So, I just got back from the Denver Comic Con, and boy, are my arms tired. Not from flying. You know that old joke? Right? Or am I old? Dang, I’m old.
Anyway, my arms are tired from carrying my own books.
I carry my own books. A lot. I bought a wheeled cart from Office Depot (Collapsible! Inexpensive! Durable!) because I got so tired of showing up to events dripping with sweat from lugging boxes around.
Jim Butcher, whom I met this past weekend at the Denver Comic Convention, doesn’t have to carry his books around. He sits down, his minions come in and provide books which he signs, and then when his time is over, he get up and moseys out of the room.
Now, Mr. Bucher is a helluva nice guy and he’s written some amazing books. His fans love him, and I watched them line up to get a chance to talk to him. It’s the dream, baby, the dream of the world-famous author with money and movies, flowing in and coming out.
It’s easy to see that and get jealous. I generally waltz right past envy and right to despair. I love despair. It’s so cold and empty, and it gnaws at me with the needle teeth of midnight spiders.
I’ll never get to be the rock star author. I’ll always be struggling. No one will ever love me like they love Jim Butcher.
Part of my journey as a writer is coming to understand that if I want to be a writer, I’m going to have to carry my own books and sell them, one at a time, to the skeptical masses. This is not the glamorous life I thought it would be.
Since my epic six-book series is coming out from Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press in September, I helped them run the WordFire Press booth at the Denver Comic Con and helped sell books.
I talked to people as they walked buy, saying, “Do you like to read? Do you like fantasy and science fiction novels? Do you like stories about sixteen-year-old girls on treasure hunts in France with their crazy grandmothers?” I was ignored. Or politely told they don’t read. Or they didn’t like France. That last one hurt.
But do you know what? Some of them got excited about the books. Some of them bought my book (the one about France). And some seemed to really appreciate how much time, effort, and suffering it takes to write a book. A lot of the people were writers themselves.
Then after three days of that, I helped the amazing Quincy J. Allen and Josh Vogt tear down and box up the inventory. And so it goes.
As I was schlepping boxes and tables and bins around, it suddenly struck me…I get to do this. I don’t have to do this. I get to do this.
There are millions of people who want to write books. There are thousands of published authors who would like to sell their books in big venues. And there hundred of those authors who would’ve loved to be at Denver Comic Con. But for whatever reason, the people aren’t writing, aren’t publishing, aren’t putting themselves out there. For whatever reason.
I get to write. I get to publish. I get to sell. All of this isn’t the wonder and glamour I thought it would be, but it’s real. And you know what? There is a camaraderie among writers and artists who go out in the world, doing the deal, and yeah, carrying your own books around and trying to foist them on other people is hard, but it’s the struggle that makes it good. It’s the work. The sweaty, uncomfortable work.
It’s not the cocktail parties and check-cashing I thought it would be, but I’ll continue to carry my books to places (ha, no, I'll wheel them in my collapsible cart from Office Depot), and I’ll continue to get fans, one conversation at a time.
I don’t have to do this.
I get to do this.
Hurray. Hurray. Hurray.
For more about him, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit www.aaronmritchey.com. He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey.