So You Want to be an Author

Today’s guest blogger, Ernie Johnson, author of Destiny of the Divas, says:

If that title don’t grab you, nothing will.

Every once in a while you’ll hear someone say “Hell I can write a book. There’s nothing to it.”

DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT…..!

Anyone who thinks there’s nothing to it, better read this story, from someone who’s been there, done that.

Here’s a story about me, Ernie Johnson, a nobody with an electric typewriter and a friend’s manuscript that had been handwritten to the tune of 750 pages. Mind you, this was not written normally. Normal people will write from left to right. This friend wrote from right to left.

I knew nothing about writing books, but I said I’d try. I started by transposing his words, verbatum, until I had it all typed out – double-spaced 12 point Times New Roman. Then my fun began. I sat down and read it over to see where it needed tweaking, or to put it bluntly, what needed to be added to make it worth publishing.

When you stop to figure, I worked the midnight shift, with my friend, and by the time I got home, I needed to get some sleep, by the time I got to work on his book I only had about three hours a day, during the week with which to work on it. I won’t drag this out, but it took me five years to complete, to what I believed was a good story. By then I’d left the company and was working elsewhere, and hadn’t kept in touch with my friend. I went looking for him, and he’d fallen off the face of the earth. In fact, even the Police didn’t know where he was.

It was during the writing of my friend’s manuscript that I decided I wanted to write for myself, so by 1988 I started with an outline and a subject I knew something about, and began OVERTURNED.

By 1990 I’d received an old computer, and when I say old, it was a relic, but it served the purpose for the time being. I transposed everything from Overturned, and was able to see it on screen. I got involved with a writing group, on line, and it was there that I got humiliated by writers who critiqued my work. That may have been the best advice I was ever given. I wrote the way I talked, and, to be very honest, my use of the English language was not the best. I was, back then, an adverb junkie. Really, and truthfully, I was totally an adverb-a-holic, and it showed dramatically in my writing. That was an example of how I talked, and also the way I wrote. Those critiques, as humiliating as they were, was what I needed to be a better writer.

I went through my entire manuscript and corrected all the needless adverbs. I read and reread my manuscript, each time making necessary changes, like missing commas, etc., until I had that mss as fine-tuned as an Indy Racecar. Now the next step to publishing stardom, is finding a publisher to publuish the mss. Now don’t get me wrong, the old addage “PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE” comes to play here really bigtime, for if you don’t have the patience, this is the wrong profession for you to be in. Submissions after submissions came back rejections after rejections. In between all the rejections, I’d written Mountain of Love and Mountain of Love II – Return to Manhadden.

By late 1993 I’d given up hope of my work every being published. I didn’t have the patience to wait forever. I was so depressed with the process, I gave up writing altogether. I said to heck with it.

In the fall of 2001 I went out with a group of friends who did the karaoke thing once a week at a local watering hole, and we went out for breakfast at a local restaurant that was open 24 hours. While we ate, we talked, and I was talking with a friend who mentioned he’d had an idea for a story, but where he wasn’t a writer, he didn’t know how to go about it. Two days later, at the same restaurant, we were discussing his idea. What it boiled down to was he had the names of four girls, and the instruments they played. He had no beginning, no plot, and no title, so in other words – he didn’t have much. My mind was working overtime developing a story and it took me a while, because I didn’t want just any story, I wanted a best seller. I took my time and developed DESTINY OF THE DIVAS into a strong paranormal, mystery, suspense, drama. Even though all prognosis was in my favor, I still had the hard part, finding a publisher.

I got sidettracked, writing about my book and all, but finding a publisher is JUST AS HARD as finding a needle in a haystack, at least for the new untested author. What do I mean by untested? You haven’t proven your worth to a publisher. Publishers want authors who’ll sell books, lots of them, so a first time author has to prove his worth to a top name publisher.

Some authors bypass the traditional publisher route, by going to a POD (PRINT ON DEMAND) publisher, and today there are a number of them out there, both scrupulous and others who try to do good by the author, and I won’t name names here, but for those of you who are considering this route, check with PREDITORS & EDITORS before you sign any agreement with a POD publisher.

I went with LULU.COM – and published OVERTURNED, MOUNTAIN OF LOVE, KASHMANTOU, LET FREEDOM RING, and THE MISADVENTURES OF THE DEVERS BROTHERS.

You might be reading this, and are thinking, WOW…! He’s published six books. He must be rich and famous. Guess again. Yes I’ve got six published books, but if I’m not out here, seven days a week, marketing my books, they won’t sell themselves. Each book needs me out here marketing them.

Is marketing fun? I think I’d rather wrestle an alligator. No, marketing your book is not fun, but it’s necessary.

Being an Author is more than just writing the words. Being an author is being the conductor of the symphony, being the symphony itself, and being the promoter of the symphony. The better a promoter you are, the larger the audience you’ll attract. Not every author is a good promoter, but every author has to try.