I am not now nor have I ever been what is known in this world as a "natural born salesman" when dealing with other people. I am neither a good nor confident public speaker, feeling too self-conscious whenever forced to address strangers in a group as the center of attention. In fact while having to speak in such a setting I want nothing more than to be able for my spirit to leave the body and leave my mouth running on autopilot and return once the speech is concluded so the body can depart the podium or wherever I was speaking. The suspected Asperger's Syndrome means I cannot read people well when meeting them. I don't know when I'm boring someone with matters of interest to me and not the other person. I'm not good at detecting lies and shady behavior (costing me my childhood home in 2011-2012) or sensing danger (in fact I am paranoid to the point of seeing danger where it might not exist). I cannot get close to women I am in love with, being unable to do this throughout my lifetime, and refuse to take another man's woman he isn't married to (of course I will never willingly break up a marriage just to get someone I love from another man).
So this impediment and disability means I will never willingly take any job where I have to sell something for earning my survival through a salary or hourly wage. If I had to work on commission, I'd starve. The infamous Alec Baldwin speech from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross would not motivate me to try harder because I don't believe I can sell anyone on anything I'm peddling. I'd have walked out after he was done cussing me and the other real estate salesmen out had I been in that situation. I don't take motivating abuse well, however well-meaning the person giving it.
Unfortunately in the crowded glut of fiction writing and ideas from the many minds currently successful or the many more unsuccessful writers out there, my work cannot apparently stand out in any significant way from the rest of the pack. This means I am forced to try harder for getting any attention paid to my fiction novels or short story collections (admittedly I only have one of those in print so far). But I lack the natural instinct God gave other folks for knowing how to shamelessly or otherwise promote myself as John X. Grey author to this world and everything I've ever tried toward that end has FAILED (sometimes miserably).
Now I know someone reading this self-pitying column will (and others have before at earlier posts) suggest ways I can stimulate my potential reading followers. They will suggest things like going to science-fiction conventions, giving away free a few free copies to potential readers (done that before - it didn't really work), selling my books directly in various venues at a small profit since I can order copies from CreateSpace at publishing cost plus shipping before the retail markup at places like Amazon.com, etc. The main obstacle to any of that right now is I'm too poor financially to put any serious money into self-promotion, say like getting my last two self-published books on Kindle (it costs $69 per title) or getting the short story collection expanded distribution (costs $25 and getting it for earlier books did not help their sales significantly). I cannot afford to travel hundreds of miles for meeting people in venues receptive to my work right now.
Other suggestions for raising my profile on my own might include starting a newsletter with the few contacts I made giving away free book copies last year or making connections at message boards, chat rooms, etc. Well I'm not that great at socializing or meeting new people even electronically due to my chronic social inhibitions from the Asperger's. Plus my often abrasive personal opinions probably put people off to ever considering me seriously as a fiction writer. Plus I'm sure there are some out there who've read my work (mostly in short fiction anthology collections from various small presses since 2009) and judged my style or other elements to be inferior and unworthy of any further consideration for reading. I know some editors disliked various aspects to my particular style (others liked it, but sadly never anyone with big connections in publishing). I also fear trying to suck up (kiss ass or whatever term fits) to anyone more successful as an author because of the fear I'll come across as a crass opportunist using that person to get ahead myself while seeming shallow and superficial.
The only thing that could change this difficult equation in which I seem to come out at zero every time is what is known as the BIG BREAK - that unexpected fortunate opportunity to prove myself to someone or some entity in publishing as at least a potential talent with future greatness at my work capturing the public's shallow attention span (in other words the next great best seller). Unfortunately my luck in life (I don't actually believe in luck any more than Obi Wan Kenobi did in the Star Wars films) seems mostly bad or unfortunate. As I began this column with the title above, I truly believe I couldn't sell a man literally on fire the bucket of ice water that would solve his problem that moment, probably couldn't even give it away to him I'm so inept at persuading anyone of anything. I want to be a charismatic speaker, but God did not gift me with that ability - far from it.
So, unless that unexpected lucky break appears over my head (of course I'm usually blind to good opportunities, so I'd probably miss it anyhow), John X. Grey seems relegated to the circular file (numbered 13) as a potential working writer and there seems to be nothing I can do about it as thing stand right now.