Thanks to @tiffanytalksbooks and @booksIthinkyoushouldread for hosting my guest blog posts #RCmandel

wildflowers 1My thanks to two blog sites for hosting me this week.

Books I Think You Should Read hosted my blog:

How Writing Replacement Child Changed Me: http://tinyurl.com/dxksg2x

 

Tiffany Talks Books hosted my blog:

Club Replacement Childhttp://tinyurl.com/cfq6vnu

masthead

 

When the Unthinkable Happens

 

sneakersI have known my whole life that the unthinkable can happen at any instant. That planes can fall out of the sky and change your life forever. When friends say, “Oh, THAT will never happen, we don’t need to worry about THAT.” Whatever THAT is at the time, I have to stop myself from pulling out headline after headline that prove the opposite. THAT happens every day. One of those headlines contains the name of my sister.

And, now another tragedy. Innocent lives lost in a senseless act. Reforming a vision of a perfect day of athletes celebrating their accomplishments, of families cheering them on, of children beaming proudly at their parents, parents awed by the strength and determination of their offspring to complete the grueling 26 mile run in Boston. One small boy hugging his father one instant, gone from this earth the next. Unthinkable. And yet.

To many today, this is a shock out of all proportion. To others, a club of sorts of recalcitrant members who have themselves been touched by tragedy, it is all too familiar. They may nod in recognition at the faces of those affronted by the most recent event. The injured, the bereaved, the panic-stricken. “We know,” they say to themselves. “We know what comes next, and our hearts break for you.”

Some of us want to help, but are not sure how. Some of us don’t want to let on how hard we know the next days, months, years might be for those affected. And, some use whatever skills we have to try to bring comfort. Because we also know that understanding can be like a warm blanket, keeping cold reality at bay.

How do we go on in the face of realizing, as I have come to, that anything can happen? Whether you believe in God’s plan that includes these kinds of atrocities, or you question whether he has turned his back, or if he exists at all—there comes a time when you have to grapple with random acts of evil, accident or nature.

We can turn our attention to all the good people who rushed to help the injured. All those runners, running again to donate blood even after a day of physical and emotional exhaustion. The doctors and nurses who saved lives and are, even now, treating the injured.  We can be thankful, as the news reports stress, that the bombs were not bigger and didn’t take out whole city blocks.

Ultimately, we can also realize that each day we are given is a gift. Each hug of our child, or any child, is to be cherished; each kiss from our beloved to be savored. Every day that we find peace, that our loved ones are safe and well, is a good day.

Prayers for the families who have lost loved ones, for all those injured in Boston.

 

(This post also appears on my Psychology Today blog.)

 

 

Recent updates for Replacement Child – a memoir

First, many thanks to Madeline Sharples, and her Choices blog for hosting me today for a guest post. I hope you’ll check it out!

You may also want to take a look at my ongoing blog on Psychology Today.

And, a couple of articles in Book Marketing Magazine. Check it out on iTunes–it’s a great new pub!

And here are some pics from some recent book happenings::IMG_0800IMG_0799IMG_0798IWWG

Image

Getting the Agent and Book Deal After Self-Publishing my Memoir

RC-final-cover-web-size8.jpgPeople have asked me how it happened. How my memoir, Replacement Child, was picked up by a traditional publisher after being self-published two years earlier. It was released in March from Seal Press/Perseus.

What’s Luck Got to Do With it?

Most authors don’t give any credence to luck, but they lie.  Luck has so much to do with everything. It was luck that I decided to put my book up on Barnes & Noble’s PubIt website in the summer of 2011. It was luck that I had met my incredible agent Rita Rosenkranz at a conference four years earlier. It was luck that I had knowledgeable colleagues to confer with to help me navigate my next steps.

Now for the Work

It was not luck that I attended many writer’s conferences prior to self-publishing, to figure out my best course of action. Those conferences gave me a good deal of valuable information about sending out queries, doing proposals and the ins and outs of approaching agents. I knew I wanted an agent and a traditional publisher, but I also knew that as an unknown memoirist, it would be a tough road. I gave myself a year to query agents, send out chapters when requested, to do my best to procure an agent. I wasn’t getting any younger.

When that year was over I had requests for partials and the entire manuscript from 50 agents. My query was working. About half of them showed interest in the book, but were wary of taking it on in the market at the time in 2008. Not a great year for any beginning endeavor. At that point I started looking at self-publishing and decided to form my own imprint to publish my book. I had been in marketing for twenty years and knew how to project manage any creative project. Although, looking back, I didn’t know exactly all of what I was taking on. I hired an editor, a designer and an online marketer to start.

I did a great deal of marketing for Replacement Child in 2009 and 2010 when I first self-published the book. I went on a nationwide book tour at my own expense, visiting bookstores that would have me in towns where I had friends or family to put me up.  It was a great adventure really, and a chance to see people I normally don’t get to visit.  Some of the stops were great, where I was able to get some advance publicity. And some were terrible where only one person showed up for a reading. C’est la vie.

The online blogging community was very receptive and I am very grateful to them for their support with reviews and guest blogs. Review copies were sent out to blog reviewers before the book was released, to bloggers that had reviewed memoirs in the past.

Local media was receptive, and I had articles in my local papers in my town in Connecticut, and did readings at local libraries.  I had several radio interviews, both for blog radio and traditional stations. I joined organizations and took advantage of opportunities to speak and do readings whenever possible. Replacement Child also garnered several awards for self-published books, including a National Indie Excellence Award and a Writer’s Digest award.

By the summer of 2011 I had sold about 2,000 print books and a few hundred ebooks on Amazon. It’s very hard to say which marketing tactic worked best, but all combined produced this modest success. I decided to list the eBook on the Barnes & Noble site in July and was encouraged to see that they had picked it for a featured book of the month. I credit that pick for bringing more awareness to the book.

Surprise, Surprise

Just after I listed the eBook for that last shot, I wound up in the hospital. My book was the farthest thing from my mind that fall, knowing I had to go back for surgery in a few months. It was Christmas when I noticed some weird deposits in my bank account online.  Again, I absolutely forgot that I had arranged direct deposit for the eBook sales. It turned out I was selling between four to five thousand eBooks a month. I wasn’t Grisham, but I was selling many books.

That’s when I contacted Rita Rosenkranz and we talked about whether it made sense to approach a publisher. I was grateful for her wise counsel that helped me think through the decision. In the end, I felt that that there was still a measure of credibility in having a traditional publisher. Reviews come more easily and you are taken more seriously.  That is changing, but I believe it is still widely the case. After considering the pros and cons, I told her I would like to try if she was up for it. She sold it very quickly to Seal Press.

Find more information about Replacement Child.

This post previously appeared on Jane Friedman’s blog, Writing on the Ether.

Reviews and Blog Tour News for Replacement Child – a memoir

April is off to an incredible start, with a new review in Publishers Weekly, and the start of a blog tour.

Check out the review in Publishers Weekly–so exciting!

Nonfiction Review- Replacement Child- A Memoir by Judy L. Mandel. Seal, $16 (224p) ISBN 978-1-58005-476-8

 

 

 

 

And, my blog tour starts today with Women on Writing.