My own professional story as an ambitious author is instructive if not altogether inspirational. A quirky detective novel of mine called Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, published by a small San Francisco press in 1995, was randomly discovered by actor Christian Slater in a Los Angeles bookstore in 2001, and subsequently optioned for a film every year thereafter. Though we’ve come very close with our collaborative efforts, the project is still stuck in “development hell” after all these years, idling in perpetual limbo while we wait for that light to turn green.
Meantime, the novel itself fell out of print, but was reissued in a “definitive edition” in 2013 by another press called Gutter Books, with Christian Slater depicted on the cover as my protagonist, Vic Valentine. The same press is publishing a brand new, long-delayed sequel called Hard-boiled Heart later this year, and meantime, yet another startup company called Double Life Press is reissuing four “lost” Vic Valentine novels from the 1990s, which I published myself finally in 2011 via Lulu and Kindle, in a single omnibus this summer.
So, while not yet a true success story, the point of all this, if there is one, is that you will never realize your own literary dreams unless you first create your own supportive reality. Naturally that means you need to sit down and finish writing the dang thing first, but the strength of the promotional platform you prepare will be just as crucial to your book’s eventual fate as the quality of your craft.
If you get lucky enough, you can eventually call your own shots, as evidenced by bored, broke housewife turned bestselling author Jamie McGuire, who actually returned to self-publishing after achieving massive sales both on her own and with a major publishing contract, simply because she has established her own brand name, and that’s all that matters to her hundreds of thousands of diehard fans.
But first things first.
Below are some important steps to include when constructing your own stairway to the stars:
Basically, you need to get your book out there, and then find inventive ways to keep it in constant circulation. If you do, you increase the chance of that lucky "break" coming your way exponentially. I liken my own novels to “notes in a bottle,” tossed from a desert isle. You never know who will find it and come to your rescue.
Do you believe your literary career is a matter of fate, faith, luck, hard work, or a combination of all four?
PHOTO: JD HANCOCK