A month ago today, I was sitting on the floor in my green bean bag chair. I really liked that bean bag chair, but I don't have it anymore because my cat decided that it needed to be peed on. Repeatedly, which made me wonder why I have that naughty cat at all. Anyway, back to the point, a month ago today, I was sitting in my green bean bag chair with my laptop positioned upon my lap, waiting with anticipation for Amazon to upload my e-book, After Forever Ends. To my memory, Amazon popped up with a message saying it would take 24 hours, but I still refreshed endlessly and sent their servers the massive "Hurry Up Already" vibe we authors are so proficient at. Ah, come on! You know the one! You have it, too! That irritable little mantra that courses through your mind when you want to get on with things like having people read your book. It comes from deep in the soul and manifests itself in tense neck and shoulder muscles and a deep sense of I'm-gonna-smash-something-if-this-doesn't-happen-in-like-twenty-seconds. We take this nervous energy and somehow connect it to fiber optic cables, then shoot it through the internet. It hits the servers at places like Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and frightens their micro processors to the point where our stuff gets uploaded more quickly than it would have otherwise. It works! The result for me was that it only took three hours instead of twenty-four and After Forever Ends was up. I was a published novelist. (Cue audience ferociously clapping, whistling, and shouting, "Bravo!" at the top of their lungs)

 OK, so now I am a published novelist and a proud one at that. And I've learned a whole lot about self-publishing and about the nature of the business in the last four weeks.  Recently, however, somebody insulted me. They didn't mean to. They were actually insulting themselves, which was almost as ridiculous as the thing that came out of their mouth. The statement was something like this, "You didn't take the time to find a real publisher? I understand. I decided to self-publish because I finally accepted that I wasn't good enough to ever be picked up by a real publisher where somebody would do all the work for me."

(Insert sound bald tires screeching against dry pavement. Add the burning rubber smell, too, just for effect.) WHAT? OK, take a step back, Jack. Let me explain a thing or two in no uncertain terms. I am a PUBLISHED author. I was published traditionally the first time when I was only twelve years old. I have written endless short stories and poems, articles, et cetera., that have been published. This is my first PUBLISHED NOVEL. And I didn't choose to self-publish because I didn't think the novel was good enough or because I'd been rejected a hundred million times. I chose to self-publish because...well, honestly? OK, honestly. I did it because I didn't want anybody up in my business, telling me what to do, or short changing/ripping me off in the end.

See, this is the deal. You do go through about sixty million rejections before you get accepted for publication. That's with any kind of writing, but, from what I understand, especially novels. And that's rough. Depressing, really. And it hurts to get your heart and soul kicked back at you and have it hit you in the face. But then, if you keep at it, one fine day, bloody and bruised, you do find a publisher and, if you're lucky, it's a good one. The advantage of this? If you are even luckier, they will give you an editor who is not over-run with other people's books, too, and gives a crap about your writing. if you are lucky, they will actually read what your wrote carefully and put even slight effort into it. And then, if you are really, really lucky, the publishing house will give you a monetary advance on your work before they print a small run.

Dollar signs and big, fat checks dance like Sugar Plum Faeries in your mind. Soft, fast paced jazz music plays and you see Fred and Ginger dancing for joy in the streets. You're suddenly in a convertible with the top down blasting your favorite song on a sunny day. Ah, to be published...

Sounds great, huh? Well, you have to understand that most of these advances are not large. And, many of these advances are contingent on future sales. So, that is to say, if your book does not sell enough to make a profit in a certain time frame, not only do you not get any more backing to increase its sales, but you may even wind up owing the publisher money. Yikes. You were broke to being with! And to top this off, most publishing houses do not offer you a publicist, so, if you want one, you have to hire your own. And pay for it with your own money, which would take up pretty much all the money you were paid in advance anyway. And that publicist will only work until they stop getting paid, so you better hope that they make large headway with the little advance you got. Point? You still have your mortgage, you never got a $300 pair of Ferragamo's, it's raining so you can't take the convertible out, and you're still going to have to hustle, regardless, and sell your book's proverbial ass off, all on your own anyway, even with a traditional publisher.

My point? Why, oh, why, would I want to aggravate myself trying to find a publisher to get a tiny advance or no advance at all, to be told what to change to suit THEIR OPINION and not the heart of my story, only then to not be backed properly to begin with and potentially to be in debt to the pubisher? Ehhhhhh. No, thank you. I chose to self-publish. Once again, not because I am not good enough. Because I didn't need the hassle or the heartbreak. And I was impatient and didn't want to mess around with finding the "right" fit. I'm always impatient and don't often find a good fit, because I know what I want and I'm difficult and demanding. Publishers...yeah, they don't like that so much. Neither do lots of other people, but I won't go into all that.

Anyway, enough of my short-comings. Believe me, self-published or traditionally published, if your chops are good enough, you are going to make it. You will be noticed, you will get read, and, eventually, you will make money. That is a fact. But you have to hustle holes in your socks, day and night. You have to be tireless and fearless and have an incredible sense of humor or you're not going to make it. You can't quit. You can get tired and take short breaks, but you CAN NOT QUIT. If you quit on you, nobody else is going to give a tiny little blue squirt about that beautiful thing you created just for them to read and love.

OK, so that's great advice. Don't quit. Fine, but what do you do? How do you make this thing work? How do you get anybody to read your book? Yeah, I asked the same thing. Still do and I'm always looking for new and different ways to answer it. You've probably read all the articles that talk about how to foof up your Amazon author page and you've caught onto how to post Tweets and you've got your Facebook Author Page. (I don't. I hate Facebook. I'll get a Facebook again when hell freezes over. That's just me. I doubt I'll live to regret it.) You're doing your give aways and whatnots and you're drumming up some business, but it just seems that the interest is still lacking. It's frustrating and it SUCKS. So I am going to offer a bit of advice here that I have NEVER seen anybody else suggest. And it will work. I know, because it has for me thus far.

There are other things that people you know can do to help you get off the ground and get things moving. This is what you do. Create your own PR team. Seriously. Don't hire people. Why pay somebody who only wants money and doesn't care about you? Get together some people you know who can get onto a computer a couple times a week and have them do your work. Two or three is good. Four or five is better. Have them review you if they've read your book, have them star your work. If they have not read you, just have them like your Amazon pages and then put them to work on Goodreads adding you to lists on Listmania and spreading the word that there is a fantastic, wonderful piece of writing out there just waiting for an audience. Get your sister, your mom, your spouse and all three of your kids and go to town. Like Nike says, "JUST DO IT!"

"THAT'S CHEATING!" You cry, outraged at my suggestion.

Is it? OK. Take a second, breathe deep and think about it. You don't do this because it seems illegitimate.   Alternately, you keep beating a dead horse by yourself until you're so frustrated you want to quit. Or, if you can come up with the cash, you hire a publicity team. You pay a ton of money to some people who haven't read your book and who don't even care. And what do they do? They go and five star you, they write reviews for you, they go on Goodreads and then they put you on every single Listopia list they can find that even remotely resembles your work. Why? To make you visible. To get your name out there. To raise interest. And pretty soon...well, people do notice and pretty soon they are adding you to their shelves and after that they read your book. And guess what? It's flippin' great! It's a great book! And then, after the three or four reviews you got from your friends and family (who actually DID read your book, most likely. Biased they may be, but they at least read the darned thing! Why is their opinion worth any less than the others? Let them support you!), suddenly you have comments and reviews and five stars from "READERS"! And that is a wonderful feeling! I know, because it's happening to me!

Listen, this thing, this "Novel-Writing Thing" is the Mount Everest of literary pursuits. It's hard enough to write a book, to perfect it, and then to find anybody in the publishing industry who is willing to read more than four paragraphs. It's nerve-wracking and heart-breaking, if you can even crack your way in. So self-publishing is the next viable choice and then you have the next Mount Everest of promoting it. Honest? You can't do it alone. And you shouldn't do it alone. So get help. Find a couple of authors to buddy up with and help each other. Use your resources! Got no money for publicity? Got a cousin? A best friend? Put them to work! They will do it happily and you will soon see the amount of traffic on your sites increase. And this, my dear friend, will lead to sales. Oh, and, my God, don't feel badly about voting for yourself on any list you end up on! Do you think the president votes for the other guy? Or his wife? Hell no. He who gets the most votes wins and your vote counts, too! If you feel that bad about it, vote for yourself and then vote for others, too.

I am one month into publishing After Forever Ends. I have employed the tactics I mentioned above and my sales have increased noticeably. It's not cheating to employ your resources. it's good common sense. Publishing is a business. Once you're in the thick, you are no longer just an author. You are a publisher, a publicist, an entertainer AND a CEO. The industry itself is a giant elephant standing in the middle of your path to success. The industry itself stands in your way. You can't kill this elephant, it's way too big and way too tough. You can't change this elephant, it's way too old and way too established in it's place. You can't go through it, its hide is too thick and it's way too fat. But it's taking up the whole path to success! So what do you do?

You go around it. You go under it. Or you go straight the hell over the top of it until you are on the other side. I'm not on the other side yet, but I am certain it's there. I have glimpses of it from time to time and I'm not giving up until that elephant is staring at the back of my jacket, watching me disappear into a cloud of dust.

Because, self-published or not, After Forever Ends is worth the struggle. I am worth the struggle.

And so are you.

Never give up, never surrender. We can do this thing. Damn the elephant and his "rules". Gather up your stones, Ladies and Gentlemen, and hit them with all you got. The legitimate opinion of somebody who happens to know you on one level or another does not diminish your talent. You were born with a gift. Shine the light on it that it deserves. Use everything you got and BELIEVE in it. You can be forever, but you have to start someplace and that place is exactly where you stand, with everything you hold already in your hands. Make it happen. Live that dream and let people help you.

You can do this. I can do this. We can all own our very own piece of the sky.

Bless you all and may your journey be granted with a thousand mercies. Go get 'em![image error]
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Published on November 01, 2012 18:44 • 103 views

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