Sunday, July 31, 2011

Curing the Newly-Published-Author Syndrome

My first book appeared in 2005, in my sixty-seventh year, so I was a new author, if not a young one. How did it feel to see my short stories in print? How did it feel to try to get those stories noticed by someone besides my family and friends? Here's how I described the experience at that time:
At last,  my dream had come true: I was not just a writer; I was an author.  The book jacket and typography were beautiful. My cover photograph was flattering, but fairly honest. And the work itself? The stories seemed even more subtle and profound than when they were merely Verdana-12-point words on my PC screen. But my youthful fantasies of becoming a famous author -- lauded by the literati and wooed by Hollywood -- had a very short half-life. Hundreds of other books were published in the same week that mine was born and, without reviews, the distance between literary birth and death was miniscule.  What's a first-time author to do?
Of course, you should send out news releases and review copies to major outlets, which are likely to ignore you. But you should also approach your local or neighborhood newspapers, your college/university alumni magazine, and publications of the professional, fraternal, or religious organizations you belong to. Speak to the managers of local bookstores, suggesting a personal appearance, reading and book signing.  And don't forget the local libraries. I promoted my book at my health club, the bagel shop where I have breakfast,  and even at the local post office.  In short, forget those teenage fantasies of fame: in the real world, you have to do the hard work, day after day, to attract even a little attention.
That's why I sent a copy of my book to Carl Gustaf, the King of Sweden.  I don't know if he has much clout with the Nobel Prize Committee, but it can't hurt.