The occasional and quiet

photo by Tracy Burkholder

The story these days is that writers have to be marketers if they want to sell books. As far as I can tell, this is true. It also seems true that you can market your soul away and still not sell much. I just finished reading this very sobering article in Longreads, about a variety of women’s experiences with the process. It made me so happy to have decided to forgo most of the marketing push for I Want More. It’s admirable that so many writers dive into it full force despite their perceived abilities or predilections for the stuff. I simply don’t have that kind of drive and my tolerance for self-inflicted misery is very low.

The publishing world would probably say that I don’t believe strongly enough in my book. Of course, that isn’t true. Selling a book has nothing to do with writing it. Capitalism wants us to believe it does, but screw that. I fully believe anyone interested in hybrid forms or anyone who felt longing or loneliness in their childhood or anyone interested in alternative forms of relationship or alternative forms of storytelling would find reading I Want More an hour well spent.

So if I’m not going to do it their way, what’s the alternative?

I guess it’s being satisfied with the forms of support that come my way, largely unbidden. For example, you’re supposed to ask a bunch of writers for blurbs before your book is released. I didn’t do this. Lidia Yuknavitch generously offered and what she wrote nearly made me cry.

Support can look like this. Or it can look like a book bought anonymously and never read. Or it can look like a book not bought, not yet, but eventually. It can look like an attentive ear at a reading or a discussion about childhood and memory over a cup of coffee.

A few friends have written truly lovely reviews about my book on Amazon and Goodreads. Others have posted pictures of my book on Facebook along with positive comments. And other friends have liked those posts. What I like about this particular kind of support is not the fact that reviews will do much, if anything, to sell more books in the absence of any larger marketing plan, but because it gives me a chance to feel how my words have made it into other people’s lives for a moment or two. To stir someone, to make them feel something or remember something feels like the biggest compliment I could ever get.

And so I’m writing this to say thanks to everyone who has supported me in all the various ways. My model of self-publishing and non-marketing doesn’t fit with the usual picture of writerly success and yet I feel satisfied and accomplished. My book is the book I wanted to make. I smile at it’s DIY-ness. I’ll continue to promote it in my occasional and quiet ways and will always welcome your thoughts, ideas, and support.

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