First Signing Survived

I went to my first author signing yesterday.  I’d known about it (been contacted) several weeks before the actual event.  I ordered my books to bring, bought a new pen and loaded up my business cards.  Two days before I was to go, I got an email from the event coordinator that each author was to give a 5 minute presentation.  It should cover an introduction of myself, the book, the inspiration for it and then a reading.  I typed up a page and gave it a try.  I was at about the 5 minute mark but I had a lot of pauses trying to gather my thoughts.  I figured I’d be fine.  It was 5 minutes, not an hour long dissertation.  I had my partner review my write-up when she got home.  She made a couple tiny changes but they were so small that I thought it was almost knit picking.  I wasn’t going to read the paper, I just needed some guidelines.

By Saturday, I was beginning to obsess over the talk.  I used to be an instructor and have had many occasions to stand in front of a crowd and speak.  It’s never really bothered me before.  But it had been a long time since I’d done it.  I knew I’d be fine, however.  We had some errands to run and every so often as we did this or that, I’d have this wave of panic that would almost make me dizzy, give me a tingly feeling in my stomach.  I knew it was just nerves.  I practiced the speech on and off throughout the day, timing myself.  I’d gotten it down to 4 minutes allowing a minute to read a paragraph.  Then I had to pick out the paragraph.  I flipped, flipped, flipped through the book.  I knew I wanted to read about my Grandma.  It was one of the parts that I could read without falling apart or be in fear of reading something too overly personal, in person, but that many could still relate to.  I found just the paragraph and finally did the complete walk-through.  I finally got to the point narrowing down my speech to bullet points followed by the reading.  By Saturday evening, we decided to see a movie which was the best thing to get my mind off of such things that seem to camp out there.

Sunday, the morning of the Author Faire, I woke up to my mind reciting “Hi, my name is Michelle Stoner…”, the beginning of my speech running its’ course.  I got up and fixed myself some coffee.  The pains in my stomach were getting worse.  There was no more of the tingly feeling.  It was sharp pains.  I had coffee and when Chris got up, I fixed us breakfast.  I was watching some stupid movie I’d recorded.  It wasn’t working to get my mind off of the day.  After breakfast, well, let me just say that being nervous is a great system emptying tool.  But things finally calmed down, or more so, I just ignored it so that I could get ready.

I had to arrive at 1:00 but figured I could get there at 12:30 so that I could setup my books.  I knew that the first person would be presenting at 1:00 so it only made sense to get there a few minutes early.  Maybe I’d be able to meet some of the other authors at the faire.  Nope.  The place didn’t open until 1:00.  It just didn’t seem right to me.  I lugged the box of books over to a cafe and sat waiting for the doors to open.  When the doors open, I filed in along with many, many other people, all trying to get onto elevators and find their way to wherever they needed to go.  I found my name tag at one of the tables and began to setup my books.  I spread out my business cards (which were the most awesome things – no one else had them and several people took them so they remembered to download e-copies of the book) and waited.  I had one woman come over and take a card saying that she couldn’t wait for my presentation.

Then I sat and waited.  The presentations went in alpha order with 20 other authors.  It was neat to see the other authors, hear their experiences, all of them proud of their works.  I was perfectly fine until two people before me.  I felt my heart rate increasing by the minute.  When the guys next to me went, I could see my shirt moving from my heart pounding in my chest.  Chris, who had been seated in the audience the whole time, looked over at me and mouthed the words “breathe” to which I took a deep breath and eased it out.  I took another swallow of water and hoped that the fact that I had to pee so bad wouldn’t bite me in the ass.  I’d wanted to go but I couldn’t bring myself to move.  I’d downed almost an entire bottle of water so I really had to go.  The audience was clapping so I got up and made my way from behind the table.  I was introduced but the emcee didn’t see that I’d gotten up already so she called my name again.  I was rushing up but I’m short so she didn’t see me and called once again.  I raised my hand up to which everyone laughed.  I did my speech.  It was completely out of order of what I’d planned but I think it still flowed ok.  I only paused once to catch my thoughts.  I didn’t realize until much later that there was a clock on the wall but I didn’t get the warning so I think I was within the limits.  Some people had gone on for 15-20 minutes and were practically dragged off so I know I did fine time wise.  I saw Chris staring at the floor the whole time which I was thankful for.  While I’d been practicing at home, I told her I couldn’t concentrate if she looked at me.  I felt bad that she was staring at the floor but it was really for the best.  I made a conscious effort to look around and just before I started to read, I was introducing my book and realized that most people were leaning forward and many had their mouths hanging open.  I think I had them.  They were engaged.  I smiled and started reading.  It was short, just a paragraph but it was silent in the room as I did.  When I stopped.  I looked up and everyone was in the exact same position.  No one had moved.  I smiled and said “thank you”.  I left the podium to a round of applause.  I did it.

The event was from 1-5.  The presentations went until 3:30 or so.  There was an audience that sat but several left before the end.  We had not quite a half an hour to meet with those that did stay for the whole thing and then we broke into groups to share ideas and things that worked or didn’t work for us.  But everyone had left so it was only authors talking with authors, which was ok but it meant that I didn’t sell one hard copy book.  I signed my mom’s book and it was my first signed book.  I’m hopeful that I’ll get a couple e-book sales but even though I didn’t sell any, I was happy that I made it through the day.  I did it.  I showed up, I did a speech and I met some really nice people.  I survived.

Balance – Selling vs Writing

When is it too soon to start the next novel?  I know many authors and probably even more readers that would say “right away”.  It’s strange to write and write and write and then stop.  I wanted to pick up with my next novel and actually did start writing it and then realized that my self published book wasn’t going to market itself.  That turned into a daily exercise of searching for writing opportunities to become published to an actual magazine, paper, blog, anything really.  That combined with begging people to write reviews and trying to create a presence on social media, I find that I reach the end of the day before I know it.  It’s a balance, I realize, but it’s one of those chicken and egg situations.  If I don’t get anyone to buy the current book, there won’t be a need for a second, but if there’s a second, there could be more chance for the first one to sell.  Then I realize that I’m getting way ahead of myself.  If no one buys the first one, then there is no need for the second one.  And the cycle starts over again.  I want to write and get sick of searching for a way to get my book sold.  I know, I know.  “Get an agent”.  I’m not out of the hole yet from this book so why would I want to pay an agent – to get the book sold so that I can pay them?  Maybe I’m being narrow-minded.

It’s only been two months since I released it to the public.  Maybe some patience is in order.  Balance issues appear everywhere in my life and I’ve never been very good at it just as I’ve never really been good with patience.  Maybe I should go do some yoga.

Virally Social or Socially Viral

When I published my first book, my partner and I knew that the only way to get it out there was to get it out on social media.  Duh, right?  Well, what I didn’t take into account was that I’d have to be social in order to get it to go viral.  How does a person, that’s anti-social, become social?  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  And my book is not selling.  It’s frustrating and ends up taking me to very dark places in my mind.

You would think that going “viral” would be easy.  I hate the term.  It puts such a negative connotation on the thing that I want to go viral.  Having a virus is NOT good.  Catching a virus is NOT good.  But going viral is the best possible thing when marketing. It just doesn’t make sense but a lot of things don’t make sense.

I joined several meetup groups but haven’t been to any of them.  I’m afraid to go.  It’s more of putting yourself out there which I’m not comfortable with doing.  I stay home, I write.

We designed and purchased business cards but I’ve strategically placed maybe 20 of them.  I read an article that business cards should be flowing out of my hands.  So, I put one on the mirror of a restaurant bathroom.  I put two in an empty tourist brochure holder.  I tacked 4 to a community board at the library.  That’s pretty much how it’s been going.  You have to be out and about in order for flow to happen.

I created a Twitter account and found that just between Facebook and Twitter, it takes an exceptional amount of time combing and following and watching everything that’s going on.  So, now, I’m no longer writing, I’m advertising.  I’m on my Twitter account all day waiting for someone to post something that I can retweet, or answer a tweet in order to bring more people to my Twitter feed so that they can become aware of my book.  It’s truly crazy.  And it appears to be making no difference whatsoever.  It’s frustrating.

I’ve been told to be patient, however.  It’s been a month since I published the book.  A month.  I have to give it some time.  I have to go to meetups and meet people (even though I don’t want to).  I have to be patient (which is something I’m so not good at either).  I have to continue to learn the ins and outs of Twitter and maybe create Pinterest and Instagram accounts as well (which will take more time away from writing).  I struggle with what’s more important – writing or marketing.  I’ve figured out that if I can’t get this book marketed then there’s no reason for a second book, so for now, I have to focus on marketing.

I guess that’s enough bitching for one day.  I do get to write on my blog (another marketing tool) which allows me to vent and rattle on about miscellaneous thoughts that cross my path.  I enjoy it the most because it’s marketing and writing all in one.

I DID IT!

Sort of…  I (self) published my book.  It’s really surreal to see it on Amazon when I point people to it.  I was thinking the other day that it’s been a year since I left my corporate, tech job.  I thought it was funny that I didn’t get a “Congratulate Michelle on her Anniversary” message from LinkedIn.  I get those all the time for other people that have been slogging away at their career and it made me think that one thing missing from social media is feeling or maybe intent.  No one really knows when you leave a job if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I quit.  I walked away.  I was quite successful but had just had enough.  I did the same thing for the last year that I’d done so many years before in my career – I sat behind a computer.  But I poured my thoughts and feelings into page after page of typed words that I got bound and am now terrified to have everyone see.  It’s still a good thing – I think.  It’s good because I wanted to do it and I did it.  A huge accomplishment.  So, only if my close friends and family read it, that’s ok.  I’m going to keep writing.  At least for the time being.  I might find something else to do or I might not.  Who knows.  I’d still like to get really published.

If you’d like to check out my book, it’s on Amazon – http://amzn.to/YnToPS  I’m still working on getting it pushed to iBooks.  The process there is pretty slow.  I’m also working on glossy business cards with a QR Code on them but want to be able to put the iBooks link on there too so it’s holding that up as well.  It’s fun stuff but a bit stressful trying to get it all working.

And what’s really odd is, the job that I posted about just recently, the one that I wasn’t taking too seriously until I saw how much it meant to others – I just got a call back yesterday.  They want me to start on Monday.  I turned it down.  I want to write.  I want to give it a shot.  I want to jump up and down with excitement over it all and crawl under a rock at the same time.  It’s very bizarre.  But I’m looking forward to my promised trip to Disneyland for completing it.  🙂

Narcissistic?

In coming up with market analysis, some sort of a bio, edits, researching self publishing and publishers, I wonder if writing a memoir is narcissistic.  I’ve been questioning why anyone would really care about what I have to say or what has happened to me throughout my life.  I try to focus on all of the books I’ve read of people I’ve never heard of and of those that are famous.  I’ve enjoyed them all.  I’ve related and empathized.  Maybe mine won’t be any different.  Other people will read it and understand.

Empathy is a major part of my life.  I feel others pain and happiness.  I carry it around like a backpack. Sometimes my own issues are too much so I drop them on the floor for a bit just to pick them all back up and carry them around some more.  I found a place to put it all, in the book.  It doesn’t take it away.  I still carry it all around but it packages a lot of it in a neat place to house it all.

I started thinking that I hope people that read my blog or pick up my book don’t think that it’s all about me because it’s really not.  It’s far from it.  It’s more about sharing with others.  Bringing people into my life.  But, I thought it might be a good idea to get the focus off of me.  I get so obsessed day after day of reading reviews, reading how to’s, researching, writing here and there that I just needed away from the computer.  I went and volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank.  It got me off my butt and out of my head for a bit.

I guess a memoir is narcissistic to an extent.  A narcissistic, empathetic attempt to share oneself with others.

Rejection 2

I wonder how high that number is going to go?  I sent out a couple more queries to publishers that I found.  I have a huge list to keep going through so I do as much as I can each day.  It has become my job which I’m really starting to enjoy.  This was a much more encouraging rejection however.  The publisher said they were definitely interested but they’d met their quota for publishing memoirs for the year.  She encouraged me to take excerpts of my story and enter into contests.  It’s an idea but I’ve found on other publisher’s websites that if any part of the story has been published, it needs to be disclosed.  So, I don’t want to get into that.

Speaking of contests, I did enter a contest on GlimmerTrain for a very short fiction entry and haven’t been declined yet.  As I’d said earlier, I’m trying to write, write, write in order to become a “writer”.  Sounds funny but if you think about it, it makes sense.  I figure I have enough of an imagination (or if I don’t, it’s time to build it up a bit) to come up with other stories.  Plus, it’s fun to get into some fiction after all the nonfiction writing.

I’m still struggling with traditional publishing vs self publishing.  I know, I know, I’ll probably continue to bellyache about it until I go with one or the other.  It just takes so long for traditional publishing and I won’t necessarily make that much money from it.  But they do all the editing, marketing, etc.  With that comes signing over rights to the story as well, which is probably the worst part.  I mean, I had dreams of my book making us millions but it’s more like it’ll make us thousands.  If I go self publishing, I get 100% of royalties, keep my rights but I have to edit (which we’re still doing, by the way), market, distribute, everything really.  I did some research last night to try and figure out what the price point would be for the book.  That was pretty cool.  Some publishers also want to see that research and want to know what I’m expecting to get from the book.  Did I mention that when going with a traditional publisher, the royalties gained by the author is around 25%.  That is, I’d get 25% of the sale of each book.  Think about that.  Between signing over rights to allow the editor/publisher to make whatever changes they want to the book and then only getting 25% out of it bugs me.  But, it would get my book on bookshelves whereas if I self publish, I have to get it on the bookshelves myself and bookstores don’t put self published books on bookshelves.  I’m trying to hook up my Facebook page, Twitter account and blog all together to try and get some marketing going.  If I’m only going to be able to sell the book to my couple of friends and family, then I certainly can’t do self publishing.

I’m just thinking this all out by writing about it.  🙂  And maybe complain a little bit.

Deep Down Inside

Going through all of the edits for my book have been eye opening.  I started one round and noticed another change I needed to make.  That led to another and then another.  I didn’t think I was ever going to finish.  But I did.  We’re reading through it one last time before sending out to publishers.  The changes coming in from my personal editor (aka spouse) seem to be dwindling which is great to see.

Over the past few days, I’ve been reminded again and again that no matter what, an artist, which I’ve realized being a writer is, must continually perform their art.  I read an article that offered the challenge to writers of writing every day.  Every day.  When I first read it, I thought, that’s just ridiculous.  I can’t write every day.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I want to write every day.  It nags at me if I go too long without doing it.  In fact, it’s why I wanted to do yet another blog.  I’ve even started thinking of my next book.  I want to get it going and I’ve not gotten my first book through the process.  It almost doesn’t matter.

Over the weekend, I had an appointment in the city.  Afterwards, we had lunch and then went to The Walt Disney Family Museum.  I love Disney.  I love the premise, the man, the parks.  Everything about Disney makes such sense to me.  I was excited to go to the museum since I’d not been there before.  It was larger than I expected but there were two things that hit home to me.  In one of the interviews, Mary Blaire, one of the Disney artists, who also has an exhibit at the museum, was talking about drawing.  She said something like, there were three things that she did each day.  She would take care of her home, take care of her family and draw.  It was followed up by Walt saying that the artists had to draw, draw, draw.  It was all of their passion.  Each person there loved to draw, did it every day and you could see and hear the passion in them.  I likened it to writing.  It painted my own picture that perhaps I’m meant to be a writer.  I’ve always felt it deep down inside and am excited that I feel like I have a new direction in life.  I could be a writer.

Finally, the last inspiration I had over the weekend was that Disney doesn’t make movies for children or adults but for people to find, if only for a little bit, the goodness and unspoiled kindness that we each have from our beginning and to revel in it and maybe feel it again if we’ve not for some time.