the freedom they so desire.

So, take out the adults, and what would happen? This is the world of NEVЯLAND, a place with no adults, like the namesake from Peter Pan, but also a place of chaos, hysteria, confusion, fear, and near hopelessness.

You have a unique approach to marketing. What ways are you marketing NEVЯLAND? What should readers look forward to?

I’ve started a blog specifically for NEVЯLAND as well as a NEVЯLAND Facebook Group and a NEVЯLAND website.

I blog at least five to six times a week about the writing of NEVЯLAND. The blog is aimed more at writers or those interested in how a novel is put together. It includes the technical angst of writing and probably wouldn’t interest the average reader.

I address the Facebook Group members as NEVЯLANDers so they feel they are a part of the story. The Facebook Group gets updates on the story. I post news about characters and what they are going through. This allows the characters to become real people. I quote from Laynie and others and even allow the characters to post their own comments.

I also hold contests for the NEVЯLANDers with real prizes from NEVЯLAND. My first prize was an autograph draft copy. I’ll be offering t-shirts, mugs, posters, and other items promoting NEVЯLAND.

The Facebook Group went from Zero to 266 in five days. My goal is 1,000 by August. We’re sitting at just over 300 now in less than two weeks, and all of them by personal invitation from me or invitations from other Facebook Friends.

On the web site, I post character profiles, interviews with characters, background information, and sundry items of interest. I’m still getting this all together. Now that school is over, I’ll be able to work on it more thoroughly.

I’ve also started “publishing” the Junebug Journal, which is the local newspaper in the story. Of course, it’s published on the NEVЯLAND web site by Chad Chapman, Jr., the son of the publisher—his father disappeared along with the other adults.

The Junebug Journal contains weekly articles about what is happening in the southwest Oklahoma town of, where the story takes place. Readers will get interviews, photos, and insights that won’t be in the novel. Also, the “newspaper” gives me an opportunity to work on background material and characters and gage reader reaction.

This is similar to what Charles Dickens and other 19th Century writers did. They published their novels as weekly serial chapters in newspapers and journals, and then when the serials finished, they revised their stories according to the readers’ reactions and published the revisions as books.

Dickens even changed the ending of Great Expectations because the readers of the weekly newspaper version hated his original ending and wrote to the newspaper to tell him so.

I’m publishing the book in installments on the NEVЯLAND Facebook Group page, the website, and the blog—chapter by chapter—and hoping for feedback. So far, I’ve gotten some great feedback from Chapter One, some very good questions, plot pointers, and even technical corrections.

Many writers are superstitious and keep their writing projects top secret. What made you decide to put your novel out there?

I used to practice this superstition religiously, but now I’m talking up a storm.

I’m not sure when exactly I changed my mind about putting my stories out there as I write the tales, but it was a slow evolution over the past three years.

Finally in the fall of 2009, I decided to open up to a few people about what I’m doing. I did so with a few friends and through the OWFI Yahoo groups. I received encouragement, suggestions, and warnings.

The next step was to open up to the “civilians”, the non-writers, the readers—the writer’s true and most critical audience. This was the hardest step to take.

I’ve never seen an author market a novel before it was finished. Have you seen anyone do this? If not, how did you come up with the idea?

I haven’t seen anyone take it to the level I’ve taken it, but I don’t feel as if I’m an innovator or trailblazer.

I saw on IMDb the other day posters advertising a movie that won’t be out for two more years. It’s becoming more common to start to sell the product before the product is available for the public.

A writer’s success is as much in marketing as it is in his talent. Agents, editors, and publishers want writers who can sell themselves. Gone are the days of the aloof writer pounding away at his lonely keyboard in a small dark room in a forgotten corner of the house.

A writer needs to be both Ringmaster and tightrope walker.

Although I am basically a shy person, I believe in my talents and my stories. Who better to sell myself except myself?

How important do you think social media is in a writer’s career?

It’s becoming the key element in a writer’s successful career. A writer will still have to write good stories readers want to read, but he must also bare his soul on the Internet as well as in the printer’s ink.

I kept away from social media for a long time, thinking it was too time consuming and non-productive.

One reason I stayed away from it and even laughed at it is because I saw many, many non-published writers substituting “social networking success” with “writing success”. They had hundreds of blog followers and wrote everyday in the blogs or commented cleverly and often on but they had nothing in hard copy print.

“Success” in writing comes only upon publication.

Many writers are shy, how do you think they can get past that and get themselves on the internet stage?

I’m going to sound like a Nike commercial: Just do it!

Where can we find information on NEVЯLAND?

Website: LarryMikeGarmon.com

Blog: http://talewright.blogspot.com/ or http://nevrland.wordpress.com/

Facebook: NEVЯLAND Group

Email: nevrland.oklahoma@gmail.com

JacketFlap published page: Larry Mike Garmon

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