Taking a Leap of Faith as a First Time Published Author

Many writers dream of finishing that wonderful story…some day. They dream of submitting that finished creation to a publisher or two or three in hopes of a response, a positive one. For some, their creation never does get finished. For others the creation is finished but never gets submitted. However, there are those crazy, thousands and thousands, who do finish and take that leap of faith. They do send their creation off to a publisher.

I am one of those crazy writers who took that leap of faith and submitted a story. It felt exhilarating to finally finish my piece and I imagined how wonderful it would be, to see it in actual book form. So you can imagine when a few months later, I receive a response from a publisher, a positive one. They loved my book and felt they would like to publish it! They wanted to send me a contract. “Oh no”, I thought, ”now what?” Not in my wildest dreams did I really expect to hear anything from any publisher. What had I done? What should I do now? My husband was quick to remind me, ”isn’t this you wanted?” I guess it was and so I signed the contract and the publication process would soon begin. However, little did I know, how my life was about to change.

I had a few months before the publishing process was to begin, so I spent hours on the internet reading as much as I could about each phase of publication. I found out that I needed to get a professional photo taken, request endorsements, write an author bio and more… so I did. When the process finally began there was editing, cover design, page set up and page design, illustrations, more editing, content review, consistency editing and it went on and on for twelve months.

What a year it was! My book was to be released in three months and it was then that I was contacted by my publisher’s marketing department. “You have three months to get ready for the release” he said. “Spend that time, telling everyone you know about your book release date, and your book launch.”

I had spent hours reading about book marketing only to try and understand there were tasks to be done by my publisher such as contacting distributors, online book stores, sending press releases and more. But also I learned , there were tasks to be done by me the author. But..wasn’t my job done? What more could I do? However I came to know that setting up book launches and other events would be my responsibilities. I was now going to have to go and sell me and my book! Oh no!

The next months I spent making email lists, mailing lists and bookstore lists. I sent out hundreds of emails and letters about the book…others that told when the book was to be released…and still others that invited people to my book launch. I developed an online presence: a site with a blog, a page on Facebook and MySpace, a Twitter account and I connected with any other social networks I was able to find. I started to blog every day and continued to collect address lists. By this time I thought that people must be getting sick of hearing about my book and about me. However, I kept on.

What has happened, I wondered to myself? All I wanted was to own a little book and now it seems the book was beginning to own me. For some strange reason I was loving every minute of it. I planned my first book launch and was thrilled to see such a crowd. A success! A second launch… and a second successful event. I was having fun sharing my book with others but it was after putting in hours of work, 5 days a week. I offered to do readings at the local day cares and libraries. I read and I read to anyone who would ask me. Then, months later, I began being invited to read.

I have been published now for ten months and am still, regularly being invited to read my book. I must admit that there are days when I feel more like a kid’s entertainer than a writer. Hmmm…a writer, an entertainer or a marketer? Some days I have no idea which I really am. There are days when I enjoy one job so much more than the other.

The trick is motivation, finding new and interesting ways to tell people about you and your book. Some days finding motivation can be tough. Some days the ideas just flow and others, nothing. With all of this going on, I try to write, these days mostly on my blog. I spend some time visiting other blogs and find it is a great way to find inspiration, motivation…sometimes for the purposes of writing, others for marketing and still other times, I read and comment on other blogs , to be able to share the leap or the possibility of it. Others who like me took that leap of faith.

“Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” — Kobi Yamada

I will continue to build my wings in the hope that—one day—I will finally be able to fly.

Sally Gilchrest-Unrau had a 25 year career in Early Childhood Education and now enjoys writing about what she knows best, kids and their parents. Born in Stratford Connecticut, she now lives in a small rural town in Manitoba Canada with her husband and two dogs. Having been a three time breast cancer survivor was the catalyst that started Sally on her writing career. You can learn more about Sally and her books at http://fatquarter.wordpress.com and http://samsweirdafternoon.wordpress.com