MY FIRST NOVEL WAS A FLOP

And I am OK with that. Did it sting? Yes. Did I learn? Yes. Do I still believe in the story? You’re F#*$ing  G#*damn right I bloody well do! 

Is it annoying to ask yourself rhetorical questions in a blog post and answer them? Maybe.

I will not lie to you. At first, it was discouraging. Then, I remembered the inspirational story of one of my heroes: Tommy Wiseau. This is the man who is responsible for “The Room.” This masterpiece of cinematic faux pas was widely regarded as the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.”

Tommy made a movie that people enjoy. He never stopped believing in his work. Granted, the movie did not succeed in the way, nor for the reasons, he intended, but Tommy did succeed! His work is important. The movie is bad. It’s atrocious. But Tommy’s unshakable, unstoppable and unwavering belief in his work produced something that is an incredible amount of fun to watch. Tommy made his money back and then some. He has nothing but my respect and admiration.

Tommy Wiseau teaches us that we should never accept discouragement. If you feel discouraged, it just means you need to keep trying.

So here I go, forward again, and armed with experience. But I am still not sure if I know how to use commas correctly.

This brings me to the first lesson I learned the hard way: professional editing is NOT OPTIONAL.

My work had horrific punctuation errors. They showed up in the “look inside” sample on Amazon and made the work look very, very bad. These errors sabotaged what I still believe is a very good story. Nothing will discourage me from my belief in the story I want to tell. The tragedy is that my errors damaged this story. That was the hardest realization to deal with for me. I am well past this now. I found an editor.

Beta reading comes a close second to this. If you don’t want to have a reader check out your work, then at least get an unbiased opinion on writing samples. This is a bare-minimum requirement. This does not mean a sibling or a cousin or someone you know. This means someone who will be forthright about your work. Believe it or not, people are rarely mean about this. They might tell you things you don’t expect, but this is the whole point. Willingness to accept the opinions of a beta reader takes guts. Be proud to do it.

Goodreads has beta reading groups. The yellow pages at Kboards has vendors, usually other authors and sometimes avid readers, who will beta read your manuscript for a nominal fee. And then there is critters.org. This is an amazing community of authors and readers who will swap beta reads. You read someone’s stuff, they read yours.

Next, get a professional book cover. I committed an act of hubris by designing my own cover. My photo editing skills are decent, but I am not a graphic designer. My cover was not well received. I like it personally. I think it’s a great cover. The problem here is that my preferences do not accurately represent the reading public.

“Nothing is judged more by its cover than a book.” – attributed to a person who I am too lazy to look up on the internet, but thank you to that person who I am not citing properly. All credit is due to you for this quote that hopefully is not plagiarism –

So, to all my dear readers, I ask you not to give up on me yet. I will produce quality work that you will enjoy reading. Please stand by and stick with me.

To all my fellow indie authors: stick with the herd. Participate in discussion forums. Make sure those forums stay positive and include positive input from successful authors. Listen to those authors and others when they tell you things. Don’t accept all statements on blind faith, but do listen. More often than not, those authors and others will tell you what you need to do to succeed.

Indie Authors: Never, ever give up. Keep writing.

Dear Readers: please stick with the indies. We are your best bet for your reading dollar and we have many amazing stories to tell!

PJC Out.