There comes a point when you're writing that you have to realize 2 things:
1) Someone somewhere will read your work while taking a shit.
2) Once the book is out, it's no longer solely yours. Your control over it has ended.
So, I don't have this whole "professional writer" thing figured out. (Shock and awe.) I, like most people, am just making shit up as I go along and hoping to every god that I don't fall flat on my face in front of everyone. There's one thing, though, that I've been thinking about of late that I really struggle with. And that special something is maintaining enthusiasm while marketing myself.
Hell, self-promotion is hard enough. Sure, let's take a group of people who are professional introverts and have a well-documented tendency toward fraud complexes and then have them PROMOTE themselves.
I admit that the days I feel like a failure are fewer now than they were...say...4 years ago, but I still have about one week out of every month where I am convinced I should just get out of writing forever and save the human race from my drivel. Those days still exist.
Even when I have those days, I still have to get out there and bang the drum. I don't mind doing it for other people. In fact, I love being the carnival barker for other people. Step right up and see the amazing Beth Cato and her debut novel THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER! Tremble before the might of Delilah S. Dawson (writing as Ava Lovelace) as she unleashes THE SUPERFOX upon you.
And so on.
But it gets exhausting to do it for oneself. At least for me.
There are days when I absolutely loathe my writing (the same book that I loved two days ago and have to encourage you to buy) but I have to muster the enthusiasm to convince you it's not a waste of your life energy (and money) to experience it. And even if I like the book or story, there are days when I'm just tired of looking at it, thinking about it or even knowing I created it. It's like with anything else... sometimes you just get burnt out on something. For example, I've read UNVEILED somewhere in the realm of 10 times (minimum) in the past 4 months. This past weekend I had to read it (again) for what is (I hope) the final proofing pass...and I can't begin to tell you how much I hated that book. Not necessarily because it was shit (I'm the way wrong person to ask about that, see above points), but because I'm just tired of it.
And, of course, NOW is the time when I have to really gear up the promotion machine to get YOU to love it and buy it and tell everyone in the world how amazing it is.
Not only do I have to fight myself on this one sometimes...but I have to fight the rest of the world. Or so it seems. Most of the self-promotion I do is via social media. Facebook, Twitter, this blog...these are the main ways I try to flag your attention and get you to notice my works. I don't know about you, but my Twitter feed moves incredibly fast. There's a billion words that I try to sift through to see what my friends are saying. Of late, I've been rather quiet (for me) on Twitter because I have just felt kinda out of it. Like I don't have anything to contribute.
And that leads to anxiety. There's this odd fear... I don't know if other people (creatives or otherwise) feel this way, but I have this fear of being forgotten. If I don't tweet something witty today then you're all going to forget I exist and move on to the latest, hottest, prettiest, coolest new model of funny chai-loving pyromaniac.
I feel that way in my writing life, too. Like if I don't produce something new right the hell now, I'm going to lose what tenuous purchase I have on a publishing career and fall into the abyss.
I feel like I'm competing for your time. There's so much content! And the internet is so LOUD! I feel like I have to constantly yell louder to be heard in the din of "click here". And on top of that, you have to measure your promotion carefully. Like with the Kickstarter, I had to carefully choreograph when I made what announcements and upped my game. I felt like I had to constantly refresh things and out do myself to keep people interested.
And that's exhausting.
So yeah. It's not something I've figured out yet. At least, in my opinion. I mean, I can't see returns on sales or hits or followers and such, so there are days where I feel like I'm just shouting into a hole. I know that it's necessary. It's part of the job, and I'm sure there's a balance and rhythm to it. I just haven't found that yet.
So yeah... um... buy my books? ;)
And seriously, go check out Beth Cato, Delilah S. Dawson, Tex Thompson, Stephen Blackmoore, Kerry Schaefer, Chuck Wendig, Marsheila Rockwell, Rene Sears, AD Marrow, Michelle M Welch, Sharon Skinner, Karina Cooper... oy, okay, I could keep going. They are amazing wordsmiths and all around awesome people. If you don't buy their stuff, my stuff...just... go support some author types.
So, the Kickstarter for WILD CARD's sequel UNVEILED is going rather nicely. As of this post we are just $42 from 50% funded. WHEN we hit 50% I will post a video of myself eating/playing with fire, but only backers will be able to see it! If you've not checked it out, I encourage you to do so and consider backing it. I'll wait. *whistles* Tell your friends. Anyway, I wanted to comment on something here. Recently I was having a conversation with someone looking into self-publishing. She said that she had workshopped her novel and felt she was ready to hit the button.
WHOA! *tire screech, record scratch* Hang on there. It is my humble opinion (take it for what you will) that there is a huge difference between a workshopped manuscript and a professionally edited book.
For those who might not know what I'm talking about, workshopping is where you share your work with other authors (sometimes those who are already published in any myriad of ways) and polish your stories based on feedback they give. Workshops are great for craft-honing. You can speak your common language with other authors and get a sense for how your work holds up under scrutiny.
Workshops come in a variety of types, too. Some are personal gatherings in someone's living room. Others are special events at a local bookstore. There are also sites like Book Country. Hell, some are just unofficial online groups that email work back and forth.
As I said, workshops are fabulous for speaking writer-ese and a terrific place to dip your toe in if you've never had your work read by others.
However...workshops are no substitute for a professional edit.
I don't just say this as a freelancer, either. I say this as a fallible member of the human race who makes typos and develops emotional attachments to her stories.
A professional editor is a completely cold set of eyes. While your editor should be passionate about your project, she should also be able to be unapologetically ruthless with her critique. She needs to navigate your plot holes and stake a bright orange flag in each of them. Your editor is the one who says, "this confused me because you jumped from here to this conclusion without any sort of discernible arc."
One of the problems with us as writers is that we know how the story ends. We have it in our head. We know all the little inferences and nuances. And while that meaningful pop of an eyebrow on page 49 screams volumes to us that Jake really did kill Freddy, if your editor gets to the end and is still wondering why it's so obvious that Jake was the murderer....well, you've got a problem. Your readers won't follow your logic train with any more ease.
You need another set of totally objective eyes.
For me--and again, your mileage may vary--workshops are like Beta Readers 2.0. They are there for valuable opinion and storycraft critique, but not editing. You are the one implementing their feedback and even then you are still hobbled by your emotional attachment and the fact that you know this story inside and out.
You need someone else. Another level of scrutiny.
Now, some people are blessed with the ability to self-edit their books within an inch of their lives and they are amazing in that regard. But most of us mere mortals need help.
Workshops are great. Use them. It's not either-or. Workshop your book to make it the best it can be. THEN get thee to an editor to punch it up even more.
The Kickstarter to fund UNVEILED (Book 2 in the Catherine Sharp series) is now LIVE! Rewards, swag and joy! There's a special surprise about UNVEILED, so check it out, spread the word and help me bring you a kickass sequel!
TODAY IS THE DAY!!! WILD CARD is unleashed upon the world, and already Amazon numbers are shooting upward. I have no idea what all that chicanery means, but I'm told it's awesome. (Much like the book itself.) As part of the celebration, I am over at Literal Hotties talking about Marius. AND If you click here you'll find all of the pertinent links of where you can buy your own copy of WILD CARD. As if that's not enough you can enter to win a $25 Think Geek gift card AND 3 custom made poker chips as featured in the book. Dude, it's madness around here. I've only been awake like 2 hours and already I'm overwhelmed by the caliber of awesomeness being shown this day. Seriously, it's a flood of love out there and I can't help but be knocked over by it. That being said, I can't possibly retweet or respond to everything. Please know that I've seen your posts, kind words and tweets and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Don't worry, though. My cat is making sure I know my place in the world. Little dork jerkface escaped into the neighbor's yard (again), so I was out there padding around their house in a bathrobe like a very lazy skulking idiot. Damn cat.
I'm just coming off of a terrific weekend. My dad and stepmom are visiting from Indiana. Now, my parents divorced when I was 8 or 9. And I've been living in Arizona (1800 miles away from my dad) since 2004. I cannot begin to tell you how much it meant to me to be able to sit at a table yesterday with my mother and father (and husband and daughter as well as others) to celebrate this very special milestone. Seriously, that's worth more than Amazon rankings. Sharing this delicious moment with both of them--together--was priceless. Also, my daughter told me how cool I am today and immediately told everyone at school about the book. *beams*
Holy crap, you guys, I've got a published book in the world. *screams* This is something I've wanted since I was a kid. I have a picture (it's really blurry, or else I'd show you) of me at the age of 3--THREE!!--with a typewriter on my lap. My grandmother (who isn't here, dammit) used to record me telling stories. It's just... dude. Today is here. "Someday" is now. And it feels fantastic. Overwhelming. Mindnumbingly awesome.
And it was a shitton of work to get here. And it was a group effort. WE did it. I cannot possibly begin to express my gratitude right now. To all of you. The words "thank you" fall short.
We did it, guys. WILD CARD is finally here.