Last week I had coffee with a woman who has read my book, The Summer of Annah, and she asked me ‘Why do you write?’
I almost blurted out ‘Because I like writing!’ However, I then took a moment to sip my coffee and pondered the question.
Here’s what I told her. I write because I love to create new worlds.
My companion seemed satisfied. We finished our visit and went our separate ways. During the drive home, I thought over her question and almost called her to add to my answer. This is what I would have said:
I write because I see the world differently than most people. In my day-to-day living I taste, drink, smell, and touch potential stories. Everything that happens to me, or around me, is fodder for my imagination.
I write because it is who I am within the depths of my soul. In my past life I was the person sitting in the glow cast by the fire, weaving stories for the other tribe members.
I write because it’s in my blood. As a young child I told stories to my classmates (much to the annoyance of the sisters at St. Francis of Assisi). Out on the playground, you would have found me surrounded by other children as I entertained them with magical tales. My words would take them flying.
I write because it is who I am and I am unique. No one else has my voice, my mind, my vision–my stories. I’m passionate about the characters I bring to life. There are days when I would love to drive to Copedale and share a Boston cream doughnut with Annah. Or, chat with Isabella about Under the Tuscan Sun.
I write because it’s a grand high when a reader tells me she stayed up all night because she had to finish my book.
I write because it’s what I do. It’s who I am. What about you? Why do you write? Why do you read? Share your thoughts in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.
Why my doctor would recommend I stop eating it is beyond me. Without a daily hit of Ben and Jerry, The Summer of Annah would have never been published. My recommendation for aspiring indie-publishers–stock up!
#2: A thick skin is a must.
Everybody and her sister are going to make comments about your work. If you’re lucky enough to have a publisher buffeting the world, rock on. But for those of us who publish indie, we wear a large target on our backs. And while you’re growing that skin, learn how to roar. Because you’ll need that talent for number 3.
#3: If you roar loud enough, some one will hear you.
How else will the world know you’ve published a book? Over 10,000 books are uploaded to to the big three: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks, each day. (This is on a global scale but I’m still not convinced the data is correct. However, I do know that in 2014 Claude Nouget estimated that a book was uploaded to Amazon, every five minutes, 24/7.) Regardless of the numbers, there’s a whole bunch of books out there. Roar, baby, roar!
#4: Develop a marketing plan BEFORE you publish your book.
You wouldn’t go to Disney World without a plan, so don’t published your book without a plan. Know ahead of time what you’re going to do and when. Nail that sucker down to the last minute and be prepared with contingency plans when things don’t work out, because, they won’t. See #1.
#5: Tweet your ass off!
Twitter is a great way to develop an author platform. But, and this is a big BUT, make sure you’re tweets are relevant. Tweeting about your cat barfing on your comforter has nothing to do with your book, unless the book is about locations where cats prefer to barf, then, well you get the idea.
#6: Dive in. The Facebook waters may be shark infested and full of the remains of despairing authors but at least you won’t be alone.
An author page on Facebook is a must for every aspiring indie author. Why? Well, how else will you pass the time while your waiting for your book to sell?
#7: Invest money. And when you think you’ve spent enough, borrow some and invest more.
To date, my debut novel has cost me… a lot! Let’s see, there was editing, cover art, formatting, marketing, more marketing, a website, web hosting for the website, more marketing, triage for when the reviews stopped, requests for reviews, book purchases to send to reviewers, postage costs, ice cream, wine, larger clothes. The list just keeps growing. I recommend a second, third, or perhaps fourth job to help pay for your book. And the ice cream. And the wine. And the larger clothes.
#8: Find a good therapist.
Either Jack Daniels will do or someone with a degree who can help you figure out why you wanted to self-publish in the first place.
#9: Ignore the hordes of other authors pumping out books.
You’ll be one of millions but your book is yours. It’s unique because you wrote it. Cheer for the other authors and bless their success but stay focused on what you’ve written. Unless you’re getting trampled by the other authors. Then, I suggest revisiting lessons #1 and #9.
#10: Be true to your calling.
Writing isn’t for everyone. It takes courage to put that pen to paper, or key the letters into a computer. Courage and tenacity. When the voices in your head refuse to speak to you, it takes a gentle hand to get them to play along. If you want to write and publish your book, stick with it. But remember, when in doubt, follow rule #1.
Today was the day I planned on the paperback version of Annah hitting the virtual bookshelves of Amazon. I even arranged a celebration. Okay, in truth it wasn’t much of a celebration–a lit candle and some ice cream.
Sadly, the printed pages of Annah remain in Amazon limbo and the virtual paperback shelves remain empty. So, no celebrating for me. However, I still plan on eating the ice cream.
When Midsummer arrives, though, watch out! A Midsummer’s Wish will be a real book by then and thatwill be cause for a massive party. I’m calling it my Virtual Open House Launch of a Real Book (VOHLRB), or Open House for those of you who are alphabetically challenged. We’ll have virtual music, virtual party streamers, virtual horns, virtual cupcakes, virtual laughter–the list goes on and on for virtually miles. All you’ll have to do is show up, virtually that is, and have some fun. What could be virtually easier?
Watch for your virtual Facebook invitation (like my page to get on the list) and bring lots of virtual friends for some really cool, really real prizes. One lucky winner will walk away, virtually of course, with a magical grand prize. I’m not giving any hints but think Thor meets Ben and Jerry. Oh baby.
Before I leave you to go attack my confectionery delight, allow me to mention a common new moon ritual. Some people plant a seed; some plant an actual plant; some just whisper a wish or prayer–whatever your desire, having a pure and strong intent is all you need. Think it and the Universe will do the rest. That’s the power of the new moon. My desire? To see The Summer of Annah a successfully published book.
I have a second wish but that will have to wait for the next new moon. Tonight belongs to Annah. Blessed be :}
Read about marketing, make notes, read about marketing, make notes, find time to write new story, read about marketing, make notes, find time to eat ice cream, read about marketing, oh dear, oh dear, I’m running out of time.
I’m channeling my inner white rabbit.
I foolishly believed writing a book would be the hardest part of the journey to becoming a published author. Create a great story, get the words onto paper, struggle with dangling participles and modifiers, and, ultimately make the words flow in a manner that pulls the reader into the story. Easy as pie. (I’ll have a slice of apple, please. Extra Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream. Make it three scoops.)
Don’t get me wrong. I knew having a big-time publisher accepting my humble novel was a shot in a very dark, very long, very large tunnel so I made the decision to self-publish. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. Hey kid, don’t drink that!
Yup. Just like poor Alice, I’m now a very tiny (did I mention I feel tiny?) author in a raging sea of other self-published authors, all scrabbling for life boats we call ‘readers’.
How do I get my first-time, self-published author’s name out to the readers in this country? The world? Hello, can you hear me?!
The information about marketing a self-published book is overwhelming. Do this. Register for that. At times I stare in awe at all the papers littering my desk. It’s astounding the desk hasn’t collapsed under their weight. Where did I put that article on creating a marketing to-do list?
Mr. Caterpillar, may I have a hit on that pipe?
There are companies who will market your self-published romance novel (or any book, for that matter). Hmm, interesting. Oh, what’s this fine print? WTF! You want how much money?
Sigh. Can someone help me find my way without forcing me to take a second mortgage on my house?
Lao Tzu is quoted as saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I wonder if he was speaking literally or figuratively? Most likely figuratively and that’s how I’ll use his insightful wisdom in this post.
No matter what path one puts herself (or himself) on, the first step must be taken for the journey to begin. Once we’re on the path, tangles of roots and jutting stones may cause us to falter, stumble, and perhaps throw our hands up in frustration and admit defeat. This damn journey is too perilous to undertake. The heck with it!
Other times we pick ourselves up, dust off the grime and pebbles, then plod forward, determined to reach our destination. Our focus might become narrowed at this point. Wanting to avoid any further mishaps we keep our sight on each step.
The downside of this mindset is we miss out on the wonders the journey can hold. A rainbow, waterfall, encouraging smile from a family member. We’re not celebrating the journey, we’re enduring it, just to get to the end.
This musing does have a purpose. I’ve been so caught in the jungle called learning how to write that I forgot to enjoy why I started writing in the first place. I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to create characters that live and breath and love. I wanted the world to meet my new friends know them as I’ve come to know them.
Now that the book is finished and scheduled for its June 21, 2016 publication, I’m brave enough to look back over the path I’ve traveled since May of 2015. Damn there were lots of places where I tripped, fell, skinned my knee, and almost burned the pages. But I didn’t. I wrote a book. I told a story. It started with a single word and grew, morphed, and is finally ready for the world.
The beauty of it all is I’m not even close to reaching the end of my journey, which is to be a story teller. I’ll be on this path for a long, long time.