Once Again, I had to be Dragged...Kicking and Screaming. But I like it!
Once upon a time, a very long time ago... Yep, my college years, the first ones anyway, are far far behind me now. It's hard to believe that I'm older than people I knew as a kid who passed away with me thinking they were old. And I thought David Bowie was kidding when he said 'watch out you rock and rollers...' And wow, have things changed.
Particularly the publishing industry. Back then, if you weren't picked up by a publisher (you could submit directly in those days) you either didn't publish, or went vanity press. If you went vanity press, you were always looked on as that pathetic creature who didn't know they were.
You were an object of shame and disgust...
It would have been better if you'd held up a gas station. No...more like...found change in the pay phone slot and stuck it in your pocket while acting nonchalant like. As mom always said, you may think you got away with it, but you'll have to explain yourself one day. I had dreams where I was ready to walk through the pearly gates, and St. Peter says...'whoa whoa whoa! I see you pocketed 35 cents back in 1972! I'd keep you out for that, but we just banished your uncle Leo for doing a book with a vanity publisher!'
OK, I added that last. That will probably go on my record too.
Today the vanities are still around, a few anyway, but if we aren't picked up by now an agent and therefore no publisher, we can self publish. HOORAY! Stick it to the man, I'm getting my book out there. Oh, it's been on KDP for two weeks and hasn't sold. What's this? I can advertise there, and as soon as people see it, off she goes to the stratosphere!
And Then Your Book Doesn't sell. Now What?
Part of the reason you wanted to be a writer is the perceived lifestyle. You know, vine covered cottage near the coast, moseying into the village pub where adoring fans and locals would fawn all over you and congratulate you on your genius. Of course there was another enjoyable aspect. Going out and promoting your book to teaming throngs once again basking in their adoration.
Only with self publishing, that doesn't happen. If you're lucky, really lucky, you might make enough to support your beer and fishing habit. But don't count on it. Yet even for that to happen, you have to market yourself. And your books. And for sensitive souls like us, that is the equivalent of putting on fishnet stockings and finding a comfortable lamp post from which to sell your wares. Bad enough, but people like me would starve with the attention we'd generate. Woof.
Well, I Guess That's it Mike. Yet Another Chapter in Life that Didn't Work Out...
No no no. Hang on a minute. You see, there is a platform out there where you can connect with all sorts of writers just like you. Or even successful ones! It's great! And the name of this lifesaver for our ambitions is....Twitter!
Uh...no. All people do is say stupid things and get in trouble. Nope, I am an artist, I shall not hawk my books like so many day old fish...
Look, I was the same way. Like when I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into philosophy class. There is much to be learned, and the people you find there are willing to help. Yes, like any tree that bears fruit (like the metaphor there?) it must be pruned. Some people, even creative ones are just not happy, and lash out. We help where we can, but as I illustrated in my book, The Time Fixers (shameless plug) a difficult person who lashes out must make the move to where we can help them. We can't do it by ourselves.
But the other creative people, the vast majority, with all their backgrounds and experiences, will help if you ask. Because creative people are sensitive souls at some level, and they remember their journey. They'll help you on yours.
To be fully transparent, I haven't seen my growing followers list translate into sales. That is because Twitter isn't the be all and end all. I've always said that if you want something in life, you don't go stand in a line with everyone else. So you'll want to keep your eyes open. Being creative, you may be the person who discovers an unguarded door to publishers (or agents).
Just remember those who helped you, or see the value in an up and comer. I always hated how some execs will fight their way up through the company, reach the top and brag about their journey, then pull the rope up after them. Don't be that person.
I love Twitter, and the community I'm latching onto, because I've met wonderful people and learned some astonishing things about getting your work out there. Not everything will fit your situation, but that's OK. Part of learning this craft, particularly today, is discovering the whole process for yourself. I can't help but think that is going to benefit us down the road.
And maybe, that road will lead to a vine covered cottage by the sea.... :o)>
Be like this guy. Persistent. He never seems to be getting anywhere, but appears to be having one helluva good time!
Next Week: I'm not sure. How about a suggestion from the crowd? Otherwise, I'll pick back up on the writing process, like scheduling your work time.
Until then you creative, wonderful people, take care, be well, and most of all, be happy!