Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Author Reflects … One Year Later

This anniversary caught me completely by surprise.

I didn’t even have a chance to run out and buy the usual goodies: cake, candles, ice cream, festive napkins, a bottle of champagne, streamers, a card, and some glittery confetti.

It’s just as well. Vacuuming confetti out of shag carpeting is the pits.

I do have a bottle of beer in the fridge though; and that’s okay for a start.  However, I’m looking at a package of green cookies sitting on my kitchen counter.  Trouble is, they were yellow when I bought them a LONG time ago.

No cookies for this celebration … just a cold beer.

Perhaps, in the grand tradition of Hemingway and the other venerable old school authors, this quiet, subdued, and reflective celebration is more appropriate … in a literary sense anyway.

Just one year ago, “Child of Privilege” took its place on Amazon’s iconic bookshelf.  Joining cyberspace’s grand bazaar of books covering everything from aardvarks to zygotes, my humble novel now competes for its chance to tell the story it was conceived to convey.

As every indie author knows, the competition is fierce and intensifying with each passing day.

Personally, I find this swift passage of time a bit hard to comprehend.  It really doesn't feel as though a year has passed already.  Even more difficult to grasp are the changes that have subtly (and sometimes abruptly) re-arranged the landscape of my cyberworld.

A year ago, I was one of 8 people in America who had no social media presence whatsoever.  I had no Twitter account, no Facebook page, no author blog, no Amazon product page, and no Goodreads Author page.  I had no idea how to post, tweet, comment, share, follow, PM, like, retweet, DM, query, or blog.

At this moment, I’m chuckling at how ironic it all seems!

Just to compound this irony, I finally untangled and activated the skeletal corpse of my Google Plus page this week and installed the G+ widget on my blog. I’m now capable of being CIRCLED.


On a lark, I rummaged through my archives and read the first versions of my book blurb, author bio, and review request letter.  I still haven’t decided if I should laugh hysterically or toss my cookies (no, not the yellow-turned-green ones!).

What was I thinking when I wrote that crap?  I think I’m getting better at this “author” stuff … at least I hope so.

So, what are my impressions at the one-year mark of authorship?

On the negative side of the ledger, “Child” hasn’t skyrocketed to the top of any best-seller list of which I’m aware.  There has been no frantic parade of agents and publishers clamoring for my signature on multi-million-dollar publishing contracts.  Yet to materialize is the public acclaim that handily fueled a million daydreams a year ago.  Ross Ponderson is still a fantasy away from being considered an “elite” author.  My voicemail shows no trace of that long-awaited call from Hollywood begging me to accept millions of dollars for my movie rights.  I struggle every day to keep pace with the technologies and protocols involved in getting the word out there.  I’ve learned the fact of author life that book promotion is a long, laborious journey with progress measured in inches rather than light-years.

At this juncture, I’d happily settle for a small parade of agents and publishers.  Okay, maybe three or four of them walking abreast on the sidewalk.

How about one sauntering along very slowly?

But the landscape is far from completely bleak and bewildering.

It still thrills me to visit my Amazon page and see my adorable little cover girl up there on the screen.  I feel a palpable sense of gratitude for the very kind reviews posted by the bloggers, reviewers, and book-buyers who--bless their hearts--judged “Child of Privilege” to be a worthwhile read.  Some of them did include a constructive criticism or two, but that’s okay; that’s part of the process.  No matter where my literary journey takes me, I’ll always be indebted to them.

My energy is still renewed by the discovery of new promotional assistance, whether it’s a group offering exposure, mutual support, and information for indies, a blogger generously posting spotlight features and interviews of indie authors, or a reviewer willing to consider self-published books for honest reviews.

Which brings me to my most salient point.

It has been said that the blogger/reviewer is the new literary agent.  I agree with that premise and consider the parallels undeniable.  As they did with the grizzled literary agents of old, authors swamp these new gatekeepers with an avalanche of daily queries in the hope of earning a positive review, an interview, or a spotlight feature.  The reviewers sift through this new virtual slushpile in search of the standouts that will entertain and enlighten their readers.  They perform this thankless work--day in and day out--for neither pay nor accolades.  They do it driven by a love of good books, a devotion to good writing, and a respect for the authors who bare their souls for the entire world to see.

It has been my pleasure to work with a number of blogger/reviewers this past year in the effort to focus the eyes of the world’s book-buyers upon “Child of Privilege.”  Most of these collaborations have been businesslike and purpose-focused: a query; an invitation; sending a review copy; forwarding of promotional material; reading the book; posting the review; exchanging thanks and social media “follows”; and then on to the next author and reviewer.  Many blogger/reviewers simply don’t have the time for anything beyond that … and that’s okay.

A few of these collaborations, however, have resulted in ongoing correspondences which I value so highly.  They’re nothing elaborate; merely an occasional brief email asking “How’s it going?”  But this simple communication affords us the opportunity to view this ever-changing publishing business from the other’s side of the fence.

Reviewers and authors can get along; we need each other.

Having said that, I’m painfully aware that many authors have had unfortunate experiences with reviewers.  To believe otherwise would be naïve.  And yes, I’ve had my share as well.  But to brood over them is a waste of time and energy.  I prefer to focus on that vast majority of blogger/reviewers all over the globe--genuinely good people--sacrificing their leisure and family times to read and review strangers’ books.  They play a vital role in this crazy business.  All they ask for is a little respect.

They earned mine.  There's NO WAY I could spend my free time reading book after book after book after book, ad nauseam.  I'd go stark raving mad!

Working with them, dear reader, has been the most satisfying aspect of my authorship … year one.

So, where does this author go from here?

This first anniversary finds me still in the ring and trading punches like the indefatigable Rocky Balboa.  T
here’s been no need for me to scream “Cut me, Mick!”  Like any other fighter, I’ve already acquired a collection of nicks, scars, cuts, and bruises.  The point has been driven home unmistakably that the promotion of “Child” will be an ongoing (and perpetual?) process that will occupy much of my online time.

Offline, the first-drafting of my second novel continues but at a snail’s pace and slowing.  When I recall how quickly and easily the words and ideas poured forth during the writing of “Child,” I can’t help but wonder if my instincts are trying to tell me something.  I’ve decided to take a step back and perhaps tinker around a bit with both the overall storyline and a few of the characters.  Something just isn’t right.  But this novel will not be trashed; I’ve invested far too much time and effort to even consider taking that drastic a step.  It’s simply time to step back and take the opportunity to repair and re-grease the literary wheel until it turns freely again.

This hiatus is probably a blessing in disguise; September will find me back in school as I resume my social media studies.  If past experience is any indication, classwork will likely infringe enormously upon my writing time.  We’ll see how that plays out.

They say all good things must come to an end, and this virtual anniversary celebration is no exception.  I’ll finish my beer and get back to work.

One final point of conjecture: Do you think Hemingway would’ve eaten these green cookies?

1 comment :

  1. Another fabulous article! Great job! Now, about that next book.................................................


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