Learning the Publishing World
When I announced to my wife that we were going to write a book, the look on her face shouted “Are you out of your mind?” Our careers were both more technical than liberal arts. Much of the writing process was new to us. Certainly, working on a project together was extremely difficult considering all the discussion and compromise required to gain agreement on issues ranging from the story elements and character development to the wording used to describe a thirst, or one’s anger, or a woman’s hair style for example. And when Lynn was diagnosed with cancer, the writing became tenfold more difficult. By the time we finished writing our novel, The Black Angel of the Lord, I thought the hard part was over. We had reached the peak and only needed to climb down the other side. Right? Well, no. Getting it published was also a challenge due largely to our ignorance of the process, but our wonderful editor and publishing agent encouraged and guided us along the way. They are special people.
Once the book arrived on the market, it sold quite well and received many positive responses. We reveled in the pleasure of seeing the rooms fill as people arrived at our first few speaking engagements. I felt proud and thought success lay at our feet. However, over several months of speaking in various venues, fewer and fewer people were in attendance; still, we readily accepted the honor to speak at a nearby library. This time, when we looked out into our audience our eyes found only three people: two were friends from the publishing company, and, in the front row, sat the third person, an older lady who had braved the cold temperature (8°) to attend our presentation, apparently eager to hear our story. What do we do?
My wife sings in a chorale and when they have no idea how many people will come to hear them sing, the director says, “If a hundred people attend the concert, we sing our best for them, and if one person comes, we sing our best for him/her.” That’s right, and we gave the best presentation we had for that one dear lady who sat and listened to every word we spoke.
Afterward, this woman approached us and said “Thank you. I did not miss a word. You work so well together and my mind never wandered.” She had asked a few questions at the end of our presentation which clearly showed her interest and we expected she would buy our book, but she did not, and everyone said goodnight.
It became obvious that interest was waning in our presentations and book sales. One person in attendance, no books sold. Was the cold reality of how tough it is to have a successful book on the scene now slapping us in the face?
As we packed up our display, I remembered a passage in our book when Ramtouses and the thousands of warriors he led on a march to war reached a point while crossing the desert where their supplies were spent and they are near death. The situation seemed hopeless. Ramtouses recalled how their confidence had soared in the beginning of the march but now, exhausted and dehydrated, desperation settled over them, threatening their existence. He recognized the dire situation and searched deep within his spirit to renew his own confidence and courage, to be revived. He knew his men needed to see strength and determination in him that it could be reflected in them. As he stood before the army, he urged them to survive just one more day, to believe in themselves and their mission, to generate the will to overcome adversity and survive the desert’s fury, just one more day. They did. And the next day fresh supplies arrived.
The story of Job, a character in the Bible, tells of how Satan attempted to pull God’s servant, Job, away from the love of God. Satan used hardship and failure to destroy Job’s world. Job did not understand why God has abandoned him. He prayed for help but none came. He questioned his belief in God. His faith was shaken to the core, yet in his weakened state he remembered how God once loved him. Entwined with that affection of years past, Job continued to hold hope, and God came to the aid of his servant and renewed his former wealth two fold.
I am not claiming the struggle for success with our book is equal to the trials of Job or those of Ramtouses and his army, but holding tight to your beliefs in the face of adversity is critical to survival in all situations. Faith is as strong as any power on earth.
As older people (in our 70s) we understand that many twists and turns, ups and downs, fill life, and this unexpected third challenge regarding our book project was another twixt in life. We must now get out and promote our book, to sell it. This is proving to be far greater than the writing or publishing of the book. Our book falls into the Biblical Historical fiction genre; it brings together ancient history, a biblical miracle, and creative storytelling to give the reader a thrilling story of intrigue, deception, love and war. However, we must reach people who enjoy reading books such as ours. We have to go where people congregate, attend craft markets, book fairs, writer conferences, reader gatherings, and such. We need to take advantage of the technical world, social media; and we have to identify other available resources to get out the word –our book is worth reading!
Failure plays as essential role when one strives for improvement, for success, and perpetual enjoyment.