Elizabeth Kerri Mahon (blog | Twitter) did what many bloggers dream but not dare — she turned her blog into a book. Not only that, I really liked her book "Scandalous Women" (book review) and Ms. Mahon was kind enough to answer a few questions about social media, her experience going from a blog to a book and her favorite scandalous women.
Q. How did you get the idea to write a book about this subject?
A. Wow, that's a great question. I had been plugging away at my writing for a long time, mainly writing YA and women's fiction and just racking up rejection letters. I was also blogging at my other blog now called Adventures of Gotham Gal. Frankly I was getting a little bored and more than a little discouraged. I've always loved history, and one day it just hit me, why didn't I write about all these fascinating women I was reading biographies about? Thus Scandalous Women was born. I started writing about them on Gotham Gal but then decided that these women deserved their own blog. I decided to call the blog (and the book) Scandalous Women because of all the women that I was writing about were considered Scandalous in their day, although we would probably find them a bit tame today.
Q. Which figure you wrote about has surprised / fascinated you the most?
A. Josephine Baker was one of the women that I was fascinated by. I had no idea until I started researching her that she had been involved with the Resistance and worked as a spy during WWII, nor did I know about her Civil Rights work during the 1950's. I just thought of her as a dancer who wore a banana skirt. I also found Camille Claudel and Zelda Fitzgerald fascinating because their work is so entertwined with these dominating male figures of Rodin and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Both women found their work overshadowed, and both ended up in asylums for the rest of their lives. It was really hard for me to stop researching, and to just sit down and write the book.
Q. You started out blogging about scandalous women, what does it take to turn your blog into a book?
A. It was actually my friends who encouraged me to turn Scandalous Women into a book. I had no plans when I first started the blog, and it wasn't until I was laid off by my day job that I actually sat down and figured out how to write a non-fiction book proposal. I was shocked when the first agent I sent the proposal to asked to represent me. And then when we sold the book, I was over the moon. Then came the hard work of deciding who was going to be in the book and who wasn't. Even though I had written about some of these women on the blog, I went back and did more research and extensively rewrote those chapters. They are much different than what I had initially wrote. Then it was a matter of trimming each chapter down to about 7 pages which was hard believe me but I had a word count and I tried not to go over it. I only had seven months to write and research the book, so I couldn't read as many biographies as I wanted which was hard.
Q. You are active on the Social Media front. How do you find the experience? Any positive/negative experiences in book promotions?
A. I started using Twitter and Facebook about 2 years ago, and I find it a great experience. I set up a seperate page on Facebook solely for the book. Most of the feedback has been positive. It just takes up a great deal of time. I Twitter every day and I try to post interesting articles on the Facebook page, not just about the book.
Q. What are the challenges of book promotions in the social media age?
A. Because most authors find out pretty quickly that most of they are going to have to do most of the promotion themselves, it becomes almost a full time job. Setting up a blog tour, which I did on my own, finding bloggers like yourself to send review copies too. You really can't rely on your publisher to promote your book for you, you have to do about 75% of it on your own. That's where Twitter and Facebook are so valuable.
Shameless plug disguised as a question: Why do you love ManOfLaBook.com so much and often visit the website?
Wise gal answer: I love finding people who are just as passionate about books as I am. And Man of La Book is a great, quirky blog.
Thank you for answering my questions, I love the answers and the experience is very interesting.
Zohar — Man of la Book
- Mark Suster Interviews The Gotham Gal (avc.com)
- Publisher snaps up debut novel with £600,000 advance (guardian.co.uk)
- Interview: Bhavna Rai, author of 'Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding' (unpublisho.wordpress.com)