Fleeta Cunningham is as daring as she is talented. “Nobody gets published the way I got published,” she stated. She admitted that she garnered a book deal by crashing a cocktail party. She found an errant invitation sitting on a coffee table at the hotel where she’d attended a writing conference. She showed up and the right person struck up a conversation and asked her what kinds of things she writes about. “I think I’d like to read this, send me three chapters,” she said the woman told her. As she tells it, that woman was the editor-in-chief of a publishing company called The Wild Rose Press. Five book deals and one pending contract later, Cunningham has no regrets that she went uninvited.
“I don’t know enough not to do things,” she said. One special aspect that may have added to the editor’s interest in the book was the fact that Cunningham usually adds sports cars to her books. She said she drives a little Mazda Miata. “I belong to a classic car club,” she said. She added that because she mentioned a red Alfa Romeo in her latest book (“Elopement For One”) she got a chance to ride in one. “I like it that they go fast and have no tops and you get the wind in your hair,” she explained. She admits that she once had a boyfriend about whom she was serious. As she tells it, he drove one, and the relationship sizzled when he sold it. “I think I was in love with the car,” she confessed.
Being friendly, outgoing and gregarious also helps her sell books. “I will talk to anybody for any length of time,” she states. In fact, she said she has always been that way. She reported that her mother, from whom she got her red hair, told her that she was talking at 6 months and hasn’t shut up since.
The former law librarian said she transfers the skills she gained during the 25 years in that job field to her current work as a writer. “I learned to do a lot of research in a lot of strange places,” she stated. She said the difference now is that she gets to research what interests her.
This author said she does her own book trailers. She also leaves behind a stemmed fake rose of organza with a marketing bookmark attached to it (see upper right, pic 3).Sometimes she fashions the flowers out of organza, and sometimes she uses cotton fabric.
She said she believes in building relationships in order to do well as an author. “I have been teaching a creative writing course for the YMCA,” she stated. She said sometimes it opens doors for her to sell her books, but the students are not required to make a purchase. On the heels of her success she offers advice to other writers. Some of her own tried-and-true ideas follows below:
- · Never, ever talk about a book in progress; especially not the plot-line. “It lets the air out of the balloon,” she said. She said once a book is fully written, it’s okay to talk about it. Prior to that, she likened it to an embryo.
- · Always make a back-up. She shared a horror story about how one of her only copies of a typed manuscript was thrown away.
- · For feedback on your book, ask an objective person, not a friend. She said someone who points out the flaws may be a better, more honest critic than someone who tells you it’s wonderful.
- · Talk to chambers of commerce and get on their speakers lists. She said she’s found that companies often provide free dinner, may pay some small honorarium, and that some will request that you bring your books so they can buy them.
She described writing as demanding, fun, satisfying, and added that she finds it interesting to create a world and put people in it and make them do what you want them to do.So far, with several titles under her belt and a pending contract on another, she has made that party crash pay big dividends as she does what she loves, writes what she knows, and helps others to do the same.
Fleeta’s titles, trailers and more can be viewed at www.fleetacunningham.com.
Also by Shirley
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