Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

My older brother introduced me to great music when I was a little kid. He loved all kinds of music, and had this awesome stereo in his room. He was one of the first people I knew who had CDs and he liked to play whatever was on hand at a ridiculous volume when our parents weren't home. When he wasn't there, I secretly did the same and jammed HARD to the likes of Public Enemy, Living Color, and Eric B & Rakim. It's a wonder our neighbors never called the cops!

One line in particular that I'll always remember comes from Eric B. & Rakim's I Know You Got Soul: "It's Been A Long Time, I Shouldn't Have Left You / Without A Strong Rhyme To Step To..." (Google it and listen for yourself!)

That line speaks to not only my blog, but my novel, as well. When I decided to come back to the world of creative writing, I was hell bent on doing everything I could on my own. If anybody out there knows somebody who likes to write and wants to do it for money or for a living, I wish them all the luck and success in the world. At one point, I was THIS CLOSE to having an agent, but that hit the crapper somehow and I don't know where everything went wrong. She liked my manuscripts but I never heard from her again. Mind you, this was after I went through a horrible experience with the first "publisher" who I had to pay to print my work. I'm still questioning whether or not I was paid for every book they printed. My '92 Mazda Protege tells me that I wasn't, but I'm moving on.

I'm back, I'm super stoked, and I'm ready to make the most out of this second time around. I love to write, and it would be out of this world to actually profit from my novels. But I am also no longer under any illusions of four- and five-figure deposits electronically appearing in my bank account. I found and fell in love not only with the concept, but the price. It was free to set up.

Without a literary agent, you are completely on your own when it comes to marketing your work. Where an agent would poke their contacts in the publishing industry, trying to sell your manuscript to a publishing house, the lone wolves are left to get the word about out their books using any ideas they can come up with. And, unless they have a money tree to cushion the expense of postage and press releases and advertising and however the hell pay-for-clicks work, it is financially burdensome to self-publish. Pimpin' ain't easy, but I know the results will be worth the effort. Whether or not I ever live in a McMansion paid for by the shit I make up in my crazy brain, I am most excited - and truly unnerved - at the prospect of friends and family and strangers reading my creations and enjoying them. I want to have people asking for more, and I want to give it to them.

I may go back to the 'find an agent' game at some point, but right now, I'm getting a ton of satisfaction from doing this on my own. I got an amazing hook up through my friend Valerie (the same gal who suggested I start a blog) when she introduced me to the guy who created the front and back covers for 'The Brotherhood'. He is Gareth Lewis-Pitt and his work is amazing. I hope he's not too expensive when I beg him to create the covers for 'The Chief of Staff' and 'The Situation Room'.

The money I made at my second job went to the ISBN number (on the bar code) and to the copyright and will pay for press releases and advertising and whatever else I can't do by spamming my friends and family on Facebook. The blog's all mine. The website is my creation. And the results fall on my shoulders. When I was 16 and told my mother that she and my father needed to buy me a car, she told me that I would appreciate a car or a house or whatever it was I wanted when I could afford to buy it myself. Needless to say, I didn't get that car and shared an '84 Buick LeSabre with her until I went off to Appalachian. Years later, as my wife and I drove away from the lot in my brand-new truck, I smiled to myself and thought about just how right she was. And her wonderfully maternal logic still makes me smile when I think about the pride I feel each time someone signs my Guestbook or asks me to sign their copy of my novel.

I didn't start Magnolia Rambling with the intention of dispensing helpful advice, or pushing my Oprah 'ah ha moments' on you all. This is a forum I'm using to tell the world about what I can do, and I appreciate everyone who takes a little time to read what I write. If you've got a dream, or maybe just a passion, go for it. I just found out that 'The Brotherhood' is now available on the Barnes & Noble website. Excellent! Write a novel, start a blog, find a way to hustle and flow for what you want. Do whatever you have to (that's legal....ha ha). If you need a little motivation, email me.

Or just call my mother.