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March 18, 2011

Lory Kaufman: The Author's Job

Posted by jordana
lory kaufman.jpg
LensLooker front cover.jpgIn this guest post for Teenreads.com,  Lory Kaufman, author of THE LENS AND THE LOOKER, discusses the challenges --- and rewards --- of being a debut novelist in the age of social media.
 
I’m told by authors who have been published for some time that things have changed quite a bit in the last decade. Apparently, it used to be that the writer’s primary purpose was - to write. The other task they had to perform, once in awhile, was to show up when they were told for book signings.
 
I don’t know if it really ever was that easy, but things definitely have changed. I’ve talked with authors who have sold several million books who say it's absolutely imperative that they be much more involved in the promotion of their books. And even when a publisher has a budget for promotion, its often expected that the author hire their own publicity people and spend regular time doing their own marketing.
 
One writer at the Kingston Writer’s Festival told a group of eager newbies, “My day begins with checking my regular email. Then I check my Wordpress website and answer any mail and put up any new responses to my blogs. I then work on an upcoming blog for about a half hour. After that I go to my Facebook account and answer any mail there, reply to comments people make and then spend another half hour our soliciting new friends. Then it’s off to Goodreads to do the same. Oh, and then there’s Twitter and checking Google to see if there's any new mention of me.  By then it’s about 11:30 and I must prepare lunch for the kids who are due home soon. When the kids are back to school I clean up and it’s almost 1:30. Time to do what I love most, write. The kids get home at about 4 PM, so . . .”
 
Starting to get the picture?
 
I’ve heard this type of story told often, but I have something even more unbelievable to tell you. Are you ready to be shocked? Are you sure? This will sound unbelievable but . . . I’ve never met one writer who says they can stop writing, no matter what the obstacles. I don’t know if it is a natural disease of the mind or maybe we were all dropped on our heads while our mother was reading to us, but there you have it.
 
For me it is a compulsion to tell stories that explore the future of humankind, to write adventures of how this unlikely species, who call themselves Humans, beat the odds and created a planetary society that not only survived, but thrived. I found  glimpses of what turned into HISTORY CAMP and then THE LENS AND THE LOOKER on old “floppy disks” and scraps of paper with the date as far back as 1989 on them. But then life intervened with work, business, family, downturns of fortunes and resurrections of the same. It wasn’t until 2005 that I was in a position to start writing regularly and I haven't paused that journey since. That was six years ago.
 
THE LENS AND THE LOOKER has turned into what I’m told is a unique concept. It’s set in an almost Utopian 24th century world where kids are taught not to repeat the mistakes of the past by being forced to live in recreations of cities from Earth’s distant past. There they must experience the hard lives of our ancestors, so they will appreciate their modern civilization. Some unappreciative “hardcases” then then find themselves sent back in time to experience the real thing. The majority of the adventure takes place in 14th Century, Verona Italy and I had a lot of fun weaving together science fiction with historical fiction, fantasy with accurate descriptions of ancient technologies, mythological creatures with artificial intelligences and, for good measure, allusions to the love affair of Romeo and Juliet.

Due to a computer programming error, Amazon apparently started shipping the first E-copies of my book two weeks ahead of schedule, to people who had pre-ordered it. That meant that, after all those years of hard work, I was officially a published author. I actually, truly, became all choked up. So, don't you feel sorry for me or any of my addled brothers and sister who are afflicted with writeitus. It's just what we do.
 
If you want to know more about THE LENS AND THE LOOKER, click here. You can also “like” the History Camp Facebook page here

Good reading.
Lory