Courageous Self Promotion

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I’ll get straight to it: The second issue of science fiction anthology Just a Minor Malfunction released just before Thanksgiving. It’s available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NA9QRAY

If you don’t do Kindle, you could get an alternative digital file by sending $1 via PayPal to michael.s.alter.author@gmail.com

My short story “Lucky Eight” is in this collection. I am honored that my work has been included in both issues of Just a Minor Malfunction.

Thinking about where I was, writing-wise, just one year ago, this feels pretty significant. This blog was just a few months old, and I tried publishing a serialized version of a short story here. I was still months and months away from publishing The Incident Under the Overpass. I had NO IDEA how my fiction would be received.

Twelve months later, I have some idea. Amongst other lessons, I’ve learned that short fiction goes over better when it’s included in a collection of similarly themed stories. (It’s a revised version of that first-published-on-the-blog story—“Holiday Bob”—that appears in Just a Minor Malfunction #1.) I’m very grateful to Michael Alter (Twitter: @Michael_S_Alter ), the editor and creative force behind this anthology, for recognizing something in my work and including me alongside such accomplished writers.

It’s those other writers that make it easier to do this post. Because my aversion to self-promotion hasn’t waned at all. But in this instance, I’m not only promoting my own endeavor, I’m promoting these great collaborative efforts.

More on that aversion: my first inclination was to title this post Shameless Self Promotion. But that didn’t feel right, because I’m not coming to this exercise devoid of shame. And “shameful” isn’t quite right either. Unconfident, or hesitant, is more apt.

Yet, just a few days ago, I read this quote from the novelist Dani Shapiro:

Courage is more important than confidence.

It’s a paraphrasing of some of her reflections on writing and creative work in general (I think). She also has some great things to say about how writers should “embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it.”

I can honestly say this—there was very little confidence (about .001), and great gobs of uncertainty (let’s say 510), when I first published “Holiday Bob” on this blog. Multiply those levels about four times, and there’s some idea of what I was feeling publishing The Incident Under the Overpass. So I have to believe there was a modicum of courage underlying those initial efforts. Otherwise, this post would have an entirely different tone to it (a more pessimistic one, most likely). Or maybe, I might have quit posting altogether.

I think there’s something there, about courage, confidence and self-promotion. Promotion is vital to any work that wants an audience. (Twenty years in marketing have taught me that, at least). Promotion is especially vital for independent authors and publishers. And confidence is hard to come by when you haven’t yet found that audience. So take courage. If you believe in the worth of what you’re doing, it’ll get you over the threshold.

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