An Author In Spite Of Himself
Okay, it's no "Call me Ishmael." It isn't a patch on "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." It ain't even hardly "A screaming comes across the sky." (or is it...?) But what the heck, everybody has to start somewhere. Behold, oh my brothers and sisters, a published author.
Throughout the course of my checkered, crosshatched, tic-tac-toed and radically chopped and channeled writing career, I've been perfectly discontent to scrawl whatever came into my head and sit on it. it's ever so much easier than actually submitting it somewhere. Even the internet only provided a convenient bill spike to jam my excess verbiage on, myself smug in the assumption that nobody would ever read it except my Frequent Followers (You Know Who You Are). It's a common story: the insecure artist is simultaneously driven to create and paralyzed with fear at being caught at it.
But back at the first blush of dawn of the 90's, well before the advent of the World Wide Whatever, I took a notion into my head that writing a genuine book could be a practical, even profitable concern. The book in question wasn't a spiritual tome, not a philosophical essay or even a political screed. And it sure wasn't about music. No, my intention was to document a subject with which I had intimate, even painful, experience: premature ejaculation.
No need to go into distasteful or even succulent detail on the origins of my familiarity with the matter—after all, that's what books are for. Suffice it to say that I have, uh, dealt with it on a regular basis throughout my actively sexual life. Successfully, I might add. And all that expenditure of attention and effort ought to be good for more than just keeping my spouse from pummeling me half to death with a lumpy pillow. In fact, in the throes of my affliction I'd meditated that anyone who could come up with an even moderately consistent cure for The Horrible Old Condition That Dare Not Speak Its Name would clean up.
What did I do? Did I ransack libraries and bookstores for examples of sexual self-help manuals, the better to model my own work from? Did I research medical and psychological literature for more nuanced references and corroborative research results? Did I contact publishers or agents to determine the best strategy for vending such a manuscript? Did I, in short, behave in any way whatsoever like a common professional writer? Why, no. No, feckless soul of innocence that I was, I borrowed a spare word-processor from a local community health clinic and just started banging away, assembling what I felt was a perfectly acceptable short, pithy DIY pamphlet on the subject, nicely paginated and suitable for printing, breaking and stapling into salability in any local Kinko's.
In my defense, it should be stated that I was at that time a free-range hippie of the most offensively feral sort, living in a van and trailer with a wife and three cats, playing music on street corners and in craft fairs while vending self-recorded, self-constructed cassettes of our music to gullible, trusting natives. It seemed clear as a limpid hot springs to me that my best course of action lay with holding as much of the means of production in mine own strong grasp as possible, rather than relinquishing it to the scaly gore-bedewed talons of The Man, Inc.
What hadn't quite seeped through the pores of my hairy, sensitive consciousness yet was the sad yet solemn truth that DIY leads inevitably to SIY: Sell It Yourself. And while the curbside combination medicine show and hootenanny my sweetie and I staged when we got going was custom-bred for the vending of audio albums, I had as yet and forthwith and immediately following and even in prospectus not a single solitary damn way to put a quirky little sex manual into the hands of those who might need it the most, or at least had the wherewithal to render the exchange worth pursuing.
And so it is written: they who createth shall ever be servant to they who vendeth. Unable to extend my imagination beyond the mere construction of the potential gold mine, I languished fitfully at its entrance, unwilling or able to pick up the pick and shove the shovel. No rounds of publishers or bookstores, no book fair appearances, not even a classified ad in the National Perspirer. Perhaps it was a mild case of prudery at work, but the upshot was no zip, no pep, no moxy, no moolah.
Dolly right through the intervening years with me now. I had several times unearthed my minimum opus from the turgid womb of my files, examined it glumly and tossed it back, occasionally running off a copy or two at the behest of this or that friend. Once or twice I even sold one. Eventually I showed a copy to my friend Kirsten Anderberg, a fellow road warrior and writer, who encouraged me to pursue serious publication.
In the past year, Kir kept up a running commentary on Facebook about her own adventures and notable successes in selling her work within the new Kindle Direct Publishing program Amazon had launched. It was, she said, a way writers could finally gain control of their own careers. She badgered me to put something, anything, into the system.
The last straw came when she threatened to put my book in the store herself and charge me a commission. Okay, Kir, I give! I'll do it!
And I did. Uploaded a revised, corrected and formatted version to the KDP website. Filled out an author's page. So simple a child could do it (and from what I hear, they do). And hey presto, here I am, (semi)published at last.
O'course, that old stricture DIY=>SIY still applies, so I better get my publicity chops going—
Um. Okay. Anybody need a book on premature ejaculation?
No? Never mind, then.
Well. That wasn't so hard.