Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Re: Yesterday Road/A Novel

eBook coverNow that I’ve gotten my feet damp in the blogging pond, I’d better start thinking about how the hell I’m going to sell multiple copies of Yesterday Road. Everything I’ve learned so far tells me that this ain’t gonna be easy. The ebook market is not built for literary fiction like this little book. At least not yet. So I have to figure out a way to play that market.

I’m already working on a description for the book suitable for Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and all the rest. Maybe you can help. As I develop it, I’ll post updates here for feedback, like a virtual focus group.

The problem is, this book is not easy to categorize, other than “literary fiction.” I mentioned that it’s a comedy, but not in the yuk-yuk, Judd Apatow sense. More in the sense that order falls into chaos and then back into order, with plenty of funny bits along the way. So one thing my description will have to do is appeal to readers who aren’t necessarily searching for something like this. It will be like the quiet puppy at the pound who doesn’t yap and squeal. He just looks up at you through the bars with those giant syrupy brown eyes. Awwww. How can you resist?

My protagonists in this book are unique. The primary one, Jack Peckham, is an octogenarian with a form of dementia that erases his memory at the end of each day. He sets out from San Francisco to find his way home to his daughter, but progress is halting because of his condition. He’s a little like a Mr. Magoo, getting in and out of dodgy situations by sheer luck. He’s motivated entirely by this drive to get home (not unlike Dorothy, come to think of it), but he’s going to need help.

Enter Joe Easterday, a 31-year-old with Down syndrome who has been on an independence-building trip through a DS support group. Joe is taken with Jack for some reason and manages to shake off his supervision to hit the road with him. Soon they meet Ida Pevely, a fortyish diner waitress in Elko, Nevada, who realizes she has to, first, reunite Joe with his parents (she happens to be the single mother of a Down syndrome child herself and knows what Joe’s folks must be going through), and, second, somehow get Jack to his daughter or — more likely — back to whatever institution he wandered away from.

Things begin to go wrong immediately. You can imagine.

So it’s clear that the book is fraught with things that can sink it, or let it fly. It’s something of a fable, since realism is stretched big time, but it’s also a classic picaresque with appealing characters and a twisting plot. It touches on issues with a certain niche interest, like Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome, which might offer avenues for marketing it (with appropriate sensitivity). The challenge will be how to find the right kind of reader in the ebook realm, where the inordinate favorites seem to be fantasy, horror, YA, crime, and sci-fi.

There is an abortive drug deal in Yesterday Road, though, which puts a cool hundred grand in Jack’s hands. And there’s a hapless carjacker, and — did I mention — DiCaprio!

12 comments on “Re: Yesterday Road/A Novel

  1. francisguenette
    May 29, 2013

    Your description is great. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble putting together your book synopsis for Amazon and other venues. I hear what you’re saying on literary fiction. How long is your book? I struggle with competing with genre novels that are a breeze of a read at often 50,000 to 70,000 words. My novels are longer – literary fiction for me is about the story arc of characters. That takes a lot of pages to accomplish. I look forward to seeing how it all goes for you.

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 29, 2013

      Thank you, Francis. I appreciate your encouragement. Yesterday Rd. is about 71,000 words, so a lot is packed into a small delivery device, but since it’s comic in nature there are shortcuts involved.

      I just worry that my target audience isn’t tuned into the ebook scene right now. We shall see.

  2. 1WriteWay
    May 29, 2013

    Based on what you’ve just provided: a heartwarming story of three lonely people, each a kind of societal outcast who find each other and help each other on their separate journeys. Frankly, it sounds like it could also make a good movie. OK, an indie movie, but still the kind of movie that you study and think about and talk about later over coffee. Yes, your biggest problem might be that you’re selling it as an ebook when people who like to read literary fiction are more often drawn to printed books. But that doesn’t mean it won’t sell. Can you afford to advertise in literary journals? I think (in my humble opinion) that you should follow the usual options you mention in your post, but I wonder if there aren’t some other advertising avenues? Have you looked into http://www.redroom.com? I have an account there but since I have not published, my liberties are limited. Still, it seems like a good marketplace for published writers (and you are one of those :))

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 30, 2013

      Good points! I’ll definitely look into Red Room. I’m not sure about the effectiveness of advertising for books in general, and I’d hate to spend a wad only to sell a handful of books. I’ll be researching the possibilities though…

  3. lnahay
    May 29, 2013

    Like you, I can list much of what my book is NOT, but pinpoint what it IS, and I’ll go silent. Your description brings to mind some great movies (I know, not books) like Where the Heart Is, Once, and Bella. Heavily character driven especially in regards to how they relate to others. I think your advantage is your ‘atypical’ leads (not young, not predominantly female, not typical yet very normal). I look forward to keeping up with your progress!

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 30, 2013

      I’m hoping that the book’s idiosyncrasies are actually selling points, but I wonder whether the ebook market will be open to something offbeat. Thanks for visiting!

      • lnahay
        May 30, 2013

        You can buy textbooks, magazines, and non-fiction- among other things- for eReaders. No reason why fiction would be excluded! I think your book will be fine!

  4. margaretjeanlangstaff
    May 29, 2013

    OK, I’m going to buy it, read it and review it. I like you so much. This is one hell of a lot more than you can expect from your friends and family (and nearly everyone else), as every author eventually realizes. That’s why they have so few friends (or family members who will return their calls, acknowledge them in the street … (wink wink). Gosh, what I burden I have undertaken. I find it hard to do anything other praise a living author. I prefer to beat dead horses. Now I’m in a corner. This better be good.

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 30, 2013

      Thank you, Margaret! And you’re absolutely right about how effing obnoxious writers need to be. That’s why Twitter is driving me mad with the constant self-promotion. I do hope I can find a willing audience of curious readers and other writers who will take a chance on an author they don’t know.

      Meanwhile, I’ll pencil you in as my first sale!

  5. Phillip McCollum
    May 30, 2013

    The novel sounds great! It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything like you’ve described, so I look forward to picking it up when it comes out. Best of luck in the marketing. That seems to be a tough road for any self-published author to travel, let alone literary fiction.

    • Kevin Brennan
      May 30, 2013

      Thanks, Phillip. I guess there are easier ways to make a buck, eh?

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