Unreliable narrators

I wrote an Author POV column over at Shotgun Honey entitled “We are unreliable narrators of our own lives:”

Self-deception gets in our way, trips us up, makes us do bone-stupid things. We all suffer from it from time to time. Luckily, most of us recognize this and, at least sometimes, try to compensate the best we can.

But sometimes we don’t confront our self-deceptions until it’s too late. For me, that happened when I was coming out of graduate school with an eye on a tenure-track teaching gig. Turns out, the entire professional landscape for college professors—and especially the job market—had shifted in a major way while I was locked away inside the ivory tower, and I’d failed to notice it.

Wait, scratch that. I had noticed it. I just used my own powers of self-deception to convince myself it wouldn’t affect me. Spoiler alert: it did …

Self-deception is probably the primary theme of How I’m Spending My Afterlife, but it wasn’t until I had actually published the book that I fully understood how it had once also applied to my own life. Click on over to Shotgun Honey to read the whole thing.

As promised, a fun time was had by all

Thanks to everyone who came out to Adobe Books on Saturday night to celebrate the release of How I’m Spending My Afterlife – it was a great fun evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and talking to each one of you. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

And if you weren’t there, well, I have to tell you that your absence was noticed and in fact was the only thing preventing it from being the most perfectest book launch event in the history of the written word.

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Just kidding, of course.

I’ve done readings before, but they were always as part of a larger program where I shared the mic with half a dozen other writers. This was the first time I’d had the spotlight to myself, and I’m very grateful to my friend Ken who stood in as the emcee and really helped take the pressure off. (I’m terrible at crowdwork.) It also helped that I knew so many of the audience.

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The program was pretty straightforward: I read the first chapter of the book (which is available to read for free at Disclaimer, in case you’re interested), then took questions for a bit, and then read the part of the book that was the most fun to write.

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It had actually been a little while since I’d read any of the text. Once I had the book all ready for publication, I felt free to jump back into other projects I’d started but temporarily set aside, like the first draft of the next novel, for example. And even after all the time I’d spent with those sentences and those words during the course of writing the book, I still found a few bits that felt new and unfamiliar once I was finally reading them aloud in front of an audience.

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The whole thing was a great experience, and it was something that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Not because I love being the center of attention or anything – I think most people who know me will tell you that I do not, in fact, love any such thing. But because it made the whole thing feel official, which is important when you publish your own work. And even more important, it made How I’m Spending My Afterlife finally feel done, in a way that gives me the ability to move on without guilt.

The book is officially no longer mine. It belongs to its readers now. Thanks for being one of them.

Oh, and before I forget, I want to thank my dear friend Julia for her contributions to the refreshments table (she baked all the delicious bourbon-based treats).

Event tomorrow: Book launch party for “How I’m Spending My Afterlife” in SF!

If you are in the San Francisco area, please come join me for a DIY-style book launch party for my newly-released novel, How I’m Spending My Afterlife. I’ll be reading a couple of the good bits from the book, you can ask me questions, and you can have me sign your copy – or if you don’t have one yet, you can buy one there!

Also, there will be wine and some amazing bourbon-based sweet treats, courtesy of my good friend Julia. I guarantee* a grand time will be had by all!

(*Note: not a guarantee)

Here’s a link to the Facebook event page, if you’re one of those people who finds that helpful. For everyone else, here are the details:

Event: Book launch party for How I’m Spending My Afterlife by Spencer Fleury

Date and time: Saturday, October 21st, 7-9 pm

Place: Adobe Books, 3130 24th Street, San Francisco, CA (between Folsom and Shotwell, just a few blocks from the 24th & Mission BART station)

Win a free book! Also, why I don’t give out free books

If you missed out the first time around, I’m hosting another giveaway on Goodreads for my upcoming novel, How I’m Spending My Afterlife. It runs until September 10th, so if you want a free copy of the book, be sure to enter the giveaway before then.

Speaking of giving away free copies of my book …

I’d like to take a moment to explain why I, as a self-publishing author, am very reluctant to hand out free copies to friends and family who ask for one. I mean, I would love to be able to do that. I am generally a giving person, and I always feel bad when I have to brush off a request for a free copy from someone who I know well and who actively wants to read my work. But there is a good reason I need to be extremely stingy about freebies.

First, I want to make clear that it’s not about the royalties. For each copy I sell through Amazon – whether it’s a Kindle version or an actual paperback book – I will get about $3.60. I will get about half that for paperback copies sold through other outlets. That’s not so much money that I couldn’t afford to forgo it on a dozen or two dozen copies.

Of course, as a self-publisher, I don’t get any free copies myself. Again, this is not a problem at all for e-books, and even for paperbacks, my cost isn’t exorbitant. So it’s not even really about my costs either.

The real reason I want all my friends and family (and total strangers too, really) to actually buy a copy through a reputable outlet like Amazon, Barnes and Noble or a local independent brick-and-mortar bookstore is that I do not want to self-publish my next novel. The experience of bringing How I’m Spending My Afterlife to reality has been a great one in many ways, but it’s also stressful as all hell. I’m responsible for everything, and while I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on it (thanks to the lessons I picked up from running Mind Balm Records), the uncertainty of it still wears on me.

So while I will self-publish the next one (which is coming along swimmingly, thank you) if I absolutely have to, I definitely would rather go the traditional route instead. You know, with an agent and a publishing house and an editor and a marketing department all working on my behalf so I can do more writing, since you can’t have a writing career without the actual writing part of it. And to do that, I need to prove that it’s worthwhile for risk-averse publishing industry professionals to take a risk on me. I need to show that I can sell books. I need a track record.

The better How I’m Spending My Afterlife sells, the better my chances are for landing a traditional publishing deal for my next book. Every sale counts, and each one that comes in gets me a little closer to that goal. It’s really as simple as that, and I hope you all understand.