You can visit Linda's website at www.lindamerlino.com.
Welcome to Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion, Linda. Can we begin by having you tell us what Belly of the Whale is about and why you wrote it?
Belly of the Whale is a cautionary tale; the kind of story that shakes-a-fist-at-God. No one in their right mind seeks out cancer. No one invites the pink ribbon disease to take up residence in their breasts, liver, kidneys or brain. Cancer just arrives, uninvited. Belly of the Whale mixes humor, sarcasm and emotion to drive the plot to its center; what happens when we face our own fears? Hudson Catalina is a young woman with breast cancer. The reader is taken into twenty-four hours in her life. The day she gives up hope of surviving and the day she is taken hostage in an all-night market by a killer more deadly than her disease.
Why did I write Belly of the Whale? Because I had to, that’s the only answer I can give. As a writer you are propelled by unseen hands that guide you and push you along when you are discouraged. The story is not autobiographical, not in the sense of my having cancer, but in other ways I have experienced life taking me into its dark places.
Belly of the Whale is literary fiction, one part inspiration, one part women’s fiction, one part thriller and one part genre-bending.
Why did you choose this genre to write?
I did not write with a specific genre in mind. I always thought: literary fiction and only after the manuscript was complete did I begin to focus on a genre.
Did you choose it or did it choose you?
The genre-bending idea came from my publisher, Kunati, Inc. Kunati was recently honored as Best Independent Publisher of 2008 by Forward Magazine. I like to squeeze that in because I am so thrilled to be a part of Kunati’s success. So genre choice obviously chose itself and Belly of the Whale remains content in several genres and appeals to a diverse group of readers.
In regards to promotion, what have you been doing to promote your book online?
Kunati has been instrumental in hand-holding its authors on the Internet marketing highway. When I began the process about a year ago I had no idea that cyberspace could be as vast or as embracing. This Virtual Book Tour has been a wonderful resource for getting Belly of the Whale promoted. I blog multiple times a week and have two blogs, one that covers my astrological expertise: http://gooddaysnodays.com and one that tells people to blog what they think, see, feel and write: http://kunatiauthor.wordpress.com
which is also the same blog that can be read through http://kunati.com/linda-merlino and on other popular sites.
Of all the promotional items (bookmarks, press kits, etc…) you have used to promote your book, which one was used most effectively?
My best tool so far, besides my hand-shaking, baby-kissing and big mouth, has been bookmarks. After I go through my speil, I hand off a glossy bookmark with Belly of the Whale info. People really respond well to the bookmark.
Do you feel that the Internet has opened doors for authors who never dreamed they’d ever see a publishing contract and how has it influenced you in regards to your own publishing journey?
The internet has been an amazing tool, this is how I found Kunati or how they found me. Someone sent me a networking email and within that email was a link to Kunati. That was sometime in October 2006, by December 2006 I was a Kunati author.
If you were in the middle of Manhattan (or any busy thoroughfare) and you wanted to call attention to your book, what would you do and what would you say?
Someone just pointed out a scene from the popular Sex in the City film where Carrie goes to bookstores in New York City and plants her book on the shelves. Short of doing that, I can tell you that on a trip to Manhattan a few days ago I met a woman on the train and by the time we got to Grand Central she had a bookmark, my phone number and my spiel. So what’s my spiel? I simply tell them what I told you about Belly in the beginning of the interview, it is the story of a young woman with breast cancer. This stops people in their tracks, they look at me and pause. It is in that moment that I get the message of hope and survival across. There is no exploiting of the pink ribbon disease, loss of hope can happen to anyone, how we deal with it is the question.
If you could trade places with any author just for a day, who would it be and why?
Joseph Campbell. Mr. Campbell died in 1987 and he did not write fiction, but he had an understanding of life and human nature that was brilliant. He used mythology and philosophy to navigate the often turbulent waters of life’s mysteries. For one day I would love to be imbued with such wisdom.
Lastly, how do you determine your book’s success?
I met a gentleman in the library one evening, a friend-of-a-friend. He was looking for a book to read and my friend suggested he take mine out from the library. He’s a voracious reader she explained later,it will be interesting to see what he thinks. In fact, he reluctantly agreed to read Belly of the Whale when I explained what it was about, he frowned and said, “Sounds like it has a moral.”
A few days later I go an email through my website from this man. He stated that he he could go on and on about the reasons he liked this or that about the book, but the truth was,he said, that his criteria for a really good book was one that he couldn’t put down. In fact, he said, Belly of the Whale was indeed such a book.
This makes Belly of the Whale a success.
Thank you for coming, Linda! Can you tell us where everyone can pick up a copy of Belly of the Whale?
You can pick up a copy of Belly of the Whale at Borders or Barnes and Noble, also for ease of ordering go to www.amazon.com/gp/product/1601640188
Thanks for stopping by on my Virtual Book Tour.