"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I need me some moves

I'm at a loss.

I've decided to embrace this self-publishing gig. Got my own little press, with its own little logo. Even got a business license, just so I'm legit.

I realize that authors and publishers do two different things. Authors create the product. Publishers package and promote the product. Two different hats must be worn. They cannot be worn simultaneously.

So while my third mystery, The Hot Mess, is in the hands of an editor and the cover art is in progress by my designer, I'm doing publisher things like writing the jacket blurb and thinking about how and when to release it in its various incarnations.

And don't forget promotion. How am I going to drum up interest in this thing?

It occurred to me that maybe I could get one or two of my more famous author friends to read an advance copy and give me a blurb for the jacket (note: only if they liked it). Something I could use in my advertising. Put on my website. Put on a banner and fly from a rented airplane. You know, the usual routine.

I met a fairly well-known and very established mystery author recently. Not Sue Grafton famous, but famous within her sub-genre. We spoke at length, exchanged emails and got along like peas in a pod. Perhaps she could help me with a little statement about how wonderful my book is.

But I don't ask for something without offering fair value. I purchased one of her books and read it, planning to first praise it to the heavens in an email and posting a good review on Amazon before asking for a blurb.

Imagine my chagrin when I discovered I didn't like the book. I looked at the reviews on Amazon and quite a few reviewers had the same problems I had, which only made me feel worse, because I thought maybe it was just me. It wasn't.

Here's the thing: I was struck by her aura, for lack of a better term, when we met. She was not snobby, or narcissistic. She was just An Author. Period. If I had written this book and given it to my beta readers, they would have ripped me to little bite-sized pieces. Not only did she get a contract, but the way she spoke, it would never occur to her that she wouldn't get a contract for any book she decided to write.

What she has is what I lack, and I don't mean the contract. I mean the swagger of being an author, the ownership that you write books for the world to read and you're confident they will all love them, and if they don't, you'll cry all the way to the bank. Every time I attempt this, I start feeling way too precious for my own skin and abandon it in favor of a hearty laugh.

Any suggestions, Authors? How does one go about developing the external presentation, the thing that announces to the world that of course you are An Author of Some Importance without letting it take you over until no one wants to talk to you? Do I need moves like Jagger or something?

I'm seriously looking for some suggestions. And blurbs. I wouldn't mind having some blurbs.


Debbie Haas said...

Great post....but, you mean I'm not alone? I love your writing (I really need to get the books as paper products, because, I'm just not an ereader yet and that's where Freezer Burn is, on my itouch) and look forward to more. When you get this figured out, please write a book on it so I can learn, too.

Gayle Carline said...

I know, Deb, right? I was at Left Coast Crime in March and everyone was so much fun, but they all just looked like they had "AUTHOR" stamped on their foreheads. Maybe we need a stamp...

Tameri Etherton said...

Okay, first off let me just say, I freaking LOVE that title!

Now, onto the harder question... I have no idea. Seriously, I think it's something you've got or you learn to cultivate. How to cultivate it? Mantras of self-importance every morning? A private jet? An assistant who runs behind you while you clack, clack, clack across the very expensive marble flooring in your designer four-inch heels?

You've got to have a tough skin for this business and remember to let the crappy stuff roll off you like yesterday's whipped cream. Maybe she got the contract because she looked confident, or presented herself as a worthy author and so the agency saw something in her that they wouldn't have if she was a wilting magnolia. I really don't know.

I know you're awesome. Now we just need to let the world in on that little secret.

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