Author of "Clearly Now, The Rain" - Eli Hastings

Eli Hastings talks ‘Clearly Now, the Rain’ and the emotional challenges he faced publishing his book

Eli Hastings didn’t write ‘Clearly Now, The Rain: A Memoir of Love and Other Trips’ to be published. After the death of his best friend and lover Serala, he followed through on his promise: “If you die, I’m going to write a book about you.”

Once he was ready to share his story and publish his book, he found reaching readers was more difficult than he expected. We asked him to share his story and what he learned through the process.

Eli Hasting's Book - Clearly Now the Rain


 On the woman who inspired the book:

Eli Hasting's friend and inspiration of his book – SeralaIn 1996, I had the great fortune of finding a best friend and lover that would transform the way I lived, loved, and looked at life. We had a wild ride, literally and figuratively, over nearly a decade and through many storied cities and many traumas and adventures. I had always told her that if she died (which was always likely) I would write a book about her.

I didn’t know that I really would until she died quite traumatically and inconsiderately on my watch between Christmas and New Years of 2004. Then I knew that I had to write the book to heal myself from the grief, despair and trauma of her passing.

On the publishing experience:

At first I didn’t think I wanted to publish the book, once I decided to it took me no less than eight years, two and a half agents (long story), some fifty rejections and seventeen revisions I think most of the healing happened in the writing, but I have found that a considerable amount has also come from sharing the story of my friend, sharing the lessons she taught me about how to live and love (and how not to.)

On getting attention and promoting the book:

I was surprised at how little my publisher did to promote the book. It seemed like all they did was send the book out to all the national reviewers. I didn’t know I needed to think about my own marketing and I didn’t even know how to do it. I had to seek outside help.

What I’ve seen really work is writing short pieces for national publications that draw attention back to the book and platform. I’ve also enjoyed that process.

On the challenges he faced:

The biggest challenge has been the emotional toll of working so hard to attract readers and how easily you can get dissed. For example, I had so many challenges scheduling readings in bookstores that we started trying bars. In some ways, we found those even work better! You’ve got to get out and stay outside the box.

I also needed help with organization, prioritization, connections, diplomacy, and new ideas. But most of all, I needed empathy for how frustrating the process can be. Self-publishing has changed the entire playing field. People who can barely craft a sentence might be kick-ass at self-promotion online and make lots of money. In short, the market is flooded with both crap and gold with both self-published and professionally published e-books that don’t cost publishers anything.

On what’s important:

The most meaningful experience for me has been reading messages from people who were moved by my book and needed to tell me so. There is nothing more important to me than knowing that the book has reached people in the way I hoped it would.

Consistent engagement online and in person with your readers is incredibly important. Finding ways to engage people that aren’t always focused on you and your work is indispensable too.

Knowing what I know now, I would have started marketing as soon as my contract was signed for publication and had a plan ready in advance. I would have been clear about what I was good at and capable of and what I really needed to let others handle. I would have planned a very strategic book tour even if it cost me a good bit of money to breathe life into the book from different places.

It’s important to understand what to expect from the beginning or make a plan so you feel like you know what to expect. I’ve learned a lot through this process thanks to those who have helped me, my readers, and of course — Serala.

If you would like to hear more about ‘Clearly Now, The Rain’ listen to Eli’s interview on KUOW
Connect with Eli on Twitter @elihastings23 and on Facebook

Note from AM:PM PR’s Mike Phillips:

You’ve gotta give Eli a lot of credit for working through the negative emotions he felt after receiving the message from his publisher saying that their promotional campaign had come to an end. Fortunately, Eli took a great proactive approach, and immediately got to task working on his own marketing plan and promotional tactics to fill in the void. His efforts really paid off when he was chosen as one of 13 artists in 2013 poised to shape the future of the arts in the Pacific Northwest
Readers and aspiring writers can take some lessons from his experience. For starters, hard work does pay off, but often not immediately. Eli’s book had fifty rejections and seventeen revisions, but the silver lining is that his publisher produced a remarkable work. 
If you’re an author and your book has yet to be published, talk with your publisher and ask if they have created a marketing plan. Open yourself up to assisting with that plan and providing your own expertise into your specific target audience. Then, when the natural course of their marketing efforts come to an end (as they always do) you are more prepared to take the reins in your own hands. You’ll feel empowered and grateful that you did the heavy lifting early on.