Thursday, June 4, 2015

Playing the Long Game

By Alex Segura

I don’t have a book out this year. That’s probably stressful to a lot of authors. I will admit, it was a little stressful to me at first.

But it’s okay.

As some of you know, earlier this year, I joined the great team at Polis Books. Polis will be publishing my first two Pete Fernandez novels, Silent City and Down the Darkest Street, next year, with another - tentatively titled Dangerous Ends - to follow. I am extremely excited, super grateful and still in that “pinch me” stage that I hope never ends. Added bonus: I’m part of a group of amazing writers. The crime fiction stable Jason Pinter has put together is seriously impressive.

Did I mention I don’t have a book out this year? Right. See? It can be stressful. But seriously, it's okay.

One of the things I’m most thankful for, in terms of being an author and managing my career, is my day job experience as a publicist. Not just because of the contacts I have, but also because I know publicity - and building a career - isn’t about a flurry of activity. It’s a marathon. It’s about knowing when to go loud, when to step back and when to ramp up. It’s about knowing when to step back and “go quiet.”

For me, “going quiet” doesn’t mean I disappear completely. Quite the opposite. I’ve got a few short stories showing up here and there, a few comic book projects percolating, readings, publishing events and conventions, day job stuff to promote, other people’s books to talk about and there’s always The Next Novel. (I’m just starting revisions on Dangerous Ends now, after putting the draft aside. The book feels new and I can look at it as a reader, not as someone who just wrote it.)

On the other end, I’m not doing a ton of interviews. I’m not plugging the books or where people will be able to find them. When I do readings, I read a short story or something different, as opposed to something from Silent City or Down the Darkest Street. I’m not doing any major crime/mystery cons this year, either (though, I would probably still be at Bouchercon if it wasn’t the same weekend as New York Comic Con. It’s just not the right moment. I have to be patient. The time for that is coming.

As writers, we need constant validation and need to know what’s next - but sometimes, what’s next is months away. Maybe more. But publishing isn’t about instant gratification, even if you feel like your work is done. You have to be ready for that, and be okay with hibernating for a bit. You’ll know when it’s time to pull out the bullhorn and start the publicity machine, trust me.

In the meantime - work on your Next Big Thing. Plug a friend’s book. Write something different. Start planning what you’ll do to build buzz for your book when the time is right - events, press, marketing. There really isn’t any down time as a writer - there’s just what we do between publications.

Try your best to do anything but fret.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Smart post, Alex. I wonder about the importance of continual marketing, though. A book is only "new" in the publishing world for about six months (or less, it seems). Yet, it's new to a reader the day it's discovered or, better, read. I like what you say about keeping in the game with other material between launches.