I posted this many moons ago, but I thought it was worth repeating…
I am a writer. I have met a lot of writers. Most of us are very hard on ourselves. Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.
For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc. Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch. The following New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.
As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Don’t quit your day dream. Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.
By HARLAN COBENNOV. 28, 2014
RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.
I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.
During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.
I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”
Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.
Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.
The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”
“That’s your novel, right?”
He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.
“Right,” I said.
He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”
I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.
He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, author, blogging, book marketing, indie author, inspiration, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, writers' blues, writing, writing for kids Tags: amwriting, author, blogging, self-published author
I posted this piece last fall. But, with spring in the air, invitations to author fairs are beginning to pop up. So, I thought it was worth revisiting, with one slight change to the original…
With warmer weather coming, I WILL have to shave my legs for this!
The term, “fair” brings to mind celebrations, hustle and bustle, excitement, and fun (sometimes creepy clowns are involved).
For authors, a fair is the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow writers, meet book lovers, and get your book into the hands of new readers.
In our mid-western city, author fairs are few and far between. So, when I saw the opportunity to participate in one, I jumped at the chance.
Ticket in hand, I began preparing for the big day. Coffee in hand, I tackled my to-do list. My must-have list includes: my books, book stands, business cards, a credit card reader, pens, a table cloth, and some cash to make change.
My want-to-have list is much longer and mostly unnecessary (except, I am a children’s book author, so a gal’s gotta have something for the kiddos). This list includes freebies like: bookmarks, coloring sheets, and candy. Since I write books about fairies, I figured I’d throw in some plastic fairy bracelets, mini fairy dolls, and some bling for my table top (thank you Dollar Store).
And while I’m at it, why not order a 3 foot tall stand-up display of my main character?
The big day finally arrived. I packed up my gear and headed to the fair. After several trips to the car and a lot of zhuzh-ing, I was ready. I anxiously waited for the crowd to file in…and waited…and waited.
The author fair got much less traffic than I expected. I sold a whopping total of 4 books that day. Although I met some really great people, I was feeling pretty defeated. But, just as I was getting ready to pack it in, I ran into this guy.
Some would call this synchronicity. I am at a book fair, selling copies of my book featuring a bagpipe-playing dust fairy, and this guy is out in front of the venue playing the bagpipes. He was kind enough to pose for a picture, and he even bought a copy of my book.
I may have come away from this less-than-fair author fair only 4 books lighter, but this parting encounter brought the experience back into perspective. This man’s joy comes from sharing his music with others. I don’t imagine he measures his success in album sales.
I write fun books for kids. People like my books, and that brings me joy. Selling books or not selling books should not get in the way of that.
And on a lighter note-It’s fall in Iowa, so I did NOT shave my legs for this!
You are welcome to share or re-blog any of my posts. I enjoy getting to know you, so please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in advice, amwriting, author, book fair, book marketing, indie author, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, writers' blues, writing for kids Tags: author, blogging, book marketing, book promotion, self-publishing
As a self-published author, I have to find the humor in my daily existence, or I would go insane. Each morning, I sit down and commence work on any number of projects, in various stages of development. As my eyes drag my brain from one work pile to the next, I try to determine which hamster wheel I’ll climb into today. As with most things in life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease (in my case, elbow grease). Most recently, this hamster has been doing laps on the book promotion wheel. And, I can tell you, promoting a book is no walk in the park.
I released my first children’s picture book in 2014 and my second in 2015. With both books, I hopped on my wheel and convinced several stores to host signing events, and I scampered my way onto the shelves of local bookstores and libraries. Since then, I’ve sold around a thousand copies. I am self-published, so that means I have to hustle and work for every single book I sell. I am up for the challenge, and I actually enjoy cultivating these local connections.
It’s when I venture out into the online world that I feel the pressure of the rat race. It’s easy to get caught up in Amazon rankings, Goodreads reviews, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Ironically, I find myself becoming the squeaky wheel, vying to be greased, “Buy my book. Review my book. Get my book for free.”
Despite my best efforts, my online sales are slow moving (under 150 books sold). But, I lick my paws and hop on the wheel for the next go ‘round. And, a little elbow grease never hurts.
Don’t be shy, leave a reply. There’s plenty of room on this wheel. How’s your publishing journey rolling?
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, author, book marketing, indie author, new author, new release, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, writing Tags: amwriting, author, blogging, book marketing, self-publishing
The traditional road to publishing can be long and winding. Do it yourself, and you’d better have a good pair of shoes.
I often share stories of my self-publishing journey; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The ugly moments came mostly from my own misconceptions about the process.
Myth #1 Build It and They Will Come…
Once you publish your book, it will fly off the shelves!
One of the biggest misconceptions I had when starting out was that if I could just get my book published, the hard work would be over. Little did I know it had just begun!
I wanted to try something different in this post. I am hoping you will join me to build an unofficial list of self-publishing myths or things you’ve learned along the way that may be helpful to others. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in advice, amwriting, author, book marketing, indie author, new author, Self-Publishing, writers' blues, writing Tags: amwriting, author, self-published author, self-publishing
Many authors have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, so I understand if you do not want to participate.
But, if you are willing to give it a go, Amazon tells me my giveaway is now live and I should, “Share this link to let the world know.” I am quite sure the world has bigger fish to fry…
but here it is:
I appreciate any feedback you have about the entry process. If you’ve used this service, please feel free to share your experiences/opinions.
You are all winners in my book! Thank you!
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in absolutely agggie, amazon, author, book marketing, dust fairy tales, freebie, giveaway, new release, Uncategorized Tags: #kidlit, author, blogging, book marketing, book promotion, children's book, children's picture book, kids' books, picture book, self-publishing
How about a free audio book? I recently released my second children’s picture book, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie. As an indie author, spreading the word about my books is challenging. I’d like to offer the audio version of the book in exchange for a like or share on Facebook.
The audio book is delightful, thanks to talented voice-over professional, Melissa Hughes. She brings Aggie’s story to life with the whimsy and magic of a classic fairy tale, complete with quirky voices and sound effects. She’s been the voice of Toys R Us, JC Penny, Dillard’s, Krispy Kreme, and more. It was a pleasure working with her on this project.
Fairies, music, and dust! Oh my! Aggie is a little Dust Fairy with a big problem. She wants to join the fairy band, but they do not approve of her offbeat style. Aggie is determined to impress them, but that turns out to be harder than she imagined. Just when she thinks she will never find a way to fit in, Aggie discovers it might be more fun to stand out. Lively, rhyming stanzas and vibrant illustrations come together in this magical tale. It is sure to delight boys and girls alike while imparting a positive message about embracing one’s individuality.
Like or share https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks/ on Facebook and you are entered to win this “absolutely” fabulous CD.
Learn more about the Dust Fairy series of books at http://www.michelleeastmanbooks.com/