The day after …

My first self-published novel was released as a paperback yesterday … I emailed several friends to let them know. One responded, “OK. It takes an old guy like me to know what you meant by ‘Paperback Writer’.” (That had been my email subject line for him.) Most did not respond at all. I’d emailed last week to let them know that the ebook was out. At first, this morning, I felt a bit crushed. Then I realized – oh yeah, everybody has their own life. Hello.

I’m not sure what I expected. But this morning I felt … dismayed, worried, let down, and a bit jangly. It isn’t going to sell! I have to hire a promoter, apparently. The book will not sell itself. There are many massive tons of books out there. I have to do something about it. But I don’t know what to do.

Then I found a solution to all these uncomfortable feelings.

I went into Facebook. A friend’s son just had his first open mic session – I watched it. It was charming … I could see his resemblance to his mother and it reminded me a bit of my own son. Kids. Doing wonderful charming things. I saw another friend’s stunning photograph of his new dog, meeting another dog nose-to-nose at the beach. Beautiful. Then I came in here and read some things by other authors. I learned a few things about the platform on which I published my ebook … bit o’ yikes. I opened up to other authors a bit, checking out their thoughts, feeling respect for them.

Now I feel so much better, I can actually go and work on my third novel. It’s almost half done. It’s about a family who falls on hard financial times and loses their home. I’m having writer’s block because it taps into some of my own fears. But I still want to do it, because I’ve come to like the characters by now.

The point of this little story here is that I’ve been focusing on mySELF too much, and it was beginning to paralyze me. I may have annoyed some of my friends by emailing them one too many times about my new novel. That is NOT proper promo. And just look at the first word of this blog post: “My”. Me. I. I have to stop it.

Life is one big massive collaboration, after all. We’re all in this together. So whenever I start feeling all jangly and worried again (and I know it’ll happen again), I will open up to what other authors are doing, enjoy their thought and ideas, and remind myself how many artists there are. I am one tiny little speck in the author/artist universe. Reminding myself of this creates the right energy, for being able to immerse myself in the parallel universe of the current novel I’m writing.

There’s plenty of time for promo of the first novel. It’s only been one week. *breathe* ***Write***

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Eureka #2!

Ever make a decision that feels SO right, that your whole body feels more settled? I just did that and I’m very glad. I’ve decided NOT to publish the second book I wrote.

I wrote it, I polished it, I polished it some more. It’s 387 pages long. I love the main character – her spirit, her personality. She sparkles. But, I think that when you are your own publisher, when you don’t have that gatekeeper function of an editor, you have a different set of responsibilities.

I have a responsibility not to undermine the achievement of the first book, by putting the second one out there. The main characters are related – they’re cousins. I explored some painful themes. Although I’m caucasian (in appearance, if not in genetic heritage), I have experienced my share of prejudice and unfair recrimination. I have been shouted at in public, for no reason other than that the shouter has anger issues and I somehow served as lightning rod.

In the second book, I was hoping to translate how this felt – to be shouted at in public with an unfair adjective – into something that could help white people to understand racism better. I was exploring emotions – anger, hurt, defiance. But I suspect, on reflection, that there may be people who are so traumatized, that they might take my efforts as somehow hurtful to them. I have no intention of hurting anybody. There have been a few indications that this second novel could be controversial, and maybe even taken as hurtful. So, that seals it.

It feels wonderful to know that just because I wrote it, doesn’t mean that I have to publish. I feels very freeing. Now, I can write without putting obligations on myself to make my work public. I can keep it private – and I shall, in the case of my second novel. It was still a very cathartic exercise to write it, and I’m glad I did. But it shall remain an unpublished work.

Now, on to novel #3, which will be finished soon. I’m very happy with this one. I think it will be a high-quality offering. That was my issue with novelĀ  #2 – I just wasn’t sure if the quality is high enough. I only want to put what I feel are good things out there. If I have any doubts, then into the “unpublished” folder it goes.

I guess the spectre of publishing something I’m not thrilled with, was hanging over my head. Because I feel so much better having made this decision. That’s why I know that it’s right.

As for Novel #1, it remains to be seen if I can move it out there. It will require a lot of work. Once the paperback is available, I’ll initiate an advertising campaign, and I’ll order a set of the books to give away. It will cost me some money. But that’s how it works. You have to spend money to make money, and self-publishing is no exception. I might put together a book launch as well, if I think that it’s worthwhile and if I’m able to find some help with that.

If this book is ever a success, this could only happen organically – i.e. because people like the book. I don’t believe that you can force that. You have to honour the reader, in my opinion, by just letting it happen. But by the same token, it will require a real effort to provide the information that the book exists. Otherwise, who will know?

It is scary.

Well, three people have now bought my ebook. These are friends of mine. A few other people are awaiting the paperback version to come out.

I will have to find a way to just move on to other things, and let this flow in whatever way it may. I don’t control other people, and would never aspire to that. I’ve done my bit, and now it’s up to people, as to whether or not they want to read it.

Above all, I hope that I get at least a few younger readers – teens, young adults, even pre-teens. That’s who the book was aimed at.

Time to let it go, and keep on creating.