I had no idea at the outset of this writing experiment the level of help and support I would need. I was 3/4 of the way through writing my first book when I felt the chilling reality – What do I do with this mess?
People have no idea that the book publishing industry is so flooded with snake oil salesmen, flat out crooks and general creeps. It makes Washington DC look like a boy scout jamboree and a Mensa meeting.
You could spend your life savings and get nothing but empty promises and dead ends.
I have been fortunate beyond words to have stumbled – literally lost and stupid – onto some really great people. If you ever venture into the swamp I’d recommend you reach out to these guys.
The first person I spoke to who didn’t try to sell me anything – anything – was Rob Price. Rob is deeply involved in what has become 21st Century publishing. He is also the treasurer of the IBPA, one of the few organizations that keep modern publishing real.
If it wasn’t for Rob I’d have quit – before I got started. Rob didn’t sell me anything, gave me nothing but sound and solid advice. When I reached a point where I needed his services he was there offering only what I needed and what would help me. You can reach Rob at:
Realizing we had something to publish, but no idea how to market this thing Rob emailed me one day and introduced me to Shari Stauch. My first conversation with Shari went exactly like this:
Shari: “who is your favorite author?”
Bill: “without question, John Steinbeck!”
Shari: “I hate Steinbeck!”
I sent her my “finished and final, polished manuscript” a few days later.
Shari replied: “it looks like you have a good early draft here…”
I didn’t reply to her for a week. Shari was on my enemies for life list.
I still to this day have no idea why she went to work for me and works so hard for me. She taught me about everything from basic grammar to marketing, to TRY to not be a complete jerk on social media. Well, can’t win ‘em all, Shari... but she keeps trying, keeps pushing me to be better. Shari is one person who is not afraid to tell me something I wrote sucked, do over, you are better than this.
I love Shari. I will never be able to thank her adequately for what she has done and continues to do for me.
“Jesus, Bill, at least run it through Grammarly. Do you know what Grammarly is?”
You can reach Shari at:
The next three guys appeared at about the same time. Alphabetically they would be:
Winston Ash, Mike Hoard and Walter Pahucki
Walt owns the local bookstore:
Walt gave me my first book signing. Walt introduced me to Mike and Winston. He does more for the local writer community than anyone I’ve yet to meet. His shop hosts our writer groups, he sells our stuff.
Walt read my book on his summer vacation. A bookseller reading your book on his vacation is a pretty high honor.
Walt gave me perhaps my favorite review of all time:
“What the fuck did I just read!?”
If you are in the Montgomery area and you love books you need to stop in and see Walt.
Through Walt, I met Michael Hoard. It is hard to imagine two different people than me and Mike. On almost every level we are polar opposites. Mike is from the Deep South, I’m about as New York Yankee as you can get. Mike is the fish whisperer – it spooky the way this guy knows how fish think – I never have time for things like fishing. Mike made me disconnect from the world for the first time in nine years this summer. The result was a silent scream in my head of how busy and noisy I’d allowed my life to become.
Riding with him in his truck one day he explained to me calmly and clearly his political views and his reasons for them. Simple, concise and clear – like his writing style – I could not argue a word he said. Mike doesn’t “do stuff” for me, like all the others I’ll mention here. He’s my friend. He’s in the same boat as a writer I am.
His crystal clear insight has helped me more than he will ever know.
Mike is my friend in spite of me and my big mouth. That alone counts for a lot.
Recently, struggling with a business proposition that I could not afford to get involved with and could not see the value in Mike gave me the answer without being asked.
Something like, “Bill, I’m sick and tired of all these people with their hands out trying to get money from the stuff we work so hard on. They do not have your best interests at heart.”
Mike is my go-to guy when all this book stuff has me about ready to jump off a bridge. Everyone needs a friend like Mike, not everyone is lucky enough to have one.
Read some of his work. My favorite is “Forsaken Soul”. I’m always screaming we, as writers, need to write what is real. Forsaken Soul is about at real as it gets.
Next up is my buddy, Winston Ash. Walt told me about this guy who could help me with my marketing.
My first reaction was, “I already have Shari for that.”
Winston is different. He’s my in the trenches guy. Winston is the guy who daily tries – and this is a HUGE job – to try and make me look like less of a jerk on Social Media.
He is full of great ideas and we share the belief that is something doesn’t work, we trash it and start over.
If you see something positive and non-political on social media that is the work of Winston.
Winston is someone I can turn to when I am about ready to throw this whole mess in the garbage and give up. He’ll say, “why don’t we try this?” He’s calm too. Calm and always upbeat. I need that!
We all need a “why don’t we try this” guy in their corner.
I try to promote his business to others, not just writers. He does good work and he understands the importance of content – good relevant content – and social media. I’m proud to recommend him to anyone.
Winston can be reached at:
The name says it all. Winston WILL be an empire some day. That is the guy’s vibe. The day I met him and he handed me his card I said to myself, Media Empire, huh? Ok, I’ll go with that. I’m grateful every day for the work he does for me.
Last but not least my editor. Elle Michael River. Elle And I met through some strange circumstances. I needed reviews, all writers need reviews. Some guy on Twitter was hooking up writers with reviewers for a very small fee. This was NOT paying for a review, this was giving this guy 15 bucks for a list of people who would read your book and write a review.
Of the five on the list, two actually seemed like people I should contact. One of those two was Elle.
Of all the people who have read The Third Step and commented or reviewed it, Elle scared me. During the process of her reading the book she would contact me through email or text message and ask me questions, very specific questions, she said one time it appeared to her as though I had many editors who pulled me in different directions (the answer was 5). There were other times when she simply ripped some of my writing apart, with good reason.
I won’t forget when she emailed me and told me that her final review was complete. She was posting it to her blog and Amazon. The scary part of this writing game is that you need to take the good with the bad. Someone buys your book and they want to post on Amazon or anywhere else that it is a raging piece of crap you have to accept that, learn from it, consider the source, lick your wounds and move on.
Elle’s Review was tough, but it also showed that she had a deep understanding of the book, what the book was about. She told me she figured out who the narrator was, and she is still the only one who got it right.
Elle has become my editor, collaborator and another critical go-to person. She is tough and honest.
She is a brilliant writer on her own. Why she wastes her time working with me I’ll never understand. She will be my editor until she fires me.
If you are in need of a reviewer or an editor you should contact her.
if you want to read the work of a very, very good writer you should check her out.
But, buckle up, Buttercup. She is another one, like Shari, who is not afraid to slap you around a little if she feels you need slapping.
This list can never include the literally hundreds of people who have been beta readers and supporters from day one. This is simply the people who work for me or with me or help me every single day. The rest of you guys, too lengthy to mention, will always have my gratitude and respect.
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