The Long Road

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I am many things, but patient is not one of them.

Whether it is in my personal, work or writing life, I don’t particularly care to wait for things. At times it is a boon, because it drives me to finish things – so long as the horrid disease called procrastination hasn’t infected me – and at other times it makes me a little difficult to deal with. I know this, and I apologize.

Recently, my first novel, The Watch, was published. Once this was completed, I had certain expectations in my head of what was going to happen. I had viewed all the hard work as done: I’d written the novel, edited the novel, re-edited the novel, found a publisher, edited the novel some more, talked a couple of people far smarter than me into giving me blurbs for the book, and seen it published. Now, I thought myself, is the time to sit back and let the praise and awesomeness roll in.

That, as any sane and reasonable person can tell you, did not happen. Me, being the meat head that I am, was horribly shocked. I was not prepared for the long road ahead of me.

If I were Stephen King, or George Martin, or any other super big name author, published with a super big name publisher, that might happen. But I am not any of those people. My publisher, Dark Dragon Publishing, is professional and legitimate, but they are small, as they will tell you themselves. They believed in my story – and me – and gave my first book life, and a place to call home, which is damned important. But when it comes to advsertising and promotion I have to get off my ass and help, because they do not have a staff of a dozen people to do it for me.

I had dreamed of having a book launch in a big book store, where I’d stand up in front of a raptly attentive audience and read from the brilliance that is my writing, and then sign books for a legion of fans. I found a big book store that was willing to host the event – so at least of part of my delusion was going to come true – but I discovered, to my horrible disappointment, it would be difficult and costly, and most likely would just not work out.

My delusion crumbling around me I climbed into a good Snit and wore it like a cheap suit.

I did a great deal of complaining: to my wife, my friends, my co-workers, random people on the street who gave me worried glares over their shoulder as they hurried away from me.

Once I had calmed down and stopped ranting, my wife told me something that fits even better than the snit: “Sometimes you want too much, too fast.” Looking back now, she was absolutely correct; I was looking for things that I didn’t particularly deserve, and having a bit of a tantrum when I didn’t get them.

Another of my friends helped me move past my delusion, and start building a game plan to promote my book. She pointed me in the right directions, gave me ideas for planning an affordable book launch, and told me to start pounding the pavement and take responsibility for myself. She said, “This is what we call ‘earning your way,’ and we all have to do it.” .

Yet another friend told me, and this struck me the most, “Keep writing, because your story is the only thing you can control.”

Sufficiently calm to listen to the sound advice being offered me, I peeled the Snit off and took a few deep breaths. Once again it became apparent that the hard work does not end when the story is finished, but is really only beginning.

We small authors, who are not signed with the big publishing houses, have to take responsibility for our own work and do what we can to promote ourselves. We have to put together the best story we possibly can, pouring significant pieces of ourselves into the writing, then work even harder to get it into as many hands as possible. The comforting thing is to know that we are not alone, and there are hundreds of other storytellers out there who are struggling through their ways just as much as we are.

At this stage of my writing life, the whole process really is about the story. I do not have – nor can I have – any notions or expectations about monetary success. That may come, some day, but for right now the biggest priority is making sure the story is good, and then trying to get people to read it. If people do read it, I want them to like, not feel cheated of their time.

It’s a long road we walk, we small house/independant authors, but there is company and support along the way, and I’m glad to have it.

It is time to put away the snit, and get moving. I cordially invite you to tag along.