One of my fellow 2022 debut authors wrote a long Twitter thread today about the struggle of being small. In this context, ‘small’ means ‘we are published traditionally, but with a small, independent publisher, and not one of the few big-budget, big-reach publishers. (You can read his thread here and buy his book here.) The struggle is real, and yet he is bigger than me. His tweet got plenty of traction and his book sales have soared from his post. His book is in shops, too. Yet he is with a small publisher, and, like me, this makes him feel invisible, unnoticed, and as if each second of book promotion is shouting into a void. Many of my tweets slink by unnoticed, and this blog is read by few. I have ‘good’ followers, for sure, and I appreciate each and every one of you, but the difficulty when you are small is in reaching a new and wider audience; in getting your head above the parapet and BEING SEEN. It’s a vicious cycle, because the less you are seen, the less you get seen!
It often feels like walking blindly along a dark path, hoping to find a chink of light to guide us on.
I try hard to support other authors, and in turn, am grateful for those who support me, but again, because I am small, my support of those with bigger publishers is a tiny drop in the ocean of their visibility, but when they support me, it’s an enormous great splash that knocks me off my feet in a good way.
It’s hard for us to push our own books; we know that no one wants to read a constant barrage of ‘Buy this, buy this!’ and it’s something I hate to do and hate to see. (It’s strange how it works for some though, yet not for others. I imagine if I wrote a thread about ‘buy my book’ it would still slink by largely unnoticed, so even with small, there are different levels of visibility and invisibility. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not grudging those higher up the chain – on the contrary, I’m truly delighted that they can make it work, get the traction, get the following, and make their own invisibility cloaks just a little thinner. The problem, nonetheless, is that ultimately, I do need to yell BUY THIS! and I do want people to BUY THIS! but above all, want I really want, is to simply become a little more visible in the world. Shouting into a void can be soul-destroying and lonely. This, dear reader, is the life of a ‘small-press author’, but regardless, I will keep on writing and hoping that my books will trickle out into the ether, have a little impact on a few readers, and in turn, those readers will leave a review, so that maybe, just maybe, the ripples reach further and one day the void will echo back to say, ‘I hear you. I’m here.’ It’s all about finding the bright moments, and when they come, they are dazzling. Maybe being smaller even helps us appreciate the good bits a lot more. I think it might. (Also, I have written before about the benefits of being with a small publisher – it’s all swings and roundabouts, in this game.)
Meanwhile, in constant forward momentum, I’m working on my newest book today. It’s about a lonely man who doesn’t really know he’s lonely. I just want him to know that when he shouts into the void (as is the main part of the book-plan), the people he calls out to will hear him, and come to him. It may not have a happy ending (I don’t know yet), but I do think that this character will be happy for having reached into the void and being seen and heard.
Here’s a little mood board to give some hints about the new book and the main character I’m developing:
If you see this blog post, leave a comment; an echo from the void. (Maybe even, BUY ONE OF MY BOOKS Or leave a review, if you already read one, and as always, thank you!)