Next month is the long-awaited launch of my short story collection, SURVIVAL SKILLS. Soon I’ll be joining the ranks of all the other authors who are hoping their newly published books will find an audience.
In the past several months, many of us have been doing what we can to get the word out, mostly through social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest. How successful these marketing venues have been for us remains to be seen. All we know is that exposure is key, and the more we like and follow, tweet and retweet, post and share, the greater our chances for recognition. For those of us who were not brought up in the electronic age, learning the tricks involved in setting up blogs and author pages is challenging to say the least, and it doesn’t help that technology is constantly jumping ahead of itself. Writers of any age would rather be writing than cyber networking, but we enter the fray and do our best.
The most daunting reality I’ve experienced thus far is the sheer number of us. Racing toward the same goal, we are teammates competing with each other. After all, there is only so much recognition to go around, only so much money to spend on books. It’s a selling frenzy and a buyer’s market, with books selling for less than a dollar, or being given away, by the thousands, in hopes of actual sales. Publishers in this country, electronic and otherwise, churn out 800 books a day. In this galaxy of productivity, what sort of odds does one book, my book, have?
And where do buyers begin? With self-publishing having eclipsed conventional forms, how do readers determine quality? Can we trust bloggers and reviewers? Stars and likes? Considering the many ways a web presence can be manipulated, does 15,000 Twitter followers mean anything at all? The internet is a monstrous game of chance and everyone is placing bets.
I’ve no idea how one separates the wheat from the chaff. And of course, one man’s chaff is another man’s wheat. I have zero interest in vampire novels, however well written, but who can dispute their popularity? I like literary short fiction, a genre not known for blockbuster sales (which is ironic when you consider our tight schedules and short attention spans). I’ve asked people about this and they tell me that short stories don’t deliver, that they just don’t have enough meat on the bone. Well, I think there are plenty of meaty stories out there, stories that amuse and amaze, stories that will break your heart. You just need to know where to look.
So what can I say about SURVIVAL SKILLS? What bare truths can I give you? I can tell you that this an honest offering, that these stories evolved over several years and required my best effort. I can tell you that most of them originally appeared in reputable journals. I can tell you that my publisher, Ashland Creek Press, is committed to promoting quality literature that explores our connections with the natural world.
The characters in SURVIVAL SKILLS are not heroes. Like you and me, they are just trying to outlast the perils that surround them, taking what comfort they can on the way and often acquiring some strange companions. You won’t come across any vampires in these tales, but I’m betting you’ll enjoy them anyway.