Two years ago when I decided to try my hand at writing (which came after much proding from my overly addicted book reading wife), I thought to myself, “How hard could this really be?” I have never had a problem writing, or should I say, putting words together on paper for whatever project needed to be done at any particular time. So, without any forethought, I started pounding away at the keys and word after word scrolled across the screen. “See, I knew this wasn’t hard.”
Five months later, book one done! Piece of cake. I sent out samples of my manuscript to a couple of traditional publishers, and within a week and a half, I got offered a contract to be published. That was easy! (Jumping for joy!) Ten months later, Oct 1, 2012, “Tip of the Iceberg” was born. Then on January 8, 2013, it was officially released to the book world. Happy Days!
Now all I had to do is sit back and wait. WRONG!!!!!!!
Sit back and wait for what?!?! Was I so naive as to think that my book would just fly off the shelves in bookstores or online sales would be backed up? Man…what in the hell was I thinking? So I gave my marketing rep a call. First words out of his mouth….”Now that the easy part is done, writing your book and getting it published, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work selling it.” Huh???
Wait a minute..I thought that’s what bookstores were for. WRONG AGAIN!!!!!!
Sure, your book is available online, and you might even be lucky to get some bookstores to carry on their shelves. But so are a gazillion other books! And why would I think that my would stand out any more than any other book. And one has to worry about getting reviews and those ‘star ratings’. Reality sets in…I’m just a tiny little fish in a very, very, very large book pool.
And on top of all this, I hold down a regular forty to sixty hour a week job. What was I going to do?
For the first month after my book was published, (Oct of 2012) I sold quite a few copies, autographed, of course, to friends, coworkers, and family. But now what do I do? I guess I should explain one thing. You see, I have only been in Virginia for about eight years, being a transplant from northern New England. Other than people at work, friends that I bowl with, and people at my wife’s work, we don’t know anyone. And I did all the “social networking” stuff…Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads…you name it, I tried it.
But then came my very first book signing. The Fountain Bookstore on Cary Street in downtown Richmond. Super Bowl Sunday! Since I had already sold to all the people I knew here, my turnout wasn’t that great. But I did meet some great local authors and one very special person. Kelly Justice. Proprietor of Fountain Bookstore. After my scheduled signing hour, I was chatting with Kelly. That’s when she said the three most important words to me since my book hit the market.
After looking into what JRW does, I signed up. Started getting their Newsletter. And last night, Macrh 13th, I attended my first Meet & Greet at the Capital Ale House in Midlothian.
I walked in and was immediately greeted by Denise, the host for JRW’s Writer’s Wednesday. She was very cordial and friendly. She introduced me to the few other members that were there (I was so excited about this event, I got there right at 5:30) and I felt like I was being welcomed to one of my High School reunions. I met Mike and Shawna Christos and spent the next half hour talking to Mike. He told me that Shawna, his wife, was the writer in the family. But he had been escorting her to these WWs for almost two years, at which time he decided that if he was going to be there anyways, he might as well become a writer also. Science is his thing, so obviously, he is trying his hand at writing Science Fiction.
I have to say that Mike spent considerable time telling me all about JRW and all the events that they put on during the year. I was impressed. He didn’t leave out anything. The Writer’s Group, the yearly Writing Conference, all the guest authors, publishing people, and many more. I was soaking things up like a sponge.
It wasn’t long before Shawna joined our conversation and mentioned that she was a stay at home writer. I told her how much I envied her. I mentioned I was hoping to be looking at retirement soon and make writing my full time job. Of course, she did mention that being at home all the time came with other household duties. That made for some laughter.
I soon had the priviledge to meet JRWs Executive Director, Katharine Herndon. I mentioned to her that I had just read her profile on JRWs website and that I was impressed. Katharine is very well suited for her position and she was very friendly to chat with.
It wasn’t long before we were joined by Vernon Wildy, Jr. and Robert Toms. Vernon is into poetry and is a very high energy person. It was a pleasure listening to him. Robert, on the other hand, managed to cross off one of the things on his “bucket list”. He went skydiving for the first time. After mentioning the it was a birthday gift from his son and that he had posted a video of his jump on Facebook, we agreed to become friends on FB and I did indeed watch his video. He’s definitely got one up on me, and probably always will.
Wandering around for a bit, I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie and her friend Katie. (Sorry, ladies. I didn’t happen to catch your last names) We all chatted a bit about the genres that we write in, or at least try to, when our day jobs don’t interfere. That’s when Debbie mentioned that she knew a group of men, sitting at a table in the back of the room, who were all officiers. Having served in the Armed Forces myself, I obviously assumed that they were from Fort Lee. Debbie informed me that they were officiers on the Chesterfield Police Force. At the point, I said, “Do you work for the Police Department?” Her response, “Yes”. As a matter of fact, she is a Police Sargent. With that, the conversation really got interesting.
It wasn’t long before we all realized that the two hours had flown by. We all said our good-byes and paid our tabs. I met Denise on the way out, and in telling her I would be back, she reached out and gave me a big hug. WOW! I finally realized that there were others out there just like me. We all have one goal in mind. To make the written word reachable and enjoyable by all. I departed feeling really changed. I didn’t have to wander alone any more. The folks that I met on this night gave me cause to think that I did the right thing in wanting to be a writer.
Thank you, James River Writers!