Friday, November 20, 2015

Birth Announcements

The Birth of a Notion
    So, writers start off with an inkling . . . a notion, if you will, of a story . From there characters are created and placed within the story outline. Scenes are imagined. Dialogue is designed. Places are positioned. A book blooms and comes to fruition.
    Then the real labor begins. Pushing that baby out so people can see it! Unlike the birth of a child, when people gather around to “ooh” and “aaah” and strangers say, “Can I see your baby? Let me see your baby,” a book’s birth is a lonely chore. Few if any people arrive uninvited to praise your newest production.
    Listen, I used to think I had it bad when I birthed a book for a print publisher like Harlequin or Avon. I had autograph parties and I went to book signing after book signing. I visited bookstores and put my books at eye level. This was NOTHING compared to what ebooks writers go through. At least with printed books they are out there. Everywhere. Every bookstore (although bookstores are disappearing fast!) and every library. With ebooks, if you don’t let people know – one by one – then your book will be read by a handful of people who actually know you or are related to you.
   Money begins flying out from PayPal for blog tours, advertising, contests, etc. You spend hours writing to blogs and asking them (how to ask without sounding as if you’re begging when that’s what you’re doing – BEGGING?) to read and review your book. Of course, they already have their favorite authors (and it’s always a long list) and they don’t have time to read or review anyone else. They will be happy to post an excerpt for a small price (which all adds up over time to be a big price – often you end up spending more than your book made in sales). Or they are already part of an author’s “posse” and too busy promoting her books, leaving no time for yours.
    And so here I am. Trying not to beg, but failing. Asking you, “Want to see my baby?” “Will you read my baby?”

   Pretty please?
   It's pathetic, really. But necessary. So, the next time you see a mention about a book on Facebook or get an e-mail about a book's release, don't sigh and hit delete. First, think to yourself, "Poor dear," and then read the e-mail or message, consider supporting that author by buying the book, and (this is the important part) WRITE A REVIEW on Amazon or wherever the book is sold.
   I heard the wonderful author Pat Conroy say one time that every year he purchases a book of poetry, a book by an author he's never read before, and a debut novel. I think that's a wonderful goal as a reader and I try to follow through and do the same every year. It does my reader's heart good.