So, I did this thing where I spent 27 years* writing a book and now that it’s done I fucking hate it. I mean, I don’t actually hate the book itself – That would be ridiculous! It’s an awesome book! – but I DO hate that I spent 36 years* working on it and now that it’s finally done I’m just finding out that, when it comes to a self-published book, there is actually no such thing as “done.”
See? Doesn’t that look done? I think so. And after working on it for the last 43 years,* I sure as hell FEEL like it’s done.
But it’s not, y’all. It’s not done at all.
The entire 51 years* I spent working on this thing, there was a finish line in my head. I truly believed – truly believed – that once it was published I could let it go. Here’s how it was supposed to go down:
I’d publish the book on Amazon, and some random guy in Topeka or Boise would see it and think Hey! That sounds funny! I think I’ll buy it! and he would. And he would read it and love it, and he would tell all his friends, and they would buy it. And then their friends would buy it. And so on and so forth and on and on until I was the biggest name in the history of independent publishing and I would live in an enormous mansion with secret passages and trap doors in every room. And I would sip champagne and laugh as I pulled the cord and sent the Big Bean down into a tank of hungry sharks or something equally life-threatening anytime he said something I didn’t like.
And I’d finally get that chin implant I’ve been wanting.
When it got hard or tiresome, when I was up until all hours writing or spending my lunch hour drawing sketches, when I was trying to get the fucking images to fit into the fucking template for the seven fucking thousandth time, I’d repeat to myself: Just get to the finish line. Just get to the finish line. Because once I passed that last hurdle, I knew I’d finally be able to relax and concentrate on more important things, like my kid’s mad soccer skills and my next creative project and, possibly, my mental health. (Not necessarily in that order.)
Just get to that finish line.
If you’re laughing right now, it’s because you’ve done this before. You know. The joke was on me.
There is no finish line.
I published my book on a Monday, and that Tuesday I sent a couple of emails to local writers’ groups announcing its release.
Me: Look! I wrote a book! Here it is! Isn’t it great!?
Them: That IS great! Where’s the Facebook page? What’s the Twitter account? When’s your launch party? What kind of merchandising are you doing? Can we see your press kit?
Them: Please tell us you at least have a web site.
Them: (shocked) Really??!? This is basic stuff, Beej. You didn’t just think you were DONE now, did you?
Me: (sheepish) Well…
Them: HAHAHA HAHAHA! Hey, everybody else! Guess what Beej did?? She wrote a book and she- HAHAAA – ohmygod sorry, it’s just so funny – she thought she was—heeheehee– DONE!!!! (wiping tears from cheeks) She doesn’t even h-h-have a — (barely spitting it out) WEB SITE!!!!! (snort) HAAAAA hee hee! Hee!
Everyone: AHHHAAAAHHAAHAHAHAAAA! DUMBASS! DUMBASS!
It turns out that the 65 years* I spent writing and drawing and navigating my book through the unnecessarily complicated template-proof-production process will all be time wasted – unless I conquer the next step. The next step is called SALES AND MARKETING, and it is horrible. It’s hard and bad and involves copious amounts of begging and schmoozing and spending lots of money and basically performing the online equivalent of a daily vaudeville performance to get attention.
Which isn’t humiliating at all.
I’m tired. I just spent 79 years* on this thing and I don’t feel like dancing. But if I choose to stick with my original plan of organic, grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing, my book will FAIL and I will be a big LOSER and have NO FRIENDS and everyone will call me BOOGER EATER and laugh and point when I walk down the street. Or at least, I think that’s how this ends.
So clearly I need to do this. Okay. I’m gonna do this. Here I go! Watch me do this!
Wait. How do I do this?
It seems like I should research this sales and promotions stuff but christ on a cracker, that shit is boring. Helpful lists and books abound – apparently, marketing a book takes anywhere from two to 1,001 steps, most of them either total kindergarten common sense or so ridiculous and smarmy that even I wouldn’t consider them. (And I think we all know that’s saying something.)
Also, um… BORING. Did I say that already? I did? Sorry, I’m a little glazed over from all the snoozing. One helpful friend sent me an article that Guy Kawasaki wrote or shared or magically pulled out of his handsome, happy, Enchanted ass – but after about two paragraphs I was all “SO MANY WORDS MAKE THEM STOP”** and gave up to play solitaire instead.
“I made a million billion dollars while you read those two paragraphs…
so it’s all the same to me.”
I did do a Kickstarter project to try and raise funds, but my video was a disaster in which I played with my hair, discovered a double chin and referred to my vagina.
I’m sure it will shock no one that I failed to reach my goal.
Clearly this is not where my talent lies. In fact, NONE of this is where my talent lies. My talent lies in making up stupid shit that’s funny. That’s it. That’s my talent. This market-your-book stuff is all sales numbers and value ratios and press kits and networking opportunities and you people DO realize I became a creative writer specifically to avoid all this crap, right??
The good news is, plenty of consultants out there are more than happy to do it all for me. For the low, low price of one zillion dollars and 99 cents, they will work very hard! Doing pretty much nothing! And they can guarantee me at least zero sales! What am I waiting for?!
So. Looks like it’s time to dust off my dancing shoes. Get ready for some jazz hands, y’all – ‘cause Mama’s about to cut a fucking rug.
I can totally do this.
*not actual time spent; just the amount I feel I spent in my heart.
** probably exactly how you’re feeling at this point, too.