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Sunday, March 23, 2014

If A Hate Monger Falls In the Woods, Does Anyone Give A Damn?

Last week the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, passed away.  He was 84.  If by some chance you're not sure where you've heard either name -- bless your media-avoiding little heart -- the Westboro Baptist Church is the group that pickets funerals and other public events with signs that say "GOD HATES F*GS" or "OBAMA IS THE DEVIL," or other such aggressively ignorant spiel.  His death was met with reactions from the public that ranged from apathetic and disinterested to gleeful celebration.

And rightfully so.  Anyone that turns the message of love and peace that most religious denominations claim to project into a message of intolerance, hatred and fear deserves nothing less than to have their passing go un-celebrated.  In my opinion, he should occupy the same fiery cell block as Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Tim McVeigh and so on.  I say this as an atheist, not believing in hell or heaven.  However...

The man DID have a family.  Someone loved him enough to bear his 13 children (even though he reportedly beat them all, wife included), and that means one of two things: either everyone involved in that little twisted slice of Americana is seriously delusional and disconnected with reality, or there was something privately redeemable about the man, in his past or present.  I'm an optimist, I choose the latter.  He was a civil rights lawyer once, after all, and helped Kansas strike down the Jim Crow laws.  Irony knows no bounds.

Now, I'm not saying we excuse his hypocrisy or forgive the hate in his message.  But maybe we should curb our enthusiasm in regards to his passing.  Hate nay begets hate, and we should let this particular brand of hatred die with the man.

I'm not a believer, but I have read the Bible (and parts of the Qur'an, Torah, and other religious texts.  I can't-- and won't-- quote scripture but everything I've read says that the supposed supreme being -- God, Jehovah, Allah, Life, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it-- doesn't hate anyone.

Neither should we.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Best Second Job, Ever. (No, seriously)

I'm at my job right now as a sleep tech with my one patient sleeping like a baby.  While I'm watching this person, I'm scouring the internet, looking for free review websites, looking for pay review websites, looking for bookstores that support indie authors.  I jot down numbers and email addresses and email my new list of people, asking what their indie book policies are, and if they'd be willing to carry my novel.  I'm taking the reviews I do have and cobbling them together in a press kit while cursing myself for not having enough scratch to hire a publicist.  I'm designing flyers for my first (ever) author event and trying to set up more in one of the stores that cautiously agrees to buy one copy of my book as a tester to see if it sells.

When I get off my 12-hour shift at 7:00 in the morning, I go home, try to eat something with at least one healthy ingredient and get back on the internet for another hour.  I send out a few more emails, a few more requests, and obsessively check my inbox for a reply from the previous day, or from earlier in the night.  By 9 I'm wiped and head to bed, but I keep my phone nearby on vibrate so I can hear it when and if someone eventually calls back.  I wake up at 3:00 in the afternoon and call the numbers from the previous night; it's my first opportunity to reach them since they opened while I was sleeping.  I speak to the book buyer, or whomever will actually listen to me, and I pitch them my book.

This is my experience at being an author.  This is my second job.

I'm completely untrained, totally inexperienced, an winging it as I go.  The only instruction I have is a three year old copy of The Indie Author Guide and my own notes as to what hasn't worked.   I'm my own marketing department, sales division, budgetary committee.  I'm my own press room, advertising firm.

It's more of a daunting task than I expected.

So why do it myself?  Why not go the traditional route?  A few reasons.  For starters, the traditional publishing industry has changed dramatically than what you may remember.  I hear stories of authors putting together their own book tours, contacting news media on their own... basically doing everything I'm doing now.  So if the only difference is the name of the company on the spine and the percentage of royalty you get (I hear it's low by the way), then why not do it yourself?

And if the truth were to be known, I rather enjoy it.

For the first time in my adult life, success or failure is completely, expressly in my hands, AND directly affects me.  This isn't like being productive at the desk that we sit behind at work (incidentally, I need to periodically check on my patient while I rant).   In that environment, there is a higher margin for error, and your best efforts make your bosses' bosses' bosses  rich, not you.  I'm happy to know that I only go as far as my abilities take me.  I like this.

Don't get me wrong, I like being a writer more, and there is a distinct difference between the two, but this is great!  I'm getting a list together of today's emails, moving south to see who wants to join Village Books in Bellingham and Edmonds Bookshop (both in Washington, and yes I'm name dropping).  This is the best second job you could have.]

It's about 4:00 AM now.  I've got my new list to create, new numbers to pull, and a flyer design to refine.