I’m going to do some bragging. Not about my books, although some have received awards. No, this time I’m bragging about myself. I’m brave. That’s right brave. Because I’m an author, I’m brave. I hear coughing and sputtering. Surely I’m joking. No. I have several reasons to back up my claim.
Let me qualify my statement. These facts do not apply to the well-known authors. King, Grisham, Patterson, et al. They have staffs, big bucks from publishers, and each has a fan base automatically buying the next product. They don’t have to be brave. They’ve made it. I’m talking about the mid-list and lower authors.
All right, here’s my proof of bravery. First, we work alone. A solitary existence, sitting at the computer typing our novels. A nod here to those who resist computers and still write by hand. We have day jobs, grabbing time to write when all other “distractions” can be put aside. Or we’re retired and have the time to devote to our trade. We are not able to sustain ourselves merely on book sales. Other sources of income are necessary to provide food for the table.
Secondly, we have no staff. We write, edit, and search, on our own, for publishers (or agents - knowing we have a million to one shot). Then, if we’re fortunate enough to be published, we have to market, handle the finances, the taxes, schedule book appearances, and visit money-strapped librarians to convince them our books should be on their shelves. We must seek out a famous author who will agree to give us a blurb supporting our masterpiece. Without contacts this not an easy task.
Then we have to blog. Every day. Some of us are reluctant to blog because it’s so time consuming. But a blog gets your name out there, hopefully to thousands of anxious followers.
Another act of bravery is allowing our work to be read. An editor will tear apart those painstakingly selected words. Ripping out entire paragraphs, and exclaiming how useless your favorite chapter is. At least 99% of the time a query to an agent for representation is a recipe for rejection. How many times can you absorb sending out a query only to receive a form letter with a flat no thanks? That is, if you get any answer at all.
Then there are the disasters of setting up a book signing at a Barnes and Noble where no one shows up. You spend gas money, time away from writing and grab an unhealthy lunch at a fast food place. Then you find out no one has assigned a place for you to set up your display. No matter, not a single person visits to buy the book and then hungers for your autograph. The only human who stops asks where the restroom is. Oh, I’m sorry. Scratch the Barnes and Noble signing. If you’re not one of their accepted authors because your publisher can’t afford to swallow the required cut of the book price, you can’t appear with them.
Is this not bravery? Only the brave will continue. I’m the knight in tarnished armor, trekking down the literary trail, jousting with windmills and tasting Big Macs. I foresee a shining castle on a hill that loves authors. No qualification of nobility other than that a book has been published. When I cross that drawbridge, I will notify all my author brethren. Here is the place to bring your volumes. I’ll shout from the top of the turret.
Okay, back to work, my liege.