This past Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending a book signing by one of my favorite authors, Randy Wayne White. Known for his “Doc Ford” novels (over twenty and counting), he has been writing for over thirty years.
What made this event possible is an Independent bookstore, Books and Books, just two or so blocks from a Barnes and Noble. Randy started his talk by remembering the beginning of his career. He had just published his first novel and the publisher had set up a book signing at a bookstore in Ft. Myers, FL. The bookstore had stocked SIX books for the signing.
Meanwhile, Randy stood around listening to crickets. No one showed up. He even went outside and tried to round up people to come in. He didn’t sell a single book that day. That gives me a little hope! My first book signing for The Card, I sold a grand total of ONE book!
Later that month, Randy was on South Beach (Florida), only it wasn’t called South Beach back in the ‘70’s, and he was trying to figure out what to do. He wandered by a new bookstore, you guessed it, Books and Books, which had just opened. The owner, Mitchell Kaplan, grabbed Randy and set up a book signing, and the rest is history.
That New York Times Bestselling author has been going back to Books and Books for over thirty years. The story is inspiring to me on a couple of levels.
First, it starts out rough for just about everyone. There’s no magic bullet, whether you are self-published or have a big publishing house behind you. You still have to go out there and promote your book.
Randy also talked about his newest book. It introduces a new main character. After thirty years with the same cast of characters, he has started a new series. In his words, “It was the easiest book I’ve ever written.”
Isn’t it great that we are in an industry that thirty years from now, you’ll be just as stoked as you are today and the writing comes easier and easier. Imagine, slaving for the “Man” for thirty years in the same job—the same thing day in and day out. Telling you when you can take vacation. Telling you when you can go to lunch. Even telling you when you can take a break!
No way, man. We get to write. We can write whatever we want to write about and even change gears years down the road.
I walked away last night wanting to go home and write all night. I couldn’t sleep. I can’t wait until the day comes that I get to write, period. I know the day will come. I’ve got thirty years ahead of me, don’t you?
Jim Devitt first posted this story on Indies Unlimited early this month