Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Life as a Literary Prostitute

UPDATE: I was pleasantly surprised to see two cool e-mails when we came back off vacation: One was an award for Second Place in the Mainstream/Literary Novel category of Southwest Writer’s 31st annual contest for  my novel, Nisei. The other was from Akashic Press saying my story, Mathers Bridge, was accepted for publication in their Mondays Are Murder series. And a third update. My entry to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for the worst first line of a novel, won a Dishonorable Mention Award in the Romance Category. My mother would be so proud. Fourth Update-(when it rains...) My story, CARROTASTROPHE, was published in Green Prints magazine two and a half years after I wrote it.

back to whining and self-absorption:

All authors have that overwhelming desire to proffer their work to others, to see what the reader will think about it, to receive their sagacious advice and criticism. At least that’s what the author says, anyway. In truth, the author wants only to hear praise for his or her work, to hear that they are a literary genius, that Hemingway must have had an illegitimate child with Virginia Woolf and you’re the missing offspring now come to life.
Sometimes writers get to the point in a conversation almost immediately. You ask them what they are writing and after they go into minute detail of every character and plot twist in their book they say; “Would you like to read it? It’s on Amazon.” This, in effect, is a mild form of literary prostitution. The fledgling author will do anything to sell you their book. Anything.
Against my own instincts, I self-published a book of short stories: See below: Click on the icon! Now! I mean it!

The book hasn’t done poorly on Amazon, and at times has excelled in sales. The reason for these positive peak purchases is because of constant begging, cajoling, and downright selling of my soul until there’s not a shred of dignity or integrity left in me. This was accomplished through Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, handing out author business cards, harassing friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers, the homeless, Miley Cyrus, and even my golf threesome.
Here’s a typical round of golf lately. All four of us begin on the first tee. Then, since one of the players is new to the group, he eventually asks you if you live close by and what you do for a living. You respond, as all authors do, with, “About ten miles from here. I’m an engineer, but I’m also a freelance writer.”
“Oh,” he says. “what do you write?” Now you’ve got him. Time to lift the skirt and show him a good time. (a metaphor, of course.) You whip out your author business cards and hand him one and while you’re at it you hand one out to all three and say, “Just wrote it. A collection of short stories about death.” That’s what you say, but what you mean is, “Buy the damn book.”
It’s sad what I have become. All conversations are skillfully manipulated by me to introduce my book, to shame them into spending nine bucks for the paperback or two bucks for the e-book. I don’t even need the money. That’s not the point. The point is the challenge of the sale. You feel your book sales are directly proportional to your self-worth. You want to be that hooker with the great body and the pretty face. Maybe. Though my old man always said if the hooker’s good-looking, she’s a cop.
So buy the damn book. It’ll keep me off the streets.