Friday, May 28, 2010
Selling and Salvation
And, um, I have this novel, and, um, do ya wanna buy it? Maybe please maybe please maybe? It's really good. You'll like it. Promise.
No one ever goes out with the person who's wishy washy. Does he like me? Does he really like me? You'll like me, I know you will. I'll be whatever you want. Ick. No one likes that. That person never gets a date, and that person will probably never make a sale.
The promotion phase of the book biz is hard for me. I'm not a good self-promoter. I feel like I need a bath after each dive into Facebook or e-mail I send. Not that I am not genuinely interested in getting the book out to readers. Not that I feel like I'm spamming strangers or hawking a bad product, but, well, I don't know what. I know it's absurd to believe that just because it's published it'll get read. People have to know about it, but when is it bragging and when is it simply conveying information?
"Here's my daughter, the most beautiful, brilliant, talented person you'll ever meet. Don't you want to take her out for dinner?" (too much!)
"This is my daughter." (information only)
"Here's my novel. It's the most breathtakingly achingly painfully gorgeous piece of writing you'll ever read. Don'tcha want it?" (too much!)
"My new novel is out." (information only)
I try not to do the former. Like most writers, I'm not sure what I even think about the book now that it's a book and not a word file anymore. I already see things I want to change, chapters I want to cut, lines I want to rewrite. I do know that's always the way. It's part of being an evolving writer. It's part of being able to say, "I did the best I could, but that best will be different today because everything is different today" and I have to be alright with that.
I'm finding that self-promotion is a lot like writing. It takes awhile to find your voice with it. It takes awhile to find the rhythm (yes, carry books in your car, slip it into conversation (but only once!), update your FB pages, yes, yes) It takes awhile to find peace with it too. You have to let go of the myth that the publisher will do this for you. That's a hard one. If I wanted to go into sales, I would have. But I'm not in that Dan Brown-world.
The first creative writing class I ever taught at Phoenix College came as a surprise. I hadn't finished my MFA yet. I hadn't taught anything where people paid actual money. The program director called. The instructor bailed. Could I teach it? It started in two days. So I said yes, because of all the faults I may have, saying yes when opportunity falls in my lap is not one of them. I was terrified I wouldn't have anything to say. I overprepped. I over-everythinged. But I soon learned that teaching is less about knowing and more about being. If I was authentic in what I said, I could say things that made no sense and be given the chance to restate or explain or retract. If I was fake, over-confident, or arrogant in my delivery, no one would feel safe with me. No one would trust anything I said.
You may have heard this saying: When you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before.
I try to do that, and pretty soon, I'm not acting, I am in the end zone, and I'm making it my own experience. So I have this novel out now. That's my football, and I can stand still or I can run with it.
Here's an excerpt.
You can buy it anywhere books are sold. You can buy it from me. Send me your e-mail through the comments section and I'll tell you how to do that. If you're in Phoenix, I'm coming to Changing Hands in Tempe on August 13 at 7 pm to do a reading. You can buy the book there and support the fabulous independent bookstore that Changing Hands is. I'm also doing a writing workshop from 2 - 5 on August 14. You'll need to preregister for that through Changing Hands. The workshop costs $35.
I promise I will not be using every blog post to promote. But today, I'm in the end zone, and I've got to run.