Dispelling the Dream

By: on June 21, 2004 | # | Comments (3) | Resources for Writers

Thanks to Publishers Lunch, I read a good article this morning about the realities of publishing a first book.

"Pile 'em high... then let 'em die" from The Independent.

"'I want more than anything else in my life to be published - to read my reviews and to see people buying my book. That would be a thrill on a par with losing my virginity, getting married and getting my first job." So said a student on a well-known creative writing course..."

The only time I remember having "the dream" is the summer after college when I was bicycling across country for Bike-Aid. I was deeply in love with my college boyfriend and riding a new Cannondale with some PC lesbians who wanted to know where I hoped I'd be in five years.

"Married, with a book out, and a kid on the way," I replied.

Ten years later, this cracks me up. I have none of it, except Sand. Which is still plenty and lots to be thankful for. More importantly, it's a quick silencer to bragging bridal mothers at wedding brunches who only want to know if I've been blessed enough to be settled like their kid.

But back to the dream. The funniest part is that back then, when I was 22, it was just a dream. My cross country journal was filled with love updates and food fantasies. Descriptive passages of the roadside scenry? Nope. Dialogue from encounters with interesting people we'd met? Not a one. I sure talked about writing a book, but I knew nothing about actually doing it.

What helped me was working on the publishing side first. By the time Sand in My Bra released, I had already been to a bunch of poorly attended events, seen authors ride the roller coaster of a book launch and national tour, and above all learned that watching Amazon sales rankings is nothing but a time suck.

Today, I see getting a book out as completely possible. For nearly anyone. Look at how many new books come out every year. Then look at how many of them are crap. If you want to write a book, you can. Absolutely. It takes discipline, hard work, and investing a whole lot of emotion that will most likely take some soul-pounding. Tack on a few writing classes, pray for a great editor, get your networking ass in gear, and you're there. Totally doable.

After reading this article I say, let them be excited. Newbies should keep the excitement alive for as long as they can. If only because it will make the work more fun. Reality articles might help some, but go all out anyway. Take it all in and learn learn learn from the experience. Even if you read 100 experiences from previously published authors, there will still be surprises. This is life, you can count on being hit with the unexpected.

There, now get back to your writing. You've got a book to get out!

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Bobby  |  June 21, 2004 10:48 AM

. . . makes you want to glue the pages together yourself and rent a table at the flea market.


Jen Leo  |  June 21, 2004 10:58 AM

Bobby, I actually looked into that once. Festivals have always done very well for us at Travelers' Tales. I think a gutsy self promoter could do all right for him/herself shlepping them out of a van.

Don't get discouraged.


Denni  |  June 21, 2004 12:30 PM

A cheap way of doing that may be on-demand publishing. I'm looking into that, but I don't even have the 200 for the cheapest deal I've found so far at the moment. Anyone tried that route for travelogues?

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