Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest Post by Tom Schreck


Tom and I collaborated on a short story featuring my Chicago cop Jack Daniels and his boxer-slash-social worker Duffy Dombrowski. His latest Duffy novel, The Vegas Knock-Out, is being released today by Thomas & Mercer.

Risk and the Mystery Writer by Tom Schreck

I started following this blog seven years ago while working on my first manuscript. When Joe did his cross-country tour visiting over 500 bookstores to promote his third Jack Daniels book he posted that if anyone wanted to take him to dinner on his way through to let him know.

I did and we hit it off. He asked me to send him my manuscript because he wanted to read it, and he did and got right back to me and wrote my very first blurb.

Right there, I knew Joe was not a bullshitter.

I like, thousands of others, have followed this blog for years to stay on the cutting edge of marketing, publishing, and other career stuff. Along the way Joe and I even teamed up and wrote Planter's Punch, where Jack and Duffy meet up to solve a crime. It was a ton of fun.

Since then Joe has, of course, gone on to huge success in many ways.

I just signed with Thomas & Mercer, (Joe was nice enough to write an introductory email for me) and The Vegas Knockout gets released today while Getting Dunn gets released July 31. Before that my series was with Midnight Ink for two books, Echelon for one book, and I self published a collection of short stories.

I’ve tried to do the things that Joe does with one exception—and it’s a big exception. I don’t take the level of risk Joe does. I could say we have different temperaments, are in different places in life or, more simply put, that Joe is nuts. I could also add Joe is lucky or Joe came along at the right time. The last two never feel right because I have an idea about how hard he works.

Joe worked as a waiter and wrote all day long when he wasn’t working. He had nine unpublished manuscripts. I work a full time job, teach at night, judge professional boxing a dozen times a year and do freelance magazine stuff pretty consistently.

My “regular jobs” limit my writing time. I admit I like the consistent safety of regular paychecks. There’s something else that comes with this, though. My “regular jobs” give me the convenient excuse of never totally going for it. I can set mystery writing to the side and say “Well, of course I don’t have Konrath’s success, he has all day to do this shit!” My other jobs are safe and I don’t worry about my mortgage but I don’t have Joe’s glory…or, now, his checking account.

Joe suggested I self publish my latest two but also said if I wasn’t going to do that that the folks at T&M were wonderful and he’d give me a referral. The T&M people ARE wonderful. Self-publishing has risk to it and it was a risk I chose not to take. To do it right with covers, editing etc I figured I would’ve laid out a few grand and I didn’t want to do that. I have the money mind you (after all I work a bunch of jobs, remember) I didn’t want to risk it.

So, I’m kind of Joe Konrath lite.

I don’t roll the dice too much and so my novel career doesn’t keep me up too much at night. Sometimes I wonder what life could be like if I put aside the 9-5 office grind and the 6-9 twice a week teaching gig, skipped magazine writing, and just wrote what I liked.

I’m good for a little more than a book a year, writing in between other things, which is actually a pretty fair pace. I think Joe does a book in a month.

I’m more polite than Joe. I speak my mind less than him and I’m less likely to enter a hotel bar in a bathrobe at a Bouchercon. Probably all has something to do with risk.

There’s also another intangible and again, it’s an important one—talent. Even if I took the chances Joe did there’s far from any guarantee I would have the same success.

Finding that out would involve taking some risks.

And that’s something I have to take a closer look at it.

Soon.

Real soon.

Tom Schreck writes the Duffy Dombrowski Mysteries and his newest release THE VEGAS KNOCKOUT, is now available. Visit  www.tomschreck.com and “like” his fan page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DuffyDombrowski for a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

Joe sez: First of all, go and buy The Vegas Knockout. Shreck writes with the kind of easy-going style as Robert B Parker or early Robert Crais (more contemporary comparisons would be Jeff Shelby, Jude Hardin, Harry Hunsicker.) Tight and fun, with some action and some laughs at the heart of the mystery.

 I think Tom brings up an interesting point about risk-taking that's worth exploring. I tend to seek out creative people, and my close circle of friends all tend to be artists of some sort. But my writing peers, the ones I seem to talk with most often, have another commonality.

Bravery.

Both Ann Voss Peterson and Blake Crouch began to self-publish full time with no guarantee they'd make it. Barry Eisler turned down a half a million dollar deal to go it alone. These are gutsy people who took big chances. With Blake and Barry, it paid of big time. With Ann, it's paying off at a steadier pace.   

They all should be commended for taking a shot. It ain't easy. They fought self-doubt, worry, and fear, and they went for it anyway.

I started this blog seven years ago, and I've long preached that is important to take chances, to experiment, to try new things. I'm also a believer in going all-in. This isn't a Newbie's Guide to Leading a Balanced and Happy Life. It's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. If you want to get lucky, you have to gamble first.

Gambling in this case means devoting time and effort to something that may never pay off. It means devoting your energy to something beyond what the world says you should be doing. 

This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it.

We're all, to a certain degree, risk-averse. It's scary to fail. Failure can mean a loss of time and money. It can mean bad feelings and disappointing others. 

But if you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough. You aren't taking enough chances.

A lot of people dislike me. They dislike my tone and attitude. They dislike my opinions. They dislike my writing.  They dislike my blog.

I. Don't. Care.

We could all benefit from caring less about the opinions of strangers. Especially since, let's face it, there are so many pinheads in the world.

That's a learned behavior, as we all grow up seeking approval. 

Taking risks can also be learned.

It'll be difficult, because it is unnatural and uncomfortable. It requires unlearning many of the coping mechanisms you've learned. It requires failure, and in many cases ridicule, monetary loss, and depression.

But no one ever became successful without taking chances. If you think about it, many of the important things in your life--the things that you're proudest of and that define you--are all about taking risks. Things as ordinary as asking or agreeing to a date that ends up in a long term relationship. Going to that job interview. Making an offer on that house. 

Self-publishing that novel.

Risks are risky. True. But they can also be rewarding.

So what chances have you taken today?

42 comments:

Mike Dennis said...

Great inspirational post, Joe. I gave up a profitable career as a professional poker player in order to devote full time to writing. I'm not making anywhere near the money I did at poker, but you know what? I don't care. This is what I want to do, and I'll pursue it as long as I can sit at the computer.

Keep up the good work.

L.J. Sellers said...

When I moved to full-time writing, I had a freelance business rather than an office job, but still, I turned down work to write and promote, and it paid off. I spend time and money every day to promote my novels and all of it is a risk. I'm about to take another huge risk in signing a publishing contract, which I'll announce later this week.

And by the way, I also think Tom is a terrific writer and very nice guy.

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Jason D. Morrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason D. Morrow said...

I write fantasy, and I'm about to finish my third and final book in the series. I haven't even bothered with sending to an agent, or publisher, and I'm already paying for the rent in our home. It doesn't pay all the other bills yet, but I think with more books, it will come in time.
I'm really excited to see what it will look like down the road when I have 6, self-published titles, or 10 self-published titles. Heck, maybe I"ll make a name for myself.
My wife and I are thinking about taking a risk. We currently live in South Korea teaching English and I spend just about all of my free time writing this stuff. The planned risk is that she is going to take a job when we get back to the states in 4 months, and I'm staying at home...writing...We've decided that I have 1 year to become the primary income with my writing before I have to get a real job. I'm excited to see that happen. And it might not. But it's a risk I feel that we MUST take. Plus, in a year, I can put out 9 books or more. There's no predicting what that will do for us!

Darlene Underdahl said...

Nothing today… getting ready for company isn’t life-threatening.

But, I’ve put myself out there a lot:

The Sociopath of Carson City (www.VermillionRoadPress.com).

Now I’m doing it in writing, and yes, I’ll be ridiculed; my first book, Threadbare, horrified some of my husband’s friends because of the casual racism displayed by my parents. They WERE casual racists; I’m not going to wimp out and lie about that.

I was less than perfect.

William Lee said...

Before I can take a risk I have to get something wrote. Perhaps that is my risk though, maybe I haven't got anything down in paper(or processor) because I'm to scared that I might actually finish something and then it go nowhere. Which would put a serious downer on my dream of not having to do something I hate while still being poor.

Todd Trumpet said...

At the age of 23, I decided to become a screenwriter.

Unfortunately, I had just completed 4.5 years of college and gotten a Masters degree in aerospace engineering.

What to do?

Start writing scripts after work. Save every penny. Quit the job at Hughes Aircraft after 3 years to try screenwriting full time.

I had no script sales. I had no agent. I had no contacts.

It was the biggest risk I ever took in my life.

It also took a few years and dozens of unsold spec scripts before "preparation met opportunity" and I got lucky.

Success in both television and movies.

Enough that I could turn down many offers and begin concentrating on the next risk: Making my own stuff.

More spec screenplays, spec plays, spec books, spec films...

...only this time, it didn't work out.

Sometimes the risk pays off, sometimes it doesn't.

That's why they call it "risk".

But at least it allows you to avoid that most regretful of epitaphs:

"If only I had tried."

Sorry, Yoda, but as stated outright as the theme of my first book:

"The greatest tragedy isn't trying and failing, but never trying at all."

Todd
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Jake said...

Enjoyed your posting. Risk is in the eye of the beholder. We all take risks each day & writers bigger than most. Good to know more about your thinking process as related to writing. Looking forward to reading your books.

Jude Hardin said...

Nice post, Tom!

Thanks for the mention, Joe. Such good company there.

A couple of months ago, I made the decision to resign from a well-paying job with great benefits.

I made the decision to write full time.

So if you ever want me to do a guest post, I can do one about that and you can scratch the one I already sent.

Again, thanks for the shout-out.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Taking risks? Well, I gave up practicing law on April Fool's Day in 1995 in order to be a "writer." It took a long time for that risk to pay off, but it has. My self-published political thriller has seen good sales, though not yet enough to pay the mortgage. But with 50,000 downloads, my work is getting out there. That novel, along with others, eventually will. And in the meantime, I enjoy what I'm doing.

My latest risk was yesterday -- I posted a free short story on Wattpad. Very dark and provocative. Let's hope it leads readers to my other stories.

The thriller:
http://amzn.to/RUNNINGnovel
The free short:
http://www.wattpad.com/story/1349545-the-terminal

Stan R. Mitchell said...

I love me some Robert Parker. He's one of my favorite authors and biggest influences, so I'll definitely go check out the book.

And Joe, I (like hundreds if not thousands of others) really owe you for all you've done to share your knowledge and inspire writers to take the plunge into self-publishing. I also appreciate the leadership you're showing to so strongly defend Amazon and self-published authors everywhere.

Wyndes said...

I so needed to read this today. In my last chapter, my romantic heroine committed cold-blooded murder. It was a good call on her part, but I keep looking at it and thinking, um, romantic? heroine? *romantic?* I'm not exactly blending into my genre. But it was fun to write and a well-deserved death and if I can't find at least a few readers someday who like a heroine who makes tough choices, well, that's okay. And now I'll just think of it as courage and risk-taking on my part, instead of insanity.

Monica Shaughnessy said...

"It requires failure, and in many cases ridicule, monetary loss, and depression."

Funny, but I've experienced all of the above while chasing a traditional deal. I honestly think self-publishing would be less stressful.

Tracy Sharp said...

Oh, I am a risk taker. Always have been. Even moved countries. Been here for 12 years now. Moved from Ontario, Canada.

I'll be self-pubbing my young adult book when it's ready. Still have another round of edits, then hiring an editor. Did hire a cover artist. Also need to hire a formatter. What do we have to lose?

Mary Lisa said...

Awww Joe ... how could anyone dislike you?

Thanks for this post - I needed the inspirational kick in the butt today. And to Tom: the cover for Vegas Knockout is awesome!

Phyllis Humphrey said...

Joe: I read all your posts. Thanks for the "risk" nudge. I guess I'm a risk-taker after all. I married for the third time after two disasters (but that turned out to be right.) And, after four rejections and a ton of problems, I self-produced a play and it won four awards!. Now I'm self-publishing my novels and maybe that will work too. Keep up the good work.

Gary Ponzo said...

My wife and I adopted my 10-year-old son when he was 3 days old. His birth mother admitted to doing crystal meth all through the pregnancy.

Most rewarding risk I've ever taken in my life. After that, self-publishing just doesn't move the meter as much when it comes to risk-taking.

Monique Picard said...

Yes, an encouraging post. And lovely to read comments from all those people who believed in their art and had so much pith in them ! All the best !

puravida said...

I quit my job and moved to Costa Rica to write full time. Everyone said I would be back in a year, and I have made the biggest mistake of my life.

I then wrote a book that has been profiled on CNN.com.

CNN.com Article

That same book then has been featured in magazines and radio shows.

If I had listened to one of those people, I wouldn't have had any of this success. I would still be in that office, staring out the window, wishing my life was different.

Thanks Joe for giving me the opportunity to say that the risk I took paid off.

Nadine Hays Pisani
Happier Than A Billionaire

I.J.Parker said...

Very nice post. And, oh dear, I wish I could get T&M interested. I've got the credentials and I begged my agent to approach them. They turned me down. I was shocked. I don't know, maybe it was something my agent said. She didn't want me to go there.
Now things are pretty hopeless.

cluculzwriter said...

This was a very nice tribute to just how wonderful the writing community can be. I've got friends like this. Congratulations on your success, Tom. You obviously worked hard. Nice that Joe spotted the talent right off.

Joylene Nowell Butler, Author

Karen Woodward said...

Thanks Joe, your post was just what I needed. Perhaps it's selfish, but it's good to know that other indie authors struggled in the beginning.

Tom, thanks for sharing your experience, your story, and a big congratulations for publishing with Thomas & Mercer!

Jude Hardin said...

I love what Amazon is doing with the Vine program. Now a book can launch with a good number of reviews already posted. Congrats, Tom!

Bryan Chapel said...

For me it's not so much the risk. At least I don't view it that way. I have a great job, and the writing is something I choose to do in my free time vs: watching tv, playing a video game, surfing the net, etc. So it doesn't feel "risky" to me. If I fail, I wasted time and I keep my job.

My real obstacle is the self doubt. The whole "What if I'm just not good enough" thing. I know I really shouldn't be afraid of that. I've posted work on critique sites and let a few people read some excerpts and got great, positive feedback, but it's just one of those nasty voices that won't die. At least, not until I finally hit that "Publish" button.

At any rate, keep up the good work Joe! And Congrats to Tom!

J.M. Ney-Grimm said...

"This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it."

This. Yes!

I've been writing flat out since I finished the first draft of my novel in a race to catch my dream. Finished a longish short story, a novella, and am halfway through my second novel.

Perseverance and hard work I can do. Now, if only a smidgeon of luck will descend to dust me! (Grin!)

Thanks, Joe, for inspiring us new indies.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing. The more I read your blog, the more I'm comforted by recently pubbing (May 8th) my new middle grade novel THE COLOR OF BONES (ages 9 and up).
Though middle grade is tough when it comes to distribution, primarily because schools and libraries play a big part in sales, kids don't care where your book came from. They don't even know the names of publishers. If your book is good, they'll read it and tell someone else about it. It started with you and some others in the adult fiction world and we've seen success at the YA level, but now I'm trying to blaze a trail in middle grade. And it's a risk I'm willing, and ready, to take.

Christopher John Chater said...

Great post and just in time. I started self-publishing in march 2010. I quit my crappy, safe, paying job, sold my classic 911 Porsche (practically my best friend), and I even suckered my family into giving me the rights to my grandmothers books so I could publish those as well, meaning that if I failed I failed for the whole family. The risks have been many and the rewards have been few so far, but for me its about doing what what I've always wanted to do, and feeling that I'm doing what I should be doing. Playing it safe comes with its own obligations and consequences and in the long run you're better off taking the leap.

TeriB said...

"I’ve tried to do the things that Joe does with one exception—and it’s a big exception. I don’t take the level of risk Joe does...
Joe worked as a waiter and wrote all day long when he wasn’t working...My “regular jobs” limit my writing time.

Joe suggested I self publish my latest...publishing has risk to it and it was a risk I chose not to take. To do it right I figured I would’ve laid out a few grand... I have the money mind you but I didn’t want to risk it.

So, I’m kind of Joe Konrath lite."

Joe Konrath lite? What kind of abomination is this? Next thing you'll tell me that McEwan's has come out with a lite version.

Tom, combining writing with a secure income source and a balanced life is a prudent approach. But it doesn't make you Joe Konrath. It doesn't make you Joe Konrath lite either.
You wrote a book in the same genre as Joe. You wrote a book with Joe. And you self-published some short stories. There, the similarity to Joe, such as it is, ends. Your choices have been the polar opposite of his all through your career. You are so profoundly different that I am amazed you even made that comment.

I'm not criticizing your choices. Just your relationship with reality.

If your neighbor went for a nice weekend of catered glacier camping in British Columbia, came back and told you he was Sir Edmund Hillary, lite, because he does the same things Sir Edmund does, except not so risky, would you think he was a git?

You probably are, as another poster says, a really nice guy and a terrific writer. Be that guy. The lite version of anything always sucks.

Isabelle Boulet said...

Thank you both for a great topic. I think both points of view have their merits. I have at times chosen one or the other. I took a sabbatical to backpack round the world and then published my travelogue Riding the Asian Dragon in 2011. I now have a full time job and a mortgage.

Tom could always let go of his teaching job and magazine stint to dedicate more time to his writing career, and still pay the rent (If not, he needs a better day job). As his writing career takes off, he'll be able to move to writing full time.

In my opinion, the biggest demon for writers to face is not fear of financial risk but fear of not being good enough.

Scott Daniel said...

I'm all for taking risks, but doing some due diligence beforehand doesn't hurt.

Earlier in my career, I left the newspaper business for public relations. We were starting a family and I reasoned that there would be more opportunity and a greater income in PR. A year into that job, I realized how much I hated it and felt like I had sold out. So, I started looking for a job back in journalism and eventually jumped to a part-time gig with the Ann Arbor News. I figured I could work it into a full-time job ... only that never happened. I eventually wound up on my feet in a completely different field.

My point in telling this story isn't to discourage anyone from following their heart. It's simply to say, be smart about it and have a plan.

Dawn said...

Joe, you know I totally love and will name my firstborn after you, but I do think there is a point that needs to be worth mentioning:

1-- Health insurance.
this is the biggest bugaboo for me taking that leap. Seriously. Even indie policies are expensive, and I am aware that there are 90 gazillion uninsured (or under-insured) Americans out there, I still keep thinking of that time I was in between jobs and --wouldn't you know it?-- had to have an MRI for a possible tumor(not the kind of thing you want to put off until you get health insurance. Thankfully, there was no tumor).

If you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes, or even clinical depression (let's face it,we writers are a squirrel-ly lot) while it is illegal for companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, there are also a lot of rules that go with it. At the time I had my MRI, I was on some expensive meds--and yep, that meant if I didn't want to have a waiting period when I went to the next job --I had to have some kind of COBRA stuff to continue my insurance. AT $300 a month, it was still cheaper than my meds,
And--God forbid--if they had found a tumor, it would have meant more meds and/or surgery or both.

Once again, not the kind of thing like an allergy issue where you think "I can tough this one out."

I'll be the first to say that I do not know enough about insurance or co-pays to really write intelligently on it. This is just my experience. Those months I spent freelancing and risking were great, but very, very, lean. And stressful.

I was hoping that some kind of health care reform would do away with this and we could all hold hands and sing kum bah ya. I'm still hoping.

So, yes, there is risk. and maybe I'm a wuss-o-matic for not just jumping. But I'm also single (hint, hint, --I'm taking applications from any eligible bachelors with all their teeth). And thus I'm on one income. With parents that are healthy, but frankly, aren't getting any younger. I do not have kids, and I respect the hell out of anyone who is a single parent trying to make ends meet and write.

I also left journalism for PR, mainly because I found it offered regular hours and (to be quite honest) I had burned out on journalism (yes Scott, I sold out)

When I got my rights back from my first two published books and put them on Kindle, I've made more $ on that then I ever did at the publishers (granted,these were small, but reputable, indie publishers).

When things started going well, I cut back on certain things--I don't teach one night a week. I keep the day the job (i'm healthier, but my parents are older), I do not engage in any writing activity that is outside my main goal (I no longer query agents, Konrath has convinced me it's not financially viable move).

So, I like this post. I realize that high risk = high reward. I also realize that's a lot easier to say than do. I realize that Joe Konrath has much bigger balls than I have. (both literally and metaphorically) Maybe even risk has its own comfort zone.

I think there's a balance here--or maybe I'm just misguided-- but my point is that even when you are ready to take that risk, there are still a lot of considerations to take-- have you banked up money first in case you have to have that MRI? Have you cleared as many debts as you can? Have you embraced the Susie Orman inside you?

Mainly because stressing about money can produce grace under pressure for most people, but for me, it usually hampers my creativity in a bucket of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Adam Pepper said...

The best fiction takes risks. So do the best fiction writers. Thanks for the reminder, Joe.

Best of luck with the books, Tom.

Anonymous said...

@Dawn: eHealthinsurance.com

Guillaume Wolf "Prof. G" said...

Taking a risk to express yourself creatively is two-fold. Inner and outer.

First, it forces you to confront your inner fears that say: “watch out, you might be disappointed if things don’t turn out well.” And when no one cares with what you produced, or if you’ve received bad reviews, the fears come back, and say “I told you so.” That’s not an easy one to shake because this dynamic plays like an attack on your sense of self (hinting: “I’m no good”).

But . . . If you’re courageous enough to go past this point and actually produce a creative work, watch out: here comes the second kicker.

Next is the actual reality of producing a creative project . . . and how life has weird plans for you.
Let me illustrate it with an example. In 2010, I self-published a book on creativity, “The Creative TKTKTK Book,” (today, I can’t even mention the title—you’ll see why). I spent an insane amount of work to make it the most incredible book on creativity I could. I also filmed two hours of video as a bonus. I set up a website and filmed promo videos for YouTube. I worked super hard to be featured on blogs . . . and after so much pushing, I saw momentum picking up. Sales were coming in.
But one day, I received a Cease & Desist letter from a lawyer—it turned out he had a client (who was not an author) who had trademarked “The Creative TKTKTK” for another business and felt I was infringing his rights. After a few conversations I realized the client was completely irrational. So after much deliberation (should I fight this in court?), I decided to retire the book and remove everything attached to it. Everything.
Unfortunately, a few months earlier I had been struck by a real tragedy: I lost my firstborn baby girl (stillborn, due to a rare cord accident).
So the loss of the baby and the loss of the book combined were brutal. Why even try to do something? Brutal, unjust, incomprehensible.

So I tried and I failed on every front, right?

Not yet.

I tried again.

I rewrote my book and revised it entirely, adding 80 new pages of content. I shot new videos and redesigned a website. In less than 80 days, the book was back on Amazon under a new (aptly chosen) title, reDESIGN: reCREATE (watch the trailer here: http://redesignrecreate.com). The book, with a focus on reinvention and creativity, is better than the first one. Readers send me sweet messages.

But there’s more . . . This year, I just released a new supernatural thriller called The Last Arakad (http://www.arakad.com) with innovative elements inside the storytelling involving dedicated websites for some characters. I’ve built a small fan base on Facebook—and they, too, send me sweet messages.

But there’s more . . . I also became the father of a sweet little baby girl.

Taking the risk is the first step. The second step is cultivating true grit to get pass the problems life will throw at you.

I actually want to thank you, Joe, for your dedication. Your capacity to plow through anything has been a big inspiration for me—in good times and bad times.

Cheers,

Guillaume Wolf “Prof. G”
Author of The Last Arakad (http://www.arakad.com)
and reDESIGN: reCREATE (http://redesignrecreate.com)

Alan Spade said...

I have a motto : I do not play lottery with my work.

Before beginning to write books, I was a freelance videogames reviewer. I lived on my reviews, so I was used making money with my writings.

In 2004, I lost my contacts with magazines, and was without a job. But I had a book (heroic-fantasy book), written between 2001 and 2003, which I tried to sell to publishers. I had contacts with them, but the book wasn't good. I met a publisher on various occasion, and the experience with him ended in a disaster.

So I did a redeployment and took a stable job, which allowed me to write 2 days a week. I self-published on lulu.com an SF book which obtained good reviews, and I found a little publisher for it in 2009. But the rights were so low I had to fight to get them back. It was done one november, 2011.

In 2010, I decided to self publish with greater energy a science-fantasy book : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005VUU7RK

So using POD and going to large bookstores (like your Barnes & Noble) once by week, I managed to sign (and sell) 1200 printed books in two years. In the beginning, I took some chances paying an artist for the cover, and paying the printer (Lightning Source).

But my motto was, and is : "I don't play lottery with my work." I would have played lottery if I had tried again to be published, because the rights would have been too low, and the chances also to low that the books sell well.

My point is, there's a difference between playing lottery and taking measured risks. I will have to take more chances when I'll decide to put more money to translate my books, but I'll have to do some efforts to make sure that it will not be wasted.

Kim Cano said...

This is one of my favorite posts. I loved the chasing your dream, at full speed, until you catch it. Hysterical that Tom calls Joe nuts. Tom--that's just being a Chicagoan, part of the package. I live in the Chicago suburbs and am a crazy self-published author as well, currently chasing my dream.
And I better learn to run fast, my unemployment ends in August. Yikes!!

Barbra Annino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

I'm incredibly grateful for all the energy around this post and for Joe's words of wisdom. Thanks everyone!

Stay tuned.

Matthew Lee Adams said...

Richard Bach spoke of what risk is all about - taking the chance to do what you love versus what "safety" really means, in his book "Running From Safety."

I always liked one scene where he recounts the time he worked for Douglas Aircraft as a technical writer doing manuals.

He announced one day to his co-worker, Bill Coffin, that he was going to quit his job and do freelance writing. Bill Coffin was dumbfounded:

"Do you really think you can make this kind of money writing freelance?"...He pointed across the parking lot. "Look there. I've got a dime in my pocket says the day is gonna come that you'll stand at that gate, outside lookin' in, and remember what security means."

Twenty years later, not to the day, but close, visiting Los Angeles, I drove south on the San Diego Freeway, saw a familiar sign, turned on impulse north up Hawthorne Boulevard, snaked a little east.

It was nearly noon, bright sunlight when I found the place, and sure enough there stretched the same diamond-wire fence around the same ocean-wide parking lot, the same steel building jutting straight up, bigger than I remembered. I stopped at the gate, got out of the car, heart beating fast, the scene burning into my eyes.

The parking lot was faded gray pavement, weeds growing through cracks, not one car in three thousand spaces.

There were chains around the gateposts, chains snapped tight with massive padlocks.

Times are hard for freelance writers, I remembered, but times get hard for big airplane companies, too.

Way off in that lot shimmered a ghostly Bill Coffin, betting the man I used to be, and just now he won his bet. I remembered what that meant, security, and I stood alone, locked out, staring through the gate into nothing.

I tossed a dime through the chains to my friend and after a long quiet time I drove away, wondering where he was.

Naja Tau said...

Hello-

I've been following your blog for a while! Thank you; I find a lot of nice juicy things in your posts (it's not as creepy as it sounds :).

I can't find a job, so that's when I decided to self-publish. I wish had the luxury of choosing between a day job and getting gung-ho about a writing career, but I've even applied to work at McDonald's in the place in LA I moved to, and even they won't hire me.

But at least the novel I've just put online has sold a few copies.