This upcoming week may kill me.
Of course, it may also be a great week for me. And even if it isn’t, the weeks after it will be similarly crucial.
Compared to every week that will ever follow it, this week is not particularly important.
Compared to all the weeks that preceded it, this week is the apocalypse.
Sounds almost like a turning point, doesn’t it?
Do You Remember How this All Began?
How many of you have been with me since my first blog post?
Likely none, since my actual first blog post was just an html page I wrote from scratch, without WordPress or anything, back in 2010.
Wait—has it really only been twelve years?
Regardless, this blog was started by a hopeful young man who frequently posted about how any day now, he was going to get published and become a successful author. Not many people saw those posts, but is it too much to hope that the ones who saw them remember me? In real life, people tend to have a hard time forgetting me. As an adult, I’ve encountered people I knew only from kindergarten who instantly recognized me, and could relay a story about me, though I could not for the life of me recall anything about them.
Maybe it doesn’t work that way when the encounter is not face-to-face. Still, what some may have dismissed as wishful thinking is now happening.
Granted, it didn’t quite happen according to plan. For a time, I was hoping for my writing to become my primary source of income, and even fantasized that it might make me wealthy. In a shocking twist, I got rich first!
This is one reason why, after securing an editor, he and I diverged on how best to publish my first novel. David Farland had lived to see the traditional publishing industry begin to falter. Though he thought I could land a Big-5 publisher with his endorsement, he believed self publishing would yield more money.
Since money was no longer my driving motivator, I tried to catch a traditional publisher, so that my book might be able to reach the most people. But there were many obstacles, and even the endorsement of the world’s greatest editor and writing teacher was not enough to sway a publishing ecosystem that was rapidly leaking air.
Dave eventually convinced me I could reach just as many people through self publishing. He knew which marketing practices would work best for me. He asked for no additional money after what I had already paid him for editing. He’d long been looking for a way to prove to the world that an independently published author could compete with the big publishers, and he wanted me to use his roadmap.
That roadmap was incomplete, and it relied on Dave pulling strings to get me meetings with his various connections. But with his help, I stood a chance.
No, it was more than a chance. This was Dave Wolverton, writing teacher of Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, James Dashner, and Brandon Mull. This was Dave Wolverton, the man Scholastic hired to find the next big book phenomenon, and who came back to them saying “There’s this one English author I think we should push here in the states. Her name is J.K. Rowling.”
I was a fish out of water, but with Dave Wolverton’s help, I couldn’t fail.
And then he died.
The moment I heard the news, I saw my dreams go up in flames. After a mild panic attack, I thought to myself, “I’m doing this without any help now.”
But what an odd thought that was. It assumed I would still be going through with the project. I somehow understood I was still going to publish Advent 9.
Everything I Needed
I have no doubt that if Dave were still alive, my book’s launch would have gone a lot more smoothly. The Kickstarter would likely have succeeded. I would have Dave’s film contacts to help start shopping the movie rights. I would already have foreign translations in the works (those will still happen, by the way).
Without him, I didn’t have the expertise to realize how little time I had. I ended up being too late to hire a PR firm. I only discovered NetGalley and Booksprout two weeks before launch. I still haven’t done the Facebook outreach Dave thought should be the centerpiece of my public relations. (The Zuckerberg-owned social media sites never really clicked with me. I’m still not sure how anyone uses them for anything.)
But I still had everything I needed. I already possessed a dynamite manuscript. Dave had set me up with audiobook artists Michael Kramer and Kate Reading (who did their best to fill Dave’s shoes after his departure). I ended up with a genius cover artist and a book designer who had cut her teeth working for big publishers.
This book, in both its text and audio forms, is the product of many hands. Most of those hands are gold-standard professionals. I doubt any other first-time self-published author has had the resources I have had.
And it all started with a few makeshift blog posts, more than a decade ago, by someone who didn’t know what he was doing.
Even with my many resources, it is impossible for me to make guarantees about the future. But I believe this coming week will be the the start of something big. Something that people will remember long after the events are over. People in the publishing industry, and elsewhere, are going to wonder where I came from, and how I suddenly appeared on their radars without warning.
And I can keep doing this for a long time. I can dedicate the rest of my life to writing without worry.
Will you be there, when the last blog entry drops, and a long career with hundreds of books comes to a magnificent conclusion.
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