The other night I was walking to the local fireworks display and I heard a man's voice behind me, stating something to the effect of "There goes our local celebrity author.".
I didn't know what to do. I had not written anything in months,had not posted anything on my author page in months as Facebook kept reminding me. And while I was curious as to who it was, I was unsure if I should turn around. Were they being cynical? Sarcastic? Or simply an attempt at good-natured community relations?
I felt apprehensive, and conflicted. I felt ashamed about my abandonment of my literary dream. Days previous, my daughter had asked what I would do if money was not an object after I explained the finer details of how my credit card debt works against me buying a new truck to replace our current one that is, but for lack of better words, gradually expiring. I successfully evaded the question.
Yet, I do still want to be known as a celebrity author. I do want people to come up to me and say 'Hey, I enjoyed your book.' leaving me red-faced and proud while trying to scope out the nearest exit strategy as they say 'would you mind signing my copy?'
"Hey, celebrity author..."
But I'm a long way from that. I've stalled out on self-marketing, put my chips into getting an education so I can have a piece of paper that officially agrees that I am good at something I have been doing for years, therefore giving me more earning power. That is how this world works.
And then I got a little push from, of all things, a book on letters. Specifically, the letters of Kurt Vonnegut, a man I admire and who transcended literary genres. I found out it took nearly a decade from the publication of his first novel to his second, as life and bills got in the way.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) he was also able to start his career in the last great days of short story publishing - his first story earned him $750 (The Barnstable Effect) in 1950. It was roughly 15,000 words. It was bought by a magazine named Collier's.
$750 for 15,000 words! In today's dollars that would be equal to nearly $8000 US dollars!
Such was the value of written stories in those days.
With that financial success, and a few others under his belt, he felt confident enough to quit his desk job at G.E, and concentrate on the writing of his first full novel, Player Piano. His next novel, Sirens of Titan, wasn't published until 1959.
Because Television came along.
In the following years, as magazines went out of business, the value of a Kurt Vonnegut story, as well as all others, dropped to $100-$200, depending on length, as the publishing world imploded, shrinking as the Golden Age of Television decimated the value of the written word as visual content became the opium of the masses.
It took seven years for him to return to where he thought he was going to be after Player Piano, making excuses, mental confusion and exhaustion trying to provide for his growing household in any way he could. His dream took a back seat to his reality.
And here I am, bemoaning somebody at least knew I am an author and expressed it out loud, either cynically or respectfully.
I should have turned around and said 'Thank you for reminding me.'
I should have immediately returned to believing that one day I will become more than a local neighbourhood celebrity author.
I didn't that night but I am here now, for the first time in months, writing about myself and my works so thank you, stranger, for the push.
So here is a link to my last book, Karmageddon. It is a collection of short stories based around a nuclear Armageddon created by the events in Enter a Fistful of Marijuana. It was entered into the Stephen Leacock Awards for Canadian humour but didn't make the cut. I'd be lying if I said that didn't hurt a little. It is funny and sad and makes a commentary on our priorities when disaster strikes.
It is available on Lulu.com, a Canadian version of Amazon so if you want to shop national, here is where you can start.
They even provided me this fancy link to my book:
Enter a Fistful of Marijuana, the basis of Karmageddon and based very loosely on Kentucky Fried Movie's A Fistful of Yen, can be found here.
Stoner, Unincorporated, my attempt at an existential love story of sorts, can be found here.
These books, along with my novellas are all available electronically here.
One day I may eat my humble pie and convert all my works to Kindle, to join the masses such as myself on Amazon. I will continue to submit and be rejected, one by one, by big and little publishing houses that continue to raise the bar in terms of acceptance.
And I understand. For their investments are gambles and the more name recognition, the lesser the gamble. Anyone can google me and they can also review me by what my readers say. It might help, it might not. If you have read anything of mine, please add your thoughts to Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords etc.
I chose Smashwords, Createspace and Lulu because I wanted to promote choice and patriotism: Lulu being Canadian, Smashwords and Createspace not being Amazon. Createspace has since been bought by Amazon and converted my works to Kindle as well. That is the way the world works.
Every sale either makes a difference or prolongs the inevitable.
Thank you for reading, in all manners of the word.