I got an email about Amanda Hocking, basically saying “You’ve got a great blog and lots of twitter followers and a cool book. Why didn’t this happen to you?” And I was like “No shit. Where is my million dollars?” And then we had a laugh. Well, I laughed. You have to get lucky, really. That’s the truth of the matter. Over at Moby Lives today they’re talking about Hocking and about how she fundamentally gets that she’s very lucky and that her luck could run out at any minute, so she’s got to plug away while people care.
The author of the Moby Lives post says this:
The fact is Amanda Hocking has to work harder and longer than a typical writer because she also has to publish the books. Sure, Amazon is now a powerful publicity force working for her and probably a source of some of the anti-publisher spin being put out there, but at the end of the day it is Hocking that has to shoulder the management of her books. It is she that must look over the copy one last time or write to a new editor, media outlet and probably now translators.
And I have to say that, at the end of the day, that’s how I feel about A City of Ghosts and what I was not capable of doing for the book. I couldn’t manage it well enough, even with all my particularly relevant knowledge and experience. Unlike many authors, I have a good idea of all the things that need to be done, and I just could not do them well enough on my own. Which is not to say that I’m not incredibly proud of A City of Ghosts. I am and I really love that book.
But I had this idea that “self-publishing” was going to be heavy on the “self.” Doing it, I realized, it’s really heavy on the “publishing.” I could have done all the things I enjoyed for the rest of my life–writing the book, reading it to people, doing interviews about it, etc. But I’m not wired to be a publisher and that part I think I flubbed, in retrospect. Here’s how little I enjoyed it. I wrote what I think is a lovely book that I KNOW does not have the audience it deserves. And I can’t bring myself to find a way to do the things that might fix that. I haven’t even hit my goal of selling 333 copies.
I don’t feel like that’s a failure on my part, really. I think that’s why people need–I need–a publisher. I know when my book was on the table at Southern Festival of Books, people who browsed it bought it. And yet, I had no feasible way of putting it into bookstores. No way for other browsers to find it by happy accident. And I don’t see that really changing for most self-published authors any time soon.
But, hey, it’s sold so few copies that, if at some point, some publisher does stumble across it and want to actually launch it, my few sales won’t hurt their potential market.
Anyway, I was sitting in the car last night, under a street light in a parking lot back between Nolensville Road and the train tracks, and I was reading a paper copy of the new novel, with my pen out, fixing things that are easier to see on paper than on screen, and I was overcome with delight. This, I thought, this is the kind of thing that makes me feel like a writer, sitting in my car, in the dark, in a place not nearly as seedy as it should be, crossing things out and shoving new things in.
The Defibulators were playing on Music City Roots, some songs that sounded almost broken apart and reconstituted by sheer strength of fiddle and it was weird music, for sure, but fun. And it made me feel good about the manuscript that’s been riding around in my car for two weeks, accumulating ink. It’s weird, for sure, but fun, as well. I don’t know who will read it or if they will like it.
But nothing makes me happier than writing it.
I really feel like blogging gave me this, that being able to practice writing here, has freed me up to do something weird there. They say that, if you want to be a writer, just write. And blogging has allowed me to do that, to clock the hours, enjoyably, necessary to learn to write.
Does it work? I’m not sure. But I do think it’s weird and fun. And there’s pooping. On church people. In church. So, between that and the butt-sex with the Devil? My dad can never read it.
And, soon, we’ll learn how to find an agent. Whew, that should be a mess of sucky excitement. Ha ha ha.