I’ve just finished the second draft of my third novel. Or, is it the first? It’s the first that stands a chance of being published. The actual first was truly dreadful. I wrote it, then put it away for a few years. When I pulled it out of storage to polish it for publishing, I felt sick. It was so inept that I didn’t want anyone to know that I had anything to do with it. I should have kept it for laughs, but it went in the trash.
Book two was better. The problem is that better still doesn’t mean of publishable quality. The characters had something approaching believable personalities. Some of the scenes turned out to be pretty good. The story even maintained some tension. It just didn’t hold together as a whole. When I took my first plotting class, I found out why. It lacked a story arc. Instead of creating a cohesive narrative, It had a series of episodes. I still have that book and am working on re-writing it to follow the classic victim to hero plot structure.
Now I’m looking at a story that I want others to read. That means entering the terrifying world of publishing. The situation looks grim. Only 35% of of first book authors get their novel published. Major publishing houses aren’t looking for mid-list authors, but potential home run hitters. I believe that my story is as engaging and well written as the majority of published fantasy. I have no illusions that I’m going to be the next Stephenie Meyer or even Jim Butcher. If I don’t think I have the next Twilight or Harry Potter story, how could I possibly convince a publisher that I do.
Am I willing to take several years slogging through rejection letters and book pitches to find an agent, who will then spend more time pushing the book to publishers? Or, do I want to go directly to self-publishing? Both have strong up and down sides.
Getting an agent would insulate me from the sales game with publishers. I hate direct sales and am not good at it. I’m not sure which condition came first, the lack of sales moxie because I hate sales, or hating sales because I’ve failed so many times. I have to face the fact that I don’t take face-to-face rejection well. Fortunately, I’ve found that written rejection from strangers doesn’t hit me nearly as hard.
Either way, I’m finding that I need to promote the book and subsequent books myself. The trendy term this process is building an author platform, which includes a website/blog, active participation in social media sites, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, participation in online forums, and the dreaded direct sales. It’s a big hill to climb. Maybe after my second cup of coffee I won’t feel like chucking it all and taking up crochet.
As a former web designer and long time blogger, I’ve been asked to teach a class on blogging for writers. Since I don’t have any experience blogging a writing related site, I thought it best to get some before teaching the class.
And a Gandhi story sticks in my head. It’s the one where a woman came up to Gandhi and asked him to tell her son to quit eating sugar. Gandhi told the woman to ask again in six weeks. After the allotted time, she approached Gandhi again with the same request. He looked at the boy and said, “Quit eating sugar. It’s not good for you.”
The woman was confused and asked Gandhi why could he not give that simple message the first time she asked instead of making her wait. His response was simple. He said, “Six weeks ago I ate sugar.”
There’s a term in psychology that describes Gandhi’s motives. It’s congruence. Two pioneering psychologists, Carl Rogers and Virginia Satir pointed out the need for congruence in mental health. I believe that it is an excellent trait for teachers to embody, too. A congruent teacher teaches from experience, not just theory.
So, the last month has seen me immersed in reading blogs by writers. That expanded to blogs by editors, agents and publishers. As such explorations often do, it opened doors into ancillary areas like self-publishing, marketing and building a platform. And the scope of my reading threatens to expand even further. But that’s my problem, not yours.
To make this long ramble come to a conclusion, I’ve absorbed enough to start the second part of becoming congruent as a writer/blogger/teacher, posting to my own writer’s blog.
My initial plan is to post twice weekly, though my tendency is to get ahead of myself and prepare too much content. If that happens, I’ll be putting more up, which I don’t see as a problem.
Here’s to new beginnings. Cheers,
HSP means highly sensitive person.(1) As a group — I definitely qualify — we are the people least likely to thrive in traditional sales roles. The always on, always looking to promote one’s self attitude required for in-person sales is draining and difficult. Forget what how-to-sell books say. Forget the sales seminar hype. Good sales people have a different personality type. They thrive in sales. HSPs wilt.
For us, online marketing is much easier. A blog, Facebook, Twitter and the like provide low, or at least lower stress avenues for connecting, sharing and marketing. This is not to say that we spend all our time online and neglect person-to-person relationships. I don’t. Most of us don’t. Online community adds connections rather than precludes them. And marketing in a social network style, which is as much about participating in community as it is about promotion, is an ideal avenue of expression. Reading blogs, tweets or Facebook Walls and commenting is natural. Posting our own content is natural. That comments happen to have links back to personal sites is accepted. It’s not pushy. As long as comments or tweets add to the conversation, everything is cool.
So, as I begin my self-publishing journey, I’m thrilled to find resources written for and by HSPs. Virginia Ripple, a self-proclaimed HSP writes The Road to Writing blog. One of the topics she regularly covers is marketing. Having someone cover marketing from a HSP’s point of view gives me hope that I can get the word out about my forthcoming book. Thank goodness.
A highly sensitive person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high psychological sensitivity (or innate sensitiveness as Carl Jung originally coined it). . . . This is a specific trait with key consequences that in the past has often been confused with innate shyness, social anxiety problems, inhibitedness, or even social phobia and innate fearfulness, introversion, and so on.