Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today: On Publicity. Tomorrow: On Image

When I was young I had this dream about being a writer.

I don't mean I was sleeping and while I slept I had a dream. I mean, I had this idea in my head that was my dream of being a writer.

I was probably around 24 (I'm 26, now), and I was in the kitchen of my own house. I don't know how I knew it was mine, I just did. And I was pouring myself a cup of coffee, wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. The sun was shining through the kitchen window over the sink, and I was smiling to myself even as I looked out into the backyard, covered in lush green grass.

The phone rang, and I answered it, and it was my agent, telling me that my latest draft of my manuscript was due, and I was teasing her about not being done, and she was freaking out talking a mile per minute, and as I was smiling away and teasingly apologizing, I was moving through the hallway of my house to my study. It was filled with tons and tons of bookcases, and this lovely oak desk with a nice computer on it. And as I sat down at the computer and looked down at the printer, I interrupted her and said something like, "Well, if you want, you can come and get it now. It's sitting on my printer." And then she freaked out about what a horrible person I was for letting her rant like that and then went on about how I was her favorite author ever and promised to be over immediately before she hung up on me. And I smiled and turned to the computer and continued working on my latest piece.

That was always my dream of writing.

I didn't know that the reality of it would be so much different. I didn't realize how much marketing an author would have to do to get their book noticed. I missed that memo, I guess. But it just doesn't make sense to me. A writer isn't a marketer... A writer is a writer. Expresses themselves with words. Why have a writer who is also a sales person? Is that like an actor who can sing? Triple-threat kind of deal?

Taking jobs away from people, if you ask me. :P

I've been reading this book my lovely husband bought me on promoting your book, and it sounds, frankly, exhausting. And it basically says, you know, you need to care enough about your work to promote it. There's a quote from one author who said something like, "When you're done writing, you're only 50% done."

Does that sound miserable to anyone else?

And don't even get me started on them saying that once your book is published, no media or anyone else will pay attention to it. "It's all about the build-up TO the publish," it says. "Because there are thousands of other books coming out behind it that it's competing with."

One part said that you needed to send out 100 ARCs to generate media buzz. 100!!!

And, cold calling?! The book ACTUALLY suggests that you cold call book stores, libraries, etc., and ask them to stock your book. They also talked about doing consignment deals with bookstores for self-published books.

But... I work full-time. Actually, I work more than full-time. And I'm not super well-spoken. That's why I'm a writer. It's the best way for me to express myself. I'm pretty long-winded when I write, but not much in-person. So how is someone like me, who is best expressed with the written word, supposed to cold-call to sell myself with shameless self-promotion?

Today my husband also bought me the 2010 Writer's Market (which you SHOULD own, btw...). He couldn't find the one for Literary Agents. But I had him stock up on envelopes/stamps/etc., because I think getting an agent is probably my best next step. I still really want to make it work my way; I LIKE my way. I LIKE being in charge of what does and doesn't go in my manuscript. But I think I need some help. No man is an island, you know?

--As an aside, I think you'd be surprised to know that in my job, I'm part manager, part project manager, part copy writer, and--get this--part marketing manager. Ironic, huh?--

Tomorrow's blog: The image