I’ve always had dreams of being a famous author. In fact, as I was writing The Newbie (and the half dozen other WIP’s I have waiting in the wings), I imagined my work in print, flying off the shelves and into the hands of eager readers…but in order for that to happen, obviously, I have to get past the writing stage.
Writing, for me, is the easy part, the fun part. The thought of spending hours alone with my computer, my notebook and pen, and my imagination thrills me to the core of my being. Of course, with a husband, two kids, and a dog living under the same roof, as well as the usual adult responsibilities of a job, housework, and errands, those “hours alone” are more like stolen minutes.
But I digress.
So, despite my other responsibilities, I managed to finish my first novel. The next step, obviously, was either to shove it in a drawer and forget about it, or actually do something with it. With a lot of encouragement (and a few threats) from friends, I decided to go the route of self-publishing, dreading having to put myself out there and actually *gulp* market myself and my book. As it turned out, the self-publishing process wasn’t bad at all, as most of it involved uploading files and sending them off to CreateSpace–something I could do with minimal outside contact with people I didn’t know.Oh, sure, there were phone consultations with the publishing team, but that was relatively painless, as they asked specific questions, and I gave specific answers.
But now…now that I have a carton of books sitting in my living room…now the time has come to take myself out into the big, scary world and convince people that they really, really want to read my book.
Naturally, I started with the easy stuff, an online presence. I started an author page on Facebook, created a Twitter account under my pen name, set up an author page on Amazon, started a blog, and registered my novel on bookdaily.com. Those steps were fairly easy and were within my comfort zone.
But this is where the easy ends. This is where I have to pick myself up, leave the house, and make some personal connections with actual people. People who have the power either to help me make it as an author or to drag me and my book, kicking and screaming, down a dark dusty corridor where they will throw me into a dungeon and mock my silly dreams…okay, maybe they can’t do that. But you get the idea; this is what scares me.
Actually, I have taken the first step. A little over a week ago, I threw on a professional outfit (which was a bit harder than expected, since I’ve put on a little weight since the last time my professional attire had seen the light of day), piled my carton of books and my promotional flyers in the car, and headed to Gettysburg, determined to hit up every ghost tour place in the town to see if any of them might agree to carry my book.
Although I only actually sold two books (to the nice lady at Battlefields and Beyond who wanted to give a fledgling author a shot), my first foray into marketing my books wasn’t a bad experience at all. No one came after me with pitchforks or shotguns and told me to get lost, no one sent their resident ghosts after me, and everyone I spoke to was kind enough to accept one of my flyers to pass along to their managers. I even had pleasant conversations and got some encouragement from two of my favorite Gettysburg merchants (Thank you, Iris and Johlene! Your support means so much to me!).
My next big marketing move is going to take a little more courage–the dreaded reading/book signing. Now, to be honest, one of the things that occupied my daydreams as I wrote was the idea of having my own book signing someday. I had visions of sitting at a table in a library or a bookstore, with a stack of books beside me and throngs of people lined up for an autographed copy.
Okay, confession time. Sometimes those daydreams got a little bigger than life, and I would imagine Grant Wilson (the real-life inspiration for Gabe Petery) or Eoin Macken (the real-life inspiration for Spook Steele) sauntering up to the table and wanting my autograph. Hey, if you’ve gotta dream, dream big, right?
My introvert dilemma with the idea of doing a reading/signing is that it’s really really easy to daydream about it, but when the realization hits that I may actually be doing one in the very near future, the daydream suddenly takes on a nightmarish quality as my low self-esteem whispers images of failure into my head. What if I’m the only one who shows up to my event? I imagine myself sitting all forlorn at my table, surrounded by stacks of books that no one wants. Cobwebs stretch between my elbow and the floor, and a lone roach crawls across my shoe, laughing at me as he goes.
In another scene, the venue is crowded with people who are at least curious about the hometown girl who wrote a book. As I get up to read, I step in someone’s chewing gum (mental note, do NOT put a bowl of gumballs on the table), lose my balance in my dress shoes, and land flat on my face. As I begin to read, I am either rendered speechless from nerves or get the hiccups, making it impossible to read aloud…
Of course, I know that these “daymares” are just my fears working overtime, or are the product of my over-active imagination–the same imagination that allowed me to write the book in the first place. Neither of these scenes is likely to happen, even to a timid little introvert like me. And even if they do, I am planning to do my debut event in or near my hometown. They know me there. They care about me there. And if I do stumble over my own two feet and do a face plant, or get my words tangled up from nerves, they likely won’t look down on me. They’ll just smile at each other and nod knowingly, because they know this isn’t something that comes easy to me.