"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That's How Winning Is Done

It's no secret that my guest blogger is one of my most published clients as well as one of my favorite authors, one of my dearest friends, and my biggest fan. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that the moment I found out he was starting a promotion for his most successful series to date, I offered up a spot on my blog for him. But I'll let my buddy, Bernard Schaffer, tell you more. 

As independent publishing becomes less of a novelty and more of a viable option as a full-time career, you're going to see two things happen:

1. More and more people will pursue it.  There are a lot of frustrated, would-be, exasperatingly enthusiastic authors out there just dying to get their Great American Novel in front of an Oh-My-God-I've-Been-Waiting-For-This-Book-My-Entire-Life readership.

2. A lot of those people are gonna self-destruct.

Artists, by nature, are a curious lot. Hell, if they were social butterflies with robust and all-consuming personal lives there wouldn't be much time to set pen to page, now would there? Not to say all famous authors are geeks and shut-ins, but pull up the picture of any world class best-seller and take a good long look at it. Now imagine that person working at your local insurance agency. They dating any supermodels?

For many of us who were writing long before the advent of eBooks, rejection was the name of the game. Agents, publishers, magazines, zines, newsletters and websites were all good for one thing: letting you know you sucked.

It's been that way since the dawn of time. If you look back through history, somewhere there is a caveman showing off his hard-wrought pictograph story on a rock wall and a few irritated New York snobs standing behind him saying, "We won't look at this unless you're represented by someone we already know."

Anybody who faced all that rejection and still kept at it knows what an opportunity eBooks and digital distribution presents.

It's the rest of you whom I'm suspicious of.

Successful writing in this new era means a few things. It means consistency and quality. It means engaging the fans on a more personal level by way of all this social media floating around. Perhaps most importantly, it means being professional.

And that's where the self-destruction part comes in.

Like I already said, historically, writers aren't the super disco party starters. They're sensitive and cerebral and express themselves through the written word. In other words, perfect targets for trolls. You see, being so accessible to the world at large in an effort to engage your readership also means people can attack you in much more personal ways.

Some people just can't take it. I've seen Twitter rants, Facebook rants, forum rants, and responses to reviews on Amazon that would make you gag. Another poor schmuck suckered into looking overly emotional and unstable by an anonymous review. It's kind of like that old saying: Don't argue with an idiot, because from a distance … well, you know the rest.

Being a successful author in this day and age means that you are willing to stand naked in public. There are people who are going to laugh. There are people who are going to be cruel. It's just the way it is, and if you can't accept that, you're in for some serious heartache.

But not everyone will laugh.

Some will become devoted readers and allow you to share the worlds and characters you create with them, and pay you to do it. How many of them allow it and how many of them pay you is, ultimately, a reflection of how hard you work in the face of a few catcalls and anonymous snickering.

My mantra is, and always has been: Write hard, read hard. My writing was born deep in the fires of my being back when the only hope of anyone reading it meant finishing an entire novel, sending out dozens of perfectly-formed query letters, and praying for a response from some faceless demigod deep in the machine. It thrives now by way of a sheer miracle that lets me sell hundreds of books every month.

On Tuesday, March 19th, my entire Superbia series will be free on Amazon. The first book, the second book, and the non-fiction guide Way of the Warrior, all free. Anyone who knows my backstory knows the personal price I paid in order to publish these books. It was a lot. I still live with the consequences. But when I think back on that eager young man, pounding away on his typewriter, dreaming of the day someone might finally read his work, I don't regret it a bit.

If you are truly an author, you'll endure all of this. You'll pass through the fire and emerge a little less kind, a little less wide-eyed, and a little less naïve, but stronger than you ever imagined. All storytellers should know that any endeavor is a journey, filled with peril and adventure and mystery and no guarantees of success. Be brave. Work hard. Stay focused. Everything else is just mud along the road.

As my favorite fictional Philadelphian would say, "That's how winning is done."
B didn't say it, so I will. If you've already read his Superbia series, and you want more of Vic and Frank, you MUST check out his latest, Bad Day at Khor-Wa, the first in his new Grendel Unit series. (I LOVE Vic and Frank!) 
Happy Reading!

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