For me writing The Northeast Quarter and self-publishing it has been an adventure I would not trade for anything. As mentioned before, I began the journey when I was of retirement age. I learned very quickly that when you finish writing a novel, one form of work is finished, but another is just beginning.
For a writer the journey offers a variety of revelations of the quirks of human character – some sad, some positive – but always enlightening if you keep an open mind.
One of these revelations came from a person I will call Bahootsa. Bahootsa is a fellow writer I had known for some years in writer’s labs here in New York City. She also runs a successful voice-over studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. Before I wrote The Northeast Quarter, I had always assumed that Bahootsa was a friend, or at least a friendly acquaintance. One thing which was recommended by fellow authors was to create a book trailer for my novel. Book trailers are a little like coming attractions for a movie. Usually brief and to the point – a trailer may or may not include actors performing or at least lending their voices to the trailer. The trailer could then be posted on social media and/or be taken by me to book festivals to promote my book.
I immediately thought of Bahootsa and her lab. I contacted her by e-mail, explaining the background of my book and asking her if she would take me on as a client for a book trailer. Bahootsa responded by e-mail that she was interested in my project and would be glad to take me on. So far, so good. No conflict. No bad vibes. But then…..In a follow-up e-mail, I told Bahootsa that the book was self-published. Almost immediately all communication from her ceased. A day later I discovered that Bahootsa had cut off all contact with me on social media.
What happened? What went wrong? She was behaving as if I had done something horrible – as if I had called her a slut or a Republican, neither of which is true by the way. The only thing it could have been was the words “Self-published.” Bahootsa was one of that unfortunate group of individuals who resent self-published authors and, either actively or passively, will do anything to block the progress of a self-published work.
When we self-published authors run into this, the best thing to do is try not to take it personally. Easier said than done, but possible. In Bahootsa’s case, I felt she had let me down. She was always in vocal support of the underdog – at least until one of the underdog decided to self-publish a novel. I was more disappointed than angry – but that was it. As self-published authors, we have to keep constantly on the move. If one door is closed, we keep moving until we find another door which is open. What was important here was not Bahootsa, but getting a good book trailer.
Soon after I found an outfit called Where Writers Win which offers all sorts of services and advice to the author. They have a book trailer service and I was able to have two excellent trailers made for The Northeast Quarter. Everything worked out for the best.
As mentioned, we all know there are individuals out there who oppose the self-published author for a variety of reasons. Speaking of that, here is our fictional old friend Samuel who personifies that point of view. Samuel: “I think you’re disgusting, Mr. Harris. Demonizing this poor woman from Hackensack. You sneer when you should love, Mr. Harris.” To this I ask Samuel how HIS book is coming, to which he replies, “I uh I haven’t had time to write. I need special times to write.” And why is that, I ask. “My mother’s in the garage and my car’s in the hospital. And those are valid reasons, Mr. Harris. You can’t say they aren’t.”
Every one of us runs into this mindset in one form or another. The important thing is how to react to it. The best way for me is to keep my eyes on the road ahead. Not always an easy thing.
But even if we don’t mean it at the time, acting as if – that we do truly wish them well – goes a long way to clearing away the negativity of the experience.
Let the opposition brood about our progress. We have work to do.