Touching the toes of the Gods

I had an interesting encounter – albeit a very brief one – with a top shelf, class A author last week.reaching

As you know I’ve been struggling with the concept of PR of late, trying to figure out what I can do to help get the word out on The Clearing and give the book a fighting chance in the market. Among the many ideas I had was to just ask for advice. That’s right, just ask. And who better to ask than someone who had been at the lowly rung I’m on now – and had managed to push on upward.

And so, in the spirit of ah-what-the-heck, I shot for the moon.

I won’t tell you the name of the author, because I think that would be an invasion, but I will tell you that I got a personal reply – and within hours – and I was pretty damn thrilled. And we’re talking a top-of-the-game name here.  (And yes, I know it’ll drive you mad trying to guess who it is).  Now, I wish the story could get a little more exciting here, and that I could report back that he and I are now set to meet over a coffee where he would spin yarn after yarn about his own experiences in book promotion in the lean years.

But no – that’s not happening.

His note back was very nice, but contained what you might expect from an A-list author with the world at his feet: he’s asked daily for advice and guidance. His time is pressed to the max (ironically with obligations to his publisher around promoting his books!), and he’s sorry but no, he can’t help. And yes, he wishes me luck.

And I get it. In that success bracket it’s probably maddening to hear from nobody’s like me, and it probably happens three times a day. Every day. But despite that he wrote me back.  His response was genuine, and it was just a really nice note. I appreciate him taking the time to send it – regardless of the answer. So I hold no gripes, no resentment. It’s just another interesting learning point along the way.

But it does illustrate a point about success. At some point in the career of a successful author, the “community” he must engender and link to during the formative years has to be pushed back to arms length; a necessity if that author is to have time to continue being successful. As budding “successes” ourselves, we try to build these communities, eager to engage with folks and chat it up, add value where we can, connect and discuss, or at least be amusing along the way. We’re striving for that two-way communication that proves people know who we are. But if you hit it big – if your book catches fire and shoots into the consciousness of the masses, that “community relationship” will have to pay the price. The connection will still be there, sure, but by the very nature of the business, it has to be a qualified one. And I think that it probably smarts some for the A-listers who have to bridge that reality. I believe most of them would love to help, to give a hand up, but success works against it.

So while I wish I was the benefactor of first hand advice from the top shelf, I’ll settle for the knowledge that, hey, I swapped a couple of emails with an honest to goodness A-lister.

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5 responses to “Touching the toes of the Gods

  • Debbish

    I think I’d be a bit shitty if I was you. I agree it’s great this person got back to you, but why respond with ‘Sorry, I can’t help.’ No response at all would almost be preferable. Perhaps it was a minion responding on the author’s behalf… Surely a line or two would have been doable.

    Perhaps, however, I’m being naive and the author in question gets a million questions like that and they’d tell me they can’t respond to them all etc etc.

    By the way I’m appreciating the insights. For many of us getting published would be a HUGE deal, but it’s easy to forget the ‘what comes after’ bit. It’s a bit like the fairytale in which the prince and princess live happily ever after (upon marriage or declaring their undying love). We tend not to think of the ‘after’ – toilet seats being left up, who takes the garbage out etc.

    (Sorry – got off track there a little!)

    • Dan Newman

      Thanks for the note, Deb. I guess it’d be easy to get crabby about it, but I genuinely think it’s a function of success – or an inverse fuction: the more successful, the less accessible.

      And yes, getting published was such a huge milestone for me… as I am sure it is for all of us chasing that dream – but I’m amazed how quickly it has been replaced with the stark reality of the difficulty you face in getting people to find your book.

      All part of the learning curve!

  • jeffo

    I agree, being on that level is probably much more difficult than we imagine–though we’d certainly love to find out! Writers also have to be very careful of getting too involved, and then being accused of stealing someone’s idea or manuscript.

    And the other thing, I don’t know if anyone can necessarily tell you how it’s done, because I don’t know if anyone really knows. There are people who barely promote who end up with a bestseller/sensation, and there are people who get the backing of a big publisher and the book tanks. I’m sorry to say, I’ve got no answers for you, Dan.

  • Dan Newman

    Dang it Jeff! I was counting on you to solve this. 😉

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The Doubting Writer

A blog by Dan Newman

LITERARY CARRIE

A blog by Dan Newman

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