This is a guest post written by my friend and frequent collaborator, Alex Greenwood. In addition to regularly helping provide smart PR strategies to the services we offer our clients (as well as his own), he makes me laugh. Just about every day. He’s also a writer. And he’s an amazing one. And, In case you didn’t know it, writing a book is the easy part. Marketing it is what’s hard. And Alex is a great example of someone using social media to help tackle that challenge. He’s also learned to not take any crap when it comes to something he’s passionate about. Read on and you’ll see why I like him so much.
Shoot the Gatekeepers
In my young adulthood I was pretty good at being pretty bad in the decision-making department.
Relationships, jobs, career moves, hair gel, Zima–you get the picture. (Not that I was outstandingly or uniquely bad at this, mind you. After all, I never wore a “Frankie Say ‘Relax!'” t-shirt and to this day I’ve never watched “Dancing with the Stars” or voluntarily eaten at The Olive Garden. ) I wrote five unapologetically bad novel manuscripts, played the field and put my name in the political ring. I tried a few different career paths and routinely asked the band to play the theme from Sanford and Son so I could do the “I’m Coming Elizabeth” dance.
After twenty years or so, the consequences of my decisions–good and bad–made me risk-averse. I swallowed the blue pill instead of the red. Don’t get me wrong–this can be good. The clichés about settling down, calming the spirit and finding your path are what maturity is all about.
Except when it comes to my writing. My fiction marks my tiny place in the creative cosmos. I insist on making the worlds in my head an outpost in reality. Yet, for all my claims about being true to my work, I’ve often listened to and nearly heeded the crippling advice of those who directly or indirectly told me to pack it in.
Too conventional. No pedigree. Average. Self-published. Couldn’t get past the gatekeepers.
Now everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but gatekeepers tend to piss me off. I tried for two years to go the “legit” route, as in get an agent. Almost signed with one, too. But for whatever reason (usually: the economy is crumbling and I can’t take any chances on an untried author) I was left outside the gates of literary respectability, clutching my beloved, pathetic manuscript.
No choice. Locked out. Better burn the manuscript to keep warm. My stories up in smoke.
Shoot the gatekeepers.
Okay, not literally. More like shoot them the bird.
Don’t want my book? Okay. I found a distributor for my book where it has found a niche among ebook lovers. I’ve been so pleased with the reception that I’ll be offering it in paperback before Christmas. Please note I’m officially nowhere near any bestseller lists, but my characters live and breathe outside the walls. My writing lives. People read it.
The next time a gatekeeper tells you your creative work isn’t good enough try this: Ask yourself is the best work I can produce? Is it a part of you that demands you vomit up that blue pill? If it isn’t, start over. If you’re honest with yourself, you know that not everything you produce deserves publication. (That’s why independent publishing has a bad reputation–too much careless, half-baked or outright crappy stuff out there.)
However, if your work is something you truly believe has everything it takes except the approval of some random gatekeeper, then here’s what you do:
Shoot that gatekeeper (the bird).
Screw orthodoxy. Find your outlet. Share your work. Be heard.
Note: The image of Conan shooting the bird here is nothing that the always PC Alex Greenwood would ever use–I take full responsibility for that. And, now that I think about it, that shooting the bird strategy worked pretty well for Conan, now didn’t it? What are you waiting for?
Another Note: If you’re a mystery/thriller loving kind of reader, you can buy Alex’s ebook Pilate’s Cross here, and if you use discount code YQ77U, you can save 75%. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t.