Locked down, bookstores closed. What’s a writer to do?
I’m not quite sure what was responsible for my pivot . . . maybe the zany cat humor I was ingesting on youtube (I am an unapologetic crazy cat lady), or re-reading books of cat humor. But as I was surfing Shutterstock for images for another project, I came across a photo of a cat in a virus mask. Suddenly the thought popped into my mind . . . what if cats wrote pandemic poetry? I know, I know, wacky, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write some. And write in the personae of cats who had been locked down with their owners. So I started. I found a photo of a cat at a computer zooming with four of her friends, and the poem “We’re All In This Together” practically wrote itself.
Yeah, it’s not Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, but it worked for my purpose. One thing led to another, and pretty soon I had thirteen poems written and thirteen photos selected to illustrate them. Then what? Well, get some books printed and see if anyone wanted to buy them. And given that I have no social media presence — no Twittter following, no Facebook page (nor do I want these) I advertised “LOCKED DOWN: Cats Write Pandemic Poetry” on a cat blog. I decided NOT to put them on Amazon (aka Where Books Go To Die) but instead to sell them from a page on my website called Little Books (I am giving some of the royalties that Amazon would take extort from me —40% of the selling price of the book — and donating it to cat rescue groups instead. I feel great about this). Holey moley. From that one ad on the cat blog, I sold dozens of copies of this little book! I even sold copies internationally! AND I got invited to talk about LOCKED DOWN on a nationally-syndicated radio show called “Talkin’ Pets” where I gave books away. Encouraged, I ran a contest on the same cat blog and got over 100 contest entrants. Today I am supposed to designate 5 people the winners of my contest, and mail books to them, but here’s a news flash: I am mailing books to all 100+ contest entrants. Why not? It’s advertising.
Is this making me rich? Hardly. But my pivot enabled me to retain my self-respect as a writer, and make dozens and dozens of new readers. They may “cross over” and read my mysteries, or they may not. But I have a bunch of new readers who all like cat humor, as do I. Talk about knowing who your readers are! I have LOCKED DOWN 2 well underway and can’t wait to add it to my Little Books page.
To my fellow writers: why not try a pivot? It might just open up a whole new world of readers.