Promoting your books is like climbing your own private mountain

Book promotion is a pain in the _______ (insert your fav descriptor here).

Book promotion is — for me — like climbing my own private mountain, a mountain no one has climbed before me with no footholds or handholds outlined in chalk residue, no hardware previously hammered into the rock face, no clear path above.

This mountain is stark, barren, unloved.

I climb it one movement at a time, ever upward.

Each sale or give-a-way or donation — yes, donation! — is movement in the correct direction, toward the summit.

If I ever summit, I’ll admire the view.

Sold a copy of AFTER JEWEL

On Sunday, because my house was without internet, my son and I drove to our local Atlanta Bread Company only to find it closed. So we continued on to Panera Bread, settled on a table with an electrical plug along the wall. While my son got his computer running, I strolled to the front to buy a cup of coffee and get a glass of water. While getting the water at the drink station, a woman approached me. Frankly I don’t remember what she said first only that her words had something to do with finding a “peaceful” location to — here I became confused — sit and have coffee or perhaps find a place to stay that would also be “peaceful.” I was bewildered. Then she said, “You are obviously spiritual…” and she added something beyond this but I was standing with hot coffee in one hand, a glass of water in the other and my wallet tucked under my arm against my side. She continued, and I suggested a bed and breakfast near the middle school my daughter attended years ago. At some point, the woman repeated “you are obviously spiritual” and that the numbers of the highways “were meaningful” to her — one highway number was her birthday, another her birth year and so on. She indicated that God had brought her here. While she spoke, I decided to direct her to a nearby abbey where the monks take a vow of silence.

“A great place for a spiritual retreat,” I told her.

She smiled, her eyes gleaming — literally.

Finally I gestured that I needed to take the water to my son and get the hot coffee out of my hand. She followed me to a table next to my son. We sat down and chatted about the abbey and the monks as well as about her views on the church.

The church — the conclusion of our talk was a realization that the church — not the body of Christ but the man-made institution — is a lonely place because God is missing from it.

“He’s left, hasn’t He?” I asked her, almost making a statement.

At any rate, over the next ten minutes, we discuss my novels. She wants to support me, she says. And so, I tell her that most of my novels are in the back of my car in a box if she’s really interested. Turns out she really is. So, I bring her METAL MAN WALKING and also show her AFTER JEWEL which is the one she settles on.

Hmm — does God work in mysterious ways? He certainly did Sunday morning.

“The first chapter intrigued me.”

Another reader of mine told me on Friday that she’d gotten through the first chapter of AS FROM A TALENTED ANIMAL and was intrigued by it. She said, “Your novels keep getting better and better.”

“Oh,” I said, “you’re liking this one –.”

“Yes,” she said, “I’m liking it a lot.”

“I liked it. You surprised me.”

My friend who purchased GANI & SEAN last Saturday morning told me at breakfast this morning — one week later — that “Yes, I liked GANI & SEAN.” Then she smiled and said, “You surprised me there at the end.”

“Oh,” I said, “you didn’t see that coming?”

“No,” she replied. “No, no; I didn’t.” And she grinned.

“Oh, that’s great,” I said. I added, “I think you’ll like the sequel even more.”

And we went back to our coffee.

Just when I think, it changes

Just when I think I’ll never sell another book, I sell one or two or three or even more. Just when the sky seems to darken to a threatening black, the sun peeks from behind the cover of darkness and says, “hello there.” If I wrote for myself, the black clouds overhead wouldn’t matter, but I don’t write for myself. I write for others. I write to be read. So, once again, I must thank my readers, few though you be. I so appreciate your willingness to support me and my endeavor to be a novelist — one who writes novels.

Thanks again.

Response to A Writer’s Path

Well, of course, I can’t find the original post (I’m almost certain it was entitled “HOW NOT TO PROMOTE YOUR NOVEL” or something close to that) on A WRITER’S PATH — why not a search box? At any rate, the post was a rant against self-absorbed, self-centered writers who wish to promote their novel on social media. I recognized myself in this post — yes, I don’t particularly like to read blogs; yes, I know there are thousands upon thousands of novels published each year; yes, I know few people are interested in discovering an unknown writer; yes, I know I should read other writers’ novels; yes, I know I can be annoying when I post about my latest work, etcetera.

I stop here to ask — what novelist is not self-centered?

After all, a novelist — one who actually sits down and writes a 50,000 plus manuscript — is alone most of the time. A novelist — one who creates another world filled with imaginary persons doing imaginary things with each other — is completely absorbed in his or her creation. A novelist — one who writes multiple stories over many years — has little time for much else (especially if writing these novels brings no or only little money to their bank accounts) other than writing and the work that pays the bills.

As for reading other novelists — I don’t have time for that anymore. I used to read. In fact, as a young person, you would not have seen me without my nose stuck in the pages of a real book. I read all the time. In fact, if I didn’t write now most of my time, I’d still be reading.

Presently, I keep writing while I continue to share my work with others. I don’t write for myself (like I did as an adolescent in angst). Instead I write for others — for my very small fan base, which I am trying to establish on my own, without much help from anyone else — except them.

Thanks, little fan base! Thanks.