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?

Now what?

That’s the question every author faces when his/her book is released upon the world. The endless hours of writing, rewriting, editing, and then editing some more are now over. What’s next?

If you’re someone like James Patterson who seems to write a new book before breakfast each day, that’s an easy question. If you’re like the rest of us, now comes the hard work – marketing your book, getting it into stores, getting media attention, and ultimately sales. None of this will make us rich though complaints on that would be far and few. That’s not what we’re in it for.

So, we do all of that. But then, if we’re lucky, a new idea bubbles up through the dark tar pit of our minds. And we’re off again, unless… it’s not a good idea. We start to write only to discover it fizzles out after a few chapters. There are very few writers who don’t have a plethora of book ideas that went nowhere. Maybe you think you’re devoid of new ideas, a possibility for sure, but not terminal. Ideas are like trains, there’s always another coming around the bend. It may not be on your time schedule, but you’re not driving that train…yet. Just be ready to board it when it does come.

True life.

In order to move forward, A Coward’s Guide to Living protagonist Jacob Will had to get past “Stop.” That’s probably true for many of us. I know it is/was/(still!) for me. We all have our issues, hangups, and internal roadblocks that prevent us from getting anywhere. And that’s what A Coward’s Guide to Living is all about.

It’s been said too many times, ‘write what you know’ and this is some of what I know or at least suspect. While this book is fiction, some of it is ‘torn from the front page’ (overly dramatic, yes?) of my life. Consequently, in those cases, I do know of what I’ve written. Some of the issues written in this book are universal, while others are personal. A number of incidents portrayed here are real and for the most part, unembellished. Except for the alarm clock.

Other situations are fiction with a hint of truth/reality in them. Hopefully, the whole book rings true. For the past few months, I’ve been teasing about the story here. Now, as I move forward with the blog part of this website, I will write more about what brought A Coward’s Guide to Living into being. I hope you enjoy it.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

So, the small PR machine has been working a bit. Radio appearances – very cool; book signings – also very cool; written interviews -OK, no wait, what? This was a new one to me and I had no idea how difficult they were. It would be a bit of a struggle.

Person-to-person interviews are, I think, easier to do. Essentially, you gather your thoughts together, remember time and dates and names, be polite and friendly and for God’s sake, don’t swear. That’s pretty much it. If you’re not being grilled by 60 Minutes, you should come out of it rather unscathed.

But a written interview? Who came up with that 21st century version of Torquemadian delights? This is a relatively new twist on PR because of the internet. I am in no way complaining or disparaging this. Not at all. I’m merely stating that it is a lot more stressful for me. With the exponential growth of bloggers and the increasing number of book reviewers plying their craft online, the written interview has moved forward in importance.

It goes something like this: you get a request for an interview. Great! But it’s for a written interview. It comes with a set of questions which by and large you would not have any trouble answering in a one-on-one session. However, it’s asking for you to commit your answers to paper or the ethernet in this case. It will then in turn be re-purposed into another’s blog. You may be asking yourself at this time, “And this is  difficult?” Yes, it is.

If it’s only one interview, no sweat. When there are multiple interviews requested, you’d like to make each seem fresh and original. Again, this is not a complaint. It is the question of how does one achieve that freshness time and time again without sounding canned. Each interview is different, yet the information I have to share is essentially the same. I suppose this is normal, but I haven’t found an easy solution yet.

With each new interview, I sit down and try to write the best response possible. In a spoken interview, so much can be said though inflection of voice, laughter, pauses, etc. Not so with the written interview. I must be far more thoughtful and deliberate as to what I write. Each answer must be honest and as insightful as possible. My goal with these is to make the reader feel as if they are speaking directly with me and this is the first time I’ve spoken about this. It is not an easy task and one I take very seriously.

Musicians talk about playing some of their most famous tunes repeatedly. Some of them find new ways to present them, others resent having to play them over and over again. I prefer that first approach. Arn? Narn. is a serious book and at the very least, I owe it that kind of respect.