Since the release of my latest book, BANG, in March, I've been in limbo, waiting for it to make a big splash, at least in America, where guns and violence are an obsession.
Like thousands of other indie writers around the world, I sat, week after week, wasting my time and money, “getting the word out”, and feeling let down as one promo copy after another disappeared into the black hole of self-promotion, never to be heard from again. Day after day spent in a listless world of self-doubt. Uninspired and just plain tired of the whole game.
Until today. Until just a few minutes ago. And No, I did not just get a call from a publisher or the New York times. And Yes, BANG is still dead in the water.
It was Facebook, and I was, as usual, scanning and commenting on the endless posts by desperate writers, hoping to “make it big” with their latest book, or at least pay a few bills.
As I thought about how much time, energy and money we all waste, trying to squeeze a profit out of something we really loved to do, a dusty file drawer, in a back room of my cluttered old brain, creaked open and I remembered a piece of advice I gave another artist over 40 years ago. We were at a county fair and I was teaching her how to airbrush T-shirts, an art form you won't often find hanging in many galleries, but very profitable and fun. Working mans art.
She was really down because her real love was ceramics, and she'd spent many years in training, including an art degree. Now she was thinking of giving it up because it couldn't even pay her bills.
My advice at the time: keep your day job!
I told her to keep doing what she loves, making pottery, and use a more profitable art form like T-shirt painting to keep the bill collectors in check. Simple but effective.
So now I'm taking my own advice and going back myself. Going back to writing and illustrating kids books, just because I have fun doing it, and supporting that fun with any number of “profitable” art forms, like T-shirt painting, that I have done over the years.
When and if my books sell, I'll be thankful for the extra cash and notoriety, but I won't waste any more time on promoting them. Life is far to short to waste counting beans you don't have.
Just for the record, at my peak as an airbrush artist in the late eighties, I made more cash painting T-shirts at one show than all my kids books have grossed, total....and I had a great time doing it.
Think of that the next time you are slogging through your next email list, hoping someone out there buys your book or even notices you. Think of how much you are getting for all those hours on the net, yelling “Here I am”. And think how much the effort sucks the joy out of whatever you write or draw.
So, do something else to pay the bills you should be lowering as you go, let the promoters, promote and the bean counters, count and get back to the thrill of writing.....
Place Mark Books
Place Mark Books