What the publishers told the 75 year old writer!

I  recently played a round of golf with some friends of ours in our neighborhood, and afterwards we stopped by their place for some wine.

In our conversation it turned out our friend is a writer. He’s written medical books, that were published years ago, and written in medical journals over the years. He is a semi retired doctor, and professor of medicine who taught for many years at a Canadian University.

Then he told me story of how he wanted to write Science Fiction. He’d even completed a 350 page novel.

“That’s a great accomplishment,” I told him.

“The publishers thought so, but didn’t quite like me.” He said. He went on to explain how he’d attended a writers conference in the past six months and shopped the novel to several publishers. They liked the novel, they thought it had promise, but him…not so much.

You see, all the publishers’ didn’t like the fact that my friend is in his mid 70’s. They wanted to have a least 5 books or more out of an author…and well…my friend looked like he might not have the years left in him to produce.

I thought about this latter, and realized that some publishers may think authors all have an expiry date – or a best before date. You know how you shop for milk at the supermarket?  You want to make sure you check the expiry date. You put cartons back that  expire in the next few days.

Well, that’s what these publishers did with my friend. The liked the package, but obviously they thought there was a best before date that didn’t meet their requirements.

Perhaps we can’t blame the publishers, it is after all a tough business, made tougher by the independent authors who are jumping ship, and going it on their own to publish their own novels.

I’m one of those independent authors. I’ve approached publishers, and quite frankly didn’t like the conversation we had. I realized I’d still be doing all the promoting, they’d be getting most of the money. It just didn’t seem fair to me.

My friend and I have a meeting planned the moment he gets back from his travels. We are going to meet in my office, and I’m going to show him the entire world of Indie publishing, and how to get his work edited, formatted, and a cover designed. I’ve written and published two books so far, and a third coming out next month.

And yes, at 61 years old, I probably have an expiry date or a best before date – but haven’t found it yet. I may have to look harder when I come out of the shower. There must be label stuck there somewhere.

Now, as for my friend, what the publishers don’t know about him, is how fit he is. He’s going to Europe to drink wine and bike ride. Three weeks ago, He did a 100 Kilometer (60 mile) ride in a day. I challenge some thirty year olds to do that!

So, here’s is my advice to my friend. Go independent, get published, and write your heart out…and live to a hundred, just to annoy the publishers.

For any of you in the same position, I want to share with you some great books out there. One is Write Publish Repeat. This book is the essential guide for all independent publishers. And of course the recent Business for Authors by Joanna Penn. 

You see, Publishers may find you as an author unproven, yes, like an Mango that is not ripe, or in the case of my friend like a overripe Mango. They seem to somehow be able to give us some kind of judgmental squeeze and know the difference.

Well, here’s the thing, you as an Indie author have the option of having the reader do the squeezing. Okay, getting bit to much on the similes, but I think you get my meaning.

So, whether you are 75 like my friend, or 25, if you’ve got a passion to write, there is whole world of readers out there waiting for you. And only you know your best before date.Enjoy!


My new goal. Working at getting paid to play with my imaginary friends. The joys of writing.

I want to tell you right now that I stole this wording from Kristen Lamb, and you can read more of her at www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com Her words were  inspirational, and I think she nails what most fiction writers are thinking and trying to achieve, that I had to voice it on my own blog.

Part of the idea of this blog, came from a recent visit to my friends who have small children.   From the very moment they got up in the morning to when they went to sleep they wanted to play – to invent games. They had numerous imaginary friends.

Don’t you remember them? I’m sure you remember that as a child you got to play, to use your imagination. And then sometime, in some timeline you were told you had to grow up.

You couldn’t play anymore. Your imaginary friends were sent away, and there you were – you were an adult.

Well, here’s the beauty of being a writer, you get to play with your imaginary friends all day. I don’t care if your Grisham, Wolfe or King, all of it comes into your head and onto the paper. The wonder of the imagination. And they get paid for it.

That’s my goal. To spend hours each day with my imaginary characters. Some are quite good, some are real nasty. I get to decide (to a point) how the story will come out, and how the characters will interact.

I say to a point, because all writers will tell you, that there is a point where a character will start to take on a new life. You watch, you write, and you only direct to a point where you know you cannot let the character have the complete lead. But you watch with fascination as the character and the plot develops.

This is the beauty of writing, of having these imaginary friends. Do we all get paid well for it? In a word no. I’m still at it, publishing my third book next month, and having meager checks appear in my bank account from Amazon. But is it worth it? Absolutely!

There are a few things I’ve learned from the almost four years I’ve spent writing, one is that one book does not an author make (you need a bunch), and in the process of writing book after book you grow as a writer.

Here is something else that’s fun. Your group of imaginary  friends  begins to grow as well. You actually will end up with almost a neighborhood full of them. They’re yours because you invented them, and they won’t leave until you give them a proper exit of some kind.

Therefore, I wish all of you writers great success with your imaginary friends, and to the readers, you get to sit back with your cup of tea, or glass of wine and wonder how we came up with all these great characters.

It’s because we found that great thing called the imagination, and allowed the freedom to create. And that does make all the difference. I wish everyone great writing and great reading.