Capitol Reef National Park

Monday, August 15, 2016

The JK Rowling Blues

            If you search for my book Dead Mouths: Book 1 on a Kindle search on Amazon (using the term “dead mouths”), the second book that comes up is called My Sister In-Law’s Mouth: Over My Wife’s Dead Body Book 2. The author is listed as Kilgore Trout Jr, which is most interesting in that whoever wrote this “classic” had to have read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 or some of the other books that said author’s “father” appeared as a fictional character in.

            While Vonnegut’s author was sold in adult stores, he was a science fiction writer, like the author who created him. It was said that he had great plots, but it was also said that these were the best parts of his writing.

Sitting here now hoping that someone finds my books and pays for them, this Amazon search makes me wonder what people will think of the fact that I am a self-published author, posting to tens of sites in the hopes that someone finds my book and decides to plunk down $3.99 on it (or $2.99 for my other book).  Will they think that this could possibly be a reference to a line in Pablo Neruda’s From the Heights of Machu Picchu Canto 12 (“I come to speak for your dead mouths”I come to speak for your dead mouths.I come to speak for your dead mouths.I come to speak for your dead mouths.) or am I destined to be forgotten in the where are they now bin when they think of what else a mouth does other than speak?

            Of course, there are many successes out there in the demo tape world of books, but then again, if Mr. “Trout’” can be judged for his cover, there’s a lot of other stuff, too. Of course, book genres like erotica sell (who am I to judge writing in supernatural fiction), and indie publishing’s biggest hit is 50 Shades of Gray, which is essentially “mom porn.” Who’s to complain about what people read if it gets them reading? That said, I’d assume there’s a plot with E.L. James (I refuse to read or watch – no matter how many books she sells), but I just am led to believe that this other “book” (a term I use loosely, though I am interested, even if only at the free Kindle Unlimited price) is simply a Penthouse letter that went long (no sexual innuendo intended).

Thus, by this book being here on Amazon’s Kindle site, we are led to believe that someone put effort into writing this, publishing it, and finding a model to get scantily clad for the cover. Here, we have to believe that this cost money to do because there are many stops along the way in the Create Space process, and all of them cost money if you don’t want to do it yourself (lots of money in fact). For that purpose, we’ll believe Trout did this himself, but we also believe he paid a model, or at the very least, he used up a favor with a friend.

And here, we have to believe it’s a he, though it could be a woman if she knows what sells to men, and yes, there is a series of these books. Like a man that my sister works with, he knows what sells, and that’s why he write’s romance books for $80,000 a year (if the story about him is true, and we have no reason to believe it isn’t). Maybe Kilgore is actually Kim or Kylie, and she’s raking in the does at $2.99 a pop to make that sweet 70% commission (as opposed to 35% if the author were to charge less) so that she can get Sandals vacations and a BMW in the driveway. Wouldn’t you?

That said, most of us would, but we still won’t see the rewards, no matter how long we leave our revenue streams up.

So in the end, at two dollars and change for a book, both Trout and I are giving it away to get some dream in return. Like many authors, we aspire to a movie / TV deal, Stephen King / James Patterson expectations on our book sales, and to be recognized, should we ever hire an Uber driver (which I don’t expect to since I own my own car). But what do really get out of our time other than to say that unlike many who aspire, we have succeeded.

Here, I think about 15.5 months of writing 3 books (with the second volume of Dead Mouths still not done with its final edit, so a little longer to type out and edit and re-edit my 900+ pages). Even if we just look at Eureka in Flames, I put a solid 150 hours into that. With 65 books sold at about $2 a pop before taxes, I’m still not making $1 hour. Are my services worth the $15 an hour that McDonald’s workers are demanding? Hell, I think I’m good for Robert Kirkman / Walking Dead money. But is anyone else buying? Thus, even at “slave” wages, McDonald’s employees get more for their duties than me.

True, I haven’t gone all in, as I’m still publicizing for free. I haven’t boosted posts or hired an agent. I didn’t send out free copies looking for reviews on them. Fortunately, I do have 2 reviews, both good, but the tastemakers aren’t bursting down my doors to tell me that all my work is about to be rewarded because I posted to one of countless free promotion sites. Hell, I haven’t even been spammed by someone else on them lately. Not that I want to be, but attention is a good thing.

Through it all, I’m glad I have some shred of self-esteem left, though it’s really only a shred at this point. Fortunately, the good will of family and friends is still hanging on, at least in parts, though it should be said that Netflix binging is a hell of a lot easier to make happen than let’s say 12 hours for the average person to read just under 400 pages.

And it’s still early, and there are lots of options that I’ll have to search out and apply. Hopefully, the cost / reward ratio will be there for library visitations and next year’s science fiction events as well as the hope that I can at least pay off the copies of my books that I order for these. Sure, I can make more than 2:1 cash on these, but I have to go into these things with substantial copies of each book just in case because Heaven forbid that I have 12 people who all want a signed copy, and I only have 10 books. And what if they all want the complete collection of all 3 books that will be available at this time?

Right now, I feel those deep down J.K. Rowling blues. You know the kind where there’s no other outlet than the major leagues saying, “Don’t quit your day job” as they send her off to do whatever it is that comes next while the bills pile up, the vacations await, the car gets worn down, and the future looms with no guarantee of a day-glo lime Jeep in my parking spot any time soon.

But J.K. made it count. She stood up and tried again. That takes guts and endurance to push a kid’s book that hard so that it’s loved by adults as well. To get there, she went through divorce, welfare, and depression. When she was accepted, she stopped being Joanne to not put boys off from reading her work.

Now, the 12 publishing houses that sent her packing, the dumbass rejecters, that is, they have to be kicking themselves now that she had 7 movies in the top 50 movies of all time (only 1 Harry Potter didn’t make it, just barely, but 1 more will soon be on the list) and more successful books than that. Oh, and ol’ girl has a theme park.

If that’s the goal, then the idea is that we need to go Michael Phelps and get in the zone no matter who or what gets in our head. Today, as I contemplate a publicity blitz and using up whatever assistance I can without going Kickstarter (though I’m not putting that past me), the goal is to be happy and realize that overnight success is a myth.

The goal is to avoid the J.K. Blues.

However, as I move to publish and make it count, level 2, the one that says people outside of the already established circle have to be established, I think about how to make that happen, and to make the world love my book on my terms (or if you’ll give me the Jeep and the World Petroglyph Tour, I’ll turn Tony Lucas into whoever you think sells).

You know, because I’m a ho like that. Aren’t we all?

But yeah, there’s pride and my personality and my ethics, so I’ll avoid that “My Sister In-Law’s Mouth Route,” because not to sound whatever, but I’m kind of hoping I get big and famous before Trout.

Truth be told, I’m sure all of us would go all Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on people for a chance at the prize of being successful.

So as those clickbait pages that tell us the stories of how many rejections the great went through to get there, we just have to believe because good things are to come if we work hard and edit our work.

I think that’s how it works.

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