Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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Doug, in A Canoer of Shorelines, is not someone who sees the point of view of the other. Doug does not care about the point of view of the other. The world belongs to Doug, and the opinion of others is only there to serve him. Doug is full of dreams and plans, and he sees your view as simply academic.
“So. When do you think you’ll be heading out again?” Julie asks, for by now she is not just concerned, she is anxious.
Doug shakes his head, grimacing. “I’m sorry, but I thought we were clear on this. I thought we were going to try again.”
“No,” Julie replies. “I just said you could stay, you know, until –“
“Precisely. You did. And now, here I am.” Doug grins. “I’d say that this is a good start.”
What does Doug have to do with self-publishing? Nothing, really. But Doug is out there, and as you set forth on the marketing road on your journey, as you writhe to bring your novel into the world, you will meet him.
Self-publishing is an exciting adventure, and soon your peers are celebrating sales and successes. Meanwhile your cousins and friends have bought your book and shared your news on Facebook. One has penned an amazing review. They are not what we call “market influencers”, but they are in your corner. That is important. The local store reports your success. They have already sold three books! And it has only been three weeks.
You are excited to see that you have many followers on Instagram now! Your inbox is filled with messages of support, and although on one level it is flattering to hear that your book is awesome, on another you worry about PayPal and hurt feelings.
You are a master of the Review Query, and have a media kit worthy of a Great Work. All you need is a Great Work to accompany it.
Somehow you schedule your first book signing to coincide with the book launch in a neighbouring town of a well-known local author. You are curled in a cozy section of a bookstore that pulses with love of books, chatting with other struggling writers about writer’s block, self-publishing, and the books we love.
You book a farm market again because you had a great visit last time – and discover that it coincides with the anticipated tropical-storm-with-significant-damage. You plan to pack a cross saw, because trees fall across your road with alarming frequency.
You have limited Internet access at the best of times; with the arrival of leaves and humidity, your signal becomes intermittent. You open promising sites, and the wheels spin. You are weary of “Check your Internet,” because you have no Internet. You scoop up lap top and portable Wi-Fi and race for the car, the dogs bounding behind you. “A car ride! A car ride! Yep! We’re going on a car ride.” You crowd them back into the house, dropping keys. The screen protector slips from your phone in the heat and slides between the slats in the deck. You leave it behind, needing to find a signal before your lap top expires. Now you are on the hill, and the temperature is 34 0C. Soon your Wi-Fi refuses to operate; it is hot to the touch. Your lap top announces that the battery is at critical low, and urges you to plug it in. You scream to the unfeeling universe that your lap top is too old for this service, and then you race for home to charge it up. You know that when you return, the signal will have moved on. You know that the Internet signal is not sentient, but you curse against a pitiless sky anyway.
You have opted to launch during the Third Wave, and you had a virtual book launch all planned. Now, you know that it will never happen, because no one wants to stare at an empty screen. You send messages and cheery updates and blog notifications instead, and begin to suspect how your marketer friends on Instagram feel when you ignore them.
Your business page will not let you post, and finally you begin to realize that the fault does not lie with Facebook. You have to log in from the browser. Just like you told people when you worked at the call centres and they didn’t like it either.
Between the moments, Doug steps in to orchestrate. Doug does not feel that you are trying hard enough. “Don’t listen,” your true friend urges; “just get your book out there -- you can concentrate on pre-Christmas sales with what you are learning now.”
Doug has ambitions involving marketing your literary novel at the adult shop in town; your friend suggests you follow the farm markets and the stores where you have discovered a kindred love of books, a possible family connection (You wore your well-loved Labrador t-shirt to a fascinating little store, and the proprietor was from Labrador!), independent book stores who will do anything to help a new author, and many reasons to smile. You discover the people that your book was written for. And you know that it is not a great book but it is a good book, because they are good people.
You awaken early one morning to a five-star review that is being posted on Twitter. Someone else is willing to undertake a review, someone who knows places that are special in the book. The Woodstock of farm markets has offered you a space. An email arrives late at night welcoming your book to a terrific little gift shop. The dogs have forgiven you for leaving them behind when you were on your car ride. Your life is moving forward. You have met incredible people and had great conversations. You have been reviewed and interviewed, and when you add up the sales, you realize that progress has been slow but steady.
Doug is not happy with these accomplishments. You are not selling many books, he reminds you. You sure didn’t organize this one! You didn’t plan. Did you think to do a marketing plan? How about a media kit? Doug was not there during the long hours you and FriesenPress put into these! Perhaps he was doing inventory in the attic?
Then Laila steps in, and her words ring across the lake: A satisfied mind is the measure of success. You listen to that one who makes sense; never mind that Doug.
Self-publishing is a wonderful, painful, joy-filled journey. Too bad, Doug, that you missed the fun.