Somewhere around thirty years ago, I met Bruce Bethke for the first time – when I responded to an ad in a newspaper for a science fiction writers group seeking new members. I called, then sent in an “audition story” and was invited to join the group at the ORIGINAL, original Loft Literary Center (before grant money started flowing) in Minneapolis. One of THEM reviews books now, the other published a few books and short stories but no longer writes. Bruce doesn’t write much lately except for non-fiction; he is currently executive editor of STUPEFYING STORIES, an irregular anthology of new speculative fiction, he mostly works for a super computer company as well as presiding over Rampant Loon Press. These nuggets of wisdom can be found here: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/06/a-12-step-program-for-writers/. They are used with the author’s permission.
6. We are entirely ready to let someone else take the blame for the way our last book tanked.
As I only HAVE one book, I can’t exactly address this. My ONLY book is still being sold even though (as I talked about earlier), the contract I signed was essentially a work-for-hire and though they continue to print copies (it’s ranked #1,775,076 today!) and sell it. So I can’t actually say it tanked…it’s just that I signed a stupid deal and have absolutely no one to blame but myself.
I stopped promoting the book ages ago because I have little desire to line the pockets of the robber barons who rip off writers In The Name Of Jah-Heez-Zus.
So then, I’ll move on to the present. I have a science fiction manuscript that made it out of the slush pile at BAEN BOOKS. My agent is confident that VICTORY OF FISTS will sell somewhere. I had a short, kids’ science fiction story in the January issue of CRICKET MAGAZINE (http://www.cricketmagkids.com/new/january-2013). So what’s up now?
I’m looking at my platform whilst reading the book CREATING YOUR WRITER’S PLATFORM (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/create-your-writer-platform-chuck-sambuchino/1111306282?ean=9781599635750) in which Chuck Sambuchino forces me to ask the question: “What is my visibility as an author?”
That’s what a platform is.
It’s relation to the sixth step of the Twelve Step Program should be obvious, but if it’s not, it goes something like this: If you’re invisible as an author, then your book will tank.
Apparently, the halcyon days of book promotion tours on the publisher’s penny are gone forever. In fact, as far as doing tours at all, there are fewer and fewer places that a flesh and blood writer can go to. (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/barnes-noble-chairma-to-bid-for-bookstores-retail-business/) If there’s nowhere for a writer to go, then how do we let people know that we’ve written a book?
One way, I suppose would be to talk to all the people you see, but as a writer sees few people in a day, that’s sort of a moot point. How about the people you email, text, FB or otherwise interact with in cyberspace? How many of you have been to a webinar? (Scary fact: the dictionary program of Window 7 RECOGNIZES THE WORD WEBINAR AS A REAL WORD AND IT IS ALREADY A PART OF THE STANDARD DICTIONARY!!!!!!) How many of you even knew what a webinar was in 1990? (According to the online dictionary, the word is a portmanteau of “webcast seminar” and was coined in the early 90s.)) How many of you have led a webinar?
With the birth of the cyber platform comes the necessity of having some sort of online presence. That of course, has created an industry dedicated to creating a class of cyber etiquette for authors. How many times can I mention my writing before my friends and online contact begin to block me – or worse yet, start to mark my FaceBook posts and emails as SPAM or junk?
So, in this cyber world, is Bruce’s Sixth Step even a valid statement anymore? It appears to me that the only answer possible is that I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN BE BLAMED (as no one else gives a rip).