Trying to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Words

Writing a novel, no matter how long, is like swimming up and down an empty pool. You can decide how many lengths you want to swim on any given day, your short term goal of the opposite end of the pool is always in sight, and no one will get in your way. Once you have swum all the lengths necessary to produce a completed story that is fit for sale, you must venture into open water, where you will find none of the comforts of your private pool.

The open water of the public domain is cold on entry, and it takes a while to grow accustomed to the temperature. Many other people occupy this space, and they are all busy with a myriad of tasks, none of which include paying you any attention. Unlike the still water of an indoor pool, the public outdoors is subject to changes in the weather of book-buying opinion. Last year’s most popular read has been imitated and diluted down to a sub-genre of bland mimicry, and the reading public is looking for something new and original to embrace. You feel that you have a worthwhile offering, but the water is choppy and no one can see you waving a copy of your book. So how does a debut author who has published his or her own work manage to stay afloat long enough to attract attention? That is a question to which I am still trying to find the answer. If I ever manage it, I will let you know.

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