(DGIwire) — There were ten ladies there for the book club that night: all mothers and professionals (doctors, lawyers, business women) who meet once a month to enjoy “discussable” books. While their tastes tend to skew toward non-fiction and literary fiction, they had decided to give a new local author a try, by reading and discussing his medical thriller, Doing Harm –and were all really impressed. The author, who joined these book club ladies to discuss his debut novel, had a wonderful time too. So good in fact that he has now agreed to join the five other book clubs in his San Diego, California area who asked for him. He has also let it be known that he is willing to do the same anywhere in the world via Skype.
This is the strategy that took another novelist, Donna Woolfold Cross, into best-seller territory with her novel, Pope Joan. To date Ms. Cross she has interacted with more than 350 book clubs, a strategy that brought her book from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands sold here and millions more sold abroad—with a movie coming out!
For surgeon, scientist and college faculty member Kelly Parsons, letting the world know about his debut novel Doing Harm was perhaps more of a challenge than writing it. The book that Stephen King described in glowing terms as: ““The best damn medical thriller I’ve read in 25 years. Terrifying OR scenes. Characters with real texture,” had already drawn comparison for Kelly between his work and other celebrated author–M.D.s such as Robin Cook (Coma), Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone). The raves come from the prestigious American Library Assn. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal (gave the book a starred review for “building tension to a breathtaking climax.”) and a many other publications. However, one thing every author discovers, some sooner some a bit later, is that even if they have the greatest publisher—and Kelly raves about St. Martin’s –the author, if he or she wants to keep their book in the public eye, is going to need to make promoting it a personal project, with or without hiring their own publicist.
The fast-paced thriller centers on Steve Mitchell, happily married with a wife and two kids, and in line for a coveted position at Boston’s University Hospital when his world goes awry. A mysterious death turns out to be no accident but rather the act of a sociopath. Because he is under a cloud of suspicion, Steve knows that any accusations he makes won’t be believed, so he must struggle to turn the tables—even as the killer skillfully blocks his every move. In telling its engrossing story, Doing Harm also details the politics of hospitals, the hierarchy among doctors and the life-and-death decisions that are made by flawed human beings.
“I do think, as with other things in life, there’s luck involved just in getting a book published,” Parsons says. “But taking your book directly to readers, who care enough to belong to book clubs, is definitely a smart move for authors.”