My writing life is one grand experiment, and like an good science project, complete and utter failure is always an option. You all know Belfire Press recently released my first novel: Loathsome, Dark and Deep.
I have to tell the truth: it's pretty exciting to receive a box of books with my name on them. Exciting and frightening. I've come to realize with any creative endeavor there comes a time to promote (unless said endeavor is strictly for personal enjoyment). Promotion doesn't come naturally to many writers, especially those of us who hide in dark places and punch out stories about even darker places. But if I don't talk about my book and do my damnedest to promote it, it might as well stay in the box and go under the bed in the Man Cave.
Well shit. I guess I have to come out of the dark then. Again, I see writing as an experiment. Some of the things I do, whether in a story or in "promotion," will fail. Hopefully, I can learn from failure, just as I can learn when a story "fails" (and doesn't sell).
So along with the grand experiment of writing a book and seeing it published, I'm stuffing envelopes with letters and bookmarks bound for independent bookstores which specialize in dark fiction and libraries. I'm gearing up to shake some hands with area booksellers. In addition, I'm running a second contest to promote Loathsome. Will the cash I've sunk into these endeavors pay off? I don't know, but not doing anything is the quickest path to failure.
So enough about failure. What would success look like, realistically? I'm not sure I have a clear picture, but I want people to read my book (and maybe even enjoy it). I want as many people to read and enjoy it as possible.
Some of you know I've taken a leap into another experiment. I'm offering Rock Gods and Scary Monsters on Kindle. (I have been for over a month, but you know how things are if you don't promote them at all.) It's a YA book (some of you "veterans" might remember my rambles about it a few years ago). It's not perfect. It's an experiment. But I'll tell you something--if I don't talk about it no one else will. Self-promotion is a necessary evil. Hell, I don't even know that I'd call it evil. It just is. Jeremy D. Brooks (author of Amity--read it) calls this thing we do "literary buskering". Yeah. That feels about right.
Writing a good story is important. It's the most important thing. But promotion--buskering--needs to happen, too. My comfort and skill telling stories has outpaced my comfort and skill in promotion. I feel it's such a fine line to walk between hubris/self-aggrandizing and genuine love for storytelling.
It's an experiment.
I'll fail. I'll learn from my failures (I hope).
And I'll tell you all about it when it happens. There are no secrets among inmates.