It never gets easier this whole networking, socializing to sell books thing. I wonder how authors did it a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago? Oh, right, people bouught books, read the books, talked about the books and more people bought the books. Of course, there weren't millions of people writing millions of books then. Only a few ever got through to the gatekeepers. The few who could afford it and paid to have their own books published had some success, depending on how good the books were. That's the real trick. Not socializing or networking but writing really good books.
I read George R. R. Martin's Live Journal blog and I was struck by the surprise that he is having such success now, especially since his ice and Fire series has been out since 1996, except for the new one coming out next week. A Dance With Dragons took about eight years to write and finish. George admits he's a slow writer and doesn't do deadlines very well.
George garnered a lot of fans, as he should since his Ice & Fire series is amazing. The writing is accessible and not overdone or heavy with description, although there is sufficient description to put you right in the action at the right time and place. Each character is unique and flawed in some way, but eminently memorable, from the Imp (Tyrion Lannister) to Eddard Stark, Jon Snow and Danaerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo. The books have been translated into several different languages and Vietnamese may be next. What George has created in Winterfell and the world where it is set crosses all boundaries and touches something inside us that believes in magic and demons and in the strength of men and women to combat anything that comes down the Kingsroad.
A recent article cited sales in one day that exceeded all of 2010 before HBO picked up the series and shoved the series to the top of all the best seller lists here and abroad. I wouldn't mind selling 40,000 books, but I'm new at the game and don't have George's track record in movies, television and books. I'm working my way up, but I do wonder what it would take to get people talking about my book the way they talk, dissect, and love George's books. Probably stop writing about relationships and the evil that men and women do in the real world and take the same elements and place them in a world of my own creation like Middle Earth and Westeros. I love fantasy and dragons and everything that goes with them, but find it difficult to write fantasy. I work best in the real world where the harms we do each other are next door and the next town over. I'd do well to create a world, set the rules and let my imagination run wild -- right after I finish the current trip into Victorian England where Jekyll, Hyde and Jack the Ripper put Whitechapel and serial murder on the map.
There is a world -- this world a few hundred years hence -- that lies under the curse of man's technology and Mother Nature's ire where vampires rule, not the vampires currently known and written about, but vampires of a different breed at war with each other and king of a world locked beneath dark skies where the sun doesn't shine and glaciers creep ever closer to the equator. It is a world where domed cities protect the ragged remnants of humanity cloned to near extinction, a shadow of itself, and ruled over by vampires who breed the humans for food and to run the machines their ancestors built.
The mother lode of humanity's best and brightest live underground safe from the ravages of nature, nurtured by vampires who archive their memories and protect what the shadow humans in the domed cities can no longer remember after generations of cloning. The underground humans and vampires protect technology, books and memories of what went before, what caused and perpetuates the season of Ragnarok that reigns on the surface, and these two worlds are about to clash over the precious seeds of life as it once was left behind that will soon be resurrected as the world rebounds and begins to bloom again. Memory will guide the way.
If I'm very lucky, then the novels I write, in the real world and in a world of fantasy, will start the buzz and word of mouth will sell 40,000 or more books. It's my dream, and one that isn't out of reach -- so far. In the meantime, I need to work more on socializing and networking because I'm not sure I could handle any more book signings where no one shows up or a dozen people stop by on their way up the aisle to join the hundreds waiting to see the author of Clifford the big red dog's adventures. George can tell you how that one goes. There's nothing like holding a book signing where everyone forgets to come.
Now, about that socializing. Do I really have to? Can't someone just start talking, someone with a big mouth and a bigger audience full of big mouths? I can only hope.