At 5am this morning I received an e-mail that...well, I don't want to jinx it by telling you all about it. Let's just say it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The response had come as a result of my cold-contacting someone, and it reiterated for me a point that I've long since accepted:
If you want shit you've got to ask for it.
Some day I fully intend to write a hippy-dippy New Age bullshit self-help book called THE POWER OF ASKING. But until I do, the basic tenet boils down to this: you may not get everything you ask for in life, but you'll never get anything you don't ask for.
Being an author, especially at this stage in my career, I have to ask for everything. I'm serious. My "career" (such as it is) is based entirely on a fundament of supplication. And I am a fastidious person; I keep records of everything. I asked 104 agents and publishers to take a look at BRAINEATER JONES before one finally accepted it. And that's not counting my two trunked novels, sitting at 54 and 145 rejections respectively.
I had to ask 200 times before someone published me. And once I was published, the asking didn't stop. At the time of writing I've asked 341 reviewers to look at BRAINEATER JONES, 200 to look at THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, 73 to look at BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS, and 13 to look at AT HELL'S GATES. (Okay, I guess I'm kind of slacking on that last one.)
That's about the end of my deluge of numbers, but you get the point: I can ask for favors in my sleep. I've gotten every kind of rejection in the book, including the worst kind: gaping silence. But all of these little asks don't even compare to the big asks I've gone through.
I've asked for blurbs. I've asked for beta reads. I've asked for favors so obscure from people so famous you would probably think I was kidding if I listed them all.
But early on in my career I had a very pleasant experience that informed my attitude going forward. You've all heard this story before, but I handed a signed copy of my book to World Horror Grand Master Brian Keene at a signing, and he took it. He went on to name BJ the #12 book of 2013.
Short of getting a blowjob from Roger Daltrey, this is about the most amazing thing I could have ever gotten from an icon of mine. (I'll bet that last sentence is going to be the one everyone comments upon.) And it kind of opened up a new attitude for me. Instead of finding reasons not to ask people for shit, I just looked for reasons to try.
What cemented it for me was when I contacted Matt Mogk at the Zombie Research Society. I want to clarify that Matt doesn't know me from Adam, and his website doesn't typically run book reviews. What he does have is a huge fanbase of rabid zombie fans. So I e-mailed him and said, "Do you ever do book reviews? Because I just released this BRAINEATER JONES book." And do you know what his response was? "We never have before. But since you asked..."
And that's been about it for me. I've been amazed at some of the stuff I've managed to make happen just by asking. I think people are quick to come up with reasons not to ask for favors, which is reasonable, and nobody wants to feel like a mooch. But I've also found that people in positions of authority or power or fame or wealth or whatever, who we kind of think of as being up on a pedestal, really don't mind doing things for people. People just don't ask.
This year, as I've mentioned before, I'm taking my mantra to a new level. I've already scored interviews with Shawn Coleman and Guy Haley, who I would normally consider way out of my league, and the creator of Standard Action has also said she'd come on the blog. And have I asked some famous and semi-famous people and been greeted with total crickets?
Fuck yeah, I have! That's part of it. But I'm going to keep on asking. Don't be afraid to shoot the moon, you little shits, is what I'm trying to say here. You might surprise yourself.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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