The journey to my first trade book ‘Mosaic Of Grace’ being written and published, began in 2012. I was at the time, building a new friendship, with a fellow writer and poet, Joy – who is now a dear friend of mine. One topic which came up often in our conversation was grace. I’d been reflecting on it a lot, hearing a few sermons on the subject, and Joy had written much poetry around the subject.
It began to dawn on me that this subject desperately needed more exploration, that we needed more people talking about this subject. And as I reflected on the topic more, some more ideas came to my mind, different aspects of the topic of grace, which I wanted to explore.
So in the next 8 months or so I began to plan, and then write, the first draft of ‘Mosaic Of Grace’. By August 2013, the draft was done.
And then nothing. I had no book contract. I had no money to self publish. I knew no one in publishing. I sent the draft to some beta readers, and proofreaders I knew and made some changes to the initial draft. I even managed to get someone to endorse it.
But it wasn’t going anywhere. It was never going to be published.
I mean, I was proud I’d written a book. But it would have been awesome to get it published.
About 18 months after I wrote the first draft, when I least expected it, someone called Erin connected with me on LinkedIn. They said they were an author, editor, and publisher. She needed some help from me, and I asked her to take a look at my book.
Before I knew it, she’d agreed to edit the whole book, and then agreed to publish it with a small publishing company she ran – instead of a fee for editing, we agreed she’d take a percentage of any profits instead.
Suddenly, this was happening.
But there was a problem. All first drafts are rubbish. Ask any published author, they will tell you, the first draft is never the one which makes it to press. In fact, the first draft is often awful compared to the one which goes out.
But that wasn’t the biggest problem.
Joy In The Work
First, it had been 2 years since I wrote the draft. I’d changed as person, and matured and developed as a writer. I’d learned more about the subject than I knew at the time, and understood it better. But the draft of the book didn’t reflect that. I looked at it, and saw myself two years ago, and knew the book didn’t just need editing, but a mass overhaul. It needed major rewrites and additions. It was going to be a much longer process than editing a book normally would be.
It was going to be work. And it was. A lot of Skype calls, e-mails, rewrites, edits, all long distance, which, partly down to the fact my editor and I were doing this in our own time, outside our paid work, took over a year.
By the early 2016 the final draft was ready. But then I came up against all the little things they never tell you when you dream of being a published author. Getting signed permission to use people’s stories. Finding sources for all the quotes you used. Getting a book design which fitted the size of the book we were printing. Reading through the final draft and checking for anything which needed changing, and any final additions. Signing contracts.
It wasn’t glamorous. Again, it was hard work, at both ends.
But this is art. It’s work. It’s not always romantic. It’s not always easy. It’s these points when you get down to why you’re really doing this. Do you believe in the message enough to do all this work when there’s no guarantee of sales, no guarantee you’ll get a payback on your investment of time, energy and money?
If you are making art to support a business, and business, money and numbers govern your decisions, you’ll likely give up much more easily. Especially with books, which unless you’re called Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, are unlikely to provide you with a regular, steady or large income.
Business is a support system for art. Not the other way around. (you can tweet that)
And I have to remind myself of that all the time, especially now I’m marketing and promoting the book in the lead up to its launch.
Because there’s no guarantees. Whoever you are, and whether or not you’ve done well in the past, there’s always a risk with any new work. And as Liz Gilbert says in Big Magic, we shouldn’t burden our creativity with the responsibility of providing our income.
I’m proud of the fact I’ve finished a book and am about to have it published. It’s been a long journey. And it’s been a lot of work, by myself and arguably even more so by my publisher Erin, who has believed in this book so much. As an author, you’d expect me to invest in my own work – Erin had no such obligation, yet has invested time, energy and money into this book, because she believed in it, and believed in me. I consider myself to have got a free masterclass in writing and publishing a book. And I know not everyone is so lucky.
What I want to close with today, is that the journey of writing and publishing a book, is work. It’s time, energy, money, sweat and tears. It challenges you, changes you, and demands everything of you.
But it’s totally worth it. Having been through it all, I can vouch for this fact. The work, the effort, the sacrifice, is totally worth it. Because now I have a book about to be published, and I know I made that, and I achieved that. Whether it’s a huge sales success, or total sales flop, I made this book and got it out there into the world. And the process has helped me grow – as a writer, an author, but also as a human being. The process has changed me for the better, and that’s priceless.
So if you’re wondering today whether you should write a book, you’re afraid, you’re not sure you can, I want to say, you can. You have it in you to do it. And if you’re willing to do the work, you can achieve it – especially in the age of self-publishing, its easier to get a book into the world than ever.
It’s a total cliche, but in this case it’s true. If I can do it, then anyone can.
Go for it.
You’ll have moments you want to quit. But if you can survive them, in the long run, you won’t regret the fact you kept at it. It might even be the making of you.
If you’re interested in exploring your own writing gift and finding your unique creative voice, go to my coaching page and check out my packages.
‘Mosaic Of Grace’ releases Feb 13 2017.
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Picture Source: Morguefile.
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