My twelfth book will be published in a few days. Okay. February 15th, to be exact, with what the publishers call an “on sale” date of March 7th. By now, I should have the next two months booked solidly with author events. I should have pounded that last shiny nail into my publishing platform. I should have solidified my brand, built a vast array of followers on twitter, and amassed a large number of friends on facebook who await my every shimmering pronouncement.
Sad truth? I have some events scheduled. I have many lovely facebook friends. And I am invited to guest blog on a number of sites over the next two months. But I am not seriously overbooked. I am not frantic. Nor am I riding the crest of the wave, over the moon with excitement at the advent of this new book. In truth, I am more like paralyzed.
Years ago, I remember a friend talking to me about the secret fear that we all carry–you know the one where you wake up one day and they’ve discovered that you’re a fake? Well, that’s me. No. I don’t fear that I’m going to be revealed as not truly a writer. In that arena, I’m pretty confident. I write good books, I create good characters, I devise nice complicated characters and intricately interwoven plots. I tell a good story. No. What is going to be revealed is that I am not a marketer.
You can ask my friends, and they’ll agree. I am a good public speaker. A good moderator. I can organize a good library program and I can keep an audience engaged. I love my readers and happily engage in dialogue with them. I will share recipes, give writing tips, carry your compliments close to my heart, and cherish the e-mails you send. I will encourage other writer’s careers. Delight in publishing other writers and encouraging readers to buy THEIR books. I will share whatever I know that might be helpful. I am a good citizen of the writing community. It’s just that when faced with the job of twisting people’s arms, waving my banner, and saying, BUY MY BOOK. HOST MY EVENT. INVITE ME TO BE YOUR SPEAKER. BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK. BUY MY BOOK. I…uh…well, I often become paralyzed.
Maybe you can help. Send a savvy 17-year-old to be me on Twitter, who is willing to sit with me at bookgroup and send out a message that reads: At bookgroup, talking about Charles Mann’s 1491 and 1493. Another that reads: Reading Snakes in Suits. R U a psychopath? Send me a 20-something marketing major who wants to actually build that platform and solidify my brand–it would be very good experience, a challenging one, for someone to figure out what the brand is of someone who writes a series about strong women, another about middle-aged male cops, and also writes true crime looking over the shoulders of the investigators. HINT: At bottom, it’s about morality. It’s about the question of good and evil. It’s about the way crime resonates among those left behind.
You could invite me to your bookstore, your library, your book group or writer’s group. Your mother-in-law’s 83rd birthday party (as long as I can sell books) or perhaps a pancake breakfast. I might even bring some of my fun and more outgoing writer friends. Or a bag of books as give-away. Or I might tell you deliciously dark stories about chemicals that damage the liver or what it’s like to be shut in a morgue freezer with the lights off. Maybe we could have some fun if you could induce me to leave my room.
Meanwhile, in a few days, the postman will come and bring me a copy of Redemption, my third Joe Burgess mystery, set in Portland. I will get out all of its brothers and sisters, all eleven of them, and I will take their photographs. Row of Twelve, I will call it. And I will beam, and get very excited. Because as a wonky reader growing up in Union, Maine, being the published author of twelve hardcover books is something I never imagined. It’s still breathtaking.
Then, perhaps, I will begin to move my arms and legs in the requisite “buy my book” dance. Wish me luck.