If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? Does anyone care that it’s fallen? More precisely, if I complete a manuscript, publish it, and no one reads it, can I still call myself a published author?
That sounds weird: me; a published author. It took a lot for me to admit I aspired to be an author, as I thought it would be viewed as a frivolous pursuit. I think it was because I was pushed hard growing up to do the right thing to become independent and successful. I pursued archaeology as a career instead, something I loved and which my mother supported, my father didn’t understand and my grandfather ridiculed. Yes, ridiculed. “Find any gold, yet?” he used to joke every time he saw me. I wish I could chalk it up to old world mentality, that archaeology, the search by those in the present seeking to understand those in the past is lost on those who have lived through it, but my grandfather was second generation Canadian and probably younger than my mother is now (i.e., not that old). My father, an avid reader of the newspaper, cover to cover, each and every night, with his grade 9 education and demeanor too weak to tell my grandfather that he should demonstrate pride in lieu of derision for his granddaughter’s accomplishments, ironically would have understood. Though not a fan if fiction, he would have supported my endeavour, recognized it as a noble pursuit (much in the same way I marvel at my son’s artistic ability, as something I could never, no matter how many lessons or how much effort, could duplicate). With the eye for detail he’d groomed over years spent in the printing industry, he’d have made me excellent proofreader.
It turns out, people actually believe writing, publishing, is a noble pursuit. I had an interesting discussion with my cousin, just last week that demonstrated this for me. He’d asked how my book was selling. I told him I was selling copies at the rate of about one a month. He’d picked up on my disappointment and told me that, nevertheless, I had sold copies and I could call myself a published author which was more than most could say. I reminded him that I’d self-published and anyone could do that. He reminded me that few people did and he pointed out I was the only one he knew who did. I also think about my mother and how she practically begged me to get her a print copy. I reminded her that she would be better suited to an e-book with which she could adjust the text size until so she could actually read it. I don’t think she was happy about my suggestion, but she agreed. Tell people you’ve published an e-book and they congratulate you; show them the physical book and they’re impressed. Show to make an impression; don’t tell—what author hasn’t heard that old saw?
As for me, I continue to write for the same reason I continue to teach, for the same reason I cling to my lottery fantasy of leaving it all to run an archaeology camp in the backyard of an old Victorian somewhere in the city—because it’s my passion. Always has been, for as long as I can remember (except for the lottery fantasy which has only been around for 20 years or so). I continue to cling to the “if you build it, they will come” school of thought—if I continue to write, publish, and publicize, like Shoeless Joe and his teammates and fans, the readers will eventually come.
About the Author
Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.
Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!
Graphic taken from http://writers-write-creative-blog.posterous.com/quotable-donna-tartt