Do you remember the ‘60s act on the Ed Sullivan Show where a tuxedo-clad performer spun plates on several wobbly, six-foot long sticks positioned across the stage? He started at one end, placing what looked like an everyday dinner plate on the top of the first stick, spinning it until the momentum kept it atop the pliable pole. He then proceeded to other bowls and plates on the stage, positioning and spinning them on these flexible sticks, periodically returning to his earlier spinning props to give them a boost, just as it looked like they were about to crash to the stage. After a couple of minutes, frantically running back and forth, the act ended with the entire stage filled with spinning plates and bowls. WHA-LA!
Well, if you do remember, it means you’re either collecting Social Security or you're darned close. It also means you’ll appreciate using this act as an analogy to launching a first novel. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out the spinning plate act at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhoos1oY404.
As I’ve mentioned in my prior posts, I self-published my first novel about six weeks ago. With a decent pension from a prior career, a fair amount saved, and a working spouse, my writing gig is clearly more of an avocation at this point. Nonetheless, I’m serious about it. I want to produce quality work, have people read it, and have them like what they read.
What I have discovered is I may have underestimated what it takes to write, edit, publish, market, and distribute my first work, all while I’m attempting to write a second book. Over the past six weeks, I’ve begun to better appreciate the effort. Carrying the spinning plate analogy a little further -- and I recognize I run the risk of overdoing this -- what I now have is one finished novel spinning on a stick. I’m trying to spin out my second book, but I need to keep running to the sticks supporting the elements of my wobbling sales and marketing plan. Fortunately, my wife is an experienced editor, so I do have an extra set of hands tending to that particular spinning plate. But writing press releases and delivering them to newspapers, setting up and maintaining a website and blog, preparing and entering my work into book reviews, continuing to read and learn about my new avocation, and finishing up my second book, are all plates that on occasion wobble badly in need of renewed spinning.
I know I’m not alone. Author websites and blogs are filled with first-time, self-published authors who lack the support of editors, publishers, and agents. They, too, work their way back and forth across the stage as they spin and re-spin plates. I’m sure we all would like to someday experience that WHA-LA moment, where we look across the stage to see all our plates, spinning in harmony atop their respective poles.
Better yet would be to look across the stage and see our editor, publisher, and agent tending to our wobbling plates – someday maybe, someday.