It’s happened before, many many times in my professional life.
I become possessed by a project. By a vision of what’s possible. I become obsessed with nailing down every possible detail that will help me make it happen. As I’m eating my breakfast I jot down thoughts, or add to my ToDo list. When I’m chatting to a friend, colleague or student, I find myself only half-listening, distracted by some new idea that’s popped into my head or by an urge to get off on my own to continue the planning. I gobble lunch, rush off to my desk after dinner. I don’t sleep well. It’s exhausting but fun, both draining and energising by turns. I’m all a-buzz, restless except when on my own and lost in the ordering of tasks, the research, the ways in which I’m going to cultivate the enthusiasm of others.
I’m in the midst of it again now.
Today’s pleasurable obsession is the marketing of my novel, The Worlds of Harriet Henderson, due to be released on 26 March.
Why this particular challenge to my occasionally debilitating introversion should be so pleasurable, I’m not entirely sure. I was initially repelled by the idea of having to spruik my book.
Perhaps it’s because the early response to my novel has been such a surprise. For most of the three years since I began writing it, I honestly thought it likely that I would be its only reader. But then at the end of 2017 I showed it to a friend, which led me to share instalments with 50 others, and then the responses and reviews came in, and suddenly I found myself keen to get it out into the world.
Self-publishing seemed the logical way to go. I’d had a wonderful experience with McPhee-Gribble Penguin back in the late 1980s with my first book, School Portrait, but my other books were not well edited or marketed. This time, retired and with time to spare, I’d do it myself.
And while the obsession has crept up slowly over the past six months, it now has me very much in its grip. I’ve lodged Harriet with both Amazon and IngramSpark. I now know about barcodes, bleeds and biblets, about ISBN, ONIX and POD, about Thorpe-Bowker, Bolinda and the Copyright Agency. I’ve bought ISBNs and a Book2Look widget (take a look! It’s really cool!). I’ve joined the Small Press Network, Netgalley, and discovered the Alliance of Independent Authors, and signed up again with Australian Society of Authors. I’ve been to a conference on Independent Publishing, and will soon be applying to ALIA to have my book put into public libraries and to ASO to have it put into school libraries. I’ve reactivated my blog and redone my website. I’ve made movies using Animoto and created graphics using Canva. I’ve learnt how to pack books for postage and how to get free postage through Amazon. I’ve planned a book launch and am learning how to do an Email Campaign through Squarespace. I’ve written an article for the journal Changing English;Studies in Culture and Education and I’m thinking of making an audiobook. I’ve been regularly posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m building a list of bookshops and print-media reviewers and radio programs to approach.
Who knows how effective any of this is or will be. I worry, occasionally, that I’m overdoing it. Or that I’m putting my energies into the wrong things.
But if I sell 200 books or 2000, does it really matter? It’s been suprisingly absorbing and fun.