Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Agreement (Still Fall, Colder Still)

Less than a month after Brown Paper Publishing agreed to publish The Dog at the Signpost, I received an author's agreement from the company. A straightforward three-page document, I hurriedly read it, sent a copy to a more experienced author friend of mine for advice (he largely approved of it) and signed it. Among other things, BPP promised to send out 25 review copies, set up a website for the book and get some copies out to literary contests.

Now it was official. I was to be published. I couldn't help having the feeling, though, that at any moment it could all go foully wrong. The publisher would fold. It would turn out to be an elaborate hoax. The head editor and publisher Juan DeCarlo (not his real name) would meet with an untimely demise or disappear mysteriously somewhere in the misty foothills of South America. So I was still telling people, but being very cagey. Still analogous to the whole pregnancy thing, it was a very touchy situation. The last thing I wanted to do was to jinx it. Still, the book was to be published in less than four months so it was time to get some promotional plans together.

It has been said that there are essentially five stages to facing one's own death: anger, denial, depression, bargaining and acceptance. I have found that there are at least three stages to writing and publishing a book and each step becomes subsequently more difficult than the last. Writing it is difficult enough. If you've managed to crank out a story with a beginning, a middle and an end (and even if has no plot per se), that's an accomplishment. Getting it published is another huge step. But for me, the most difficult aspect was (and remains) marketing it. How on earth could I compete with already established authors (living and dead) for precious shelf space in brick and mortar stores? I am fortunate to live in the Internet age. And thank Providence for amazon.

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