So you’ve written a book. You’ve had it edited and then you published it. You’ve allowed yourself a moment of extreme joy and pride once you released the paperback and held it in your hands for the very first time, and then again when you had your book signing party at the local bookstore.
But now what?
Ideally, after all this hard work, the sales should just come flowing in. Open the floodgates! But, as I’ve said elsewhere, selling books is hard. There is no flood, but rather a trickle. Some days I’m frustrated that it’s only a trickle, and some other days I’m glad there IS a trickle. After all, the trickle is now coming from people who I mostly don’t know. A combination of word-0f-mouth, my marketing efforts on Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads, and the Amazon listing itself is keeping the trickle going. Who am I to expect anything more? After all, there are a TON of good new releases out there. My own reading list is epic, and for a new book to get on it, it has to promise me a LOT of entertainment, and it has to stare at me every way I turn.
It’s hard to make your book stare at people everywhere they turn. There are Amazon listings to fine-tune, Twitter trends to keep up with and chime in on, Goodreads contests and giveaways to organize, translations to write so that your book can reach another market, blog posts to write and publish, comments to answer, book trailers to create, a Facebook following to build, reviewers to reach out to… There is so much you could be doing you’re sometimes already breathless when you wake up in the morning. Especially because you also have a family to feed and an endless carpool to run. All the things you could be doing, but you’re really just a one-man show.
And this particular show – marketing – isn’t even my best show. My best show is writing.
And so I’ve begun doing what most authors do after finishing their first book: I’ve started on the second. And you know what? I’m having a lot of fun with it.
I’m now going to share a teaser from its first chapter:
An African Road Trip
Perhaps we can all agree that road trips are glorious.
Who doesn’t remember at least one road trip from their childhood, and how magical it was? Oh, the excitement! Getting up at the crack of dawn (or, in our family’s case, three hours before the crack of dawn to “avoid traffic”). Watching the gray, familiar landscape whiz by and dozing off, then waking up with a start with the sun’s heat radiating through the window in an exotic new world, so much better than what we had at home. Hearing languages we’d never heard before. Sleeping in unfamiliar hotel beds listening to the cicadas chirping through the open windows, and trying strange and aromatic new seafood dishes that made us feel adventurous and alive. Perching on a toilet that was frighteningly different from our own trusted one, yet gave us a sense of adventure. Marveling at the unfamiliar markings on foreign roads, the way the traffic lights were hung up weird, the slightly different hue of foreign cars’ headlights – all those things most adults never noticed but which to us children were the most wondrous things on earth.
At least that’s what we remember about road trips in our heads. What actually happened, were we to ask our parents, was slightly different. We constantly asked whether we were there yet, for one. Like, every three minutes. We were bored. We told our mother we were bored. We rolled our eyes at all of her suggestions of games to play to beat boredom. We elbowed our brother. We elbowed him so long until he elbowed us back, which resulted in our tears to flow (despite a secret triumphant look on our face) coupled with loud screams in the direction of our mother, who then made our father stop at the next gas station so that seats could be reassigned. We were very sure we didn’t have to use the bathroom facilities at the gas station while we were there. Until we were about five minutes away and insisted that we had to go now or disaster would strike. We took one long look at the toilet at the next gas station, and we declared that we wouldn’t ever use any toilets in France, if they were all freaking holes in the ground. Instead, a colorful display of hats caught our eye and we proceeded to whine that we absolutely positively wanted the red one, and we demanded at every stop along the rest of the entire trip that some kind of new piece of clothing was bought for us. We were such a pest the entire vacation that our brothers, when made to write a school report about their summer, listed as their most memorable impression that one little sister, barely 70 pounds on her, could be such a terror.
Yep, a pretty typical road trip with kids, you will say. And yet a road trip with kids, and one across half of Africa at that, was what we were planning to undertake.
Want to read more? Stay tuned for news about “Double-Buckled in the Middle of Nowhere: A Family Road Trip through the Namibian Wilderness” by Yours Truly.