Based on a true story.
As the reality of finishing your final draft dawns, you set up your author’s platform: Facebook author page and Twitter account, maybe a blog. Long hours in front of your computer, eyes straining, brain boiling, trying to figure out how to go from a wannabe to a real writer. You create your author page on Amazon and wherever else you’re selling.
Maybe accounts on Pinterest, Google+ and Linked in. You figure out how a few of those work. Just like the experts said you should. It takes you weeks/months/years. But you now have an online presence–in a dark corner in the back of the ballroom, where everyone else is dancing with their agents and publishers and millions of readers.
All the while, you’re working on your masterpiece, gestating your brilliant literary baby. You write, revise, edit and repeat. And format and proofread and proofread again, or pay or barter services with someone better at something than you are. You set up your Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords and iTunes and Kobo and Barnes and Noble accounts. With shallow anticipatory breaths, you upload your beautiful jump-off-the-page book cover and your perfectly (you hope and pray) formatted book document. You paste a painstakingly-crafted book description in the correct box, decide on a price, select markets (India, Japan and Denmark, too? Yes, please.)
Finally, you click on publish. And rejoice and think about a manicure as a reward. That or a hunk of that chocolate sauerkraut cake at the German restaurant.
Then you prop your feet on your desk as you sit back in your rickety task chair with a self-satisfied smirk on your drawn face with the dark circles around your bloodshot eyes. As you wait for the sales to pile up by clicking the refresh button on the KDP reports page every ninety seconds, you wonder how to spend your first royalties payment. Renovate your office into a perfect writing cave with wet bar, big screen TV (for watching the best shows and movies for research, of course), maybe a treadmill desk and a cushy padded chair? Or maybe take the family on a grand vacation to show them your profound appreciation of the countless subpar meals, distracted conversations and forgotten sporting events; sacrifices they made while you were industriously securing the family’s future by spilling your lifeblood on the computer screen in the form of the next NYT bestseller. Hopefully, there will be enough on a regular basis to hire a personal chef.
If only the sales would pile up.
You leave the desk to cook dinner, something not box mac and cheese, but keep thinking about your book, wondering if someone is clicking “Buy now with 1-click” on your book’s page on Amazon. Between steps in the cooking process, you check your reports page on every sales site where your book is listed . It takes you two hours to make franks and beans.
Nothing. Still nothing.
Something in your chest tightens and you try to discern if it’s frustration at all the solitary hours you spent wrestling with your characters and words, and the world doesn’t notice.
Or maybe it’s anger because you know of, even bought and tried to read cringingly horrible sagas with plot holes the size of your writer’s butt underwear, lifeless dialogue that makes talking to your husband about the budget seem like an evening in paradise, and characters so flat you could iron sheets on them (not that you ever in your life ironed a sheet). Yet, those dog droppings called bestsellers received tons of attention from critics, bloggers and interviewers. Not to mention movie deals promising the newest franchise of blockbusters.
And you realize that you are obscure. It’s not a new realization, but you seem more unknown than ever because you have done what millions of people say they want to do, but never do. You have written a book. And even more, you pushed it out in the world contraction by excruciating contraction: first a friend or spouse, then your critique group. You posted a few chapters on your blog or Facebook, sent agent queries and received rejections that beat your tender artist’s soul to dust. You burned with shame at your poor use of the language (despite your BA and 18 graduate credits) and agonized that your mother would think the adulterous but to-die-for-sex in the story was inspired by your own experience (alas, it was not). Your skin grew thicker.
Dutifully, you reset your nose to the grindstone that creating world-class literature is, and you made it better, shinier, wiser and grammatically more correct. Despite rejection from all sides except a few understanding writer and artist friends, you gave birth to your baby on your own. While the millions still talk about the book they’re going to write.
You experience all that again in your weary heart and click refresh on KDP. Zilch. The once hot blue euphoria of triumph cools to disdain for the entirety of humanity.
So you pout and go on Facebook, seeking cheer from funny cat videos and socially aware
but ironic comics. Or maybe finding a friend having a worse day than you. But all you see are the writers you follow humble-bragging about their five star reviews and contracts with agents they can’t reveal the details of, and meeting with TV producers and show runners. You know they worked hard, and you should be happy because someone else’s success won’t diminish your own elusive success. But damn them anyway!
Next, you see your so-called friends posting vacation pictures from Hawaii or their round-the-world honeymoon. Even an Instagram of a plate of food from a restaurant that’s not in the same town as the friend lives in is enough to make you hate your miserable underachieving life.
All that emotional anguish reminds your tooth hurts, so you schedule that root canal you’ve been avoiding because anyone who has the audacity to put the undercooked schlock you did on the WWW deserves to suffer. You remind yourself to shower before you go.
The entire time you endure the white hot pain of inflamed nerves being yanked from your skull, you offer yourself as a sacrifice to the capricious gods of commerce, praying they smile upon your little bit of drivel and prod a few souls to buy it, perhaps as penance for some small sins.
Later, when you wake up at home after the fog of painkillers has replaced the numbness of local anesthesia, you check your sales. One book’s worth of binary code, html and pixels have found a new home on someone’s e-reader.
Joy has overcome sorrow! Your heart sings, no, verily it screams! with a new kind of pleasure, an orgasm of accomplishment and glee! Your feet, so long stuck to the floor under your desk (much like they stick to the floor of your neglected kitchen) dance like they haven’t since the days of disco!
You wonder if it’s too early to look for a review.