Title: How to Jump Into the Deep End
This summer, I was fortunate enough to get to swim at a friend’s pool. I say “fortunate” because it was over 115 degrees Fahrenheit here, and I don’t have a pool of my own. It was miserable. When he called and asked if I wanted to take a break from the heat, I jumped at the opportunity. I grabbed my favorite towel, my swim trunks and my flip-flops and drove across town at break-neck speed. And the water was oh-so-fabulously cold.
But when I tried to slip down into the water, I discovered how cold it really was. Let’s just say certain parts of me weren’t well-accepting of the temperature. And no matter how much I knew in the front of my mind that I’d feel so much better once I was submerged, those parts of mine were sending signals to the back of my mind: “Abort! Abort! Shrinkage imminent! Mission failed! Exit pool immediately!”
I couldn’t go down the ladder for anything. When I climbed back up the ladder and stared at the cool water, I really wanted to get in, but there was just something wrong. That’s when I came to a conclusion. The only way I was going to get myself in that pool was to just get in. Not slowly, or an inch at a time, but to just jump on in and let the water envelop me.
So that’s what I did. I ran full-steam toward the edge of the pool, lifted my legs and made the most fabulous cannonball the world has ever known. The cool water washed over me and in the next two seconds with breath held tight in my chest, my body wanted to fire me as manager. It wasn’t just cool, it was cold!! But after the initial shock, my body and I came to an agreement that it wasn’t so bad. I came up gasping for air, and by the time I had my feet under me again, the world was just as it should be: thirty degrees cooler. So I spent the next four hours just swimming, and getting the world’s worst sunburn. But that’s a different article.
So, what do my adventures in getting into the pool have to do with writing? Everything!
When you want to get your work published, there are two ways to get the job done. You can go inch-by-inch, step-by-step down the ladder of the Traditional Publishing method. This includes writing tens (if not hundreds) of query letters and mailing or e-mailing your manuscript out to everyone and their nephew, trying to keep track of who you’ve submitted your work to, what promises you’ve made each person, and praying that you can get that one elusive acceptance letter.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the traditional method of publishing. I think it works quite well, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who have gone this path, fought through the trauma and come out the other side. But if you’re anything like me, I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting years to see my work in print, and I couldn’t bear the emotional torment of receiving all of my queries coming back in the form of rejection after rejection. So for me, there was only one other way into this swimming pool of publishing: the all-or-nothing-can’t-believe-I’m-going-to-do-this-what-the-heck-was-I-thinking-oh-my-gosh-… cannonball.
Self-publishing is kind of like that. You have to do a lot of the leg work. You are the artist, the managing editor (although, I suggest you hire a professional editor, but again, that’s a different post) the creative director, the layout supervisor, the typesetter, the publicist, the business mogul, and the author, all wrapped up in one. And once you have what you think it takes to sell a book, you run straight at it and lift both legs and submit to Amazon or Smashwords, or Pubit or… whatever and … splash, there you are, right in the middle.
At first, your heart goes into shock. What have I done? I can’t believe this is out there! What will people think? What if there are mistakes? (remember that editor?) All of these thoughts hammer your mind, demanding that you abort, pull back, regroup, and go back to the ladder, but it’s too late. And this is a good thing actually, because once you’re in, you realize that you can do it. You’re alive in the pool, and once you figure out which way is up, you find yourself swimming right along side some of the best names in the universe.
No, I’m not talking about King, Evanovich and Rowling (although, they are making their indie debuts, now, too!!) I’m talking about Lieske, Hocking, Locke and … of course Sybil Nelson. If you take the time to reach out to these wonderful people, you’ll see that they are probably the nicest people on earth. And contrary to everything I’d once believed about top-selling authors — where you scratch and fight for each reader — these folks would just as soon help you succeed as they would talk about their own books. That’s why I am so enamored with the Independent movement in writing today.
It isn’t a step-on-your-neighbor-to-get-bigger mentality. Instead, they lock arms side-by-side and walk this out with you. My books have really taken a jump in the past month or two, and I would love to say that it’s because of great writing. Every story needs an element of great writing, and you have to keep writing your next book, even while selling the first book. That’s a given. But what surprised me to the core was the support and advice I’ve received from so many of today’s top-selling indie authors in the past year. I literally wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.
So, if you’re considering becoming an author, feel free to jump on in. Trust me when I say, the water’s fine. And whether you jump in via a cannonball, or you choose to slip down the ladder step-by-step, I can’t wait to see you swimming along side.
And if you are just one of Sybil’s non-author readers, hopefully this article has given you some insight into the independent authors around the world. They really are some of the nicest folks you could ever meet. When you buy one of these books, you’re not funding some major evil corporation. You’re buying some amazing works of art from people who really care about their neighbors. That’s a cool, refreshing wave in today’s grab-it-for-yourself society. And I, for one, am happy to be a part of it.
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Jerry Hanel is the author of the Brodie Wade
series of Paranormal Thrillers.