I’m aware I haven’t posted in a while but I have a good excuse. I’ve been working on Wintertide—tearing it down to the studs and building it up again. I’ve been feeling a little pressured with the clock ticking for the October release, and it is not like this is the only thing I’m dealing with…
A funny thing happened after I was published and the books gained some traction. I started receiving requests from people asking for help. When I was an aspiring novelist, no one ever asked me for help. Overnight that all changed. Some people have asked me to mentor them, one even offered to pay me. Most folks just ask for feedback on a story, or advice on getting published. More recently, I’ve been asked to provide quotes for the backs of books, and a few people have even asked me to do book covers for them. One woman recently asked me to write a comment for a Library fund raiser—being the apparent household literary name that I am. Unless I’m really busy, (like this past month) I usually manage to help out.
Robin’s the same way. She loves to help writers. Being married to one she knows the heartbreak and elation that comes with the curse. As a self-made expert on the publishing industry, she took over a writer’s group that was about to be disbanded for lack of a leader and began giving a series of lectures on how to get published, find agents, or even self-publishing. She doesn’t charge money, even though she pays the meetup.com people for hosting the group, and prints handouts and such. It takes a lot of her time, both in preparing the material and the lectures themselves which go on for hours as people linger to ask questions. The idea of charging aspiring writers for anything is like thinking of slapping a beaten dog. Not only does it not feel right, it’s how you know they expect to be treated making it even sadder.
As for ourselves, Robin and I aren’t the type of people to ask for help. We come from relatively poor families and went out on our own at a young age, paying for our own wedding and college, scrapping together our house down payment, and taking in boarders to make ends meet. It has made us very self-sufficient and self-reliant. When it comes to my books we’ve done virtually everything ourselves, making mistakes along the way and hopefully learning from them. We don’t begrudge having to work hard, it is through hard work that one obtains a sense of accomplishment. And the publishing industry has given us plenty of challenges to overcome.
So, while we don’t ask for help we do spend a lot of time helping others. We aren’t saints. We don’t go out of our way to find people in trouble, but when I was a kid, I remember my father never passed a car stuck in the snow or broke down without offering help. I think I inherited that trait and even circled back on freeways when I missed a stranded motorist because I didn’t see them in time and was caught off guard.
As we’ve gotten older, I’ve found helping people who appreciate what you do for them is far more rewarding than making a boat load of money from people who could care less. Is it any wonder I’m a novelist?
Once at one of Robin’s seminars, a grateful woman told us, “You’re going to be very successful. Wait and see. Everything you’ve been doing for others, will come back to you.” At the time I smiled politely and nodded, I do that a lot when I’m not sure what to say. It was nice. It expressed her appreciation, and that was wonderful, but…
Then came a metaphorical knock at the door. Several actually. People offering to help. At first it was the bloggers who promoted my books, then fans (some professional editors), began asking to help edit the manuscripts for free—my secret beta army. Most recently however, there have been three developments that have blown us away.
First, Nathan Lowell, author of the Solar Clipper series, (Quarter Share is the first in the series) and Podiobooks phenomenon, has offered to record The Crown Conspiracy into audio for me. Mr. Lowell is a fantastic talent, if you want to be totally swept away go listen to his books on podiobooks.com, they are free but after enjoying them I’m sure you’ll put a donation in the tip jar. I am amazed at the man’s generosity. He’s already begun recording and what I’ve heard so far is wonderful.
Through a series of strange developments where one person told another and so on, I have found a new Foreign Language Rights Agent who is closing a deal with a major publisher in the Czech Republic, before she begins following leads in other countries. Assuming everything works out as it appears to be, I will be paid my first advance by a publisher.
Lastly, and while clearly the most tenuous, it holds the most outlandishly exciting prospect. An individual I met accidentally, with successful ties to the motion picture industry, has agreed to turn The Crown Conspiracy into a screenplay with the intention of getting a movie deal. It might be like trying to get to the moon by building a giant slingshot, but hey, it’s a chance.
All of these things have come about unsolicited. Offers of assistance out of the blue. Even if nothing comes from any of this, for a guy who’s ultimate goal was to sell a grand total fifty books to people he didn’t know, this is pretty amazing and a confirmation that what goes around comes around.