marketing a book

One More Time. . .

            I’ve just finished a novel that I like a lot. Edith! Finished!

            This morning I found myself copying down information on fourteen agents who say they are looking for fiction.  Already. I have begun the mental process of composing the hook of the first line of the query letters I will send out. Edith, a disappointed old woman, doesn’t much care that her husband of forty-seven years is laying dead next to her.  Her mind is on the Christmas strata she’s to bake in an hour or so.  Too long? Too depressing?  Not appealing to anyone except maybe other cranky old women? Try again.
            This research, mulling, word crunching is not an unknown activity to me.  I’ve sent out hundreds of queries in the past.  And received hundreds of rejections which were stuck in a desk drawer until I realized how much negative energy I was absorbing from them, coupled with the anxious weeks of silence that followed my electronic submissions.  I’m not sure why I’m thinking of trying one more time to find an agent.  Perhaps I just need the ego-boost an acceptance would bring. Or perhaps I remember the several lonely year-long efforts I’ve plowed through to sell my books.  Or maybe I’m looking for a knowledgeable hired hand who knows how to find the best publisher for Edith.  And once found, it’s possible I would benefit from the publisher’s experts in the design process, in the distribution to bookstores and airport terminals, and even in getting of a newspaper review or two. 
            All these reasons for sending out query letters ring true as I evaluate them, but one more thought keeps rising unbidden to the surface.  “Yes,” I would really like to say. “Yes, I have an agent–she’s terrific!” when friends and fellow writers ask.  I know, this is shallow, very shallow, but that is where I am right now, as I shuffle through Agent Query one more time. 
            But I do wonder.  Am I alone in this compulsion?  Do any of my other writing acquaintances, mostly self-published like me, ever spend a day wondering what it would be like to have a sympathetic partner, an agent, in this process? If so, what have they done about it?  Did they find one? Or did they come to their senses and return to the realities of indie publishing?  Will I?


I’ve read somewhere that the truly insane person can be diagnosed because s/he keeps repeating the same action over and over again with no change in results.
I’m back.  Repeating.  Thinking:  maybe this time.
Another book is born. I will soon begin the usual scramble through a zillion marketing ads, offers to make my book famous if I only sign this contract or that one, advice from almost-famous authors about how they have almost done it, sort of, reluctant scans of websites reaching out to damp pleas for help from frantic, shell-shocked authors, their visions of fame and fortune shot to hell by the blast of silence that followed their triumphant yell, “I’ve finished it!”
Damn.  I’m doing it again. Becoming obsessive. Clinically.
But. Uprush looks really good.  Reads well.  May sell well to women who have the urge to look back.  Not a huge audience, but my friends love it.  They tell me they love whatever I write, though, even when it’s about pedophiles and serial killers.  They are good friends, very good friends. 
The thrill for me this time isn’t in the writing so much as the fact that I have conquered Createspace, have actually built a book, page by page, front cover to back, including a bio, a dedication page, and an icon, and that is hard work!
 I published this novel as an ebook a few years ago, distant memories that I needed to write about then and which I care about even now after all this time.
I’ve always wanted to hold these memories in my hands, feel the print.
I got my first twenty books today. They are BEAUTIFUL.  The cover is terrific. The  book’s smell, as I open a copy and breathe into it, is intoxicating. The font, thank god, is  just right for older eyes.
The thing is, I now need to sell Uprush.   Send my precious newborn out into the world. Believe that others will find it as wonderful as I do. I click my cursor, open the computer, begin.


So, most of the corrections have been made and Graffiti Grandma looks almost the way I had imagined her: good font,  clean, readable pages, most if not all glitches caught and corrected. Except. Somehow she’s wearing a faded yellow nightgown of a cover, instead of the planned, vibrant, even shocking, orange ensemble. She will not reach out and grab any perspective reader not matter how hard she tries inside.
So she’s returned for a makeover.  It will take another five days, then I’ll be sent another proof. And then I’ll be forced to face reality. I’m thinking of telling my publisher to take his time. I’m not ready to begin marketing. 
I know this because I spent the weekend re-reading old articles from writers’ magazines, reading blogs, printing out email offers, looking for advice from marketing gurus who somehow know I’m about to launch a self-published book.
Launch. An  interesting concept.
I’ve only launched one thing in my life, and the word pulls the experience out of the archives that have stored it for seventy years. World War II. My school was having a war bonds assembly. Each class was to give a short patriotic skit, and since our teacher’s husband was stationed somewhere in the Pacific, we built a wooden replica of his ship which we were to launch as we sang “Anchors Away.” Several of us believed we should be the girl to crack the bottle across its bow, but Shirley was chosen, probably because, rather than canning jars and milk bottles, she brought in a pretty perfume bottle bound in ribbons. At the end of our song, Shirley stepped up and took a whack at our ship, but the bottle didn’t break. Another whack. After the third attempt, the teacher grabbed a rope attached to the stern and yanked, and the ship, now dented with parts dropping off, slid down its slide and into blue painted waves. We clapped as the curtain closed. Shirley broke into wails, and some of us smirked as we patted her shaking shoulders.
What I need right now is someone to pull the rope for me. I do not need a perfume-bottle-with-ribbons plan, but marketing support that will get Graffiti Grandma to go down the slide and out into the great sea of books. Could I at this very moment be deciding to hire one of those people on the internet offering to do just that?   
l also wonder if a few on-lookers will be hiding smiles when Graffiti Grandma’s curtain closes.  No matter. “Anchor’s aweigh” means that the anchor is raised and clear of the sea and therefore, the ship is officially underway. I look forward to the voyage.

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