Now comes the real adventure.
The challenge with all new authors, self-published or small press, is creating enough of a convincing argument to the general public that (a) your writing is good and (b) you’re committed to your writing.
It’s rare for those authors (e.g., me) to be able to use the traditional path of canvassing agents to interest them in your work and then hoping that their business model includes marketing support. The mountain is doubly high, since I also have to convince the buying public that my work is entertaining and worth their hard-earned dollars. Even within the more modest cost-framework of e-books, with so many choices it’s a grind keeping my work “out there” until it gains its own momentum.
Similarly, I made the journey more challenging by writing a trilogy. It’s tough enough to coax readers to try a book from an unknown author, but to then expect them to buy two more in order to get the “whole” story is asking a lot. I’ve touched on this before. The natural questions are: Will the author ever finish the work? Do I want to spend money on the first installment from someone I’ve never heard of versus other likely more safe choices? Is there any guarantee that, even if the first book is good, the next two books will be good?
For me, the completion of the trilogy is a personal victory, an achievement of great pride and satisfaction. I would love to have more people read and enjoy the books, but as it stands, I am happy. Given that, it would be easy to just do my victory lap, pop some champagne and then leave the metaphor in the garage. But I think the books deserve more.
I am pleased by my feelings. Insecurities and neuroses aside, after rereading the (roughly) 600-page story, I think it’s a darn entertaining tale and I would be sad if it never saw greater exposure than it has to date.
Fortunately, now that the trilogy is complete, I think I can make greater inroads in both areas, professional and public. Beyond the commitment that completing the story shows, it is also an easier sale to a reader now that they know they can read the beginning, middle and end. As for agents and reviewers, well, the book is no longer an “idea”, it’s not a synopsis or outline, it’s a fully developed story with engaging characters, an intriguing “hook” and a satisfying conclusion. In other words, it’s a marketable product, requiring the agents only to decide if the market for the product is large enough to entice them.
As with my original goals, I would prefer to be my own “agent”, dealing (more or less) directly with readers and bypassing the entanglements that come with contracts and lawyers and etc. My hope is that I will be able to leverage the full trilogy into better publicity and exposure and ultimately more readers. I like the story I’ve crafted and I am eager to have others enjoy it, too. Optimism aside, I recognize that my skill set may not include self-marketing (which is what you are ultimately doing with a book you write) and that may mean I need to “re-pitch” agents again. For the near future, though, I’ll see if I can generate the buzz on my own.
Of course, any of you who followed along with me to the winner’s circle can feel free to add your own horn-tooting and word-of-mouthing into the mix. I’m okay if you want to wait until you’ve read “What Now?” first. After all, you don’t wave the checkered flag with one lap to go!