I find myself in an awkward position.
I just signed my first publishing contract and have a release date of July 8, 2021 for my novel The Things in Heaven and Earth. That part isn’t awkward at all. It’s pretty cool, actually. The truth is I’ve been writing for most of my life. I’ve even managed to get published here and there. Heck, I’ve even managed to make a living writing, as a speechwriter and public relations guy. I’ve written magazines, ad copy, and have seen my taglines on ads on the trains when I used to commute into Chicago. I was even surprised once to hear my words coming out of the radio, lifted from copy I’d written for a university sometime before.
But, frankly, none of that really makes me a writer. At least, not in the vein of a Stephen King or James Patterson. None of that makes me a writer anyone should be interested in. My name can’t be found on a bestsellers list, and there aren’t twenty books written by me sitting on the shelves at your local Barnes and Noble. Nor has anything I’ve written been adapted to the big screen or even Netflix.
And that’s the awkward part.
You see, it isn’t enough to sign your first publishing contract if you want anyone to actually read the book you’ve written. These days you have to build a “presence” and convince people to buy your book. I think they call that “marketing.”
Yet despite my background, I’m not particularly good at marketing myself. That’s because I’m not that interesting. I don’t have a laundry list of accomplishments that scream out, “Look at me!”
But here I am having finally attained a long-time goal. A novel I’ve written, an actual creative work that I spent months writing, is about to be published. But there is no literary “Field of Dreams.” I can write it, but that doesn’t mean readers will come along to read it. Cars won’t line up for miles just for a chance to get a copy of my book.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a good book. I think it’s a fun book and an entertaining book. I believe it’s a good read. That doesn’t mean anyone will know it’s out there to be read.
So, no, it’s not enough to write “The End” and then hit the send button to the publisher. I have to play my part and help market the book. But I’m not exactly a handsome Kevin Costner waiting with a winning smile behind home plate.
I have to work to earn your interest.
What I don’t want to do is scream “Hey, buy my book!” in everything I write to try to get your attention and link ad nauseum to Amazon. That’s not only uninteresting, it’s tedious. Besides, there’s no book yet. As of this writing, it’s going to be ten months before there even is a link to anyplace, anywhere to buy it. Any shelf space it might find in the bookstore is neatly occupied by other books.
So, this all seems very awkward to me. How do I build interest for a book that isn’t out there yet when I’m not already sitting pretty on top of a heap of novels I’ve published? To tell the truth I feel darned sheepish about the whole thing.
With all that, I’ve decided to keep this website alive with posts about writing and the things that make me write. Maybe I can share a story or two that is a bit interesting. I have short stories I’ve written that I intend to give away on this site at some point soon. Some have been published. Some not. I’ll probably throw in some freebies for another book I’ve written, which I self-published some years back. What the heck? I’m trying to make friends here.
Bottom line: I promise to do my best to make this website/blog at least modestly interesting. Enough, I hope, to keep your attention for a while. I’ll do my best not to shamelessly hustle for sales, but eventually I’ll hustle a little bit, and it might be shameless at that. But I’ll try to hang onto my integrity and be as minimally shameless as I can be.
Meanwhile, thanks for reading. I hope you’ll check in now and then and read a bit, laugh a bit, and help me feel less awkward about the whole thing.