Most fiction writers are like the California gold rush miners of eighteen forty-nine, the intrepid forty-niners. They pan like demons looking for gold nuggets (readers) and go broke while the smarter, shrewder guys, those with their eyes on more certain profits, open supply stores, two story hotels thrown together with cheap lumber, bars and brothels, all crafted to service the needs of their marks (customers) and transfer the meager (for the most part) hard-won specks of glitter to their own pockets. For smarter guys, read the paid advertisers, publicists, cover designers, webpage designers, paid reviewers, agents, a whole host of entrepreneur that promise to make your books the next big thing, or at least generate some significant sales. And they don’t have to write the damn books. Of course the miners love what they do, which is why they put up with it. And there’s always that one in a hundred who makes a decent living at it, and that one in ten thousand (one in a hundred thousand?) who discovers and mines a rich vein, and thereafter flies around in his or her private jet to book signings, guest lectures, and various exclusive literary events.
On this note, I could end this blog. Keep it short. But being a writer who loves to vomit words, bear with me as I proceed to the more personal side of this story. Let me also make clear that I hold no enmity for my listing above. They are not parasites nor sycophants–or at least not the great majority–but genuinely want to see their clients succeed. It’s just the nature of today’s publishing game.
Since turning 71 some seven years ago I have panned my mental ore for five and counting books of fiction, four of the PI genre and one a collection of longish short stories. Initially I wrote for my own amusement, as a way of keeping my brain active and nourished. I would re-read my stuff and chuckle–at the best parts anyway–although more often, my overriding emotion was embarrassment.
After strong encouragement from my significant other and an ex-wife with whom I’ve remained friends, I uploaded them as they got finished to Kindle, using Kindle’s free software in consideration of my own somewhat meager retirement income. I even POD’d them on Create Space and brashly ordered author copies that I gave away or sold at cost to friends and acquaintances here in the age-restricted (read senior living) park that I now call home. My captive audience began reading the several that I had published on Create Space, as precious few of my chronologically challenged friends and neighbors own Kindles. And they also echoed the enthusiasm of my two initial critics. On all other fronts, my offspring have languished in obscurity. Maybe a buck or two every other month or so into my checking account from Amazon.
Warmed by these informal endorsements, which I confess is music to my ears, I am embarking on a conscious marketing effort to gain a wider audience. The risk to my self-esteem is that this wider neglect is due not to lack of proper exposure but to inherent deficiencies in the product. But I have a robust ego and other compensations. My golf game ain’t all that bad for a dude of 78. And this summer I am contemplating chartering a small sailboat, just me and my late life love, for a nostalgic week of sailing in the Canadian Gulf Islands of B.C. Yup, I still feel physically capable of this one last hurrah.
So onward. I recently put together my own author website, hosted by WordPress.com, to which this blog is attached. Each page contains the back-cover blurb and first chapter of one particular book. Over the last several months, in anticipation of this marketing effort, I have extensively edited, revised, and even re-written long passages to make them more polished and readable. I now truly believe that you do learn by writing. My two critics who have been there since the beginning ardently support this thesis. They have both pronounced my latest effort, The Revenge Dance, to be the real deal, professional grade. Maybe not New York Times best seller rank, but in the mix, surely. Okay, what are friends for! So, shameless pitch time: ninety-nine cents on Kindle. Think of me as that lost, down-on-his-luck soul on the busy street corner, holding up that imploring sign ending in “God bless.” You’d roll down your window and pass him a buck. I’m betting on it.