Rant Alert, if you don’t want to listen to me complain for three pages, the playlist is down where the videos start.
Before I get into the mood music for my fifth novel, Mourn the Liquid Dew of Youth, I want to talk about keeping your chin up. Persistence is the most important thing you can ever have. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, or how much insight you have into something, if you give up after the first time something doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you’re going to be left in the dust. And as soon as you fall in the dirt and decide not to get back up, you’re done. So, if you’re serious about making someone out of yourself, you can’t give up, you can’t stop.
You have to sell yourself, and you can’t let it defeat you when it doesn’t work out. It’s discouraging, I know. I’ve had more than a full share of disappointment and heartache around my work and it started the moment I started marketing my work. I spent two years querying literary agents. I did the “right” thing and signed up for Writers Market, and did my homework on agents. I would find an agent who said they were looking for the kind of thing I was writing, then I’d go read their blogs, and every article they’d been interviewed in, and I would custom tailor a letter to fit that agent and send it out. Over that time, I hit every literary agency that I thought I could mesh with. I only ever got three responses. One said “No thank you” which I appreciate that they took the time to even write that much back because most of them don’t even give you that decency. The second wanted me to scale back the swearing and violence to a point where it wouldn’t have been the same book, so I told them no. And the third wanted me to change the aliens to Vampires to make my book Smokepit Fairytales a cross between Generation Kill and True Blood. Now, I like both those shows, but that’s not what I wrote, so again, no. So, I decided to go the Amazon route in late 2016. I don’t think I broke a thousand followers on Instagram until last year, and my followers on Facebook turned that page into a meme page and they couldn’t give a flying fuck about the books, so I’ll let you imagine how the launch was. If you self-published before you scammed fourteen thousand people into liking your profile page even though you’ve never published anything on any platform, you know already know how the release went.
Now, I’m not just here to complain. I’ve gotten very good feedback on my work. Over the course of six novels, that are admittedly in a niche market, I have more than a hundred reviews, and ALL but ONE of them are five stars. Yes, I know I just said “More than a hundred” like a badass even though there are indie authors that get that many the month they release a new book, about the same bland shit that's saturating the market, just because they’re moderately physically attractive and saw nice things about books they haven't read.
We’re talking about keeping your chin up here.
Stay with me.
Anyway, from what I can tell, if I can get these books in your hand, you’ll love them. I just have to figure out how to do that with everyone else.
Again, with the frustration, but again with keeping your chin up.
So, back to other people giving you a chance. You can only promote yourself so much. Anyone who’s successful as an indie artist is getting that success from other people propping them up. Other writers do a good job of helping others out, and the author in question’s followers post about their books. Then people who weren’t interested at all see all these other people taking interest and bandwagon on the piece.
However, on the issue of propping other people’s work up hoping that they’ll reciprocate, that’s a 25-75 shot. Granted, I like reading indie authors because they write about things that aren’t always found in traditionally published works, but if you’re going to do that as an indie author hoping for something back, you’d better be doing it out of the kindness of your heart, because only the people who get along with you are going to do it in turn. Keep in mind I’m talking about promotion, not sales. If you suggest another author, your followers are more inclined to read them.
I digress. Instagram isn’t the sole place to market. From what I can gather you have to be already successful on the platform to get people to pay attention to your work there and to be successful you have to be a complete and total narcissist and insist that you are god’s gift to mankind. Come to think of it, I kind of am a wonderful gift to this world. Maybe I should start acting like it. However, it vexes me to no end when I post a picture of my book and an absolutely killer review someone left and that’ll get sixteen likes, but a selfie of me doing nothing will get a hundred likes for some fucking reason, but whatever.
Moving on from social media is kind of hard. Not because I wouldn’t love to introduce my phono to the business end of my 1911, but because you NEED it to validate yourself as an author, not to yourself, but to anyone who may want to promote you. Think about it like this, if someone is going to write a story about you, they want that to work both ways. You get exposure with their fanbase in exchange for you sharing that story with your fanbase and they get more followers in turn.
Here are a few examples. On the advice of a buddy of mine, I write to some news outlets and pages stating who I am, what I’ve done, and that I’m working on my seventh novel.
I write this to task and purpose and don’t hear anything back. Granted I don’t know their inner workings, so maybe they’ve just been busy and haven’t gotten back to me yet, and perhaps it has nothing to do with me not having a large fanbase or being the center of any controversy.
I write to We Are the Mighty. Not so much as an automated reply. Again, maybe they’re busy and just haven’t gotten back to me yet because their inbox is filled to the brim.
I considered asking one of the guys from Funker530 because they’ve helped me out with some stuff in the past, but I haven’t been in a position to help them back yet, and I don’t want to seem all “ME ME ME” with those dudes because they’re cool and I don’t want to be all take and no give with them.
I got an interview with a local newspaper around here and even sat down for a two fucking hour interview with them only to have all of everything I said boiled down to a paragraph on an Instagram post on a page no one follows.
I’ve gotten several requests to be on people’s podcasts only to have them drop me for whatever reason a few days prior with empty promises of getting back in touch soon.
I know a couple of people who follow me back that could easily give me a boost up just by reading my book and talking about it to their fans for ten seconds, but those relationships always seem one way and as soon as I don’t have anything to help them out with anymore, it falls back to heart reacts instead of “What’s up” in the inbox.
I could have easily said fuck it and gave up after each of these things, but I’m still pressing on.
I had an interview with a different local newspaper this last week and that story should be up sometime this month and that’s a step in the right direction. Although I'm suspicious I'm only being written about because there's a blank space that needs to be filled.
I also got myself in contact with a literary agent, granted I didn’t get into his inbox with a query but merely asking for advice. But I’ll let you know what knowledge he passed down to me whenever I hear back from him. But again with that, I'm not asking him to help me out with promotion or publishing, I'm only asking for advice.
Most people out there won't scratch your back unless you can scratch theirs in return.
Even though perusing any kind of art independently is a myriad of constant discouragement, don't give up. Dig your heels in, and keep pushing. No one remembers people who quit. And I know it’s hard, but especially don’t be discouraged when you see someone who is less talented or noteworthy than you gaining more fame. Chances are they only got where they are because they had friends in the right places. I read an article today about someone I‘d met in the past, and the article on them highlighted the exploits of that person as if they were the only one to ever do it, when in fact that person’s “accomplishments” could only be called such when an imperial (Not metric) shit ton of overemphasis was slathered onto what actually happened. Hell, the few accomplishments that were noted in the article were confirmed as horseshit by the person the article was about in the comment section on someone else’s post after being asked about it. Then with eight seconds of investigating it turns out the author of the article was a personal friend of the person in question. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t get me a little upset, but you can’t let that kind of thing get you down. Don’t get discouraged when you see people get press for doing nothing, that’s all nepotism and we can’t do anything about it.
Keep your chin up.
It’s not looking like anyone’s going to be giving me a chance any time soon, but that’s not stopping me from writing. I’ve been tearing it up writing the seventh installation of Smokepit Fairytales, and even if no one notices, I’ll be here for a long while, because that’s what has to be done. Sure, I don’t have friends in the right places that are willing to help give me a leg up, and I know I have to push the hard way. But whether you’re a writer, an artist, or a musician going the indie route, putting yourself out there and earning each crumb while you’re trying to get your slice, you can’t give up. I know that I’m a no-name writer who self publishes on Amazon, and I’m grateful for all the readers who have given me a bit of a chance by tossing me a few bucks and reading a book. I know who you are, and I’m grateful. Thank you!
And to all the authors reading this, Fifty Shades of Gray was originally self-published, and if that garbage can make it as far as it did, you can too. It’s garbage CAN, not garbage can’t.
Okay, so now that I’ve made this blog post earn the title RANT, let’s get on to the playlist. Also, spoiler warning for Mourn the Liquid Dew of Youth, Smokepit Fairytales Part V.
There is an internal soundtrack to this that the characters play in the book. The sheet music can be found in the back, and a link to the audio is at the top of the homepage on this site. But onto the mood.
Let me know if there were any songs you thought about during any of the books, or if there’s something you want me to bitch about for four pages in the future.
Astronomy, Blue Oyster Cult
This song is from a concept album that tells a story about a set of events that lead up to WWI, but I have no idea what this song is about specifically in the undertones. But it’s beautiful, and melancholy, and seems to call for some longing to the stars, much like the characters in the book want something deeper or different with their lives.
Pain and Pleasure, Judas Priest.
This song is reflective of the relationship between Thatch and Samum
“All the times I’ve cried, you give me pain, but you bring me pleasure, get out of my life.”
Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie
There are a few ways this song could be interpreted, but in this context, I hear it as wanting something to stop and to be at peace but not being able to find it.
Locomotive, Guns N’ Roses
Another song reflective of Thatch and Samum’s relationship. “You’re such a stupid woman, and I’m such a stupid man.”
The Man Who Sold The World, David Bowie
This song’s about conspiracy. In the book, the characters are fighting against a covert Coup and they stand face to face with the man who sold the world.
That Bastard Son, The Dead South
Thatch, the son of the previous books’ narrator, is kind of bastard, not that Hank or Penelope would know but “I don’t fell no more. I just liquor and dirty whores, ‘cause I don’t care no more.”
Lazarus, David Bowie
A song about death. I imagined the same tone as Thatch was driving Samum to the hospital after she slit her wrist.
Too Late for Love, Def Leppard
When Thatch is sent off Mars, more or less to be killed, he sends Samum a letter wondering if it’s too late for love.
I Thought I Knew It All, Megadeth
Another song about confusion and not knowing where to go or what to do.
See You Space Cowboy, Yoko Kanno
All good stories about failed romance and gunfighters need this song in the mix.
If you know, you know.
You're going to carry that weight.