Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Psst. Hey, buddy, wanna buy a book?

I thought writing the book would be the hard part. I never even thought about selling it. But that was long ago, before this brave new world that empowered authors to write, edit, publish and sell their own novels.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great - it feeds my instant gratification gene. Being in newspapers for so long, I'm spoiled. I'm used to seeing my words in print practically the day after I write them. The time-honored tradition of query letters, agent meetings and ego-bruising rejection letters sounded not only frustrating but a little bit terrifying.

Ebooks are a great alternative. It's a simple, cost-effective format for a starving artist. And according to Amazon, sales are brisk - it sells about 180 ebooks a month compared to 100 hardcovers.

Of course, agents and publishers tend to know what they're doing. I'm flying blind. But here's the most challenging thing - I'm not a salesman. Not at all.

Remember that 1980s John Cusack movie, "Say Anything?" Well, there's this part where he's trying to explain to his soon-to-be-girlfriend's dad about his career motivations, and he says:

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

I feel for him. Because deep down, I just want to write. But I know I have to promote, or I might as well be writing in my diary. So I'm learning. I'm learning to tell people I wrote a book - and even add that they should read it - without blushing or squirming. I'm putting together my own press release. I'm watching. I'm reading. I'm figuring out how to market, to "brand." But it still feels strange.

"You have to make a decision," my husband tells me. "Do you want to be an author or don't you?"

Cough! Look over here! Oh, hi. Have you read Death on Deadline yet? It's on sale at for only $2.99. You should check it out.

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