One of the most meaningful parts of the Crown Hill National Tour are the people I meet along the way, each adding their own special imprint to the overall experience. In reviewing my recent my Crown Hill Indy Road Trip there is one person who keeps coming to mind from a random encounter that occurred at a writer’s group.
My attendance at this writer’s group was completely unexpected. It came about after Liza Nahas, the amazing Community Service Manager from the Carmel Barnes & Noble Store, passed along contact information for the group. She suggested I call and share my Crown Hill story. One thing let to another and before I knew it, I was spending my last night on the Indy Tour as an invited guest speaker at the Carmel Creative Writer’s Workshop.
I set off for the workshop with a few notes and a Crown Hill book in hand. As I entered the Peace Water Winery where the group meets, I was immediately engaged by the beautiful setting and unique decor. I became more impressed as I learned of the store owner’s dedication to helping others through sales of his wines. Both the atmosphere and the setting made interaction with those gathered easy and relaxed. It also inspired me as I spoke on my experiences about writing and publishing— the challenges as well as all that can be achieved by hard work and believing.
After I finished speaking a young man approached and thanked me. He said he was grateful to have heard my words and that I gave him the kick in the butt he needed.I was thrilled that my speech had such an impact and honestly, felt like a bit of a super star. I asked the young man if he was a published author. He replied that he was. Then he spoke the sentence that completely burst my super star bubble, “I have a contract with a major publishing house and have sold over 700,000 copies.”
As his words echoed through my ears and richochted around my brain, I desperately tried to regain my composure. Only moments before I had felt like an author authority. Now I was standing before a writer who was living a life of which I had only dreamed. Yet somehow this accomplished author was paying homage to ME?
I struggled to comprehend the situation as the young man explained that before he became a famous author he earned a living in marketing and PR. When he signed his multi-book contract, the Big Apple publisher told him to forget about marketing and concentrate on writing. They would take care of the rest. And that’s exactly what happened…at least initially.
Limos, national book signing tours and high-paying speaking engagements became the standard of this man’s world throughout the publication of his first five books. Then a little thing called the Internet happened and suddenly the book industry was challenged by e-books, self-publishing options and a behemoth monster called, Amazon. Accordingly, anything over and above the basic editing and publishing of this author’s books completely disappeared.
I couldn’t imagine what this man’s experience must have felt like until he said that his latest book had just been published. When I asked how it was selling, his answer was painful in both word and manner as he stated. “It’s not selling at all and I’m just now figuring out that I’m going to have to start promoting my books myself if they’re going to sell.”
Suddenly I understood why an author of his stature was attending a writer’s workshop. It made sense that my speech on working hard and believing had inspired him.
And it became exceedingly clear that balancing the love of writing with the business of publishing is difficult for every writer, no matter if they’ve sold 700 books or 700,000.