Fiction, My Books, Novel, Promotion, Publish, Reader, Writing

The agony and ecstasy of self-publishing a book!

Let’s discuss the ecstasy first. You publish a book. Yay! Family and friends read it right away. Then a few acquaintances read it. Finally, a few friends of friends or acquaintances of acquaintances discover it. You receive glowing reviews. People tell you they love the book. Your writing is a success!

Thank God for those early readers, but family, friends, and acquaintances are a limited number. For many of us, that’s a very small number. Naturally, we want more readers. And more. And more. Think potato chips … or Junior Mints.

I confess my impatience. I want everyone to read The Brevity of Roses now … today … right this minute! Of course, that’s not going to happen. I don’t remember any of the self-publishing advice naming Patience as a required virtue. If it was mentioned, I must have glossed over it in my … um … impatience.

Now, we’ve reached the agony. You have a book you love and want to share, but have to wait for readers to find it. In my ignorance, I imagined that word of mouth would spark a firestorm of readers burning through the pages—and I imagined that chain-reaction would start immediately. Didn’t happen that way. Still, there’s hope because I know that people intend to read it. How do I know this?

A few people have directly told me they intend to read my book. I believe they will. Last month I gave away a copy of Brevity on Goodreads. Hundreds of people entered the giveaway, but I would be naïve to think all those people actually intended to read the novel. However, over eighty of those people also added Brevity to their To-Read lists on Goodreads. Will they all read it? I doubt it, though a percentage of them probably will.

Then I got a boost from Women on the Verge. Each month they select members’ books to highlight on their front page, and currently The Brevity of Roses is one of those. Every day since WOTV highlighted it, more Goodreads members have added it to their lists. Some of them will surely read it.

There’s no way to know how many people might have added my novel to their “want lists” at Amazon or any other online bookstore,  or even jotted it down on a to-read list at home, but I’m sure some have. On a good day, I imagine hundreds have done so … and untold thousands may do so from future promotional efforts.

These people are my eventual readers. These people keep my hopes up. These people—potential bearers of ecstasy—make the agony of having a published book easier to bear.

Patience.

Life, Musings, Reflections, Time, Writing

Fitting the Pieces Together

After my father’s sudden death four years ago, my mother spent nearly every waking moment working jigsaw puzzles. For more than a year, she sat sorting, moving, fitting piece after piece to create the final picture. Hour upon hour. Like a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As soon as she fit the last piece in one puzzle, she tore it apart and reached for another.

Her life was in chaos. She created order out of a thousand one-inch pieces because she could not, was not ready to create a new order in her life. As her hands worked, her mind let go. As much as possible, she ignored the present, even listening to WWII music, the music of her youth, the music she danced and sang to before my father entered her life.

Gradually, her puzzle obsession waned. My father was gone. She was not. Life would go on.

The death of a loved one is surely the most severe disruption of our lives, but no matter what has knocked us off kilter it takes time and patience to get back on track. We have to sort out what went wrong and then, piece by piece, form a new picture.

Time and patience. I need them both.

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Update: After a couple comments, I see this post has caused some unintended concern. I am all right.

Advice, Tips, Writing

Perhaps I am a loaf of bread

“I am raining down in pieces. I am scattering like light.”

That quote is from Suzanne Vega’s song “Small Blue Thing” which I rediscovered while sorting my CDs. And it perfectly describes my current state of mind. I don’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything. The least thing distracts me. I am scattered in pieces.

bread This is a state of emptiness, I think. A time to refill, to soak in, to expand and solidify. This feeling reminds me of a familiar process. Usually, three times a week, I make bread. I mix the flours, water, salt, yeast, and oil and I knead it, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again, form it into a loaf, let it rise once more, and then bake. When that loaf is eaten, I start the process over.

You can try to hurry the bread-making process—knead it less, skip a rising—but you won’t get the beautiful loaf you expect. Right now, I am scattered. I am in the ingredients stage. I need to be patient and let the “magic” happen.

Critique, Fiction, Group, Musings, Publish, Time, Writing

When the time is right

cleaningYou never know what you’ll find when you clean house. I have now made it most of the way around my “workroom.” This is where I write, do genealogy research, make jewelry, draw, and do whatever else requires a big table or a computer. Every inch of this room is occupied. Also in this room are two deep closets crammed with … well, a lot of stuff. I’ve now cleaned and organized those two closets.

I found a dozen errant beads that had rolled off my workbench and under the doors. I found the pack of mechanical pencils that I knew I’d bought but never opened. And I found a bag of a ten or so new bottles of craft paint that had been “lost” inside the bag of felt pieces. But the best find was in a box in the office supply closet. I found old computer disks.

disksOn two of the disks, I found some of my old writing files, and I’m working up the nerve to open them. Others are files from the first two online critique groups I belonged to in 2000. As soon as I saw the writers’ names, I remembered the plots of the books they were working on at the time. I did some research and found out that, of the three writers I worked most closely with in those groups, two of them have been published and the third mentors other published writers.

So, of course, I asked myself where I might be now, if I hadn’t let life get the better of me. Just as quickly, I let that go. I reminded myself that I believe all things happen for a reason. I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.

I was a different person then. I hadn’t read some of the books I needed to read. I hadn’t met some of the people I needed to know. I hadn’t experienced some of the things I needed to to enable me to write what I can write now. So I’ll let go my envy and I’ll practice patience. My time will come.