Aristotle once said, “The best motivation is guilt. Just ask my mother.” (This was Aristotle Aconomopolis, my college roommate. I don’t know who you were thinking about.)
I’ll come straight out and admit that as a writer, I’m a capitalist. This is not to say I plan to make a bunch of money; if that were my objective, I’d have been a dentist. What it does mean is it strikes me as completely natural that agents, publishers, and bookstores need to make a profit, and if they cease to do so, they will cease to exist. Moreover, if I don’t help them make a profit, I can’t blame them for looking for someone who can. At the very least, they may unfriend me on Facebook.
It’s an awesome responsibility. My agent, my publisher, my editor, my publicist, and any number of booksellers all depend on me for their livelihoods. Imagine the little kiddies sitting around Thomas Dunne’s dinner table, their famished eager faces shining with hope. Mrs. Dunne says sorrowfully, “I’m sorry children, we just don’t have enough potatoes to go around. One of you has to go hungry again.” At this, Mr. Dunne says, “Maybe Man Martin will sell another book.” A sigh goes around the table, and the littlest – Tiny Tommy, I imagine he’s called – chirrups, “Oh, do you think so? Do you really think so?” And Mr. Dunne gently lays a hand on his child’s tousled locks and murmurs, “We can only hope, son.” A tear brims in his eye, but his brave smile never falters. “Let us pray.” And the family of seven bows their heads over their six potatoes.
This doesn’t change the sort of thing I write. I don’t pander. I don’t sit down and say, “I need to have a sex scene by page 52, and zombies are big now, so I have to throw in some zombies, and kittens. Everyone loves kittens.” I write what appeals to me. The sort of thing I’d like to read as a reader. I’m sure my book would bring pleasure to a lot of people, and I’m glad to say my agent, editor, and publisher share this belief, which is why they’ve invested so much time and money in me.
So I’m not going to let them down. I’m telling as many people as I can about Paradise Dogs (“Hilarious,” Kirkus. “Simply brilliant,” Booklist.) I blog every day. I email all my friends and acquaintances. I call up bookstores and arrange visits. I visit WITHOUT calling and offer to sign their stock. If they don't have stock, I leave them information. I write press releases. I go to book clubs. I tell friends to tell friends.
All because I think of Tiny Tommy Dunne going to bed again tonight without his potato.
It’s the least I can do.
By the way, keep a lookout for my next book. It’s about zombie kittens. There’s a sex scene on page 49.