Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

SELLING ME!

Posted: February 6, 2014 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

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I’ve never been a good salesman.  Long ago I made a few attempts at being a salesman and I failed every time.  If someone offered me a job today as a salesman, saying, “I’ll pay you $2,000 per week PLUS commission,” I’d turn it down.  Why?  Because I’m 43, I know myself, and I know better.  I would make $4,000 in two weeks and then they’d fire me for not selling a single unit.  Dang, though!  $4,000!  That was good while it lasted.

I’m a bad salesman.

This applies to selling “me” as well.  I’ve never been comfortable promoting myself — “Hey!  Hey!  You!  Look at me!  LOOK AT MEEEE!”

Now, I’m in my fourth year as a devoted Facebook user, and I’ll admit that I promote myself plenty in that forum…  pics of me and the kids;  I was EMT of the year; been a non-smoker for four years now; look at this casserole I made.

“14 friends like your tuna casserole.”

But as my blog here tells you, I’m an aspiring author.  That means I’ve written something and nobody knows it, except those people in my friends list on Facebook.

“33 friends like your manuscript.”  Hmm… that’s good.  My book is better than my casserole.

As an aspiring author, I know much about the outside circle of the publishing business.  I say “outside” because I haven’t been invited inside yet.  All of the material I’ve read about how to get your book published contains a section or two about preparing the world for your authorship.  Is that a word?  Authorship?  If not, spell-check missed it.

When the time comes for a query letter or 50 and a three page synopsis I’m supposed to tell the world, or at least the literary agents, about my writing history.  Well, I’ve written a lot.  A LOT!  But I really can’t show you any of it because it’s not the kind of stuff for which you gain credit.  My biggest current project involves re-writing the by-laws for The Hartland Firefighters Association, of which I am President.  Wanna read my synopsis?

You might already be on to me, but we’ve come to the reason for this blog.  I’ve created this site because the publishing world tells me that “selling myself” is necessary if I am to get my manuscript published.  So here I am.  Look at me!  Please, look at me.

My site has been functional for less than 48 hours, but already I am noticing that there are stark differences between the types of interactions on WordPress and those on Facebook and Twitter.  Earlier today, I received a message from a woman who was thrilled to have received a “like” from me on one of her posts, and as a result, she read one of my posts and therefore gave me a “like,” as well.

This made my day.  Don’t try to detect any sarcasm here, because it’s non-existent.  I am being 100% serious.  1 Like = 1 made day.

There’s a video on YouTube that’s been trending of a kid who calls himself “Sir Fedora” celebrating the fact that he received his first like on one of his videos.   He, too, is sincere about the importance of the “like.”  In his words, “It’s still awesome that I know that you guys are there.”  I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.  To see the video, copy and paste:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZcDjcaSHvc

I mean, I don’t mind being candid with all of you.  Bloggers blog because they want people to read their blog, right?  Writers write to be read.  We might be writing about a topic we love in a genre we love but in the end, we’re looking for attention, aren’t we?  It would be tragic if we wrote our hearts out and there was nobody there to see the end result.

Perhaps I’m showing too much vulnerability to the blogging world here.  That’s okay.  Certainly every serious writer deals with self-esteem and self-image issues.  Personally, I can’t think of too many things that can make a person feel more bi-polar than writing a book.  Besides, I don’t think I’ve crossed any lines or anything.  It’s not like I’ve begged anyone for a “like,” or worse yet, a “follow.”  Dang — one follow has got to be worth at least five likes, don’t ya think?  Maybe I’ll consider begging after all.  Okay… okay… I already DID consider it.  I won’t beg.

(LOOK AT ME!)

Anyway, send me a friend request on Facebook, would ya?  I’ll show you my tuna casserole.

THE WRITER’S STRUGGLE 

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In my head five minutes ago:  Someone is gonna publish my manuscript.  It’s well-written.  It’s got a fantastic plot-line based on real events and real people.  It’ll be interesting to men AND women because it’s about life, loss, love, hope, war, coping, redemption, and the triumph of the human spirit.

In my head this very minute:  There’s no way in Hell anyone’s gonna publish my book.  I can’t friggin’ write.  The plot’s flat and it’s based on people nobody will care about.  It’s too violent for women and too wishy-washy for men.  It’s got quite a bit about lead mining and agriculture in a western Wisconsin town during the 19th century, for God’s sake.

This is the opening struggle for a writer that’s never before sought help in publishing.  Okay… maybe not the opening struggle.  The opener was whether or not I’d quit researching and get busy writing.  For a long time, I kept researching just because I was too frightened to put the pen to paper, so to speak.

The manuscript’s first draft is complete.  It’s in the hands of two qualified friends who, if they’re doing their job (unpaid, except for an acknowledgement and a signed copy, once published,) they’re putting a red pen to it in such a manner that will make it look like a piece of forensic evidence when I get it back.  When I gave the manuscript to them we (all three of us) agreed that two months time, or 60 days, would be sufficient for them to finish editing it.

I am ashamed of my own ignorance.

134 days have gone by now and I’m not sure if the end is in sight.  I’ve left both of them alone (except for the one time last Thanksgiving when I asked them if they required more time) because I don’t want to rush them or burden them or make either of them think that I’m ungrateful in any way for this tremendous favor they’re doing for me.  I am SO very grateful to both of them for taking on this task — a task that I can now see as one requiring a pretty big sacrifice in their daily routines.

THANK YOU, DEB and SCOTT!

In the meantime, I feel I’ve used my time wisely.  I’ve spent a great deal of time reading books on publishing, such as “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published,” by Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry.  I’ve also researched literary agents, and researched literary agents, and researched more literary agents. I’ve filled up half a notebook with agents and agencies and addresses and submission guidelines and query letter formats in the hopes that I’ve found a good group of competent people who can someday shatter my dreams.

That’s right… I said “someday.”  See, I haven’t even sent out queries yet.

Well, it’s not like I should have sent queries.  My manuscript is in need of final polishing yet.  But in addition to worrying about the manuscript’s condition, I still need to construct my query letters.  Then, I’ll need a one-paragraph synopsis… and a three to five-paragraph synopsis… and a one-page synopsis… and a three to five-page synopsis… and a coroner.

Did I mention I haven’t yet had the pleasure of a rejection letter yet?