In July 2013, I published my first book, secretly harboring (well, don’t we all?) dreams of instant success. As I soon found out, publishing a book isn’t a particularly novel idea. In our age of self-publishing, millions do it, it’s tough for even the most avid readers to sort their way through the scores of new books each month, and I’m but a teeny weeny fish in a bloody big ocean.
What sells a book? Having actually written one helps. Talent is fine, but not required. I’ve seen predictable storylines, coupled with clichéd characters and ridiculous editing, sell buckets, while real jewels lurk in the depths of the jungle, with 1.5 reviews and an Amazon ranking of 1,800,000. So what you need is either luck, heaps and heaps upon heaps of it, or a very loud voice and no scruples to use it.
Voilá, my problem. I suck at drumming. Take tweeting, for instance. 140 characters shouldn’t be too difficult, yes? Other people churn those out by the dozen, in seconds flat. Me? I take ages. Which link do I put in? Should I add a picture? And what the hell do I write? I don’t want to come across as pompous. Will people even read it? Will it annoy them? Will they be annoyed by this blog post? Do I sound whiny? I don’t want to sound whiny…goodness, gracious. And afterwards I’ll be a mess, for hours, trying to come to terms with the fact that I just tried to push through to the front of the crowd. If I wanted the big success, I’d have to do that all the time. Tweet. Write review requests. Beg journalists to consider mentioning me. Draft query letters to publishers. Blog my head off. And and and. Hours and hours of pleading and hoping and asking and…
…hey, that’s a lot of pressure. And a lot of time. Time I don’t have, and don’t want to make. Because I’m a woman of many hats, and I love each and every one of them. If I wanted to make time for marketing, I’d have to cut it from either
- my kids (no way) or my husband (the same)
- my day job as a translator (and as much as I curse it sometimes, I do learn a lot and don’t want to miss it)
- beta-reading for other writers (whom I thoroughly love and who do the same for me, so hey, I’d be shooting myself in the knee if I did that)
- the hours I spend walking with my dog (please. that’s one of the things that keep me sane.)
- or my writing time (you’re not seriously suggesting that, are you?)
So, what is my point? Ah, yes, it’s this: No, I’m not discouraged beyond reason, nor am I planning to leave this wonderful little world of mad little writers I entered one and a half years ago. As long as I have stories, I’ll write them down, and I’ll publish them. I’ll feel all warm and fuzzy each time I see a new review. On occasion, I’ll give one of my books away for free, because that’s just about all the marketing I can muster. Afterwards, I’ll check my Amazon account, notice a few accompanying sales, smile, and jot them down for my annual tax report. And that will be that. And I will be happy, much happier than if I continued to pressure myself into banging those drums when I know perfectly well the sound only gives me headache. Because in the little multiverse that’s my head, I don’t care about fame and fortune.
(Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take it if it fell into my lap. But for that to happen, some influential person would have to accidentally discover me.)