ONE THING THAT IS ALWAYS ON MY MIND AS A WRITER, is how am I going to get this novel out there. Seriously, writing the novel is the easy, fun part. First draft: after purging on glass after glass of scrambled plot point potion, you regurgitate all over the page, and somewhere in there, you can see a bit of the story your mind had the last few months for dinner. Or, in friendlier terms, you create the clay. Second draft and so on: You take that clay you've brought to the table and shape. Occasionally things slip and slide. Fall apart. And you add a little more clay to touch up the edges and cracks. At some point, you will have made something as intricate as a Greek vase. Draft 102: Glaze and place it in the kennel. And wah-lah, after a night in the over, you finally have a novel.
Perhaps you sell it. Perhaps your novel becomes the greatest thing in the world, according to the acquisitions editor. Before the editor saw it, there was the choice of publisher, and let's say you're new to the biz (like someone I know) so you go with a small publishing company. They'll buy your story and help you make the book, and after a year or two, it exists. You cannot wait until you walk into a brick n' mortar bookstore and see someone in line to purchase your sure-to-be blockbuster. But when you do enter the store, your book isn't even on the shelves. No one is talking about it, except your family, colleagues, stalkers, and Facebook friends (which may be a subcategory of stalkers).
The reason? Well, that's the simplest and most difficult aspect of the writing gig. You have to promote, market, sell, create hyperbole, etc. You have to get those reviews no one reads on your cover or within the first few pages of the book. Networking skills are astounding here--but c'mon, you're a writer.
With Excluded soon to be available eBook (we hope) and then print, marketing wonders have plagued my mind. And now I'm working on yet another novel?! I can write, write, write, all I want, but what good is the novel if no one reads it? What if no one ever heard of On the Road, 1984, or, say, The Bible? Sure, they were all written. Yet without someone marketing those books, people like you and me would have never read them. And most people still don't read the latter, despite the fact that its creators had the best publicity stunt anyone could ever ask for.
Case and point: Unless you're with the deep-pocket New York and Los Angeles guys, you're probably going to have to see reviews and marketing opportunities yourself.
Cathy Day, who's experience both types of publishers, writes a wonderful insight into the marketing aspect of a novel in Your Book: A novel in stories. What struck me about Day's portrayal of book marketing, was the mixture of professional and personal chatter. In other words, a writer must send out work to reviewers and all the big-guys, as well as have friends talk about your word, or little book clubs analyze your story. It's like if you're a young athlete and you hear someone in the hallways of high school or college talk about your amazing move or play the night before. And when it's someone you've looked up to talking you up, you feel a sense of credibility.
After discovering The Circus in Winter's many pages of praise, I realized Day possessed quite a bit of credibility, but I found the true verisimilitude within her story, which was enough to make me believe that, what she said, was really the way marketing works.
I like to think of marketing a book as a pond and a pebble. Your book is the pebble. Word-of-mouth is the first ripple. That ripple expands to local promotion and review. And that ripple leads to the book clubs and awards--or the middle ground. And finally, as the ripples continue to form, you've made it big time if your last bubble is a big New York/LA promotion or review.
Or like a ladder. The rippling affect just seemed more dramatic. And to express the fact, that after the big-shots review your book, people don't stop talking about it: When you dropped your pebble into the water, a group of cranes were scared off from the pond, and a couple sets of smaller ripples occurred. That's when someone discovers your book, or simply chats about it with a friend. These things can ultimately take place as long as ducks, swans, geese, and cranes still enjoy floating in the water and then flying.
And since we're on the topic, tell your friends, family and totally random strangers about your pal C.M. Humphries' upcoming novel! Excluded!
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.