For the last few months, I have designated Thursdays as “Marketing Thursdays.” While I haven’t yet done more actual marketing on Thursdays, I have dedicated that day to familiarizing myself with new options to promote my work, and by extension, myself as an author. I’ve mentioned this a few times before.
I’m happy to report that the outline of an actual marketing/promotional plan and budget for my upcoming novel, The Beacons I See is solidifying. Such plans must be fluid and of course will ebb and flow with my needs, but the basics are nearly set.
Now, if I were to share with you the details of that developing plan, you’d probably think you were missing a page of my blog somehow, if you have any experience with marketing. It wouldn’t seem ambitious to people in the know on such matters. Yet for me, who has never investigated or invested in such options before to such an extent, it feels like I’m taking steps far beyond baby size.
It’s nerve wracking, I won’t lie. It may always be so to an extent. Yet as with self publishing I imagine that with time it will get easier. Familiarity alone is a powerful learning tool.
The key to success is not trying to do what so many others are doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people attempt to start building something from the top floor down. I don’t only mean authors, either. Businesses. Arts projects. Social events. Clubs. We sometimes fall so much in love with the bigness of possibilities, that we forget the wisdom of starting modestly.
Truth be told, modest beginnings may not be enough for most people, but I would rather build a brick at a time like a mason. What I have done for my previous books hasn’t been enough to achieve all of the goals I wanted for them, so I have had to add more bricks to the wall of this marketing building. Yet a ton of bricks does nothing if it’s just dropped from an airplane. (Other than make a mess.)
You might not be an indie author, but if you take anything away from this somewhat vague update, remember that the big stuff can always be pursued in the future. You can learn to juggle the ten thousand things if that is your ambition. It’s a shot to the foot in most cases, though, if your entire plan is, “to hell with the comfort zone, and full speed ahead with everything I could possibly imagine!” That’s the popular approach of this generation, I think. Fortunately, I’ve never had to worry about being popular.
The above is my most recent painting. As this post, it is titled, “Upon the Heath.” oil on canvas.
I am not totally in love with this painting. In fact in some key ways it is one of if not my least favorite of all my paintings.
Yet in other ways, it has done something for me that most of the other painting have not done; it has taught me a bit of a lesson.
Believe it or not, this painting started out as an icy landscape. My goal was to do a study in shades of blue, with some mountains in the background, some water, snow and ice. I’ve had the idea in my head for a while now, and last night I had the time.
Almost right away I made an error. Usually I just incorporate the error into the painting, or paint around it in such a way that it’s hidden by the time I’m done. That’s not what i did this time.
Instead, I tried to correct my error. I tried to change the shape of what I had so far to more closely resemble that which I had in my head. I made it worse. And did so again. And again.
Before I knew it, I’d spent over an hour mixing a million and one different tints and hues, using different brushes, and more than once scraping off entire sections of the painting with a paint knife.
I’d never done that before, scrape off what I’d already put on. Yet with this canvass I did. Over and over again. Even tried to make the scraping part of what I was doing, but nothing was happening. Nothing.
A hill appeared, and vanished under more paint and thinner. A cloud. More clouds. More brushes more paint. Mess multiplying, vision for the piece collapsing.
“Enough,” I finally said, annoyed and exhausted by this corruption of my painting process. I’d burn the damn thing in the backyard if I had to, but I was not going to continue in desperation to bring about something I couldn’t bring about.
I turn the canvas on it’s side. I at last envisioned something approaching a concept. A tree, or plant, clinging to life, on a strange, but green and brown landscape. Not a blue in sight.
I did throw in some white at last, which makes for a ghostly effect. Plus no other colors would show up in the thick ultra-wet canvas. I also went from planning a somewhat realistic painting to a far more impressionistic approach. Near the end I thought of a heath, and the line “Upon the heath,” from the first scene in Macbeth. I knew I would call it that, and consider the landscape to represent a heath.
In the last few moments I threw in those little comets of color you see mostly on the right side. I figured the would represent magic, oddity, perhaps the witches from the above mentioned scene, hard to say. At any rate, it was done.
All I could think of was how much blue and white paint I had wasted trying to paint something that I didn’t even accomplish. That annoyed me the rest of the night.
As did the fact that the process was not the usual creative enjoyable, mostly relaxing experience I have had while oil painting. Not a feeling I want to repeat when going back to the easel. (Which I may not let myself do for a while, because of all the waste.)
Not until this morning when I was journaling some thoughts did it occur to me that because of what I titled it, and what i had gone through to produce the painting, this work held the lesson I mentioned.
I tried to be too precise. I was far too in love with the image I had in my mind of the icescape, that I kept trying to force that into existence after every error. Instead of letting the painting take me to a place I could work with and enjoy, riding a wave of amateur artist enjoyment, I was insisting on specifics way beyond both the nature of the painting and my own abilities. I could have made a choice to be content with what I had, and advanced in time to something greater. But I chose to force it, and caused a great mess in the process.
Sound like a certain Scottish character from literature?
The metaphor isn’t perfect, but like Macbeth I insisted on too much in too little time, and forgot to incorporate the flow if you will. I became single minded, and impatient to create the painting in my head. And it screwed everything up, both on the canvass and in my mind.
Unlike Macbeth, though I made a wrong choice, I was able to later course correct and make a right one. I resigned again to the flow of the painting,allowing myself to just paint what “wanted” to be painted. I did it for the fun of putting oils on canvasses again, and the idea to make the heath came to me. The Heath, where in some ways Macbeth makes his first choice to force the hand of nature, the universe, God. (Depending on how you want to read things.)
Whenever I look at this painting from now on, I will remember to not force things. I will remember that there can be depth and significance to an experience even after through poor choices we have made a shit show of things. I will remember my choices, and unlike Macbeth, leave the heath with most of what I am intact.
Like Prince Malcolm, (who incidentally I played in a production of Macbeth last year) I come away from the experience wiser, more in control, and most importantly, forgiving of myself for mistakes I made.
As promised, I am revealing the title to my upcoming novel, fresh off of my decision on same late Friday night.
What I have been referring to for over a year merely as Novel 3 will now officially be called…
The Beacons I See
It is the story of a summer in the life of Vanessa, who, along with the other females in her family, and a few others around the world, can see promises made by one person to another. They are manifested on the spot where the promise was made, and appear to her kind as globes of soft, different colored of light. Vanessa refers to them as “beacons.” All except one of them, which she gives a special name, because of its unique properties.
That, however, is not what I’m talking about today.
I’ve been jotting down ideas for titles since at least the start of 2017. Only a handful struck me with any real music or power relevant to the story. I very nearly chose a different title, but at last minute I discovered that a number from a popular Broadway show, (that I have never seen) has the same title. I’d have been on safe legal ground, as one cannot trademark a title, as far as I know. Still, I didn’t want anyone to think of that show when they heard the title of my book, so I went with this one.
It was one of the last titles I came up with on the final short list, so perhaps that’s a good sign.
Major revisions are, as far as I can tell, complete. A few additional passes for proofreading and minor adjustments remain. Then I have to consider if I will be hiring someone to do the cover for the first time, or if I will try it myself. Then there is the whole new approach to promoting a book I need to undertake this time around. So it will be a busy few months, as I hope to release this one in June. (No firm date just yet.)
So there you have it. Title and super-broad plot synopsis. Keep checking back here or on Twitter for updates on this one, as always!
If the internet thinks I am going to now stop mentioning my recent free essay collection, it is mistaken. Please take a look, as I think it will bring a smile to your face more than once.
That being said, my stronger attentions have now turned toward my next major project; the as yet untitled, Novel 3. (Though I am close to picking one of the finalist titles.)
I have not chosen a release date yet, though I have one in mind for summer. I have no reason to believe that I won’t make that date, but it’s still too early to be 100% certain of when I will complete it. I’ll announce the date when I choose it here first of course.
I won’t talk much inside baseball, but I will say that I’ve been taking a somewhat different editing/revising approach to this novel than that which I normally employ. It has been more tiring on certain days, but the end goal is the same of course-quality fiction I’m proud to put my name on, and ask people to pay for.
The plan is also for this to be available as ebook and paper form, just as the last novel is. (Also still available.)
As I gain more confidence and skill in indie publishing I will be able to do things quicker, and with fewer obstacles.
This novel isn’t strictly speaking literary fiction. Broadly it’s either fantasy, or perhaps one form of magical realism. Still, I’ve employed a bit more symbolism in these novel than in previous ones, and I’ve been playing with language a bit more. (One reason, though not the only one, that the editing process is a different and more tiring than usual.)
I’ll also be initiating a more complex marketing and promotional plan for this novel than any of my previous works thus far. That is an aspect of indie publishing that I have the most to learn about, I dare say. But that’s why I’ll be investing some money and some more time into different approaches that while new to me still are not impossible for me. (As some common marketing strategies would be for me.)
Not only that, but I’m taking some steps to better promote myself as a person as well. I already dusted off and re-purposed a youtube channel in hopes of using it to not only promote my works, but my “voice” or “brand” of whatever they call it now. Promoting it, not changing everything I am to look like something shinier. We will see how that goes.
I have about 300 followers of this blog, and if you do in fact read these posts on a regular basis, feedback on how I am doing, (and especially a interest in my books) is appreciated. I’ve heard from so few of you over the years…
So, it’s not time for a book launch yet, but time for the launch of an improved approach.
The time for even more of my opinions has come. My essay collection, Thoughts I Wrote Down Because I Hate Talking to People is now live at several merchant sites. It will become available in several others in the coming days. Here is a universal link to see if your preferred source for ebooks has it.
As with my last free book, it is not available on Amazon itself at the moment. The reason for this is that to make something free on Amazon, it must remain exclusive for a time to Amazon, and I did not want to take that step with this book. You can, however, find a file of it among the sources that is Kindle friendly, if that is you preference. (Something should be done to make free books easier to place on Amazon, however. That’s getting a bit old.)
I don’t yet know if I will have paperback copies of this published, since by page count it is rather short. I will consider it, however.
Until then, please enjoy my thoughts, ramblings complaints, pleas and ponderings that make up this volume. As always, if you enjoy, leave a review if you please, at your preferred source.