Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
UPDATE: I am not fully healed from my stroke - the rest will depend on other medical professionals to see how I'm doing, but I wanted to 'vent' about a subject I'm sure will receive some attention but for me, it's cathartic.
For the past eighteen years I'm proud to be called the word 'author' since it was a goal of mine to write a book. Looking back on this end after attending book fairs, festivals, even running a book expo, I still enjoy knowing that I wrote books and that even now, someone will comment or compliment me on my effort. The downside is that I haven't produced another book in over fifteen years although I plan to release a book in the future. How long? Who knows except The One above. With that being said, let me tell you that during my rehabilitation, my mind has pondered on a few experiences, people whom I have met and situations I feel have caused my success and lack of momentum in producing more books.
I began like any new author, glad the work was done to see the publication of a new book that I had a hand in writing and the words (except for a few changes) belonged to me. Nothing could have made me prouder than saying that! With a new book of course, you have to promote it, so I signed up for every local book event I could including the Black Book Expo which someday I would be in charge of running. For this first year, I was only an exhibitor. Standing behind a table as an unsupportive crowd walks by for hours isn't the best feeling in the world. Somehow, somewhere, you feel as you stand in the middle of a hot tent or canopy listening to loud music or people standing outside your booth discussing anything but your book, you come to realize that all of the hard work you spent buying cards, producing posters, building a mailing list isn't quite working out and that you'd rather spend the Saturday or Sunday at home (or church) while you're watching people walk by, ask you questions about a book they never plan on buying only to have you waste your time and energy hoping the next person walking by will be interested enough to buy your book.
There comes a time when you are stationed near or across from 'that author' who is making sale after sale with customers walking up to their tent to buy their book. You may feel envious until you realize that author's set up or previous radio or television appearance just happened to be the reason why folks are approaching their booth with happy faces. When you're selling books in the 'bigger' venues such as the Festival of Books, it only gets worse especially since the Festival is one of the venues with the biggest crowds. So what does this mean? If you're like me, you would rather sign up for the next event with a better game plan and more money spent on promotional material such as business cards, posters, other items to draw attention to your table or booth. I've seen other authors do it all and then some just to lure potential customers to their table. Sometimes it works, other times, not so well. This is part of the other side once you publish a book.
I recognize an author's need for self promotion which is why for years I've seen authors band together in groups and cross promote that way. I was in a group called the California Writers Collective (remember us?) that lasted for a little while until we 'disbanded'. I can say the best thing out of that whole experience is that I met my future wife but as far as my writing career? The CWC was a wasted effort. I should have spent time developing my own projects and working on future stories before I got sidetracked with running the group after the first effort failed. The partnering up between authors didn't stop my fellow scribes on the East coast develop their Cartels, other associations banding together and establishing a presence in other book fairs or festivals.
Fast forward to today; 2019 and what have I learned from all this? I learned a painful lesson: keep my focus as a writer and don't make it into a 'crusade'. Most of you may have read my past entries from a decade ago where I shared much nonsense of how a writer should be and some jazz like that. Honestly, I should have concentrated on the numerous project ideas I conjured up in my head instead of trying to be some 'expert' of the literary world or running a book expo. Hey, such is life. Now while I would offer some advice for any new author reading this, all I have to say is that keep writing. The promotional stuff can be figured out later. Don't lose your ideas once - there I go again, huh? Maybe I should take my own advice and just keep writing. Either way you folks will know who I am.
So that's it. Funny how one little stroke can open up my mind and let this long missive flow out. Plenty more to come.