I came to writing novels after a long phase of writing screenplays. During that time, I studied many a script, from Good Will Hunting to Lord of the Rings, from The Crow to Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty. I looked at the techniques used, the character arcs, plot development, and imagery. I soaked it all up. My favorites were, by far, Aaron Sorkin’s scripts of The West Wing. They were so good, the dialogues so crisp and tight, the writing so beautiful, that I was devestated. I was awed, inspired, and devestated all at once. I am trying to combine those three words into one but I’m not having much luck. Awspevestated? Despired? Devestired? I thought very often, “O my god, this is awesome! O my god, I’m screwed!” If you’re an author, you might know of what I speak.
I was taking acting lessons for a while, just before the novel writing started. My coach, Sande Shurin, had a simple yet brililiant approach: “Don’t worry so much about what the character is supposed to feel. How do YOU feel? Right now? What’s going through your head? Be authentic. Be your most authentic self. Nobody can copy you because you’re you. You’re not Matt Damon, you’re not Al Pacino, neither will you ever be. Ever. You can only be you. But you can be you whole heartedly and in so doing, create a unique voice that cannot be replicated.”
What’s my point? There is one, I promise. I was devestated yesterday. Despired. Awspevestired. Why? I took part in a webinar – my first one – with Michael Bunker and Tim Grahl. “Indie Launch Secrets” was three hours long, with two short breaks. There was so much information, it was hard to keep up. My head was spinning after a mere forty-five minutes. Thank goodness, the webinar is there for me to go back to AND I will be getting all the notes from it today in a PDF. Why the devestation? I felt it. I felt the truth in their words. It was honest, intelligent, and throroughly thought-out. There was nothing flashy about it. It was pure. It was plain and simple, like an Amish life. It was nothing short of genius. I predict that this will be the North Star of how to successfully self publish, for years to come. Michael Bunker talking so passionately about the interaction between the artist and the reader, the soulful exchange that is at the heart of his success in self publishing, was what stuck with me most.
I won’t get into specifics here. It’s doubly, nay, quadruply worth it for everyone who has taken this rocky road of self publishing to get their buts and laptops to the next webinar (not sure when this is going to be but I’m fairly certain there will be another one). The gist, for me, is this: I need to forget what I think I know about self-publishing. I need to regroup. Devestation is a good motivator to regroup. The old ways (yes, the ways self publishing was conducted in 2011 ARE old) are no longer valid.
There needs to be a foundation. That foundation, based on a long-term and life-long-lasting plan of living as a self published author, cannot be made of sand. The tide will wash it away. It will take the house, as big and fancy and solid as it might seem to be, and it will wash it away and there will be nothing left but the sand on which it was built.
The new paradigm of self publishing is based on, built upon, and held up through soulful interaction with fellow humans. Gone are the days of tweeting the same message five times a day; gone the “BUY MY BOOK NOOOOOOOW!” shout outs into an audience that is already saturated to the rim with that very same message from yesterday. No. Let the tide take that house, built on twitter posts and cheap one-liners. Let it be washed into the ocean. And let me stand here and gather my friends and together build something that will last a life time.
Now, let me put my smart and brilliant acting coach into the picture, to round it off. If the foundation of self publishing is real human interaction, then it cannot happen between a real reader and a fake author. Fake author has to be washed away together with the fake foundation of the fake house. The real author, the real me, is the only one who will be heard, the only one who can build a house on granite, set deeply within the soil, and thereby made impenetrable to the tide.
Tim Grahl said this, in his book, Your First 1000 Copies: “Marketing is two things: 1) creating lasting connections with people through 2) a focus on being relentlessly helpful.”
What a concept, right? I will leave it at that. For me, finding that which only I can offer, and offer it whole heartedly without reservation, is my goal from now on. Thanks Michael and Tim. Thanks for sharing your talents and passions and continuing to do so.
“The goal of the journey is neither the journey in itself nor its end. It is but the companions we collect on the way.” [Joshua Aylong – The Three Feathers]