And now for something completely different! One of the many interesting aspects of reviewing is getting to hear the diverse and inspirational stories of folk who have been there and done that. One of the negatives about trying to work in a niche is that not every opportunity to read a good looking book can be followed. So when I heard from Robert K. Swisher Jr., I decided that I wanted to share his story with you and asked him to write a guest blog post which appears below. He started out on the traditional path and has since moved into the independent world and his story says something about the similarities and the differences of these approaches. His latest work is book 1 in a series of 4 in the Bob Roosevelt Mystery Series.
Guest blog post:
I started writing in 1967 with dreams of being a poet. I bled. I dreamed. After placing several hundred poems to literary magazines and receiving a free copy I decided I would leave poetry to Ginsburg – I was bled out. I then started writing short stories. I placed many to literary magazines – again more free copies – and many outdoor articles where I received on the average a penny a word. I decided I didn’t drink enough and to leave short stories to Hemingway. Then I started writing novels. One of my earlier works was published by an underground press in Canada – another free copy – I wrote the book in the closet of a one room apartment while my wife slept. After that over a five year period I wrote eight novels ranging from historical fiction, contemporary fiction, to young adult. I sent out queries with return envelopes and waited not so patiently for replies – 50% replied – 50% didn’t – agents and publishers were fickle then as now – too busy – too swamped and all that rot. After 400 rejections a novel of mine, THE LAND, was picked up by a small publisher and was reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and others. I was ecstatic and made enough money to buy a steak, a dress for my wife, a new typewriter, stamps, a thousand envelopes and a case of typing paper. In the old days I licked enough stamps to glue the Empire State Building together. I have had two novels optioned but could not sell the movie rights – there went the limo.
The process of writing has changed now but in all truth nothing else has. It’s still the same reasons for rejections – if you want a funny read, read ROTTON REJECTIONS. My advice to writers is write what you like, forget all the instruction manuals and how to books (if they could sell a book they wouldn’t be trying to sell you a book on how to sell a book) and keep sending your stuff out – at least now you don’t have to lick stamps.
If you grow tired of sending your stuff out go Indie. Indie is great!! You have control and in all reality about the same chance of making a few bucks as a traditional publisher – sorry boys and girls but the normal traditionally published book if it is lucky sells 5,000 copies – minus agent fees you would make more selling 1,000 Indie books. I have had 14 novels published traditionally – eight are still in print and 2 have been turned into e-books with others to come. I have recently gone Indie with a four book funny mystery series. When I first did them I made every mistake one could do but I redid them and they are as fresh and clean as babies – even received a few nice reviews with some on the way (any review helps, even bad ones) trust me I know this for a fact. During my writing life I taught a class called THE REALITIES OF WRITING and have done book signings from grocery stores to flea markets to the steps of libraries. At last count I think I have had 7,128 part time jobs. I would be glad to answer and questions – the best tip being keep at it and don’t get discouraged. I am on FB, Author Central, Goodreads, and have a page and in the process of setting up a blog if I can figure it out. Enjoy your writing journey. Call it what you will, destiny, fate, bad luck, a wrong decision in life, whatever, but something made you want to be a writer. Live with it, it’s a good life if you can take it, no one said it would be easy. On an end note I hate semi-colons, an over amount of punctuation, and in my humble opinion too many creative writing classes kill creativity unless you want to write dictionaries. The best to you and yours and all those characters that swim around in your head begging to be released and given life on a page. Smile – Robert K. Swisher Jr.