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  • Mike Murphey

Writer needs assistance


Asking for help is not an easy thing.

We are conditioned to beware of people who ask. Like the people who solicit personal donations at stoplights. The compassion within us begs us to help our fellow man. The cynic within us counters, “No, don’t do it. They’ll only use it to buy drugs or booze or breakfast cereal with way too much sugar.”

This past weekend, the cat, my wife and I made our spring pilgrimage from Phoenix back north to Spokane. Along the way a man approached me at a gas station. He pointed to a derelict van and said they’d run out of both gas and funds. Had he asked me for money, I probably would have refused. But he produced a 2.5 gallon can and asked for gas. I couldn’t conceive of how he might trade gasoline for heroine or breakfast cereal, so I filled his can.

I was privileged for many years to be a member of a business partnership that included Dave Henderson, the all-star center fielder for the Seattle Mariners, the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox. Our company produced adult baseball fantasy camps for both the Mariners and A’s. We recruited retired players from those teams to serve as coaches during the week-long camps. We were fortunate in having some of the best and most personable players from these teams’ histories join us.

As the camps grew and we needed more coaches I would make suggestions to Hendu. Sometimes he would say, “No, believe me, you don’t want to spend a week with that guy.” Sometimes he would say, “Yeah, I’ll give him a call.” And other times he said, “No, that guy’s too busy.”

Hendu was enormously respected among the ranks of Major League players, and I came to understand that among the “too busy” category were those retired players who Hendu didn’t want to place in an awkward position by his request. They might not have time to do the camp, or they might not particularly want to do the camp. But they might be unwilling to say no to Dave. So, he simply wouldn’t ask.

I realized the power of his request when I got a phone call from a well-known former player. “Hendu asked me to touch base with you to get all the details for the camp,” the player said. We had a long conversation going over travel information, schedules, what his duties would be, etc. When I finally asked if he had any questions, he answered, with a nervous note in his voice “Um… yeah. Is this something we get paid for?”

I assured him it was.

I understand Dave’s concern. In dealing with friends and acquaintances, I’ve never wanted to inconvenience people by asking them for help they might not feel comfortable giving. Unfortunately, publishing a book requires lots of help. Whether a new author’s path involves traditional publishing, hybrid publishing or self-publishing, the task of marketing a book falls more and more to the writer.

Writing is fun and rewarding because it’s something you do on your own or in the company of editors or fellow writers who are your comrades in frustration and rejection. We offer aid and succor to each other. Sooner or later, though—if you are lucky—you must face the trauma of readers. And if these readers are friends, you ask them not only to buy your book, but to submit reviews. You ask them to recommend your book to others, to share information about your book on social media. You ask them to view your website, to read your blogs. To send questions regarding your blogs so you have material with which to blog again.

And to subscribe to your newsletter.

This is my newsletter. I hope to issue it with some regularity to provide information about Section Roads and subsequent books. The newsletter doesn’t cost anything. You don’t even have to read it. You can unsubscribe any time you want. But, the publisher tells me, subscriptions help a writer in the broader scheme of trying to find a place for his or her book in the vast publication wilderness.

I understand if someone appeals to your better judgment by saying, “No, don’t do it. If you encourage him, he’ll only write another.”

If, however, you’re feeling benevolent, please go to my website, www.mikemurpheybooks.com and sign up for a subscription.

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