On “Selling” Yourself as an Author

Almost six weeks into the querying process for my first novel, and suddenly I realize: I’m going about this all wrong. I’ve been looking at this whole thing like it’s dating–which, in my defense, there are a TON of parallels between the publishing process and trying to find “the one”–but it’s really a lot more like… money.

I know. It’s crazy, right? But there you have it. Instead of thinking about my novel and my “whole package” (simmer down now) from a romanticized writer’s point of view, I should’ve been taking a good, long look at myself using a formula of cold, hard math. Like a stockbroker would.

Still not with me?

Okay. Imagine you as a writer are a stock portfolio. 50% of your value is in your manuscript, possibly more. (But for the sake of my terrible mathematical skills, let’s say it’s about half.) You need to work on making that 50% as amazing, as soul-stealing and mind-boggling and lovable as it can possibly be. But you can’t always control whether someone LOVES your story. These are businesspeople. Everything they do is a gamble, and your book is far from a “sure” thing. Whether or not my book is a “sure” bestseller, I couldn’t tell you, because I’m not a publisher or a psychic. But I can tell you that I love it, and I’m willing to work at it until I die or until it becomes a success. (Whichever happens last.)

Now, let’s say 25% of your value is your work ethic. After all, who cares if your first book is great if you’re never going to write another one, right? We keep reading over and over how these days, one NYT Bestseller does not a career make. So you have to be willing to PRODUCE. Or in financial terms, you need to PERFORM, and keep performing over a long period of time.

Finally, I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that attitude should account for at least 25% of an author’s overall “value” as an asset. I mean, let’s be honest. Who wants to work with someone who’s only tolerable on paper, or from several hundred yards away? Not me.
(I, on the other hand, am frigging delightful.)

So it seems to me… that instead of sitting around, plucking the petals off of flowers and secretly hoping that someone asks me to the metaphorical literary prom, what I should be doing is spreading the word about my awesome cost/benefit ratio. Right?

Because I might not be perfect, but mark my words, I’m going to surprise a lot of people. In short, I’m a fabulous investment.