Since the day I decided to write Minor King, marketing it has been the elephant in the room. But something that I knew had to happen. How to set up the website so I could let people know when and where to access the story? How to make the art compelling enough for people to want to look closer? How to establish a presence in all the right distribution channels? How to mobilize friends to help spread the word? Etc., etc. It’s maddening.
And it all seems like an exercise in ego-building. I don’t know how others do it.
Yes, marketing is my day job, but this is different. I didn’t write MK to become a “real” writer. And I didn’t write it to get rich. I’m not delusional. I also didn’t write this book for anyone’s approval. If most people who read it–like it, great. If they don’t (and there will definitely be some who don’t,) that’s ok too. I’m clearly hoping for the former, as wasting anyone’s time is not the intention. The intention has always been simply to share the story.
Would I one day like to make writing things like Minor King (not just copywriting and brand building) a sustainable practice? Absolutely. That’s my dream. But I’m not banking on that happening from my first book. Or even my tenth. I just know that I have to keep writing. It’s like a beast clawing at me from the inside. And so if I’m ever to reach my dream, and stave off the beast, marketing is necessary.
The process of writing and marketing a novel is like creating a painting that you keep covered up. Then one day the paint dries and you can’t wait to share it with people. Not for their approval. Not so they can determine whether you’re a “real” painter or not. But simply to share the art. The story.
Oscar Wilde said this about writing for acclaim: “Popular authority and the recognition of popular authority are fatal. … A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public. The public are to him non-existent. He has no poppied or honeyed cakes through which to give the monster sleep or sustenance. He leaves that to the popular novelist.”
I did not write Minor King to become a popular novelist. And yet marketing it is an important function if I want to reach my dreams. That’s why from a website, Facebook page and Twitter account, to a presence on Amazon and Goodreads, I’ve tried to establish the brand in all the relevant channels (yes, G+ too, but only for the SEO juice.) That’s me doing my regular job. But unlike when I build brands for others, this is me building me. And it’s awkward.
I wrote a novel to share a story. That’s it. Not for fame or fortune. Not to do live readings at coffee shops. Just to share a story. The long-form writing was a great experience. So great that I want to do it again. Because I’m finally ok with who I am. For good or bad, for wealth or poverty, I’m a writer. I’m 50 years old and I clearly understand my charge on this planet. It’s a good feeling. And it doesn’t require anyone’s approval. Though in order to make it sustainable, it does need proper marketing.
Regardless of how Minor King is embraced by people, it won’t be my last book. The beast is indifferent to success and failure.
Thanks for reading my blog post. Here’s a snippet from a chapter titled A Kick to the Balls:
Three months after committing to writing again, I hit a wall. There was only fragmented chaos to show for my efforts. As much as I tried to believe that I was moving in the right direction, there was nothing in the work to indicate that I was either moving at all, or had anything to say.
My faith was slipping as the pain inside of me intensified. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep going. Either I was going to produce something that justified further emotional investment, or see a doctor about permanently altering my chemicals so that I wouldn’t have to think about this shit any more. I decided to give it one last shot and arranged to get away where I could focus exclusively on the writing.
Away from The Machine.
Minor King is currently available for preorder via Amazon and is scheduled for launch on December 20, 2014. My friends Tamela Rich and Laurie Goldman Smithwick are both hard at work getting the editing and design components to the finish line. And boy am I grateful for them.