American author Zachary Jernigan wrote that headline to go with this article on Staffer’s Book Review, Justin Landon’s excellent site. To my extreme satisfaction, it’s about Champion of Mars (warning: if you read the article, there are spoilers).
In this game you can get a little down. Books sales are low. You do your bit and nobody cares >sob<. In his piece, Zachary makes a good point about the way so many books sink without trace. It’s a crowded market, after all. Books that don’t get a lot of marketing/ get really lucky/ capture the zeitgeist somehow disappear all too easily.
I won’t lie and say it’s all about the art. Sure, I’d love people to buy my books by the bazillion so I can get myself that motor yacht I never wanted (warning 2: writing is not a get rich scheme. The number of people who can be Stephen King is limited to Stephen King). But although it’s not all about the art, it mostly is.
I write because I’m a show off, I suppose – meet me in the pub some time when I’m three pints down and you’ll see exactly what I mean. All creative types (I feel I can, you know, legitimately call myself that now) are show offs. I decided to write as, among other things, it seemed to be a way to put on a performance without having to face the audience (I decided on this career before the internet, okay?), because I could be also have been described as the tiniest bit cowardly – certainly not brave enough to do stand-up (at least I wasn’t), which is what I dreamed about doing when I was a teen.
Anyway, times have changed. The internet means you face your audience no matter where you try to hide, indeed, as authors now bear the greater part of the burden in marketing their books, you absolutely have to. I’m older and wiser, and yes, braver. Brave enough now to perform without a filter. But that’s not the point. I digress. I’m big on digressions. There was one time when…
Sorry. The point is, all writers write because they want their writing to be read. Even more than that, they want their books to be got. I’m sure Champion of Mars, with its tricksy structure, unashamed retro styling and gleeful mixing of SF and fantasy isn’t for everyone, but it was for Zachary. He got it. He loved it. Because he decided to tell us all why, I got to know. And to know that your work has clicked with someone, well… That’s what it’s all about.
Although I’m still holding out for the boat.