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My First Book
HOW THE SPARK IGNITES!
YOUR WRITING INSPIRATION CAN COME FROM ANYWHERE
I created my first book in a creative writing class that I took with my mother just for fun. We had multiple story assignments during the semester travel story, favorite hobby, short story, characters with dialogue, but the hardest one for me was “to create a Monster story”. About the only genre I don’t read is Horror. I was never much for scary movies and certainly not books so I couldn’t wrap my head around this assignment. In true “Creative Procrastination” fashion, I waited until the day before the assignment was due when I had no other choice but to figure something out.
I was struggling with could I be a Creative Writer. That seems really strange today, as I consider myself first a Creative (luckily found my calling shortly after that), then an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcast host, etc. I guess I should explain. I was a Journalism and Speech major. I went to college and they taught me how to write. I honed my craft for 3 years twice a week on the college newspaper first as a reporter, then associate editor, and lastly as the copy editor. This was before the days of computers everything done on typewriters and with white out (some of you will remember those days). After graduation, I knew I didn’t want to work for a newspaper (the pay was too low) and I really didn’t like advertising. I wanted to work for a magazine but those were rare in Dallas all the big names were in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles and I didn’t want to leave Dallas because my grandfather had died and I wanted to spend more time with my grandmother.
Sorry, I digressed … I had been watching a 13-part Series on the Brain on the local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) and I had been struggling with my CREATIVE MONSTER. That’s right … I wrote about a Creative Monster, the creative spark that lives in every human mind. More to the point how the brain processes information using all our senses and memory and experiences to create something new through creative and critical thinking. Also why our brain is less likely to deliver on-demand unless we train it. So there I was sitting in the Writing Instructors office having our conference when she said, “I think you can submit this as a children’s book to publishers.” I about fell out of the chair! The assignment that was the hardest, that I did overnight – that I was most uncomfortable with of all the stories I had written all semester – that was my best writing. I was stunned. Then she said the most interesting thing that has stayed with me all these years, “If you are uncomfortable it probably means it is better than you think it is.” Amazing concept! I took it to heart not only in my writing but in life. Even if you are uncomfortable … DO IT ANYWAY … it probably will turn out better than you think it will! So I live in expectation for abundance and it has served me well over the years.
So you might be wondering did I take her advice. She gave me hope and I did. I sent my manuscript (not images just the text) to 50 traditional publishers because that was pretty much the only option in 1987. Going to the library looking up the publishers in a Writer’s Market Directory, copying down the contact and address information for children’s book publishers then sending individual query letters and the manuscript, thinking I was going to be famous (not really) but certainly feeling encouraged – then waiting to hear, and waiting and waiting.
Finally, the letters started to come in … and you guessed it … 47 REJECTIONS from traditional publishers! It was like being stabbed in the heart. Crushed after encouragement from the writing instructor and thinking (or dreaming rather) that I could actually be an author. A couple of publishers offered a glimmer of hope, “It’s different we just aren’t buying now.” Another, “If you self-publish we will put it in our catalog.” I figured this book-writing career was not for me and put my publishing dreams away. Maybe many of you have done the same thing?
Instead, I jumped feet first into Entrepreneurship (although then it was called Small Business Ownership) and opened a Creative Services Firm writing, designing, and printing newsletters, annual reports, and brochures for arts, education, and economic development clients. But as often happens an opportunity comes back around when you least expect it. Just 5 years later, in 1992 and a question from a client, “You have a children’s book don’t you?” My response, “I have a manuscript, not a book.”
What I did have though was a viable business and cashflow! I also had an artist and a printer and even though self-publishing was not mainstream it was beginning to slowly inch its way forward. So I printed 2,500 copies (again what you had to do to get the price down so you could actually make some money when you sold). Although in hindsight a $7,000 investment. I participated in my client the African American Museum Dallas’ First Annual Children’s Book Festival at the downtown Dallas Public Library. I sold my first 100 books and I was ecstatic! I was a REAL AUTHOR someone had paid me for my work, more than one someone and not a family member or friend. A few days later, I came down off the mountain and said to myself “How the heck am I going to sell those other 2,400 books?”
It was a challenge, but that’s a story for another day. I did eventually figure out a way to sell 2,300 of those Creative Monster books which recovered more than my investment. I still have the last hundred or so copies in a box in my office which I usually give-away when people buy my other books. So that is how I became a Self-Published Author and I never looked back. Today I have seven books (with another 3 in the works) and I have helped publish over 100 other books so as they say the rest truly is history. I plan to share more of it with you in future articles. I hope you will find some value in what I write. If you do then I hope you will subscribe.
My wish for you is … if you have a dream of publishing that you won’t give up. Keep believing in yourself and your dream. Don’t let anyone steal it from you. If you can’t believe – then know that I will believe for you – until you can see the dream as real for yourself.
Thank you for reading and if you are serious about your author adventure then invest in yourself and your future for less than one nice meal out a month by clicking on the purple button below. You are worth it. You and your dream deserve it. I can’t wait to see you on the inside where there are more surprises and benefits.
Thanks for letting me reminisce. I hope you have a creative day!