The $10,000 You Don’t Want to Spend (If You’re a Struggling Writer)

Reading Susan Kushner Resnick’s “The Heartbreak of Publicity: A Cautionary Tale”, in the November/December 2013 Poets & Writers (Clearly, self is way behind in reading magazines she’s been subscribing to for years and years).

It’s an excellent article. Self posted excerpts:

I knew I’d lose that money. I knew, as I wrote checks to two independent publicists, that there was a good chance I’d get as much out of my purchase as I would have if I’d ground up the money in a garbage disposal. I knew that publicists, no matter how well considered and hardworking, couldn’t guarantee results. But it was a risk I was willing to take. Publishing with a small house whose publicity efforts essentially entailed mailing out galleys and review copies meant that I was pretty much in the same boat as a self-published author — rowing alone. Unless I won a big prize or lucked into a major review, the only way to get exposure for my book was to pay for it myself.

I’d set aside $10,000 — most of my advance, which is a life preserver not available not available to self-published authors, of course — for the project. This book was my third baby. The other two, despite good reviews and name-brand blurbers, had all but died in infancy. This time I was going to be a smart businesswoman instead of a dreamy artist and treat my creation like an asset worthy of investment. Even if I failed, I told myself, at least I’d know that I’d done the best I could.

I knew I’d lose that money, but I had no idea it would feel like it had been stolen from me.

The first publicist I hired took half the money before flaking out in a remarkable display of unprofessionalism that involved the following: asking for early payment so she could go on vacation without worrying about my check arriving in her Brooklyn mailbox, refusing to tell me specific publicity dates and targets, then accusing me of needing hand-holding for repeatedly asking for such details, forgetting the publication date of the book — possibly twice; declaring one month before the review-copy launch that she didn’t know if she wanted to work on the campaign anymore; and misplacing her child on a beach.

There’s lots more, but self has decided to spend the morning sending short stories out.

Stay tuned.

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