On January 15th 2015, there was an exciting Launch Party for my book The Legend Returns, the sequel to the first middle grade reader. My publisher had organized the latest thing, well one of the latest things. An internet virtual party. I thought, at first, this was a pretty hokey thing. Now remember, folks. I am old school. I guess the word they use a lot these days to describe a relic is retro, and I’m as retro as they come. A virtual party, you say? With real people, who are not really at the party, but connected just the same, you say? OH and there was going to be virtual food and drink. Perfect, I thought, as I sipped my glass of Port. Does that mean just a virtual hangover, then?
I chuckled to my wrinkled old self, jumped in and threw doubt to the four virtual winds, and joined the fun. I had a blast. Not a virtual good time, but an awesome real good time. I met so many people who were so nice to come to my party. I mean, I was a virtual unknown (I am not sorry for that terrible pun. Bet it made you smile. 🙂 ) and these good people were kind enough to take time out of their busy lives to come, meet me and have a bit of fun at the same time. Someone brought an amazing cake, with a dragon theme, thank you very much. It was very tasty.
About a month ago, I received a call from a Journalist who has a column in the local newspaper. In her articles called Buy The Book (catchy title), Linda Hersey introduces local Authors and their books to the paper-reading public, and she had done an excellent piece on my first book, Ryan’s Legend. She was responding to my email, at her request, to let her know when the sequel was to be launched. The telephone interview was scheduled, and yesterday the interview was printed, for all to read.
That article in our local paper marked the placing of the final puzzle piece to complete the whole, at least for me anyway. It meant that the long journey of twenty years from conception to publication, was at last here, and it was as real as it gets, and all this because I simply did not give up. For all you writers out there who are not published yet, I want you to know a couple of things straight from this writer’s heart.
First: Yes, you write and therefore you are a writer. You’ve completed a story or a poem? Yes you are an Author. If you want to be published and if you persevere in your quest to do so, you will, and this is coming from someone who wanted to see his name in print on a book cover, and perhaps leave something for the grand kids to brag about, so I never gave up or quit believing in the dream.
Second: It’s okay to feel a bit jealous when you see all these people getting published, and you, so desperately want to join their ranks. It’s not okay to harbor that jealousy. Let it go, because the only difference between you and a published author is that the right publisher hasn’t seen your work yet. They are out there, just waiting for your manuscript to land on their desk. But guess what? It won’t go anywhere sitting in that notebook, or in that file on your laptop if you don’t send it away. “But Lockie. I did send it away, and it got rejected, twice.” I stopped counting after the fifth rejection and I ended up not even looking at the file for months. Mad at myself that I could be such a fool to think I could ever get published. If you just said yeah, that’s exactly how I feel, then know that every writer feels this, which leads me to point three.
Third: Know that feelings of being “Not good enough” are shared with every writer you have ever read. Now read that again, and let it sink in. I’m not a betting man, but if I was I would put solid cash down on the table and say, Steven King, J.K Rowling and any other writer you care to mention have all felt inadequate and “Not Good Enough” at times in their writing projects. Perhaps even Shakespeare glared at the scrap of paper in his hand, declared it to be a trollop eating harlot and touched it’s coarse edge to flame. Whoever said we are our own worse critic hit that nail solidly on the head. Yes, that self negativity can be a very real obstacle. This post will not change that. I just wanted to point out that you are perfectly normal to think these things. You are the only one who can chase the negativity away, and you are the only one who can keep that determination and drive to do the best you can.
Lastly, a bit of advice for anyone thinking about self publishing. I am saddened and a bit more than concerned that the book market is flooded with self published books. Not because there are so many, but because there are so many that are not properly edited. If you are like me, you are somewhat put off when you read a published piece that is riddled with mistakes. Misspelled words and bad grammar really distract from the story and ,in my case, does not hold my attention even a little bit. I don’t care if it’s the best story since Romeo and Juliette, if I am struggling to read it, it gets tossed. If I feel that way, so do most other readers out there. You have worked hard writing it. You edited that story fifteen times, and had your high school English teacher do a complete line edit before you submitted it to LuLu, or wherever you self published from. If you want to actually realize sales you need at least two very important things.
1) A professional edit
2) A great, eye catching cover
These two things are a must, and you might have to shell out some real money to get these ‘must haves’ accomplished, but it will make a huge difference in how well the book does. In closing I think the most important thing a writer can do for themselves is no matter what, just keep writing and keep reading. Join writing groups and listen to the criticism. Use that knowledge to improve your writing, and don’t let negatives rule your life.