A Letter to a Dispirited Writer Friend of Mine

You were one of first bloggers to let me promote my first book on your blog and I have never forgotten that. I’m sorry to hear that you think self publishing sucks. But if you have the time, I’m gonna tell you a few things. So here goes.

You say you queried twenty-five agents. Well, I queried 3,000! Ten hours a day, seven days a week it was go through the lists, get their emails, cut and paste my letter, and then send it out. One full year!!!

I was pushing my first book, a 164,000 word mess. It was a good story, but I had no concept of proper editing. Anyway, I was told time and time again that anything over 80,000 words for a first time author was heresy. Finally, I got pissed off and sat down and wrote an 80,000 novel just as a big FU. Then I sent out queries. Lo and behold, within a month I had a contract with one of the biggest agencies in the country. And it was off to the races .. or so I thought. They got me published, but I had to do all the marketing, so what did I need a publisher for?

Long story short .. we went our separate ways after my first book. They still send me my royalties four times a year and I love those guys … but …

Anyway, in today’s world, traditional publishing is overrated unless you’re Stephen King. And I read that he puts aside $200,000 of his own money to promote each of his books.

Okay. The morale of the story is you can get an agent if you really, really work at it. By the way, that first book won the Editors’ Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The book that you were kind enough to allow me to promote on your blog.

Now on to the next thing.

If you want reviews or space on blogs to promote your books, ya gotta send out “begging letters.” Again … ten hour days, seven days a week. I must have sent out 5,000 over the years. At first I asked for reviews and I got some, but then I came to the realization that the poor bloggers (like you) get inundated with review request. So to be a little different, I wrote the bloggers and offered them a guest post (an interesting guest post) or I’d do an interview in return for a chance to promote my book. To date, I’ve done over 600 and I’ve sold a few books in the process. And the more books you sell the more reviews you get.

That first book of 164,000 words I edited down to 139,000 and self published it. Last year it was awarded Book of the Year by one outfit and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 by another. My point is that takes alotta work. I hate marketing. I’ve gotten to the place that when my next novel is published I’m not doing any marketing. No begging letters … no nothing. I’m writing this one for myself. In the end, the joy is in the process.

Of my four published novels, three of them have become best-sellers. One of them hit #1 (twice) one, #2, and one #5 on Amazon. Of course, I’m bragging, but I’m also saying that you can do it too if you have the fire in your belly. Me, I lost it.

I wish you the best of luck. And I’ll always remember that you gave me my first break.

Your friend,



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51 thoughts on “A Letter to a Dispirited Writer Friend of Mine

  1. The mere thought of marketing makes me want to vomit. I promoted and marketed up the wazoo for my first 2 books. Kinda takes all the fun out of being an author. I wrote my last book for myself. I feel much better now 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In the 1990’s I was published by the Big 5 – didn’t realize an advance was against book sales – total £4.10 in royalties. When I turned to books it was self publishing all the way – even turned down 2 small publishing houses. I’m in control, I make the decisions, I write what I like and keep the copyright, worked my butt off, won a few awards, a few #1’s and I’m totally and utterly knackered 🙂 🙂 🙂 Can’t keep this up forever!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I just finished my fourth book and am looking forward to the lengthy editing and marketing as something akin to chicken pox. You have far more determination and energy than I – although maybe Danny drives you? – I do self-publish, and marketing for indie authors is a horror. I spend a lot of time on the road going to independent book stores who might take my books, but some of them won’t unless you’ve sold thousands on Amazon. Oh well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I must correct you in one area … “You have far more determination and energy than I.” I HAD more, but not now, Now, I don’t give fuck. The joy is in creating, not selling. Selling is ego … creating is being a god … it’s being a part of God … creating is being in partnership with God. Once off the physical plain we won’t have an ego, so why give it so much importance while we’re here?

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I thought about that, but my grown up kids still need me sober. I’ll be parenting until they bury me. Nice way to work though – maybe I could sip my favorite bourbon at night and write those query letters?


  4. I LOVE this. Thank you so much for being a ‘traditionally published’ writer who shares his not-so-good experience in that world, then went on to have a sublime experience in self-publishing… and has the guts to talk about it. This is one of the best validation posts for self-publishing I’ve come across and makes me feel vindicated for wanting to go that route. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love to write and as they say, we all have a book in us, but the thought of marketing it kills me (not that I’ve written it yet either!). So from reading your letter I have taken great solace and a small acorn of thought has set seed. Write my book for me. I like that thought.
    Congratulations on your success and best wishes with your book for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Here’s the deal, Tric. I’m no teacher. I couldn’t find my shoes in the morning if my dog didn’t help me. Anyway, having said that … I’m going to give you some advice on how to write a book.
      Just sit down and write it! Don’t worry about the cover. Don’t worry about the blurb, just get lost in telling a story.
      This is how I see it. I’m walking in the barnyard and come upon a big heaping, still warm, pile of bullshit. I pick up a handful and throw it against the barn. What sticks is my first draft. Then I go up and carve out an image of the Mona Lisa from what is stuck to the barn wall. That is the editing process. But you can’t do anything until ya got the bullshit on the wall.
      Now you know why I’m not a teacher.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Do you know, that blog you wrote is how I wish agents and the like would speak or advise, since they are privileged of knowing certain truths. I only seem to come by the honest realities from people who’ve toured the writer’s trenches.

        I’ve hit my 38th submission. I’m receiving more rejection notices now than when I had started out…I figure that’s some improvement.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. If it is any solace to you, I’ve done it both ways and I prefer self publishing. if you are dead set on getting an agent, make sure your query letter is a killer. Suck them right in. Make it so they have to ask for a few chapters. But make sure those chapters are well edited. I mean goddamn well edited. You’re only gonna get one shot. And I speak from experience. I blew it with the first agent that wanted to read my stuff.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. WOW! Gonna show Aoibha this Andy, not because she’s dispirited (quite the contrary lol) but to show the amount of effort it takes to succeed . . . Inspirational!!! Hope your friends spirits are raised by your words . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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