Danke Deutschland! Cachet to Canada! Yay to the U.K. and the USA! Fondness to France! These are the countries in which I’ve sold at least one copy of the novel this first year of its publication. Lately, in terms of sales, it’s been the U.S. U.K., Germany and Canada leading the way. It’s a thrilling privilege to connect across borders and here’s hoping all the intrepid first-adopters and audacious adventurers indeed enjoyed taking a risk with the book or at least felt it was worth a try. It’s not going to be for everybody, I know, but brave readers make all the difference. Thank you all so very much.
Moreover, outside of the aforementioned countries, there have been visitors to the website from all over the world, namely:
- United Arab Emirates
Whether the visit is merely cursory or not isn’t as important to me in this early phase of authorpreneurship as being allowed the exposure and visibility – the seeding of the field – as I seek a readership and a tribe. I’m not writing to please (who can actually do that, anyway?) but rather to communicate and connect. And to express my vision and inspirations as an end in itself. Because they’re never just our own. This is the job of art-craft and it sounds simple enough to get yourself out there, as it were, and make things happen. For some fortunate folks, the zeitgeist riders perhaps, I suppose it is easy. But I suspect most of us, authorpreneur or otherwise, find ourselves running smack up against the gaping void, as Hugh MacLeod I think once referred to it.
My point, as I approach my one year anniversary as an authorpreneur and one hundred book sales (yay to that, let’s get there!) is that it’s been every bit as thrilling, discouraging and fulfilling and desperately disappointing an experience as everyone says it is. But that it can be done even if you’re not the hot ticket, if you’re starting from scratch as an industry outsider with zero connections and zero experience. If you can write you will find your niche. It ‘ain’t gonna be pretty. You are going to make mistakes. Big ones (which might make a good topic for another post someday; hell, it’s all in my journal anyway). It isn’t going to turn out like you expect. And it will take money. I’ve discussed the amount of money in previous posts and make no mistake, it is significant. Meanwhile, as Joe Campbell suggests, it’s wise to discard your plans and live the life that is waiting for you. One goddamn book sale at a time!
If you’re new to indie publishing you may appreciate some “does and don’ts” from the perspective of a fellow wannabe. Because I still consider myself a wannabe authorpreneur. While getting paid even a dollar for your work makes you a professional, a true authorpreneur, as the folks at Alli (allianceindependentauthors.org) like to describe it, requires something like 12,500 sales per year. To be sustainable. Not rich. Not even well off. But at $2-$5 or so of royalties per sale, well, that means $25,000 – $62,500 per year. Income. Before taxes. Year after year. Otherwise, like me, you’ll be working hard for every sale, enjoying the twenty-four-hours of bliss that comes with it and then enduring the cosmic chill and sense of exile that’s a part of every other hour and day and week and month of your writing life. And working another job to pay the bills as best you can. The undermining of one’s search for mastery appears inevitable. It’s a very challenging work in progress.
But here’s to starting. You have to start somewhere is a platitude but damn if it doesn’t ring true in your worst moments. You have to begin. And the very second that you do, you’re on your way, you’re no longer getting ready to get ready and now you’re doing it. You graduate to player immediately upon stepping onto the playing field. Otherwise, becoming a novelist that gets read will remain a fantasy instead of a strategy. Write. Edit. Hire your professionals, do your reading, suck it up and take the advice. Much of which may not be pleasant and most of which will cost you yet more money to implement. An ecommerce capable website, for example, would be the thing I was never keen on having to maintain let alone pay for. (And if you tried to buy the eBook today on carnegieolson.com you’d see that I’m dealing with some technical glitches). But it’s a necessary aspect of legitimization and so-called social proof, at least for those of us with platforms (ugh, the idea of platforms!) the size of… well, barely this side of macroscopic.
And here’s to being barely macroscopic as an achievement because when you first publish and face the idea of actually selling a book to somebody besides your family and friends (and there may not be as many of those as you’d perhaps expect), it’s probably only your unhinged enthusiasm, desperate zeal and indomitable visions of greatness that will keep you from thinking you just may have made the biggest mistake of your life. Thinking you’re good enough to be paid to write, that is. You’ll likely find that in many cases you can’t goddamn give your book away. Nobody wants to know. Not even your mother. I’m not kidding.
I think it’s commonplace for “emerging” authors like me to somehow delude ourselves into assuming, beyond all reason, that the world is waiting for our book to arrive. It’s so common an expectation that it has to be simply a given amongst us. I WROTE THIS. Um, Hello? It was David Whyte, in Crossing the Unknown Sea, I think, who declared with such sparkling perspicacity that any new idea is most often greeted with some species of silence. And Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s wrote that anything can seem like a failure in the middle. I’m paraphrasing and these men have borrowed this wisdom from the depths of time, of course, but there it is. Reality and the reality of the process. But I won’t get carried away with aphorisms.
Be persistent. Scrub metaphorical floors. Drink. Smoke. Whatever it takes. I’m serious. I’m not here to sugar coat it or suggest saintly and rational and reasonable responses to hellish, irrational crushingly unreasonable demands. Dream hard. Live hard if you have to. Being a writer is taking everything I’ve got, anyway. And then more. It’s also, on a good day, giving me everything in return. Everything I can’t get anywhere else. I don’t need to recommend it because if you’re a writer you will write anyway. Anyhow. Anywhere. Any way you can and oftentimes in spite of yourself. There’s already no stopping you. It’s just becomes a matter of professionalizing and perhaps surrendering to what is already your life’s work.
So, do the scut work and realize that bliss and vocational fulfillment doesn’t equate to happiness; rather, it equates to bliss and fulfillment. Bliss as the sense of being properly alive, as Joe Campbell described it. Fulfillment as work bestowing autonomy, complexity and commensurate reward, as Malcolm Gladwell suggests. Yes, it’s only so-called book wisdom I’m spewing. Avail yourself of it or not. Find the wisdom in the medium which works for you. Surrender to your personal mythology. Or try digging your own trench through the labyrinth of life instead of setting yourself free like Theseus with the aid of Ariadne’s thread (who in some versions of the myth got the idea from Daedalus himself). Guides exist. Use them. Or suffer.
Pressure and time. Persistence. Playing to your talents instead of spending half your life trying to improve upon your weaknesses. Good luck with that. Been there, done that. Rather, live immersed within your vocation. Deliberately practice it. It’s enough, believe me, even when it mostly seems like it isn’t. It will sustain you. And as Robert Fripp suggests, a practice involves taking a seeming disadvantage and turning it to an advantage; the greater the disadvantage, the greater the possibility for advantage. More aphorisms, sorry, but this is stuff I’ve been writing about for ten years. How to work and live and have the experience of being properly alive.
“They say God has one hundred names, my Moleman friend. And that the hundredth is known only to the camel.”Carnegie Olson, Time Crime, (Ann Arbor: Humble Hogs Press, 2020), 335.
So suggests Hesso when he and Vixy confront Five in the Egyptian desert. I hadn’t planned on this post being an attempt at inspiration, let alone advice for writers or anyone. It’s just me expressing what means most to me. The wisdom doesn’t come from anyone in particular and belongs to all of us. Humble heroes have voiced it throughout the ages. Perhaps we indeed access the truth by way of a Jungian collective unconscious. In any case, as Joe Campbell aptly declared, “It’s not me, it’s the myths.”
If there’s a hundred names for God or the Divinity of your choice there’s perhaps a thousand ways to say thank you. I suppose that’s what this post is all about. Saying thank you to those of you who bought the book, even if it wasn’t your cup of tea. Thank you for reading or listening to a free copy. Thank you for giving new things a chance. Thank you for clicking on an advertisement and just being curious. Thank you to all those folks who have helped me be an authorpreneur. It’s a long way home for most of us. Like Five. And Vixy. And Mr. Z. And while the Gregorian calendar isn’t everybody’s calendar, it’s mine, and before the New Year, I want everyone out there who gives a shit to know I appreciate the experience writing and publishing novels. And it makes my day to sell one to somebody who likewise gives a shit. It’s a privilege.
What about Time Crime Book 2? Well, they say the second draft is for adding what’s missing, the third draft is for taking out what isn’t necessary and the fourth draft is devoted to polishing (which is where the professional editor comes in). I’m about a third of the way through adding what’s missing. So, two and a half drafts to go. There are permissions to obtain. There’s a professional book cover to create. All of these things must be paid for. The stretch goal for publication is – I’m declaring it now – September of 2021. It can be done. 2022 would be a piece of cake. But I like stretch goals. We’ll see. Meanwhile, again, my wholehearted thanks to each of you. And, as I think the Irish like to say, may the road rise to meet you.