Sort of. Not really. If it were, I’d be doing more of it. But, there’s always something else to do. Yesterday, someone said that writing gets harder the longer you do it. I think he might be right.
I keep thinking that if I did it more, every day, were more disciplined about it (at least as disciplined as I am with my meditation practice, which itself isn’t perfect, but I can at least say that I sit regularly with my cyber Sangha), the words would flow, I’d have more books written, I’d post more blogs, more Tweets, more FB updates.
At this moment though, I’m not sure that’s true.
Of course, if I wrote every day I’d have more words on the page. I still write long hand with a fountain pen. I love the physicality of it: watching the letters form, blacken the white empty space, turn into words, sentences, sometimes books.
But as Shakespeare once wrote: “Words, words, words.”
And there are so many of them out there, filling the enormous, infinite, empty space of the Internet, not to mention all the words in print.
This is what distracts me lately from the writing I want to do (aside from the usual self-doubt and insecurity): thinking about the writing and other activities I must do to market my recently published first novel.
Correction: “self”-published first novel. There’s some shame attached to that prefix: “self”—some of it historical, some of it from my Zen training.
My “self.” I was taught to consider others before my “self;” to lose my “self;” to not be “self”-ish.
To love myself, to promote myself, to talk about myself: that is foreign and uncomfortable territory.
But now it’s up to me to self-promote my self-published book because my agent couldn’t sell it, because no “legitimate” publisher wanted to publish it.
I read stories all the time about writers past and present who were rejected over and over again before they became best selling authors. Yesterday, these writers eventually found an editor at a publishing house who was willing to take a risk, willing to hang in for the long term, willing to support them as they polished their craft. Today, the scenario is more often that the writer is self-published—usually with an e-book first—and with time, patience and a review here and there, the book gets noticed and catapulted into bestsellerdom.
Then a mainstream publisher might take notice. Yet, more and more, self-published authors are refusing to sign with a publisher, choosing to remain in control of their books and make more money: with 70% of the royalties going straight to them versus the meager 10-25% that publishers normally offer. The readers also win here because self-published authors usually charge less than publishers. $.99-$3.99 seems to be the norm, versus $7.99 and higher from publishers. (And 70% of $3.99 is more than 25% of $7.99.)
It’s true that with a traditionally published book the onus of marketing and publicity is off the author, giving her more time to write. But there’s no guarantee that the publisher will market and publicize your book any better than an individual “self” can do it. And if one’s assigned editor moves to another publishing house, which happens frequently, then the book will languish as an orphan with no one paying attention; and then it’s priced way too high to get attention in the sea of books available to download instantly for cheap and the author has no control.
But marketing one’s book takes much effort and time away from actually writing.
So, now I’m back to “writing is the easy part.”
Once a book is written, which can take months and often years with no remuneration, comes: the editing; the copy-editing; the proof-reading; the formatting of the Word doc for all the various e-book readers (no, this is not simple); the cover design; the ISBN; choosing a price point; publishing on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords etc.; letting the world know it’s available.
Getting attention, even among friends and family, is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the whole process. Once published, your book is now in competition with all the other books out there PLUS all the other time bandits and attention getters: blogs, websites, FB, Twitter, magazines, games, email, Google, texting; the list goes on.
It is daunting. My book seems like a grain of sand on a planet full of beaches.
So, now I’ve spent the morning writing this to post on my blog, on my new website that needs some SEO: Search Engine Optimization, so that when people Google certain words, like mystery or meditation, my website will show up. This is on my list of things to do when I have the money to do it.
Then I’ll Tweet that I have a new blog post, update my personal FB and my FB fan page to let my friends know I’ve written something. And maybe a few of you will be on the computer to see that it’s here. Maybe you’ll read this post. Maybe you’ll write a note to yourself to download a copy of the book when you have time. Maybe you’ll even get around to reading it. And, if you like it, maybe you’ll post a review of it, which is the best marketing tool there is, which no one is in control of except the gods of the Internet.
Maybe nobody will read these words.
At this moment, that is okay. It feels great to be writing something. Like I said, the easy part.