Have you ever seen a movie and wondered, “Wow, I could SO do that too”?
The characters make fulfilling dreams look so easy.
I’m a self-proclaimed movie buff, but it really bothers me when a movie (even one inspired by a true story) makes something that can take YEARS for a regular person to accomplish look like a walk in the park.
Like writing a book and landing a publishing contract.
Hello, if you’re a new author, you know what I’m talking about.
I was watching one of my favorite kid friendly movies this winter, Cheaper by the Dozen, starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, and the mom decides to randomly “send some pages” to her friend who happens to work for a big publisher. Five minutes later, she signs a dream book deal, launches a New York book tour and makes Kelly Rippa laugh in front of a live television audience. Five minutes after that, Oprah and her crew are on their way to her house. (Caricature provided by Pinterest.)
While watching the movie, my kids saw the look on my face and joked, “Wow mom, it’s that easy, isn’t it?”
I wanted to throw a tomato at the screen. But I just grinned and swallowed.
In reality, writing a book in THIS CENTURY, whether fiction or nonfiction, is not a walk in the park. Nor is getting published and getting noticed by respected print and online media, let alone celebrity talk show hosts. It’s actually more ficticious than anything I’ve seen. (Unless you’re a rock star like my blogger-turned-author friend Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, but even she says she experienced some disappointments during her early book tours.) As a public relations professional and self-published author who has worked hard to promote my first self published gift book (How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker) and worked even harder to pitch and land a publishing deal for my subsequent books (coming this fall via Robyn Lane Books), I can tell you first hand that it doesn’t happen “just like that”. I think of writing, publishing and promoting a book as the equivalent of baby steps. Oh yes, What About Bob Baby Steps. (Another movie where the main character, played by Richard Dreyfuss, has a best-selling book and experiences celebrtity pr.) It’s so unfair! All I can say is writing and promoting definitely has its ups and downs, with some spit ups, hiccups and joyous jogging stroller ride-like-the-wind highs along the way.
New authors often spend years waddling around trying to promote their work, even if they’re backed by an agent or publisher.
When it comes to writing a book, there are many bumps in the road that leave even the most optimistic writer disappointed, feeling like they’re about to fall. I have found that many authors, even those represented by spectacularly supportive agents, are choosing to self publish because it gives them more freedom. I self-published my first book with CreateSpace and had a positive experience. But I am so excited to reliquish that duty to my new friends at Robyn Lane Books. ;)
I have a friend (I’ll call her Judy) who wrote a novel and was backed by a well respected agent and chose to self publish because she was tired of waiting so long for her agents to land a publishing deal. Judy was able to market her book on her own and sell it on Amazon. She is writing her second novel and her agent is shopping for a new book deal soon. I just finished Judy’s book and can tell she deserves to be interviewed by Ellen, but I haven’t seen her on the show just yet.
I have another friend (who I’ll call Ava) who was represented by two agents. It took her a long time to learn how to approach and land an agent. While her agents were busy trying to sell her first book, Ava decided to keep writing and self-publish not just one but five additional books in romance and young adult genres. She is one of the most dedicated writers and she says she has a hard time promoting herself. And she used to work in TV!
A little tidbit: As a new author, you have to walk a fine line when it comes to promoting yourself. You have to know when to just “be”. As a 44-year-old mother, I truly believe in connecting with people in an authentic way. Something that inspired me to audition for the Listen to Your Mother Show back in 2013 – and yes, I ended up becoming a cast member, and connecting with some amazing women. If it’s not authentic, what’s the point?
All I’m trying to say, (without breaking your dreams) is if you decide to write a book, go for it. But don’t think it’s going to be as easy as it appears in the movies. (Unless you’re already a celebrity.) ;) It takes a lot of work. A lot of rejections. A lot of dedication. Discipline. Self-discovery. You’ll experience sweat, stress and cheers. Don’t quit your day job either. Even if you have 2,000-plus Twitter followers and a ton of likes on your page, it doesn’t mean Ellen is knocking on your door. Even if you’re dancing along with her in your family room.
Just keep writing. And keep believing. And one day, maybe, just maybe, Ellen might want to Tweet you!