Saturday, October 27, 2012

They'll Never Get It At Goodreads - Guest Post by Dennis Mahagin

They'll Never Get It At Goodread
by Dennis Mahagin


I need a plan. My poetry collection has just been published, and I've no idea how to promote it.

"The poet chooses his fate," said Gregory Corso, once upon a time; yet Gregory certainly never mentioned anything about Social Media! How does a writer shift into a new set of gears after chasing the chimera of book publication for many years? Is there such a thing as "Writers' Post Partum Depression?" Can I save my book from the "Remainder Bin?" Where do I begin?


"Are you on Goodreads?" an editor friend asked me on the phone a week or so before my book was to be released. "Tumblr, too," she said, "don't forget about Tumblr..."

"What the heck's a tumbler?" I asked her.

It seems of late, the many fast flux iterations of the Internet are quite passing me by.

It wasn't always this way. Eight or so years ago when I first began working on my poetry collection in earnest, I made my reputation (such as it is) publishing on the Net. This led to landing an unlikely book contract with an independent press; I started a blog and joined several online literary communities as an obsessively obsequious, aggrandizing way to keep my semi-burgeoning Bio in the public eye. I was more than a bit caught up in it all — looking forward, ever forward, to my book's launch, which at that time was slated for late 2008.

Then came the recession. My publisher went out of business; my contract was canceled. To say this turn of events took the "wind out of my sails" would be an understatement. I got pretty despondent, in fact, and my book went on the back burner. I languished in a hiatus of hiding and not writing. I tried to stay off line most of the time. Self doubt was having a field day in the forefront of my consciousness. I began questioning my motives, my talent, my prospects: in short, everything I'd been working toward, for half a decade.

In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to throw in the towel. In early 2010, I returned to my manuscript with a fresh set of eyes. I saw that it was still good, in spots, but it required a great deal of work yet, too. So I went about revising it... and revising some more. And more. I began to see my setback as an actual opportunity to make the book better. Then I sent a version of the book, which barely resembled its origins, to a dozen publishers. Nine of them said no. Time kept its brutal vigil.

Then, late in the year, my book was accepted for a second time.


Two more years would go by before the eventual publication of the book. During this period, I continued to tinker with the work, firing off new version after new version over the transom, until finally one day about three months ago, my publisher sent me an email that said. "We have a release date for you now. Please stop sending revisions!"

It seemed that the dream had caught up with the self; I breathed it in and left it alone. What remains, of course, is the future. One of my biggest fears, aside from the book "flopping" in a commercial sense, is that I will examine the book in its finished form after a year or so and lament that I didn't have enough time to make it better.

"Alrighty then," I tell my friend on the other end of the phone. "Explain this Tumbler thing again to me, like I'm a four year old?"

Yes, I need a plan, but I'm not terribly worried. As Gregory Corso would no doubt concur, self promotion is the nasty chore we writers endure, before returning to the "work" — as nothing but a reward: Thank goodness creation (whether it be poem, essay, story, or novel) takes place blissfully, mercifully, and only in the present.

Goodreads may not be ready for me; but I've got another book to write.


Dennis Mahagin is the author of a debut poetry collection entitled "Grand Mal," published by Rebel Satori Press. The book is available on Amazon at the following URL:

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