I come from a long line of hustlers. My family history is full of savvy merchants who sold their wares to put food on the table. My grandfather, an orphan of the Armenian genocide of 1915, made his living selling undergarments from a cart in the back streets of Beirut. My father bested him when he immigrated to America and opened his first jewelry store, inside a grocery shop called Lucky’s, in the already rundown Los Angeles suburb of Reseda. Can you imagine a corner of your local grocery store selling diamonds and ruby necklaces? At the time, it seemed perfectly normal to me. I mean, who wouldn’t want a tennis bracelet with her asparagus?

The point is, entrepreneurship is, and always has been, a rite of passage in my family—a singular interpretation of the American dream. All my aunts and uncles own their own businesses. When my American-born younger cousins started going to college, it was understood that any law or business degrees would be used to establish new businesses or grow existing ones.

You can imagine the response I got when I told the entire clan (because that’s the most accurate description of my family) that I wanted to be a writer. There were a lot of blank stares, a lot of fingering of worry beads, and questions like, “Yes, but what will you really do for a living?” I did it anyway, of course. I spent five years writing a novel I wasn’t sure would ever get published. My family treated me like a Hari Krishna—someone who’s placed her unyielding faith in the absurd.

Then, miraculously, I found an agent who believed in me, and who, even more miraculously, sold my novel in less than a week to a reputable publisher whose books I’d long admired. I was ecstatic, of course. Within days of the sale, I wanted to know what I could do next to help the process along. Both my agent and my new editor told me that the best thing I could do would be to forget about my first novel for a while and start a new one.

The hustler in me was stunned by this suggestion. It seemed absurd—almost as absurd as selling jewelry in the frozen-foods section of a grocery store. I wanted to know who was going to sell this novel to readers. “No one cares about my product like I do,” I remember telling my agent, repeating one of my family’s familiar mottos. There was a long pause, followed by, “Did you just call your novel a product?” Yes, I did. And, secretly, I sometimes still do.

What I want more, than anything else, is to share my story with as many readers as I can reach. For that to happen, my novel needs to sell, and I can’t help being deeply invested in that. I may have traded my grandfather’s horse-drawn cart for a Twitter account, but the impulse is exactly the same. Someone has to buy this book. Lots of someones, in fact.

In today’s publishing environment, authors are expected to have websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds, and somehow find time to write their next novels. It’s challenging, I know. Twitter is full of writers complaining about how much time they have to spend marketing their books. Literary writers are the biggest complainers. They think of themselves as true artists, above the kind of promotional tactics that genre writers use regularly to get attention. But whether or not my novel is literary (I think it is), doesn’t it behoove me to place it in front of as many readers as possible? If the horse-drawn cart full of undergarments was good enough for grandpa, and the jewelry booth in Lucky’s was good enough for dad, then why can’t I spend a few hours of my week thinking about marketing?

So this month, on the heels of selling my first novel, in addition to diving into my second book, I’m pouring some of my energy into learning about social media, building a readership, and understanding the business of publishing. If that makes me less of an artist or writer, then so be it. Hustling is in my blood, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m proud of it.