July 27, 2011
In the mail today I received a sample of the finished dust jacket of Primacy. After opening the package, I did what I suppose every author does upon receipt of such things.
First, I gaped at it in awe. Second, I studiously avoided reading the copy, for fear of finding an embarrassing typo. Third, I broke down and read the copy anyway, finding no embarrassing typos but at least one disconcerting hyphenation. (How did everyone miss that?!)
Finally, and most important, I wrapped the cover around a book of comparable size — appropriately enough, Story by Robert McKee, from which I’ve learned much. I wish I could report that the thing looks like a million bucks, but the truth is I’ve looked at it so many times and in so many permutations that I’m inured to any impact. Fresh eyes will have to judge.
Still, it’s something, this step. It’s the reality of a finished book creeping ever closer.
“Great things,” it has been said, “are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
Who said that? Some great statesman? A famous career coach? A billionaire who sweated the small stuff? Nope. Nope. Nope. The answer is Vincent van Gogh, artistic genius and crazy person.
With those words as inspiration and this dust jacket as one sample in the series of “small things,” I go forth into a quiet period, what I hope will be the calm before the storm, with official publication five weeks away.
Will the storm ever really come? Who knows.
But meanwhile, a series of small things…telephone meetings with the distributor’s marketing people and with my publicists…checks to write (getting tired of these!) in support of all that…emails to old friends with media connections, trying not to sound too pleading…ideas for short pieces I could write.
Oh, and time to roll up the sleeves and really get to work plotting the next book.
For being a successful novelist (or artist of any kind) is not a sprint but a marathon. Self-published author Henry David Thoreau, I just read, printed a thousand copies of his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, and sold only three hundred. But that didn’t discourage him. Five years later he wrote and published Walden.
A few years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had a show of van Gogh’s earliest sketches, those from when he was just learning to draw and paint. What made them remarkable was their very ordinariness, few signs that this man would one day paint his way into eternity.
He might have given up then, but great things “are not done by impulse.”
One brush stroke at a time.
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