For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law
Actions come in pairs. Rockets direct thrust downward and the reaction to that force lifts them into the sky. The law concerns more than physics. It also touches on human activity. Some call it karma, others reaping what you sow. Every major religion has its version. Agnostics and atheists call it “justice”. Of course, the maxim applies to writing just as forcefully.
Books left unattended don’t sell themselves. In a sense, publishers don’t sell books; bookstores don’t sell books; and ads don’t sell books. Authors sell books. An author’s actions result in sales proportionate to the initial force applied.
I wrote essays and short stories for years and hid them away. I never intended for anyone to read them. I wrote them because it felt good to do it. Although a few from the 1990s still exist, most of those stories did not survive the many purges of my desk drawers and moves around the country.
One day my outlook changed. I decided to write something I wanted people to read. With that decision, my entire outlook on writing changed. I knew from the outset that I could not continue to write and let the words speak for themselves. Nobody was listening—including me.
I began the story that now is called Death Rides the Red River with an eye to not only taking it from my head, but out into the marketplace. I knew from the start that no one loved the story like I did. No one would be, nor could be the book’s evangelist in the way I must be.
There was one huge roadblock—me. I shied away from promoting my work. I considered it shameless self-promotion and contrary to my faith. I then took a job in a step-down unit at a large, university children’s medical center. I was hesitant, unsure of my pediatric skills, and a bit intimidated by the thought of dealing with helicopter parents. I was concerned for naught, especially about the parents. Patients and parents asked for me to be their nurse. I was looked up to as an expert with skills.
Then, I left that assignment to work in a very small rural hospital. My expertise, skills and even the estimate of my intelligence plummeted to nonexistent. The reasoning behind it—if he was all that, he wouldn’t be working here, he’d be in some big hospital.
After that experience, my view of myself as an author changed. If book promotion is just another form of self-promotion, I now am truly shameless about it. I try not to engage in a conversation with people without mentioning that I’m the author of some very good books. As a result, sales increased. People are listening—not by droves, but in numbers that make me happy.
Promoting our books is not just a good idea, it’s the law.