Anxiety can be a good thing or a bad thing.
And in my case, it’s a good thing. It really is. Releasing a book with a qualified team and a marketing budget is reason for rejoicing. And it comes with a number of perks.
But those perks include things like media appearances, interviews, press releases, frequent travel, and having to talk about my book almost nonstop. It’s not going to be like any business I’ve ever involved myself with before.
Because this business is my business. It’s my first entrepreneurial outing, and the rest of my life is going to be repeated iterations of this upcoming year. Hopefully, each iteration will be an improvement. But even so, this year is going to be one of high stress and great obligation.
So here are some of my observations as I go sliding over the edge.
Observation #1: I Wish This had Happened a Lot Sooner
No one in my immediate family has ever had a career publishing books. As such, I didn’t have a built-in support structure for becoming a #1 novelist.
I had support structures for other possible futures. If I had chosen to be a pilot, a doctor, a jeweler, or even a politician, I would have had inroads set up for me from the moment I was born. But I never had an in with the book publishing world, so it was up to me to figure out how I was going to break into it.
And if I’d had some of the knowledge I have now, it would have been much easier and happened a lot earlier. Perhaps there is merit in long floundering and the struggle to get a foothold. Perhaps it would be disastrous if every unqualified dreamer knew how to break into their industry. Perhaps, as a keeper of secrets, I can appreciate why, both historically and at present, certain trades keep a lid on their inner workings and work so hard to exclude outsiders from their treasured knowledge.
But if I could have skipped all that, I would have. And even though I will have some advantage now for going through those early trials, I would still rearrange history to spare myself from them, as a way of getting lost time back.
Observation #2: I’m Almost Certain to Succeed
As a celebrated cheater, I have no intention of playing fair.
First-time authors who play fair get chewed up and spat out by the publishing business. Whether their publication is traditional or independent, too many authors get run out of the industry after their first book lands. They have no way of standing out or being seen among the ocean of other people in their same position.
But I have found my inroads, and my leverage is multidimensional. One lesson I have learned in recent years is “give yourself two ways to win and no ways to lose”. In the case of authors, the two ways to win are usually as follows:
- Be so good that everyone talks about your book.
- Be so transgressive that no one can stop talking about your book.
How the author is good will vary from instance to instance, as well as how the author is transgressive. One can fly in the face of genre and convention, or one can cross lines and break all sorts of taboos. And whether these qualities are of the book itself, or of elements surrounding the book, will also vary.
I’m not going to reveal my plan in a blog post, or on any public platform. But what I have in mind involves far more than two ways to be talked about. And once people start talking about me, I will not allow them to stop.
Observation #3: I’ll Be Opening My Mouth. A Lot.
My public presence has grown exponentially in the last few years. But all of that was just training wheels.
It’s one thing to perform tricks on Twitter. It’s quite another thing to sit down with people who have authority, and make a case to them. My life has been many things, but chatty is not one of them.
After years of teaching myself how to write, I must now learn how to talk.
Talk to fans. Talk to influencers. Talk to critics. Talk to other creatives. This is going to be a large part of my life going forward.
What merry mayhem it’s going to be.
And I’m not giving myself the option to back out. Win or lose, I will have to keep making appearances, even though such a thing is contrary to my nature.
But It’s Still a Little Ways Off
I have a month before the chaos begins. This week alone has been busier than the year preceding it (some of that is Covid’s fault, but things are accelerating regardless). And once the new year lands, I will be off to the races. I may even be showing up in feeds, streams, and broadcasts you are already familiar with.
As boring as my downtime has been, I do savor it. I volunteered for what is about to happen. I have no regrets.
If I’m a bit loud or transgress a bit too hard, know that it’s done only for the most mercenary of reasons, and is not the result of poor character. No, that comes later.
We’ll have huge things to talk about next year, but for now, I’m still keeping secrets.
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