Thursday, December 27, 2018

Aural History, Investing In Yourself, and Taking Risks

Buy Aural History HERE

Before I wrote Generation Dead, I wrote a novel about a college-age musician trying to make sense of life and art--and all of the ghosts haunting him. I hadn't yet developed the boss-level networking skills I would later in life (basically, I hid in my home office hoping that sunlight wouldn't touch me) and after a couple rejections I decided to self-publish the novel. This was before the days of kdp and CreateSpace, and I didn't realized that the "royalty" scheme was such that I would actually lose money if I sold a copy through a chain bookstore (I sold three, which nearly drove me to bankruptcy). I didn't know any better. I was proud of the novel and wanted people to read it, believing if they did it would lead to other writing opportunities. So I sank some money into the book and had them print off about forty copies, most of which I sold to family and friends, quite possibly testing the limits of their supportive natures. Even with their charity, I didn't come close to making my money back.

I held a few back for "marketing" purposes--a few I sent to publishers under the (then) mistaken belief that they would be wowed by how "serious" I was. Of those, I heard back from one publisher who didn't believe a "rock 'n' roll" novel, as she termed it, would sell but said she'd read something else when I was ready. Not much of a return on my total investment.

Flash forward a couple years. I've sold a couple short stories and have written a regular music column for pay. I've found gainful employment a job that has helped me develop some basic business skills beyond those in my previous retail-heavy background. I make the momentous decision to "leave the cave" and try and meet other writers and people in the industry. In a complete "jump and the net will appear" moment, I come across an advertisement for a new writing workshop sponsored by Borderlands Press. The instructors are three writers I had been reading and admiring for years--Thomas Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and David Morrell, and the fourth guest is editor/publisher (and now Stephen King collaborator) Richard Chizmar. I send in a writing sample and--for the hell of it--my second-to-last copy of Aural History. 

I was accepted into the workshop, called the Borderlands Bootcamp. Maybe my acceptance had something to do with Aural History, which a couple of the instructors read, and maybe it didn't. But one thing is absolutely clear--my attendance at the Borderlands Bootcamp directly led to my first book deal (I attended twice; the second time I workshopped the first chapter and outline of Generation Dead), becoming agented (on a referral from one of the instructors), and all of the changes in my life resulting from having attained my most dearly held goal, and doing so at a level exceeding all my dreams and expectations. Tugging on the narrative thread, none of that would have happened had I not at least written Aural History, and maybe it would not have happened if I hadn't also dropped some cash, taken the time, and taken the risks on my creative self. Tomorrow never knows. I have no regrets; I cherish every dollar I lost in the early self publishing venture.

A few months ago, a good friend who also is a great reader let me know his favorite book of mine is still Aural History, and asked me why I didn't publish it again. My first reaction was to laugh until I realized he wasn't kidding, and then I thought, why not? I love the book, he loves the book, and at least half of the thirty people or so on earth who've read seem to like it. I spent considerable time cleaning up many of my youthful mistakes (but not the cover, which I shot wanting to summon the "DIY" spirit haunting many favorites in my record collection) and have tricked OMZ Press into offering a kindle exclusive of the book on Amazon, where it retails for the thoroughly reasonable price of $4.99. It skews a shade older than my other books--my protagonist is post-college age as opposed to being in high school--but if you've read my other stuff, or are a fan of music, or art, or ghosts, I think you might like this one, too. 

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