The adventures of a book peddler

Somewhere along the way I’ve become a book peddler. It seemed an infinitely preferable course of action to watching my novel THE GOOD CEMETERY GUIDE languish in a publisher’s warehouse.

Being one of those people who suffer from excess optimism, otherwise termed ridiculous enthusiasm, I ignored the advice of all the sensible caring people in my life who told me marketing my own book was a bad idea and not to even think about doinga website around the novel, not even in my wildest dreams; that it would distract me, delay me, detour me; that I was a writer not a salesperson, a novelist not a web-designer, and in case I really didn’t get it, no writer ever made money out of a website and I should be concentrating on my second book.

Not strictly true of course, some writers have done very nicely through their websites, but for the sake of argument they (those of good intent) were absolutely right. My 2008 New Year’s resolution to earn a living as a writer has been postponed once again to the following year. They did however forget to mention what seems most pertinent; that it would require endless painstaking hours of hard work. Doing a website is worse than writing a book; it’s a consumptive black hole.

Any serious enterprise requires time.  Writers never have enough time because we’re leading double lives; we live and work in parallel so just making the space to be aware of taking a breath (listen to/read Eckhart Tolle’s A NEW EARTH!) is hard.

The good news is it’s been a gas. Rollicking fun-on-the-road growing-up-to-be-a-real-writer stuff. The truth is the adventures are as much a real life affair
as being in cyberspace.

I’ve vanquished shyness and expanded horizons by getting out to small independent bookshops in the city environs and in outlying country towns, and talked about the book and website to some of the countless readers circles, writers groups and book clubs that keep the book industry in South Africa humming. Along the way I’ve sold books.

The readers of the kind of books I read and write finally have a face. I’ve written pages of content for the website in a different style to anything I’ve published before. I’ve experienced enormous crafting satisfaction from turning an idea that wouldn’t let go of me into a cyber space called www.goodcemeteryguide.com that dwells lightly on the interplay of life, love and death. Always with the hope that someday we’ll have those important conversations at the dinner table!

And here I am baring my soul on book.co.za! I’ve stormed the bastions of technology with a website; now with Ben’s help I’m inside the fortress. I wish I could say I just threw a few words onto the ‘page’ and it was a breeze. Truth is I dithered over it because spontaneous unedited expression is scary.

Measured words are a writer’s weapons in the war against mortality. I look forward to further real life marketing forays and cyber adventures but the time has come to put self-marketing on a slow burner and return in spirit to the really tough stuff that terrifies the living daylights out of me as much as it drives me nearly insane with pleasure.

The gods of the universe and I had a serious chat the other day. I’d been out in the car and material for future books was being thrown at me thick and fast (as tends to happen when I drive around); I felt pummeled and exhausted by the end of the trip.

“I haven’t even finished my second book!” I said grumpily to no-one in particular. A voice in my head said quite clearly, ‘Well, get on with it!’ And so I shall.

Source: First published in its original format as ‘Adventures in Cyberspace’ on Sunday Times Books Live

 

 

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