No, this is not a post about the joys of shopping at Home Depot or such. Nor is it about how to install a toilet by yourself although that could be very helpful. For years, the image of a person fixing something by themself has encouraged many to embark down a road of self-discovery and all too often, frustration and electric shocks.

No, again, this is about taking your art into your own hands and doing something about it.

It used to be if you were a musician, you would practice, practice, practice, with or without your mates, and play everywhere you could in hopes of being discovered and eventually signed to a record contract. And that was just the beginning.

The same thing pretty much held true for writers. Write and write and write and then submit your work to agents and/or publishers in hopes of being discovered and signed to a contract. That too was just the beginning.

As Joni Mitchell wrote, you had to “stoke the star-making machinery” to get ahead of the competition. Though times have changed, that part is still true today. You have to market yourself.

When musicians found they could not generate interest from record companies in their work, they turned to producing their music digitally. Digital changed everything. No longer were musicians captive to labels and/or agents to get their work out to the public. Best of all, they owned all the rights.

Digital and the Internet changed everything. It closed a lot of businesses and categories. When was the last time you saw a record store? A camera store? That’s only scratching the surface of its impact.

The same is true of writing a book and getting it published. The quest for agent representation is a long and arduous task with more often than not, poor results. That doesn’t necessarily reflect negatively on the author. The agents who pore though the tons of manuscripts received will undoubtedly miss some good books. They will also publish some not so good books. It’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Most writers I know don’t write to get rich, though none would mind that occurring. They have stories to tell and want to share them. Digital has made that possible. With programs such as Kindle Direct and 48 Hour Book, they can publish their book as they see fit. While those books may not have the benefit of professional proof-reading and editing, the stories are getting out there. And a lot of them are good, very good.

So, it may come down to this for the reader – do you want a nicely edited book with no typos (though most publishers will happily accept 3-4 per book) with not much of story or a book with perhaps some flaws but with a great story you may not have ever heard of if it wasn’t self-published?

The game is afoot, Watson.

So says Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective Sherlock Holmes. And indeed it is.

In many things in our lives. persistence is often the key to success. How many times have we given up on things too soon? Think about sports teams who when faced with lop-sided scores against them have thrown in the towel rather than continue to fight. Then think about those teams when confronted with similar situations, endured and ultimately prevailed. Which ones do you think get the movies made about them?

A definition of persistence is as follows: Refusing to give up or let go; persevering obstinately.

A definition of stubborn: Refusing to change one’s mind or course of action despite pressure to do so; unyielding or resolute.

Those who know me well will attest to my persistence. If I had a family crest it would probably feature a dog with a bone, unwilling to give it up.

And those same people know when I believe in a project, I become resolute in its pursuit. Foolish? Perhaps. But why?

In publishing and marketing a book, one must be either or both. Getting the book out there is not enough. While writing the book is perhaps more time consuming, it is in comparison far more enjoyable. But the effort put into that is wasted if commensurate industry is not committed to its marketing. Most authors I know want people to read what they’ve written. How can that happen if no one knows about it?

Media must be contacted ( incessantly?) and sold on the book’s premise and why it’s significant enough for them to commit time and/or space to it. Outlets need to be influenced in order for them to see the value in the book’s placement. It can’t be a one and done enterprise. Reviews, good or bad, need to be solicited. From the outside, it may appear to be small steps and yes, that is exactly what they are. But with enough small steps, you’ve built a staircase whose height is unlimited.

The game is afoot. Just take one step at a time and see where it takes you.

Stoking the star-making machinery.

With apologies to Joni Mitchell’s “Free Man in Paris” song about shilling for one’s art. It’s similar to promoting a new book. And I’m stoking that machinery myself with launch parties, book signings, media appearances, and social media postings.

This is all part of publishing a book these days. If you’re not John Grisham, then you have to do all the heavy lifting yourself, regardless if the book is published by an established publisher or by yourself. Please don’t view this as a complaint, it isn’t. There is nothing like going out and meeting your potential audience face-to-face. It’s also not for the faint of heart. You’re out there, exposed. Your work is out there for all to see. What is this all about?

Norman Mailer once wrote and I paraphrase: A writer must have an enormous ego to believe anyone would want to read what he has to say.”

So, yes, it is about ego.

He also said the following: “Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.” and When I read it, I don’t wince, which is all I ever ask for a book I write.”

And about pain. And hopefully, acceptance. What do you think?