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The Art of Self-Promoting… does it ever really pay off?

I always dreamed of the day I would see my fiction novel sitting on a bookstore shelf. There is something about this mental image far more exciting in prospect than having your work sitting as a flat link in cyberspace. Don’t get me wrong, the Internet has opened up whole new avenues of availability for writers like me in terms of worldwide pockets of readership groups, peer reviews, digital reading formats, etc. However, after the initial excitement you feel when a digital publisher announces your ‘masterpiece’ has been unleashed on the worldwide web, there is a gradual feeling that you have – in some way – let yourself and your work down.

To illustrate this kind of feeling, let me briefly digress. I once owned a beautiful Golden Retriever. After extensive grooming and lead training, I entered her in the local dog show. She wasn’t just a beautiful dog in my eyes, alone; everybody that met Jade felt she was a uniquely special dog. Anyway, the long-awaited day had arrived. It quickly turned out that Jade was the only Retriever in her age category, but she was shown anyway. She performed well. She earned the first prize ribbon, essentially because there were no other dogs or ribbon places to give my dog anything but first place. The point? I feel that I’m in competition against myself, whereas a publisher can at least confirm (first thing out the gate) that you’re odds-on to be at least a minor hit, or they wouldn’t have backed you.

Family and friends are wonderful at encouraging you with your writing, and telling you to ‘get the book out there’. Luckily, I have friends and family who – despite loving me – are not in the habit of sugar coating their feedback. This did wonders for my editing, and for my self esteem, and I ended up with (to the best of my ability) a stream-lined vision of my original flabby story. I was finally ready to unleash the product of my imagination on the world. I always knew that my story didn’t fit into any one genre, however, and neither did I have an exact idea of my Ideal Reader. I just knew I was onto a unique idea, and I hope that some day it will really find its stride.

One would think that a novel concerning the life and times of people ascribing to different belief systems (Atheism, Wicca, Christianity) would find a home amongst the more open-minded of this 21st century. But, I’m getting the sneaking feeling that Western society has developed a taste for the purely supernatural, rather than the spiritual. The funny thing is that the two go hand-in-hand. Spirituality doesn’t have to be a dry, clunky affair. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In my novel, spirituality delineates how it draws some together, and forces others apart. How that many spiritual assumptions begin with the best intentions but are based on ignorance, or define you simply by virtue of your upbringing. It may be something you hold onto as a last-ditch effort at what seems sane in a crazy world. Spirituality forces situational change, can cause a change of heart, or cause a heart to harden. It starts things. It ends things. As someone who spent 10 years growing up in a religious cult (my parents’ decision), I find the subject of spirituality endlessly fascinating, though something that should never be treated lightly or written presumptively.

Short of getting a tee-shirt printed with BUY MY BOOK ONLINE! or planning a multi-suburb leaflet drop, I’m definitely going to keep plugging away online. It doesn’t help to hear of new snapped-up writers who get their book optioned for movies before the print’s even gone cold. Having said that, maybe that’s the elusive hope of the Internet that keeps people like me plugging away. That, at the end of the day… who knows what could happen?

The Other Side