by L Dalton White
So, my first novel was self-published—almost self-everything—and nothing happened. The second time around, I got a new editor, professional book cover and formatting. Nothing happened. The little I knew from an online course on book marketing wasn’t helping. Do it yourself wasn’t getting it done. I wanted something to happen.
Spoiler alert: it’s a business, a whole other set of skills, a whole new enemy to befriend. Enter the real villain. Resistance, by any other name, keyword, or hashtag, remains a sneaky ghost. Seldom seen in lit rooms or sunshine, Resistance always ruins my best efforts, hell, any efforts at all, by enlisting my deepest fears. In no time, I willingly sabotage the entire project!
Okay, you’ve been warned and I can return to my comfort zone—writing. Of course, writers make poor protagonists––self-conscious, brooding, yuck––and even poorer socialites on the web as networkers, marketers, trumpeters of their passion for word and story. I, for one, would be more comfortable hawking my new book naked under one of those A-frame signs worn over the shoulders. Imagine the front and back of my book the only things covering my front and back.
Still, nothing happens. Everyone has their faces in their phones after all.
And, my little protagonist––let’s call him Harold, that’s nerdy enough––resolves to get out from under the placards and onto social media. With great reluctance, Harold learns how Twitter works, mustering all his energy to keep an open mind and not rail (too openly) against the 130-character limit (#you must leave room for retweets). This is hard work, and no fun.
Then you have to pay money to automate all these little trumpet notes—a similar solo, over and over:
“Look at me,
look at me.
It’s even free!”
No one cares. Nothing Happens.
Then Harold apologizes for his digression. The problem is he had to be away for two and half weeks and forgot pretty much everything he’d been shown on how to post bulk Tweets so he’d be freed up to write his masterpiece, forever #waiting in the wings to be #written.
F–––ing social media, anyways, Harold thinks.
He really believes it. Deep down, he really believes as if longing to be reincarnated as a youthful Fox Mulder.
Harold takes a long breath after the bulk scheduler rejects his offering for the third time, containing himself from throwing the laptop (another story) and composes a long whining email to his mentor on how unfair it is that every website has rules, different rules, and layouts! Why can’t everything navigate from the old school dropdown menus upper left??
Harold has managed to blow the entire morning, and his Tweets are no farther than the file they started in, the new dates added but rejected just like those treats his dogs won’t have any part of. Nobody cares.
Speaking of dogs, time to walk them. Another three-hour hole to pour time into. You already know Harold’s adjective.
Then it hits him. While walking, agitated, walking fast, mind racing, maybe it’s the time slot that’s duplicating. I have to learn this stuff. Try that. The big dog stops to sniff something and Harold almost rips his head off. Harold needs to get back to the laptop––#now!
Harold won’t give up.
And Resistance won’t give up either. “You don’t need to make your books a business. Besides, nobody gives a shit about them. Just write for yourself. Have fun. You don’t need the money.”
Harold tries out his theory and is rejected once more.
Resistance laughs at Harold.
Harold doesn’t laugh. Harold wants someone to listen. More than anything in the world, Harold wants somebody to read what he has worked so hard over for so long.
Then it hits him, and he laughs at himself. It’s not your book anymore, you idiot. It’s a product competing to stand out among millions.
Harold won yesterday afternoon. Harold kept going, and wrote scene seventeen of novel #three.
Resistance won’t take that laying down.
It wouldn’t matter how Harold published, traditionally or independently, because the reality is that transitioning from writing to commercializing a manuscript requires new skills. And an author has to participate in marketing no matter which path they choose. The skill set may look different for everyone and every different way to approach the business of publishing, but Resistance will always be there––choose your demon. It’s up to each of us how we deal with that, and whether we give in to Resistance when faced with learning new skills for a new role.