Soooooo! In answer to my Call for Guest Posts I have a selection of posts for you from various sources. These fabulous people have been kind enough to take time out of their days to write up a little something for this blog because I’m so crazy busy! You’ll see these pop up over the coming weeks so be sure to keep coming back!
This is the third post of the selection, kindly written for us by Jim Bronyaur, author of the Minivan Mom Mystery Series. Check out the series on Amazon (the latest release being ‘If Errands Could Kill’), or visit his site using the links above. Its well worth taking the time, let me assure you.
I’m here to talk about publishing. I can’t be too sure I’m the best candidate to talk about publishing, but I can tell you that all the old clichés stand true… you know the ones I mean, right? The ones about not giving up, the ones about walking instead of running, the ones of chasing dreams, and even the 10,000 hour theory.
If you’re new to publishing, you probably look at those clichés and laugh. You’re going to be the one who breaks the mold and changes everything. You’re going to create the next big hit like Twilight or The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. I say go for it, because one of two things will happen:
- You do it. You succeed. You create the next big thing. Your characters are on big screens, and teenage girls are crying for your lead. Your characters are on cups at Burger King and a graphic novel is months away from release.
- You fail and fall on your face.
This will be your first and biggest lesson. A writer who is meant to write will stand up, brush themselves off and go at it again. Someone who likes to write will stand up and walk away and go back to their ‘real life’.
That’s the truth of life, writing, and publishing.
If you’re a writer, you write.
Let’s take The Hunger Games for a second… before Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games, she wrote for Nickelodeon.
Let’s take Stephen King… he used to work two jobs while his wife worked too. When his kids got sick, his wife would tell him to create a monster to write a story to sell to buy medicine.
It doesn’t come easy, but neither does life. Remember that.
So, let’s talk about my ‘success’ in publishing. I’ve had over one hundred pieces of fiction published, along with over a dozen projects in my name and close to another hundred projects I’ve assisted, worked on, and edited through a small company I started last year.
It all began for me when I was in fifth grade and a guest poet came to school. He was fat with black suspenders and always had food in his snow white beard. He was eccentric and loved poetry more than anything in the world. Through his guidance, I had my first poem published in fifth grade. It was an elegant story about a pig wearing a wig (and for the record, the rhymes only got cheaper as they went on… and yes, I have a copy of that book, and no, I will NEVER share the poem.).
Then came my first computer with clipart.
I would write scary stories or rewrite television shows to make them scary. I’d save them on floppy disks and pass them around to family and friends. I’d print them, staple them, sign them, and show them off. In some light, that could have been the start to my publishing company. My first horror story was called The Butcher’s Shop and it was about a man named Steve Epson (yes, Epson from the printer I had… that’s how I named characters back then…) and he was the new butcher in town. People loved his meats, until they discovered he was murdering the townspeople and grinding them up. In a sick twist, the townspeople took Steve Epson, put him in the meat grinder, and then ate him.
I was twelve when I wrote it.
Thankfully, my parents didn’t lock me up. Instead, they bought me a guitar.
Fast forward a few years or so and I’m in a creative writing class in high school, with a guest teacher who took my passion for words and grew it. She allowed me to explore prose and poetry like I never thought I could, even letting me stand up in class to read a poem with the ‘f’ word in it. What a great moment for me….
What’s the point of my life’s ramblings here? My point is that I started writing when I was in fifth grade and it wasn’t until last year that I published my first short story collection, on my own. I continued to write, and publish, and in June, I started a small company. I started the company because I wanted all the control. I handle the writing, the designation of editing, the proofing, the cover work, the finalising, the marketing, and all the business stuff like accounting and taxes. It’s my world and I embrace it.
If you’re writing and getting into publishing, the resources are vast and can get overwhelming. If you’re going to get out there and find an agent and a traditional deal, my best advice is to find blogs that embrace that decision and help you succeed. Get books on the market, learn how to write the perfect query letter, and never once give up. Also, never stop writing. When that first book is done, start the second.
If you’re going to do it on your own as an independent author, don’t get discouraged by other opinions. There is a shift and crack sometimes between traditional and independent publishing, but guess what? Either one is the right choice. There are many authors who start out independent and go traditional – and there are authors who do both (they are called hybrid authors)!
Whatever your choice is, follow it with your heart, but always keep your head involved. Writing is an art, but right behind that, comes the business side of things. Mixing the two may feel a little strange, but the authors who are smart and who can balance both are the ones who can succeed. Above all, remember that writing is work. I used to have this dream of a traditional deal that paid me seven figures and I’d lounge around writing bestsellers… yeah, right. In reality, this is a full-time job for me and I work (no lie) at least 70-80 a week, at the minimum. And guess what? I’m married and have two children – and my wife works. I’m at up at five in the morning and my wife and I balance our time and schedules all day long to make sure work is done, the kids are taken care of, we have family time, etc. I’m usually asleep by midnight and on the weekends I’ll treat myself by not setting the alarm, but my internal clock goes off at six, so I’m still up early to write.
I do this for two reasons… first, I love it. This is my dream, my passion. I’ve always wanted to own my own business and now I do. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and now I am. Having the two together is amazing. Second, I do this because it’s my job. I need to make money to survive, like the rest of the world. If I don’t write, I don’t work, I don’t get paid.
This is the greatest time, if ever, that I’ve seen for publishing. The barriers between traditional and self-publishing have been shattered and they will remain that way. Authors have options to distribute their work and better yet, the readers have options too. The readers command the market and will continue to do so. But before anything else… you have to have books written. And I don’t mean a single book. This is a time when BOOKS matter. Not a book. Get a dozen or so stories out there and then start promoting… mix it up with short stories, novellas, novels, etc. Get a nice long list and then things will start to grow.
With that said, go write!