Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Push. Push as Hard as You Can.

Here’s why I love Wikipedia.

I read this today, while learning more about the life of Wilson Rawls, who wrote “Where the Red Fern Grows”:

[After serialized publication in The Saturday Evening Post,] DoubleDay then accepted the book for publication. Rawls said DoubleDay then "broke my heart." They changed the title to, "Where the Red Fern Grows," and attempted to market the book to adult readers. For about six years, the book languished on shelves and failed to sell. DoubleDay was going to put the book out of print, but one agent named Mr. Breinholt from Salt Lake City fought for the book and asked for just a few more months to market the book. Mr. Breinholt got Rawls a speaking engagement at the University of Utah to a conference of over 5,000 reading teachers and librarians. Copies of the book were made available to the teachers and librarians. When the teachers and librarians took the book back to their schools, the children loved it, and orders began pouring in. Jim Trelease states, "Each year since then, it has sold more copies than the previous year."

Lesson learned: If you write a book, don’t count on it being marketed properly, unless you find the right person who wants to market it in the right way, and you’re willing to participate in the marketing.

Not that I’ll ever write a book as good as “Where the Red Fern Grows,” but I can hope. And because I can hope, I can deduce, from this example and from what Robert Newton Peck writes in his book “How to Write Successful Fiction” the author has to be his or her best evangelist for the stories they tell, or they will not sell.

There are only rare exceptions to this, and it’s to those exceptions that traditional publishers pour most of their money because they’re sure to get a return on investment. It’s also a telling story for those who want to self-publish: Push that book everywhere you can. And get it printed. And carry as many copies of it with you as you can.

And have an advocate who can push the right buttons.

I don’t have that. Nor do I yet have a book ready to publish, let alone print. But I can see the blueprint, and I know what I’ve got to do to accomplish what I’d like to do.

So, keep writing.

Keep editing.


And push whenever I can find a place to push.

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