Now the Hard Part
So it’s done…”The Lion and the Scorpion – The Black Order” is up on Kindle and Nook. I feel really good about finishing this, since this is an idea I had out of the blue eight years ago, at which time I wrote up a few chapters in a fever, taking it through the Selection, which won’t mean anything to you if you haven’t read the book, but not very far into the story. I sent it to my agent who freaked out with glee, and got it in front of an editor at Tor. I even met him in NYC on a trip but I don’t know if I didn’t go over well, which is entirely possible considering what a nutcase I was (still am but not so much I think). This was 2004 so it was still the golden age of agent/editor/author lunches, long and liquid, and I was terrified of drinking more than a social sip in case I said something wrong or was otherwise “disapproved” of – when in fact I probably would have been better off getting plastered. Back then, I was informed, publishing houses had rehab treatment as a standard part of a health insurance package, though you were only allowed to go so many times. It was just a given that the job would lead to alcoholism…
Well, nothing came of it, it was dismissed in the way such ideas are in traditional publishing – never with a direct NO but instead with a vague, “I don’t know the sword thing is kind of cliché, can you change that,” and you say sure and then…crickets. I don’t think there’s any industry more passive-aggressive than publishing when it comes to poor communication skills. I suppose that’s why “The Unsaid,” all these couples who can’t talk about their feelings or anything else for that matter and everything goes tragically wrong because of it, is so popular in contemporary literature – most editors seem to be guilty of this and can probably identify.
It felt really good to pull it out, and finish it for NaNo. Yeah yeah blah blah you wrote that in a white heat so you need to put it in a drawer for about forever and then consider it thoughtfully blah. No. Some stories are best served hot. And it’s being served up on the “dollar menu,” for .99 since I need to get traction in a new genre and the only way to do that is to make trying me out a low risk thing.
Now the hard part. Actually selling it. Okay let me dissent here from the sound of the crowd. That “sound” is all these shiny-faced people telling you how to market your book. “Get out there and sell yourself!” as if all the environments where this was possible were waiting to greet you with flowers, where in fact they are waiting to greet you, the author, with pitchforks and torches. AUTHORS READ THIS posts are the first thing you’ll find on these boards, and the message is essentially, shut up, post here not there, be a contributor before you start asking us to read your book. None of the people who put up PPTs on how to sell yourself on Goodreads etc. give you a clue that this is what you’ll be facing. They only tell you how very awesome your sales will be after you’re adopted, not how hard it is to become the cute puppy in the window.
And let’s be honest. I’m a reader, too, and when I see someone pushing the hell out of his book I think, eww. You go to the Goodreads author page and you see a book that has a bunch of posts, and you think, oh wow that’s getting some traction let’s check it out. Then it turns out to be all author posts, the author reposting some flavor of self-promotion exactly as often as the rules will let her. Eww. And my reader self says, if you have to be putting that much energy into selling yourself, that’s energy you’re not putting into your writing. If you are this desperate-sounding in your shilling, your book probably sucks and you have to make up for it by doing this. And I doubt very much that I am alone in this as a reader.
And yet. As a writer I am supposed to completely ignore what I know as a reader and put on the pom-poms and shake that moneymaker. I have to do *something* to get attention, and it’s a damn shame I didn’t even know what Goodreads was until about a month ago, but there it is then.