Today I launched my second book on the internet, via a platformy thing called “Smashwords”, which always manages to conjure up a red line underneath it when I include it in any sort of written statement. What I’ve discovered in launching the first book, about a month ago (if that) is only magnified now. That is: having an ebook or two or five or whatever out there is a GIGANTIC undertaking, and the hardest part of it all is not the writing of the tome, it’s the allotment of the time required to make the world realize that it, and me, are out there at all. There are enough ebooks released daily to gag a library. So it’s a little like the very start of the Boston or New York or LA Marathons: that foot you’re stepping on may be your own.
This is magnified by the stark reality that I am not a candidate for Most Knowledgable Person Of The Year when it comes to anything computer-related, which includes figuring out how you navigate the ins and outs of almost anything: getting book reviews, setting up links, blogs (okay, I did figure out how to get this one happening, but it was a FLUKE!), and the avalanche of other terms and “conveniences” and handy electronic shortcuts that others seem to have mastered so effortlessly. Sure, I could hire somebody to do a lot of these things for me, as I know many of my writing bretheren and sisteren have done, but money unfortunately is an issue in this day and age, and most other writers who’ve given me advice point out that it’s nothing I can’t do myself if I just apply the ‘ol brain to the task. Yah. Everybody seems to be entranced with the notion of how the new frontier of ebook publishing — that is to say, largely, self publishing — is the wave of the future, if not the present. What they don’t necessarily broadcast is that it means the author often has to be the whole business. The salesperson, the PR person, and all the other persons a publisher spares authors from being. If I didn’t have a very good and valuable friend named Allan Cole, an author himself of some note and a seasoned veteran of all these electronic wars from ‘way back, to help me when I’d otherwise be pulling my remaining hair out over formatting, ISBNs, and any number of do’s, don’ts, and don’t-even-think-about-its — well, let’s just say I’d be hairless. (And probably nowhere to be found on Smashwords, CreateSpace, and most of the other places I’ve managed to pop up.) It is CONFUSING.
Another great source of comfort and help has come from the LinkedIn thread I’ve been addicted to for many weeks now. On it, any number of writers with a great deal more success and experience than I have are more than willing to come forth with genuinely valuable advice — some of which I am actually competent enough to follow. Currently I’m delving into how in the world to get these books reviewed, which seems to be the next vital building block in my progress as an ebook marketer/author. Then, lying ahead like lurking sharks, are book functions, writers’ conferences, and God knows what other pitfalls and pratfalls I’ll find along the way. What, I often mutter to myself when I should be falling asleep, does all this have to do with the quaint, almost forgotten urge to write? Sometimes I really don’t know. About a week ago I wrote a piece in this blog about how rewarding it was when my Dad really loved my new book. How that particular phenomenon, getting satisfaction when a family member or other respected person really likes what you’ve done, and the How-To-Succeed-In-Business-Without-Really-Tryingness of the ebook-plugging frenzy that is part and parcel of “the new authoring” can ever coexist and get along cozily in the same person’s brain is at present beyond me. Not that I’m losing enthusiasm. On the contrary, I’m itching to get started on the third book. I even know what it’s about. But first… (ahem)… I’ve got to get the second one ready for CreateSpace, the “print on demand” wing of Amazon that lets readers order actual physical book versions of the very ebooks that I have been jumping through hoops trying to get comfortable with. So if you like to hold the book in your hand and that Kindle is maybe a little too thin and light to feel like a book… well, you get the idea. But I really will get to do some writing on the third book once I’ve conquered CreateSpace one more time. Unless I’m just too damn tired.