I have an upcoming talk at our local library, and of course, I’m a nervous wreck. In my opinion, writers shouldn’t have to speak in public. If they wanted to be sociable, they wouldn’t be writers – they’d be musicians :). Back in the old days, I hear you would sell your book to an agent, the agent would sell the book to a publisher, the publisher would do all the advertising for you, and the money would roll in. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway.
Nowadays, millions of people are trying to get books published. Half the time, agents don’t even respond to your request for representation. No news is bad news. You didn’t hear from the agent? You lose. They don’t want your book.
I didn’t even bother with that part of the process. I didn’t even try to get an agent. When I decided to self-publish my first book, I actually had some good feedback from agents, but I decided I didn’t want to wait for them to make a decision, and then for the months, maybe years it would take to sell the book to a publisher. And then maybe the months, maybe years it would take to actually get the book into print. Self-publishing seemed like a nice option. I would have a book completed. It would be published. I could sell a few, give away a bunch, and have some street cred as a writer.
My first book, Dear Oprah: How I Survived Cancer and Learned to Love Daytime TV, was about my cancer experience. At the time I wrote it, I thought I would only be alive a maximum of 2 years. That was fourteen years ago. If I’d known I was going to be here for so long, I might have considered going through the hassles of trying to get representation. Still, the book has been helpful. My doctor liked it :). Some of my friends found it very comforting when they themselves became sick. My mother liked it – although, being a long-term English teacher, she did manage to find a bunch of mistakes. Oh, well.
Now I am putting out another non-fiction self-published book, Sounding the Depths. It’s okay, though. I know it’s not going to become a best-seller. I know I’m going to have to promote it myself. That’s okay. It was fun to write, and I have plenty of publications in major literary magazines and anthologies. It’s not like I need to be formally published to have bragging rights – I already have that. Now I just need to figure out how to stop being such a frickin’ chicken and learn to promote my own work.