September 17, 2014

Have Fun Storming the Castle!


Welcome to the Coach’s Corner!

Recently one of our authors shared the twentieth rendition of a query letter he had prepared to send to an agent. His is an epic novel; a real piece of literature. I was reminded how difficult it is to summarize a story—any story—in just a few lines. The author shared his frustration at the process and how sad it is that so much seems to ride on the hopes of a well-written query. He talked about just throwing in the towel and giving up on writing. I say, “NO WAY!”

Happily, the days of rejections and thrown towels are over. One doesn’t have to play by Traditional Publishing’s rules any longer. If you want to publish your great American novel, how-to book, children’s book, or collection of poetry, you can. It’s easier than ever to toss your literary hat into the ring and put your writings out there into the marketplace. You get to decide what kind of product you publish and the level of quality you offer your readers. It can be a hardcover, and a paperback, and an e-book for Kindle, and an e-book for Nook, and an e-book for tablet, and an audio book. How well you succeed—what level of success you achieve with your published works—is also up to you. You can check it off the bucket list and give copies to a few close friends. You can put it “out there” through a POD distribution model where it will quietly wait to be wanted. You can choose to promote it and let people know it’s available. If you’re committed to putting out a quality product and marketing it well, you can build just about any level of success you desire.

Our author’s doubts and concerns made me wonder just how many brilliant works were tossed out or put into mothballs, because some incredible writer couldn’t attract the lightning strike from some muckety-muck in an ivory tower. In the past, for every “successful” writer out there, there used to be several thousand who couldn’t get the time of day, let alone a rejection letter wishing the writer well with their future endeavors. “Enjoy your time in the salt mines.” You could almost taste the spite.

These days, a writer doesn’t even have a paper manuscript to shop around. There are few boxes of typewritten pages being sent to an editor anymore. Everything’s gone digital. And authors the world over are simply hitting <DELETE> and letting their dream go, frustrated as the last walls around the last ivory towers, continue to keep them at bay.

One my favorite character exchanges is from The Princes Bride (1987). Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max calls out to the departing heroes, “Have fun storming the castle!” Carol Kane’s Valerie asks, “Think it will work?” Max answers, “it would take a miracle.” Against seemingly overwhelming odds, you can publish your own book and offer it in the market place. Self publishing doesn’t require a miracle. There are no bon-bons slathered in a magical potion. It’s going to take hard work and commitment, to honor your talent and creativity, and put out a quality product.

It’s going to take more than a vanity press publisher. There are endless and inexpensive ways to throw your writings at the wall and see if anything sticks. Hundreds of companies now exist, supposedly offering you exactly that opportunity. A few—like—are available to help you publish and print the best books you can write. Books that have been professionally edited, professionally designed, professionally printed, and appropriately—and professionally—marketed, to help you reach whatever publishing destination you’ve defined. The vanity publishing path might appear to be an elevator to the peak. Ours, admittedly, is an intermediate climb. The likelihood of success with any vanity press publisher is minimal. They’ve said it themselves enough times in the press. Our path puts you squarely in the driver’s seat and points you toward the goal.

A wise man once told me, “I’d rather fail with confidence—so that I can get back up and do it smarter and better the next time—than keep trudging along the wrong path in ignorance and learn nothing.” He came to us from one of the vanity press publishers and is publishing better books, smarter and better every “next” time, every new book. Wise people learn from their mistakes, or avoid making them. We hope you have the wisdom to know which you’ll be. And we hope you’ll choose to publish and print with our help. Imagine hearing our Jacki Lynch—with her delightful Brooklyn accent—calling after you as you launch your book, “Have fun storming the castle!” Priceless! You’ll be ready for anything!

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