Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Will Write for Beer

Besides the groupie shit I tossed out a few days ago, I haven’t posted in a while, so let’s start with some FAQs, K? Beginning with the obvious: Yes, I’m working on a third book. Yes, it’s historical fiction, set in Malta, circa 1565. No, it’s nowhere near finished. Yes, it’s a prequel (as opposed to a sequel) to my first book, IMMORTAL BONDS. Yes, I plan to make DeSAIN, the villain of the first book, the hero of the third. No, it won’t be anything like CKR (except, maybe, for the orgy scene). No, Kid Rock will NOT appear in the third book, although there is a Joe C. And, no, I’m not rolling in dough. Yet. Why? Let’s just say this gig ain’t as easy as it looks.

Back in ’06 or ’07, I set the sales goal for my second book at “more than Paris Hilton and her dog.” I’ve so far fallen short by a few million units. Granted, Tinkerbell had a better marketing staff. Every time I think about it, though, I’m further disheartened by the fact that I’m actually competing with a dog. And not even a “real” dog, a purse dog! With or without sales reps, you’d think I could outsell a fuckin’ teacup Chihuahua.

Of course, I knew this would happen. One could even say I set myself up. I wrote a book I didn’t want to write, then named it after a guy who’s barely in the book. I used settings like strip clubs and NASCAR races, things that attract an audience not generally known for their literary inclinations, and those who pride themselves on their reading material will instantly – mistakenly – wave it off as an amateur attempt at a groupie how-to. No wonder the dog’s selling better.

Part of the problem is that I have an aversion to asking people to “buy my book.” Okay, it’s a big part. But I’ve said it before: I’d prefer the words speak for me; if people like what I write, they’ll look for more. In my opinion, my limited Facebook (Twitter, Classmates, Google+, LinkedIn…) time is better spent peppering witty and charming comments on friends’ pictures than cramming their news feeds with links to Amazon. They’re easy enough to find. I’m here to entertain, not sell. Don’t see that changing.

Another (rather large, seemingly impassable) hurdle is the book, itself: it’s raunchy. Remember that strip club remark a couple paragraphs back? Though most enjoy it, some are hesitant to admit it. Consequently, not every reader recommends it to someone else. Perched where I am in my career, I depend on word of mouth. Surely, you can see where this “pucker effect” might be a hindrance.

Why is it raunchy? you might ask. Because I wrote it for men who don’t read. (Yeah, that’s an issue, too.) Specifically, I took a long, hard look at my husband, his friends, and my own male friends and acquaintances and asked myself, “What would THEY want to read about?” Answer: Penthouse, fart jokes, binge drinking, and morning wood. Easy enough, right? I’d been monitoring trends in technology and social networking for several years and had noticed more men were communicating, but few exhibited a mastery of the English language. Armed with the knowledge and strong, personal belief that vocabulary improves with reading, I thought it was time to give “the boys” something on their level – or, at least, something that appears that way. Enter Redneck Fiction. Just don’t tell them it’s actually literary-quality shit.

The title doesn’t help, either. On the one hand, I elected to use an acronym for the cover and spine because (a) it was never my intention to capitalize on the Kid Rock name and (b) I didn’t want to discourage non-fans from picking it up. On the other, by not printing the full title on the book, and by using only an acronym in marketing and advertising, I’m not catching the attention of fans and am routinely missing out on the opportunity to reach a fair share of my market. It’s basically a “fucked if you don’t, fucked if you do” scenario.

Why not change the title? Because, given that it seems more accurate to say HE’s chasing ME, I think it’s funny as hell.

Though every coincidence further convinces me I’m doing the right thing, every break that’s come along has been whisked away just as quickly as it appeared, with no progress to show for it. (What was it Garth Brooks said about unanswered prayers?) Then there’s the self-published, Print-On-Demand label that keeps the book off retail shelves. And the industry expectation I wholly disregarded: As a new, breakthrough author, I’m supposed to stick to a genre. My first novel, IMMORTAL BONDS, was paranormal suspense. CKR is contemporary. The next will be historical. Agents and publishers can’t ignore me fast enough.

But there IS hope: BeanPods Press, a small publishing firm created by dear friends Maggie West and David Bean. The first short story I ever published was released earlier this year as a part of their compilation, BIOHAZARD 2012, and they’re bravely taking me on as a permanent author. Their 2013 anthology, FIRST LOVE, will include my second published short story. In a couple months, they’ll be re-releasing IMMORTAL BONDS as an e-book. Next year, we’re looking into offering a collection of my earlier, favorite blog posts and (maybe) an easy-to-follow, illustrated version of “The CKR Diaries.” If I can git ‘r done, they’re hoping to release DeSAIN in 2015.

As for CKR, I might consider re-evaluating my sales goal. Selling millions of copies would be nice, but – at this point – I’d be satisfied if royalties covered my vices and helped me feel like more of an asset around here than a liability. To make that happen, all I need is 200 e-book sales this month. And then, again, next month. And the month after that. And so on. It’s do-able. I’m an award-winning, thought-provoking, genuinely-published author (that’s two novels, six magazine articles, and a short story, for those keeping track), and CHASING KID ROCK is a damn good book! The profanity, alone, will keep me off Oprah’s reading list, but who needs Oprah when I have … well … you, and the handful of others who “get” it. Plus, I have faith in the powers that guided my hand to write the story in the first place that it will get where it needs to go. In the meantime, I’ll keep pecking away at my keyboard and dreaming of the day I get to tell Scott the advance check arrived and he can quit his day job.

Anyone know how to get in touch with Tinkerbell’s marketing staff?

~ Dawn