It has been said that writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down and open a vein. Actually, what I’ve found is that while writing may take considerable effort, it’s not harder than getting your writing out to an audience.
As readers of this blog and others who know me are well aware, I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve had articles published in a variety of places: the medical literature, hobby magazines, innumerable letters to the editors of many publications, and organization newsletters. My first book, Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, was published in 2004. My latest, Zendoscopy, was published earlier this year.
The magazine and newsletter articles had built-in audiences and there were no issues related to marketing. For the two books, however, it has been a very different story. I’ve previously written about the near-impossibility (actual, in my case) of getting an agent when one is an unknown writer, and without an agent, sending manuscripts directly to publishers is simply to have one’s work buried in massive slush piles. The solution, self-publishing, gets one’s book into print but that can be a dead end unless there’s a marketing effort to follow, an effort that needs to be fueled with more money than the initial publishing cost.
Here’s the history and current status of Zendoscopy. The book was published in late January. I posted this on my main Facebook page and revised the page that previously touted Spacebraid…, renaming the page “Books by J. Allan Wolf”. I did a 10 day ad campaign on Facebook and wrote about publication issues on the blog. I’ve set up a book signing for 3 May at a local bookstore and I’ve managed to get the book into the gift shop of the Palos Verdes Library in Rolling Hills Estates, near home. I’ve sent a copy to a local NPR radio station’s morning general interest program but, after more than three weeks have heard nothing from them. On 7 May I expect a Kirkus review to appear. I’ve got a supply of custom bookmarks and the publisher has templated several pitch letters and a PR blurb for me. Today, I had a local FedEx (ex-Kinko’s) do a nice mounted 11 x 17 poster of the cover for $7.50 to use at the 3 May signing. The book is available through many online booksellers including Amazon.com, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, et al.
I know that some copies are selling, but they’re not exactly flying off the shelves (or into tablets). I can’t afford ads in major newspapers and magazines, and so far no widely read reviewer has picked it up, although I plan to send out some copies to reviewers in the hope that, perhaps, one will read it and like it enough to write something nice about it. Of course, that could easily backfire.
So that’s where things currently stand. If you’re an aspiring writer without connections who’s going to dive into self-publishing, you need to know that it’s unlikely you’ll make a fortune on your masterpiece. Still, it shouldn’t keep you either from continuing to write or continuing to try to get your work to a target audience. If you have faith in your work, that’s what you’ll do. Craft it carefully, be open to input from anyone you trust enough to read it, get it thoroughly proofed before it goes to publication, get a good cover design, and then market it to limits of your budget. Follow this blog for updates on the progress of Zendoscopy, and if you haven’t yet gotten your copy, just remember: I can use the royalties.
Today’s annoyance: Overuse of the exclamation mark.
I subscribe to a magazine that regularly publishes articles by a writer who is addicted to exclamation marks! Every strongly worded, declarative sentence he writes ends with one! I’m not kidding! They just keep coming! It drives me crazy! I wish he’d stop! Unfortunately, I doubt that he ever will!