As Thanksgiving rolls around this year I am thinking about a talk I just gave to a group of writers. I was telling them about my decisions and struggles to become a writer myself, the efforts to write during breaks at work, the need to promote my writing and how I finally made the jump to become a publisher nearly twenty years ago.
I am constantly telling authors about the need to embrace rejection. About the need to take chances and connect with authors you really respect. I speak about how I am a self-published author and have not, for a day, or a moment ever regretted that decision. I am such a better book publisher because of self-publishing my work. I explain the trials of balancing work life, and passion. The lack of training I have as an author, a publisher, a marketer, or a business person has been a hurdle, but I have truly learned through the School of Hard Knocks. What inspires an entrepreneur is what makes for a good author: passion and drive. The ability to forge ahead with no attention paid to what might go wrong is vital. Any good sales person knows you have to wade through NO to get to YES.
People ask how long to make a novel? A short story? An essay? I say, as long as it takes to best tell it. People ask what I look for in a submission: I tell them lots of things, not too long, not too short, can I work them? Are they open to suggestions. They ask how many submissions I get a year? I say, lots. How many do I accept? None, I say to a crowd of moans and gasps, then I utter, maybe one every three years. I am asked what’s an ISBN number? I reply, a unique number to identify a book (but in my mind, I have to admit I think to myself, who cares, what do you need to know that for? I am asked what books I wrote. I tell them and explain how I have had two books done by other publishers and lucky for me too, for these publishers taught me a lot about how to be a better publisher. I am asked what’s a good topic to write about? I reply, something you know something about and have passion for. I answer lots and lots of questions. Why and what to do about e-books. Book design, letter presses uses, etc. and I always have a good time and joke a lot and confess things and keep people entertained. I do not do “talks” or speeches. I ramble about the publishing and writing world.
Finally I get to the most important questions of all and it is one I ask. I ask how many of you have experienced the individualized and silent thrill of writing? Been engulfed by the creative process? When lots of hands go up I know publishing has a bright future. When not many hands go up I get discouraged and become a cheer leader for the creative process.
I am thankful this Thanksgiving for being able to be a publisher and thankful for the talents of authors, the passion of booksellers and future of story telling.