From Dream to Reality
by Aidan Lucid
The following scenario is probably quite familiar to a lot of writers. You enter your favourite bookstore, browsing through the various books of your preferred genre and secretly you dream about that manuscript on your computer or gathering dust in the drawer at home, filling up the shelf space. Well, here’s my story of how my dream is fast becoming a reality and how yours can too.
It began back in early 2005. I was sitting home one day in my living-room and the image of the protagonist for my novel, Henry Simmons, garbed in golden armour and a red cloak fastened around his neck, entered my mind. I thought that this image was astounding and I commenced plotting out the first book, The Zargothian Tales: Return of the Son of Hamorin, which is part of a trilogy. Before I knew it, I had all the chapters mapped out and all that was left now was the daunting task of sitting down and writing the novel.
As I was approximately four chapters into The Zargothian Tales: Return of the Son of Hamorin, tragedy struck and I was knocked down by a car. The result was that I had a severely fractured right ankle and was wheelchair-bound for six months. Now, as with anyone in this rather unfavourable situation, the usual questions began to run through my mind: “Why did this happen to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” The fear of never being able to walk again constantly hung over me like a dark cloud.
Once these questions and worries had abated and a fortnight elapsed, I decided that instead of complaining and fretting, I should be grateful to be alive and that this accident granted me the opportunity to write my novel.
Having finally come to terms with my situation, I dived straight into Henry’s adventure and put aside an hour or two every day to continue writing and conducting some research. Within six months, I had completed the manuscript and now came the other fun part of being a writer: the editing.
Of course, I say “fun” with a hint of sarcasm. For another six months, I read, re-read and eliminated some paragraphs and pages that I thought hindered the story. A suggestion was made that I send it to a proofreader, and I did.
Once all this was done, there loomed on the horizon the most daunting task a writer could ever undertake: finding a publisher. At times, it seemed that I would never find one, despite reading and religiously adhering to all the advice given in books such as, The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and The Writers’ Market. To say that it was a struggle would be an understatement.
All this was worthwhile, however, because after receiving roughly 75 to 80 rejections during a gruelling two years of relentless searching, I finally obtained a publisher and my book will be released in the last quarter of this year.
A question that I’m frequently asked is, “Was all the heartache worth it?” In one simple word, yes, because I’ve achieved what many haven’t. My advice to fellow writers out there is the following:
Never follow trends. Just because vampires are the “in-thing” now does not necessarily mean the genre will be popular in a year or two. If your story contains well-developed characters, believable dialogue, a riveting plot and every chapter ending on an exciting cliff-hanger, then you’re on to a winner and it will stand on its own merits.
Do some market research. Make sure that there are no other novels out there like yours. If there are, then you could be accused of plagiarism or run the risk of being labelled “unoriginal.” Think outside the box and ask yourself “What if...?” This question has spawned many classic tales that have endured the test of time.
Make sure that you get opinions of your manuscript from friends who you know will be brutally honest. This will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Don’t be too disheartened by all the rejection slips. How many authors have we read or heard about that was the recipient of many rejections but still managed to overcome this? If you believe in your story, then go for it and never surrender to the “Nos.” Bear in mind that it only ever takes one “Yes” to be published.
Once you have achieved the nigh-impossible goal of nabbing a publisher, be sure to plan out a marketing strategy. God knows you worked hard enough on your novel, so now it’s time to make it sell and don’t leave it all up to your publisher.
Seize the initiative and promote yourself. You could begin doing this at least six months before the release date. Creating a website can be a great way to get your book noticed and joining social networking websites such as Bebo, Facebook and Twitter is a useful way to tell people about your novel and direct traffic towards your site, which in turn, could result in sales.
My website is: www.thezargothiantales.com. Hiring a local PR company might not be a bad idea either, because they could have valuable media contacts.
Learn to blog effectively and make sure that what you have to say is worth reading. Always keep your intended audience in mind when blogging. This is a unique way to promote yourself and your novel. Some chick-lit and even fantasy authors have been snapped up by literary agents/publishers through their blog. You can set-up a blog account for free at Blogger and WordPress. Be warned: some blogging software can have a bit of a learning curve.
Another question I’m asked is, “How do you know if it is The One?” The answer is simple: if you feel excited while writing it and if you can’t wait to get home from work and continue typing or writing your hero or heroine’s adventure, then you know it is “The One.”
Don’t just daydream about your book being a bestseller because if that’s all you do, then that’s all it will remain: just a dream. Sit down, plot out your novel and get writing. So what are you doing still reading this then? Good luck!
Copyright © 2010 by Aidan Lucid
Thank you for your observations about writing, Aidan; they’re always timely. But when it comes to the nature and environment of publishing, my viewpoint may be rather different from yours; I think it’s the same as Jerry Wright’s.
Publishing is not what it used to be in the mid-20th century; it has evolved slowly but dramatically. Today, the major problem is, as I see it, not in “getting published” but in being a publisher.
I’ll explain more at length in issue 382. Issue 381 is already long enough. I’m expecting a spirited follow-up discussion from our Review Board and, we hope, our readers as well.