Where the Easy Ends: What’s an Introvert to Do?

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.

Yeah.

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.

🙂

Advertisements

Journey to “The Newbie”

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I wanted to share some of my journey between writing and publishing my book. I thought it would be interesting for me and my kids to look back on someday.

I also apologize for the fact that I decided to move my blogspot posts over to WordPress. I’m better able to navigate through WordPress, and I hope to be able to connect my blog to my Amazon author page.

*****

So I have at long last embarked on this crazy dream of publishing one of the stories that crashed through the door of my mind and refused to leave until I wrote it down and gave it life. Like a lot of other things in my life, it hasn’t been easy getting to this point–well, writing the story was actually quite easy; once I started, it just kept coming, sometimes in word trickles here and there, other times in entire chapters.

It wasn’t until I actually decided to do something with it that things got interesting.

I decided that I wasn’t gutsy enough or savvy enough to try to find an agent and a publisher, so I began looking at the world of self-publishing. Now, I have some friends who have been published in the traditional manner, and friends who will read nothing but stories published in the traditional manner, so I have heard a lot of bashing of self-publication and authors who seek to do it that way. In fact, it was that attitude that kept me from diving in right away; that part of my personality that still seeks to protect me from any kind of negativity from others came out in force, and I sat on my story for a long time, afraid of putting myself out there and opening myself up for the inevitable criticism.

About a year and a half ago, Johlene, a friend on Facebook who does ghost tours in Gettysburg, posted that if anyone was looking to publish, they should contact her. After bouncing the idea off another friend, I decided I had nothing to lose and shot her a message telling her a little about my book. She encouraged me to go for it and gave me the name of the publisher in Gettysburg who had handled the books she herself had written, so I contacted them. I believe it was close to Thanksgiving of 2013 when I first met with Gail to discuss my book and how they do things at Arbor House. She showed me some of the books they had done, Johlene’s included. She told me that they had never published a novel before, so it would be a learning experience for them as well as for me. We talked for a long while about books and our lives, and I left really believing that this would happen.

Of course, life has a way of throwing obstacles out along the way, and that’s what happened to me as well. As anyone who has self-published will tell you, there is a financial investment that goes along with this endeavor. When Gail got back to me with the estimate of what it would cost for me to publish, I knew I had hit a road block. I am currently a stay-at-home mom, so from my end of things, there is little of no income. My husband had been unemployed for a time and just started a new job at the beginning of 2014, so there really wasn’t a lot of extra money. Needless to say, there was a lot of discussion over this potential investment, and it became obvious that it wasn’t going to happen unless one of those spam emails claiming I had inherited a few million dollars turned out to be true.

So after shedding a whole bunch of tears, feeling sorry for myself, and considering deleting every word I had ever written, I took the advice of some writing group friends and looked into CreateSpace. I agonized over this one because I kept hearing echoes of people who said CreateSpace was only for losers and writer wannabes whose work wasn’t good enough to be published the “right” way. I did finally bite the bullet and set up an account, after which someone contacted me about my project. I spent about a half hour going over their process and time frame and sharing details of my book. At the end of our conversation, she said she’d email the details so I could share the costs with my husband. As expected, CreateSpace’s costs were significantly lower than the other publisher’s, which I hoped would work in my favor as far as my husband went.

Jumping ahead a bit, after weighing the pros and cons of publishing with Arbor House versus publishing through CreateSpace, my husband did eventually agree that if we were going to take this step, he would be willing to let me go through CreateSpace. So I had a few more conversations with the creative team I was assigned to, and I uploaded everything they needed to get the ball rolling. Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to write under a pen name, so I played with name generators, searched baby name books and my family tree, and came up with a name–Leta Penelope Hawk–that is a combination of family names and names I just like.

Each step of the process brought a new thrill–the day I decided on the fonts, the day they sent the preview of the cover design, and the day I held my first author proof in my hands. There is just no describing the feeling I had knowing that I was on the threshold of actually being a published author. It may be a cliche, but I was afraid I would wake up one day to find it was all a dream.

Then one day, the doorbell rang. Not expecting anyone, I ran to open the door…and found a huge box sitting on the front porch. My first twenty copies had arrived! I’m sure if any of the neighbors had been home, they would have heard me squealing like a teenager. I rushed inside and tore open the box. Oh my goodness, it brought tears to my eyes to see MY book, a book I had written, there before me. I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough to call my friends and family.

Within a few days, my book went live on Amazon and on Kindle. At the moment I’m trying to figure out the ins and outs of marketing my own book, which has me a bit overwhelmed. But I am full of dreams about what this may lead to. I know the chances are slim that I will be the next J.K. Rowling, but I can dream, right?

And some dreams DO come true.