I remember starting my first book like it was yesterday. I had been dreaming of writing a book for many years, but I never thought it could actually happen. While I was growing up with my five siblings, my mother would sometimes say “Maybe one of you will write a book one day.” I really wanted to be the first one, and make my mother proud of me.
I was so naïve when I started. Like most aspiring authors, I knew my book would be a success. All I needed to do was get it all together between two covers and the world would fight over my book. It was sure to be a best-seller, and movie offers would start pouring in… All I had to do was get a publisher to read it.
The way it used to be
Yep, that was how it was supposed to happen… but reality happened and here we are. The cruel truth of writing is that it is an uphill process. Nobody is breaking down your door unless you are already on top. When I started writing there were over 40 thousand authors in the United States. Of those 40 thousand, only about 800 were successful. Ouch.
When you look at the statistics and the uphill battle of getting published, it’s very disheartening. I was so discouraged; I almost didn’t write at all. Finally, I decided that I would write my book, even if it never got published. I had no idea how my mother would ever read it, but I would worry about that later.
Growing as an author
The book only took about three months to write. There was a lot of research to do, but it was all so exciting, it moved along nicely. When I finished it, I decided to find a publisher and sent it in to them. I started with a company called Author House, and was given a liaison to work with. He was a nice enough guy, but he must have thought I was made of money.
The first thing he asked me for was a cover. I had one that I liked very much, but he explained to me that it needed to be better to compete with all those best-sellers out there. So, he told me that they had people who could look at my cover and make it better. Two hundred and fifty dollars later, I had a better looking cover. All they did was change one thing… the box that my title was in. Then I got a bill for $250, which in hind sight, wasn’t at all worth it. Lesson learned.
Next, my liaison asked me if I needed editing. He said they had experts there who would read it, suggest changes, and do the final edit. He also suggested a marketing plan, which included four book fairs and people wearing tee shirts with my book advertised on them. All of this sounded nice, until I got the estimate of how much it all cost… Four thousand eight hundred and sixty dollars. All of this, and I had not sold a single book yet. I declined, took my book, and reluctantly went home very disappointed. My bubble has burst.
Then I started thinking… Why should I spend all this money on services for a book that nobody will probably want anyway? I got really depressed and embarrassed, because I had talked so much about the book I wanted to write. Then, I remembered why I started writing a book anyway… My mother. I wanted my mom to read a book that I published before the Lord took her home. The only other reason I wanted to write a book was so that my five children could one day say “See this book? My dad wrote it!” Who cares if anyone else likes it?
After looking around a bit, I found a wonderful place that would publish my book for free. If you are interested in publishing your book for free, check out this article written a few months back – How to publish your book for free – Anyway, once I published my first book, I learned a lot of things. You definitely have to have money to make money when publishing a book today. There are no guarantees in writing… it’s all a gamble. What you think might be the best book ever could find no interest in the international market.
After publishing that first book, I felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment. My mom read my book (twice in one week) and said she was very impressed with it. My children also took my book to school with them and showed off a bit, which made me feel pretty good. I had accomplished both of my main goals, and it didn’t cost me another cent. My book was also on sale worldwide, and that’s just cool.
Happily ever after
After a few months, I started itching to try something new. I wanted to write a detective mystery story, so that’s what I did. Then I wrote another one, then another. My stories are clever, imaginative and fun to read. They are written in such a way that anyone can read them, and understand them, and they have no bad language or suggestive content. So if and when my children or grandchildren want to read one of my books, they can.
If you ask me how many books I have sold or what my Amazon ranking is, I would have to say I have no idea. And honestly, I don’t care either. I know that I will never be a Stephen King or a J. K. Rowling, and that’s alright. I have written and published nine books so far, and one in progress. My mother has read several of my books, which is more than I ever dreamed of. My children and grandchildren can see my books online, and on their bookshelves. At the end of the day, I can proudly and rightly say… I am an accomplished, successful author. That’s good enough for me.