Today was the official launch. This time around I have done a lot more networking, promoting and general discussion about the book. I have been on groups, commented, shared, done just about everything to get word out that there is, in fact, a new book out there.
One of the things I did as soon as I had completed the book was to email a radio station here in Portland. They do what they calla "Perfect Playlist" where a listener selects five songs and reasons for liking those songs. Well, I figured, what the heck, I would do it and see if they could also plug my book... which they did.
Despite all the advance talk and all of the work - the build-up, the process is slow. barely a ripple on a small pond in terms of how productive all that effort was. Two books? That was it for all the effort. So now I continue pushing, working, seeing what I can do to get volume driving upward. I know reviews will help, but it is difficult to get reviews when no one reads a book. There is one pending review which I know has been written, just not posted.
It is s struggle to put so much work into something and watch it flounder like that fish from the song "Epic" by Faith No More. But, alas, that is what we do, we flounder around looking for the right word, the right sentence, the right story. Some may never find it and some may find it without really trying.
I still find it somewhat vexing when a largely less talented writer strikes a chord simply because people let themselves be mindlessly obsessed with soft-core erotica, but that topic has been hashed to death by millions of writers. I do not begrudge the success the books have found, only the reality of that fact. I think it says more about our society than it does the books themselves.
So, I sit. And I type my misery into little kilobytes to share with those few people who choose to read my blog on a regular, semi-regular or occasional basis. I type and I ponder.
I have never been one to quit. High aspirations at every task I undertake push me forward. Sometimes to the brink of madness and some times to the brink of ultimate joy. Somewhere in the middle of the two extremes is just a man on the brink.
What should I do about this ball of confusion that is the gray matter inside my head? Write.
That's it, I will simply keep writing. I will tell the stories I have inside me and hope that there are enough people who enjoy those stories that it is a worthwhile endeavor. I read an interview with Chris Parris-Lamb - the agent who discovered Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding) and Garth Risk Hallberg (City on Fire) - and he at times comes off just like the elitist people so many of us little nobodies find so infuriating. But he offers a little tidbit, something that keeps me thinking I cannot just stop.
Some people, he claims, send in manuscripts and simply see having written a novel as a "bucket list" item that they can mark off the list. I disagree with this sentiment a little bit; people who simply want to mark it off their list? They do not send submissions to agents. They truly believe in their work. But it appears this agent, like many, feel as if the only books worth publishing are those that took ten years to wrote (City on fire is a freaking 900 page book!) or somehow gave up their life to write.
No, I think the reason that so many people give up is that rejection is fucking hard. It sucks. There, that's right, I said it - rejection sucks. Worse, there is so much out there in genre writing that those of us who try to avoid those pop fad categories find it even more difficult to get noticed.
I read through so many submission guidelines that it is almost maddening to think of the number of agencies and publishers websites I have perused; it seems like thousands. One, though, was particularly frustrating. After battering the reader over the head with "FIND AN AGENT" they listed an exception - romance novels. Oy. Those are paint-by-numbers books, not art. So while holding on to the reigns of their high horse, they allowed themselves to wallow in the mud with the rest of us pigs.
But, the one thing I believe, you cannot quit something just because it is difficult. So, write.
But then that leaves me battling within my own mind. I have started work in earnest on my next novel - a mainstream football, love story, overcoming great odds type story. It will be fiction, yet it will be real. And then there is this other project. IT started out as simple fiction... and then it changed and I have this grand vision of a dystopian, sci-fi, mystery piece of literary fiction and it is a grand illusion. It fits a genre and it fits what will be big; should I jump that shark and start on that one more in earnest, putting the football story on the backburner? Or should I stick with the football story?
That, my friends, is a million dollar question for which I have no answer.