This week was a whirlwind. Totally insane. Feeling like a Tasmanian devil with a pen, I have not yet caught my breath and have been sweating uncontrollably, yet it has also been the best week I’ve had in a very long time. I now understand why it seems that everything moves at the speed of light in publishing. Because it does!
On Thursday, we posted “The Penis Poll: How the Bestselling Erotic Books Measure Up” here on Indie Reader, where it was well received and widely shared. Later in the day we heard talk that it may get picked up by another outlet. Not jumping to conclusions, I repeated my mantra for situations like those: “just breathe.”
On Friday, our first ever penis poll was picked up by Jezebel.com and posted as “It’s Not the Size of the Book, It’s the Motion in the Ocean: Filthy Novels, Rated.” Last time I looked it had over 40 thousand hits. Pretty exciting, I know!
Within the same day, the piece was also picked up by the Huffington Post with its original title, which was extra cool, since I have not yet written anything that has appeared in the Huff Post—my go-to online source for all things newsy and bookish. I look at the site at least twice a day and always find something I love. Happy dances ensued.
Thinking about these events transpiring caused me to do something else I have not done before—what the hell I was on a roll. I tweeted for the first time ever. Proud of me? Well, I am.
My first tweet said: “This is my first tweet. Ever. And it is happening because of a penis poll.” In awe when typed, laughed till tears came when re-read. Perfect!
As I boldly explore the world of Twitter (and rewrite my resume) I want to make sure that I say that you, dear readers, are the reason I am all atwitter. Pun fully intended, cheesy or not. Without the support of the Indie community, I would not have fared so well. Not. A. Chance. So thanks for that, and know that I will continually support your work just as you support mine.
I’ve been saying for over a year that we exist in a supportive community of authors–and readers!–who really do look out for one another, network extensively and promote each other’s books with vigor. I have believed that since… well, always. When I worked for Penguin, I had oodles of experiences where I worked my editorial butt off for a terribly low salary. Surrounded by Jiffy bags and Avery labels, I mail merged my ass off in order to help sell books. The books were written by well-known authors with extensive platforms and followers, famous people, musicians, actors, astrologers, comedians, you name it—we did it.
Somehow the fascination of having drinks with Dan Rather or pastry puffs in Judy Collins’ penthouse just wasn’t cause for alarm when you had line edited personal details of big names on a daily basis. Meeting Julia Cameron and Erica Jong for example—absolutely amazing and honored to do so. Yet as I ordered lilies or tulips and lunch from Blue Ribbon in preparation, I knew that I was just the assistant bringing coffee, and I was lucky to get the autographed galley to gift to my mom when the time was right.
Fear of Flying made a great gift two Christmases ago, when our relationship grew up. The Artists Way I couldn’t hold back since my mom’s an actual artist and that was a score just in time for a birthday. I was always getting thank you notes and those giant apples dipped in caramel from Williams Sonoma, or chocolate covered potato chips—those kicked some PMS ass back in the big six days. Many of the big names were gracious and amazing. I never once regretted working late without overtime. From chocolate tastings at Saks Fifth Ave. to book parties at every swanky place you could think of, I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t even gripe at the mood swings of coworkers who were in their first job out of college and oblivious to the faux pas galore that went on. And I totally miss things like Carson Kressley skipping down the corridor.
BUT in all sincerity, the traditional publishing world is missing an enormous piece of something crucial to lasting success and sanity. Can you guess what it is?
Hint: Indies have it in droves. There is no lack of it in this community and if there were, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I wouldn’t be writing this. You wouldn’t be reading it and nobody would have a clue what they were missing.
Give up? NO—YOU DON’T! That’s what makes it all come together. Indie authors are driven and we know that if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. We have passion. We want it so bad we can taste it, so we keep going.
Tried a zillion times to reach out to traditional publishers and gotten zero response? Not so much as a rejection letter? Well, they are most likely even shorter staffed, had many rounds of layoffs and the assistants have twice the work (at least) that they did in the early 2000s. I would imagine that the slush meetings we used to have each month are probably cut out of the budget by now. I assume there are no longer any Halloween parties with garbage cans filled with beers and booze on ice rolling down the halls. I venture to guess that holiday parties are not held at clubs rented out in their entirety, nor do they offer top shelf open bar…just a hunch on that one. There are likely very few book parties with caviar—unless the author uses their own account at Dean and Deluca. There are probably rarely mailings of five hundred galleys to a list that may or may not be updated and may or may not yield twenty to fifty returned meticulously stuffed Jiffy bags.
Why prattle on about the luxuries that used to be? That’s simple: as Indies, we have something so much better. Indie authors and their fans know that all that crap doesn’t matter. What matters is the book. If the book is good, it will take you to a spot on the very same list.
Can’t afford to send hundreds of galleys out? Offer a free download—even if for a week. Can’t think of something that hasn’t been used to market your book? Ask your entire contact list of beta reading buddies to help get the word out, and do the same for them. Need a new platform for your work? Make business cards at Vista Print and distribute them everywhere you go. Trust me—that one works in the most interesting ways, and it is so cheap you may just want to get postcards made up too. And of course, network your ass off. That one is a given.
A few months ago I went to BEA. It was awesome. I met so many people in the industry. Mainstream and indie authors all mingled together in an enormous forum to sell their books. One week to get the attention they deserve and man did people work hard. I was sweating just watching the suits and blazers. And I met some really cool people. A lot more Indies were in attendance there than ever before—a good sign indeed; and a refreshing change.
Before that I went to a women’s conference about promoting your business. It was yet another opportunity to network and I made the most unlikely connections, but I did realize something. If you have a business, you have a website—so you should hire me to write for it. Why not? So I went for it the best I could. And it worked.
As I stumbled through Twitter this weekend and began to see the way it goes, I kept returning to the Huff Post and to Jezebel.com to peer lovingly at my byline. I’m so proud of the things I write. They weekly nuggets are my babies. I know that we all feel that way about our books. I wouldn’t have it any other way. (They may be the best kind of babies to have—no poop and no crying from the pages!) I’m proud to be an indie, thankful for all the support, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now get back to writing and send us your stuff!