It’s not that I don’t have anything to do. It’s just that, with my novel’s release day and launch event uncomfortably behind me, if I don’t direct my obsessive energy toward getting my book into the hands of readers, I’m afraid I’ll fritter it away on inane, mindless tasks and repetitive motions like untwisting and re-lacing my shoelaces, arranging my clothes closet by color, or styling my toe hair.
What’s my sales rank today, this afternoon, now? Any new reviews? Any negative ones? Why don’t I have a movie deal yet? It’s cold in New York and Facebook is a traffic jam. Other authors have written books, are garnering impressive reviews and making sales, doing readings at the hippest bookstores, thinning out the already limited audience, STEALING MY READERS!
Of course that’s not true—the last part, I mean. But the truth is people (as in you) can’t read EVERYthing. They (as in you) can’t support EVERYone. You (as in they) have to be seLECtive. And I (as in obsessed) can’t seem to capitalize an enTIRE word. What’s WROng with mE?
My head’s stuffed with cabbage and clotted motor oil; deep sleep darts the other way whenever I approach; my jaw has been severely over-tightened with invisible barbed wire, and I’m slouching like a weary question mark. But this is it. This is the only first novel I’ll ever have published. Unless … unless I change my name! I could adopt a crispy new identity, rejigger the book’s title and find someone to publish it anew (that’s always easy), then just keep repeating the process until one of them is a critical success and a bestseller and one of me is a successful author with really cool author-specific eyewear and a job teaching creative identity switching and self-plagiarizing at a major crowdsource-underfunded community institution of nominally higher education no one ever heard of or will. Yay me!
Ways of Leaving might be reborn as Methods of Departure, Systems of Escape, Manners of Withdrawal, Vamoose Modes, Skedaddling Alternatives, Outta Here Options, Naked Vampire Whores of Mars Suck Zombie Dick. We have a winner!
Meanwhile, back at the computer, between gasps and groans I stalk Amazon, and every three minutes I Google my own (current) name, lifting the virtual lid to see if my “brand” is boiling, hoping for a simmering tsunami but finding so far only the gentle rising and falling of the minor tides, lukewarm and holding. I know it’s early, but I can’t just sit here feigning nonchalance.
So should I bark out the window? Or carry a basket of books on my bike and pedal around the city reading chapters into a loudspeaker like a small town politician on a corn beef hash budget? Should I post sentences or paragraphs on Facebook in hopes of snagging someone’s already overburdened attention, offer hints of my genius to reel those suckers (you lovely people) in?
At what point do (did?) people tire of these self-promoting posts, not just from me, but from all the other fine young men and women who have succumbed to the damned and damning artistic impulse, dedicating years of their tortured subsistence to the creation of a sumptuous feast that may never be tasted?
What I should be doing is getting back to work, writing, creating something more than pleading, bleeding ad copy. But if this book isn’t a success who will publish the next? So here I am typing out the minutes, as far from art as a sneeze is from a blowjob.
The truth is that there’s probably nothing I can say here that will be powerful, unique, compelling enough to seduce the audience most likely to appreciate Ways of Leaving. The book is the best tool I possess to draw readers to the book, but they have to read the book to know they want to read the book. And so I plead: Read the book! Which is sort of like saying, “Have sex with me! It’ll be great. I promise. You’ll be glad you did.”
But wait! Perhaps I should offer a choice: have sex with me or read my book. My sales rank would pop up in no time. I have a feeling it would shoot through the roof.