When you pick up a book in the bookstore–or browse one online–how long does it take for you to get an impression and decide to read further or move on?
Authors build stable careers by creating a reliable experience and delivering it, time and time again.
But it all begins with a first impression.
These days, a publicist begins a year or more in advance to create a new author’s image and determine a consistent “brand.”
“Think of an author brand as a bundle of perceptions and expectations that form in readers’ minds over time. A brand is a promise; it’s what readers expect from an author.” Publishers Weekly
Even before the first book hits the stands, social media and personal appearances develop an author’s audience, ready to snatch up the first book and make it an instant best-seller. Five thousand copies sold before publication ensure that it will take center stage when it debuts.
That wasn’t the way of it when Emilie started her career. When her first novel was published, this two-inch ad appeared in the New York Times, Boston Herald, and nationwide.
That’s it. Just a simple ad.
People read the newspapers page by page then, and when they saw a book that looked good, they went to the bookstore and bought it–or they checked it out of the library.
If it wasn’t an ad that caught their attention, sometimes it was a book review.
“[The Trail of Conflict] in itself is an unusual type of East and West story and is a human, searching study of character development under change of environment, seasoned with action and told in a forceful, stirring style.” Barnstable Patriot, Barnstable, MA
“The book is well written throughout, and the interest is held with masterly skill.” Daily Times, Davenport IA
The Trail of Conflict … is a novel of much interest and intensely modern in the way it tells the reader how love manages the true road of a dreadful situation.” Fresno Morning Republican, Fresno, CA
“After reading Emilie Loring’s The Trail of Conflict, one is certain that it is destined to rank high among the list of stories dealing with love and life in the ranch country of the far Rockies….. Once having begun reading the story of Geraldine and Stephen, particularly if the start be made after the evening dinner, the safest thing to do is to pause a moment, set the family alarm clock at “repeat” for the customary rising hour, and prepare for hours and hours of delight. The Trail of Conflict is one of the sort of books that grips one at the beginning and never lets go until the last page.” Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY
By spring, 1923, The Trail of Conflict appeared on bookshelves in London. With customary British reserve, The Observer wrote: “The author straightens out an extraordinary tangle in clever and satisfactory fashion.”
Character, action, stirring style, masterly skill, clever, books that grip one at the beginning and never let go… Already she was making an impression on the reading public.
When The Trail of Conflict required a third printing after only a few months on the shelves, attention shifted to Emilie Loring herself. Who was she?
Back to the Fresno Morning Republican:
“Emilie Loring, author of The Trail of Conflict, a successful novel, was born in Boston, has traveled over most of America and Europe, and then settled down on a bit of land gardening and raising poultry.”
That was the impression (not fact) she made with her homemaking articles, not the impression she would make as a romance and adventure novelist.
The Hartford Courant took a different tack:
“Mrs. Loring is the daughter of George M. Baker, whose plays are being acted all over the English-speaking world.”
To frame a woman writer as a successful man’s daughter was typical, and it was also fair, in her case. Emilie’s father inspired her whole family to lives of purpose, humor, and writing, and she often recalled that legacy.
But neither place nor parentage transmitted the romance and adventure of Emilie Loring. Her books did that for her.
“Beautiful places and lively dialogue, stories so “rattling good” that one burned more than one’s share of the midnight oil, unable to put them down… a sense that adventure and romance and challenge pave the way to worthwhile and vibrant living.” Happy Landings
One felt it from the opening pages…
“That is your ultimatum, Glamorgan? My boy for your girl or you scoop up my possessions and transfuse them into yours?”
Peter Courtlandt tapped the arm of his chair nervously as he regarded the man who sat opposite in front of the fire. The two men were in striking contrast.
The Trail of Conflict
The engine shrieked a warning. Porters shouted, “All Aboard!” As the train shivered into action, a black cocker spaniel jumped from the baggage car. Long ears flopping, red tongue hanging, the blue tag at his collar flapping, he dashed into a trail which zigzagged up the hillside. With an exclamation of dismay, a girl on the step of the Pullman jumped to the ground and gave chase. The man on the forward platform of the car behind executed a spectacular leap and followed. The conductor of the train yelled a protest.
Here Comes the Sun!
With a nice sense of dramatic values, the heel of Brooke Reyburn’s shoe turned sharply as she ran across the street. She went down on one knee just as the traffic light turned green. She had a confused sense of an automobile bearing down on her, the screech of brakes, of panting cars, of arms lifting her to the sidewalk.
“Hurt?” a voice demanded.
She was waiting at the Gift Shop for the films she had left to be developed when she became aware of the man standing beside her looking at bracelets… “Not that one,” she whispered. “It’s been here for ages.”
He turned. The clearest gray eyes she had ever seen keenly interrogated hers.
To Love and to Honor
Peter Corey stood on the hilltop in a world transfused with enchantment by the magic glow of a late winter sunset. He thoughtfully regarded the mouth of the girl who faced him… It could be lovely, that mouth, but during the months of their engagement he had learned that its present tightness foreboded trouble. Something was coming. It came.
“I won’t play second fiddle to Constance Trent, Peter. Either you put her out of your life entirely or our engagement ends here and now,” Lydia Austen threatened.
High of Heart
There was an outsize gold-and-crimson maple leaf of weatherproof metal attached to the trunk of a gigantic oak. Its tip pointed east. TO THE MOUNTAIN, it directed.
The girl at the wheel of the open cream-color convertible took the curve indicated at reckless speed. Since she had entered the wood road she had imagined she was being followed. Perhaps it wasn’t imagination. Perhaps she had heard the muffled sound of tires on a dirt road which stopped when she stopped to listen.
Makes you want to read one, doesn’t it?
Now that Emilie Loring novels are coming out as ebooks, new readers will get their chance to gather a first impression of Emilie Loring. I wonder if they, like I, will imagine her as a younger woman?