Since becoming a self-published author in November 2013, I’ve noticed a trend occurring at signings for my debut novel, The Missing Five. Strangers, for now, walk up to me and start conversing about their dreams to publish a book.
How did I do it? Was it expensive? How long did it take?
I don’t mind the questions. I rather enjoy responding. I listen to their tales and woes, and encourage them to not give up. Hopefully, I’ll be their beacon of hope–that one flicker of inspiration they need to get a jumpstart to “Just do it!™”
Many stories have been relayed.
“My husband has written a 300-page manuscript,” one wife tells me. On the back of my business card, I write Createspace’s website, informing her how user-friendly, inexpensive, and informative the site is for self-published authors. “Oh no,” she says, “the manuscript is handwritten. I’m looking for someone to type it.”
Another fan tells me she has a unique story, informing me there’s no other storyline like it anywhere. Has she read every book known to man? I think not, but who am I to pass judgment? After all, a few months ago, I was like her. I had a unique story too. She prolongs her dialogue, taps her head with an index finger, and states emphatically that it’s all there. She’s afraid to share the story with anyone for fear of it being stolen. “You heard about those two people suing Tyler Perry, haven’t you?” Indeed I had. She continues. “Both allege that their manuscripts were sent to Perry’s camp and the next thing they know, there’s a movie – Temptation and Good Deeds.” I know the judge ruled in Perry’s favor for the Good Deeds story theft. The jury’s still out for Temptation.
My next fan tells me that he has sent snippets of his typed pages to the assistant of a well-known media person, who he says keeps asking him if he owns the copyright. “The assistant wants to see the entire manuscript,” he claims. He goes on to say that he doesn’t have the money to have it copyrighted. “What should I do?” he asks. All I know is that I don’t work for the Patent and Trademark Office, and do not want to offer incorrect advice. Instead, I tell him to do his due diligence–research, read, and research some more–to find the answers. “Keep everything; don’t throw anything away,” I warn, “just in case you’re ever challenged about your work.” I personally recall reading an inquiry from someone regarding her book, 50 Dates in 50 States, which was barred from her selling due to trademark infringement. Yikes!
Many people have a story to tell; and many of them have become published authors. But there are probably still as many with the beginnings of their manuscripts thrown in a drawer to be either brought out or thought of once a year, or most likely, it’s still in their head. I say to those writers, that’s definitely not the path to publishing a novel.
I share my story with my fans. I let them know that I was a mirror reflection of them before November 3, 2013, the day I published my debut novel. My story had been in my head for years, too many years for me to assign a number. One day, I’d tell myself repeatedly, I’m going to write that book. Then, I’d read a book like Waiting to Exhale, and my girlfriends and I would commiserate, would actually swear on our mothers’ bibles, that any one of us could have easily written that story. After all, it was a story about us, a story about girlfriends.
I kept putting off writing my story. It’s no secret, I’m the definition of procrastinator. What’s the cliché? Look up the word in Merriam-Webster, and there’s a picture of me. I went so far as to make writing a book a New Year’s resolution–over many years. Twelve months would come and go; and as all resolutions solemnly made on January 1, I failed to comply by December 31.
Then something happened. In May 2012, I finally put pen to paper and wrote chapter one. By chapter two, ideas were all over the place. I was a scatterbrain. I was easily sidetracked and wasn’t enthused anymore. Other pressing issues grabbed my attention—like the TV show Criminal Minds and the repeats of Criminal Minds. I would do anything and everything but sat at the desk and write. I discarded my halfhearted manuscript to the back of the coat closet until a year later (May 2013). My brother showed me an article introducing a new author who wrote and published a book in four months and made the NY Times bestseller list. Don’t quote me on the facts here. This nudge was the beacon I needed to fulfill my long-held dream of becoming a published author.
And, 2013 was the first year that my New Year’s resolution didn’t include writing a book. Ironically, it was the year I published The Missing Five.
I won’t lie; it’s not easy. It takes a boat load of dedication, commitment, and stamina to write a novel.
So fans, if you want to become a published author, ask me. I don’t mind sharing my story if you don’t mind listening.
Today a stranger. Tomorrow a fan.