By Joe Torosian
“In his defense, he was saving his arm for writing books! Arroyo may have missed out, but society won!”—Arroyo HC, Jim Singiser—Twitter:9/5/19
I wish my success were equal to all the people who think I’ve successfully transitioned from the sportswriting to novel writing.
I have had success, but very minor success in comparison to drawing a regular paycheck from the old Mid Valley News. (BTW “The Mid” never missed a pay period. Not always a given in this business. Props to Keenan & Moseley)
Still, I wouldn’t change anything, and I do love fielding questions.
The most frequently asked question is: “How do I get published?”
My most frequent answer to that is: “I don’t know.”
As I’ve stated many times before, no publisher/editor ever told me I sucked. What they said to me in my rejection letter(s) or email(s) was that they couldn’t see a way of marketing the story as a book. As time has gone on, I’ve come to appreciate that even more, but I didn’t let it stop me.
My wife told me, “Well, write a book that can sell.”
My response was: “Okay, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”
(I hope you sense sarcasm soaked into that response.)
I tried, but it didn’t work. I’d start working on a project, see the formula I’d have to follow, and realize I couldn’t do it. When I was sportswriting, I spent 90% of my time writing about football and 10% on other stuff. Writing a story that could “sell” and following the “formula” was like writing 90% of the time about other stuff and 10% of the time about football.
There was no joy, no excitement, no thrill…And it was no longer my vision. I was altering my vision—the story keeping me up at night and affecting my thoughts while in traffic—to fit somebody else’s formula.
The point is, is if you feel like you’ve been called to the life of a writer you don’t need anyone else’s affirmation, you don’t need to worry about being published, and you need to write what is inside of you to write.
If it is inside of you to write a fantasy epic with wizards in cloaks carrying staffs and fighting off dragons to save the world—then write that. I can’t. It bores the snot out of me, …and if it bores the snot out of me what would it do to the reader?
Stop looking for outside affirmation, or the confirmation of a publishing house. No one can solve your confidence issue except you. The best way to validate yourself as a writer is to write. You’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t write but will reference themselves as a writer.
Second, the world has changed. With “Publish On Demand,” there is a freedom that never existed before. For minimal money/risk, you can get your work to several different places that will publish your book (POD)…The editing, the quality of the work—from words to cover—is all on you, but it allows you to write the book you want to write. Think of it as operating a small business. You sell what you want to sell and not what somebody else is telling you to sell.
The trade-off to self-publishing is you’re not going to get the applause and approval you’d get from the traditional route. It will be a limited market. No one is going to “find” your book unless you promote it. And you better have a vision that extends beyond friends and family if you are wishing for broad success.
Because of previous experiences, when I wrote “Tangent Dreams,” I knew I would have to have a different ending if I wanted to go the traditional publishing route. I’d have to have more romance and a happier outcome. I’d probably have to change the setting from the San Gabriel Valley to a Texas suburb.
I had a book that I thought could work, and it did. So I traded the possibility of some critical acclaim for publishing on my terms and making some dough.
There will be times you’ll have to compromise, but if it changes the theme and content of your work…Don’t. You don’t have to. Be confident in your writing and be confident in your ability to promote it.
I went the POD route (thru Amazon) with “Tangent Dreams” and wrote the book I wanted to write. I was able to do this somewhat successfully because I was working for Mid Valley Sports and had been publishing a weekly column for 20 years. I had my own market/platform. You must create your own.
And work twice as much as you dream…or all those dreams will only be dreams.
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all available through Amazon.com.