In Publishers Weekly, an article about Book Expo America a striking quote by Diane Gedymin, (founder of The Publishers Desk) appears: “Eighty-three percent of Americans dream of writing a book before they die.” Now that’s’ a majority. But 83% of Americans aren’t reading books. I want to know why would a person want others to do what (s)he won’t do? Aspiring writers want to be read. No, no: maybe it is simply the writing of a book that matters. I’m writing this blog with no promise of being read.
Yet the reason to struggle to be published is to be read. You make money for the publisher from the sale your book and its subsidiary rights, so you can survive financially as a writer, and write other books, books that hold meaning for someone besides you. If being read doesn’t matter to the writer, there are no holds barred. Why just dream? Write away.
Are we really, still now, a land of dreamers?
I got to bed tense, because lately my effort to gain readership has me overwhelmed, exhausted, half-crazy with self-doubt. I have written about pit bulls. The whole nation paid attention to Michael Vick’s pit bulls for awhile. A friend of my mother’s suggests I join Michael Vick on his community service trips to under-privileged schools where he tells kids how bad dog fighting is. I must phone Michael Vick, get him to read my book, and he’ll want me to join him, because why would he say no to me? Everyone around me has taken PR 101. I paid for CreateSpace to send out 3,411 press release copies about Love Like a Dog. Not ONE magazine, radio or news show, newspaper, or personality responded. This is because Michael Vick does not know about me yet.
I dream about Michael Vick. I am running from room to room trying to get something done. Each room is filled with stacks of papers I must sign, fold, or press into envelopes. Each room has people in it, talking on their phones, shouting out at me with questions I can’t hear well, questions that must, however, be answered. I am trying to get to all the rooms, but I repeatedly get stalled. In one room, someone I don’t know is gesticulating, waving papers at me as my phone begins to ring. I understand, at this moment in the dream, we are all trying to promote my book but the whole thing is crashing, tumbling. The phone rings and rings. I dig and dig and dig in my purse for my red phone, and just as I grab it, it goes silent. I check voicemail and guess what? I’ve just missed Michael Vick’s call. His deep voice tells me that now he has missed me. I know, somehow, I’ll never catch him again. I turn to the people in the room, and shout: “Hey! Things have to change around here. I’m supposed to answer Michael Vick!”