"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Greetings, and welcome to the Blue Sage blog. On your website you're billed as Will Edwinson—Storyteller. Tell us how you came to be a storyteller.
Although I harbored the desire for many years to be a writer, I came to writing rather late in life because I lacked the confidence that I had the necessary skills. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-fifties that I decided to take the plunge. I figured if I was ever going to do it, I’d better get started. I knew I needed help, and after a little searching, I found a Writer’s Digest correspondence short story writing course and signed up for it. I completed the course and received my certificate. I was now a bona fide writer—or so I thought.
Up until that time, I had not been very interested in reading novels. Most of my reading consisted of trade publications related to my profession. One of the recommendations from the Writers Digest course was to read as many short stories and novels as possible. The theory was, I think, that the more one reads of a certain venue, the more skill one will pick up through osmosis. So I began to read.
Then what happened?
I proceeded to write my first novel, which is still gathering dust on the shelf, by the way. It’s a story about an errant preacher who was more of a con artist than a man of the cloth. That one took me about three years to finish, because as I began to read more novels, I realized I was still a pretty bad writer. I realized that writing a short story and writing a novel were not the same. That first novel draft was pretty discombobulated and had little continuity. As a result, I found myself moving whole chapters around in the story from one place to another.
But I persisted, and after several rewrites, I finally decided the book was ready. Then began my search for an agent. This all took place way back in the early 1990s, and my experience with agents has not been all that favorable, either. After a lengthy search and a basket full of rejection slips, I finally found one willing to take me on as a client. He died three weeks after we signed the contract. After another lengthy search I found another one willing accept this new unknown writer. Shortly after we came to an agreement, I learned that agent had just been indicted for some kind of fraud. So much for that agent/client relationship. After that, I decided to try the self-publishing route. I was tired of that novel, so I put it on the shelf and started my second.
Wow, that’s quite a tale in and of itself. Tell us about the second novel. Is that the one you self-published?
Yes, and that was quite an experience also. Had I known what I was in for at the beginning, I question whether I would have gone that route. It was in the days when self-publishing was likened to the red-headed step kid. Self-published authors, and their books, were given little respect. But I decided I was going to do it right, if I could. I purchased and read several “how-to” books on the art of self-publishing.
This was in the days of the old DOS computers; the days before Windows 95 and other menu driven programs came on the scene. I was using a Leading Edge computer which contained its own word processor program, and unlike Microsoft Word, and Word-Perfect, it was not totally compatible with the standard type-setting programs of that era. I had to find a type-setter that could convert my Leading Edge manuscript to one that was compatible with the printers’ systems.
Having jumped that hurdle, the next step was the ISBN numbers and the bar codes. Bookstores would not carry books that didn’t have those. I had to locate the sources, and purchase those before I could proceed with the actual printing of the book. And there was also the matter of finding someone to design a respectable looking cover. I got lucky. The type-setter I used was also able to do the cover for me. There was also registering the book with the copyright office, the Library of Congress, and a string of other tasks that don’t come readily to mind at this point. So after all that, and the expenditure of a few thousand dollars, the book was ready for the printer.
But the story doesn’t end there. Next came the task of setting up a publishing company. After all, we couldn’t risk having this project look like an amateur self-published project, could we? This meant coming up with a professional looking name, an imprint, and registering them as a dba with the state.
It sounds daunting.
Yes, but there’s more to the story. The book finally came off the presses, and 2,000 copies were neatly stacked in my garage. Now it was time to line up a distributor or wholesaler who would handle the book. You see, if you wanted to get your book into chain operated bookstores like Waldenbooks, Borders, Barnes & Noble, B-Dalton, etc., it had to be available through the wholesalers that they normally did business with. They would not order directly from the publishers. I finally succeeded in securing the Western division of Baker & Taylor in Washington State to handle my book.
But having said all that, I did manage to overcome all the hurdles and it sold a respectable enough number of copies to recoup my initial expenditures. It never made my name a household word, nor did it fatten my bank account, but it was a good learning experience. Self-publishing has advanced to the point that it’s much easier for an author today to self-publish. Especially since e-books have arrived on the scene.
Considering the experience you just described, would you self-publish again?
Wheatmark) who did all the leg work for me, offered editorial service, cover design, secured the wholesalers, provided the bar codes, ISBN numbers and got the book on amazon.com for me; and for less cash outlay than going the full self-publishing route, because since, it’s POD, I didn’t have money tied up in a pallet full of books sitting in my garage. The book from this publisher looks like it came from one of the big boys in New York as it sits on the shelf. It’s the closest thing to traditional publishing you can get. Another advantage to going this route is a print copy can be on the shelf in as little as 90 days, whereas going through a traditional publisher, if you’re able to find one who will publish your book, takes 18 to 24 months.
Tell us about this book.
It’s a compilation of short story adventures in the life of a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s. It’s similar I suppose to Jean Shepherd’s book, In God We Trust, from which the movie A Christmas Story was adapted.
Buddy might be described by some as reminiscent of a twentieth century Tom Sawyer, in that he quite often finds himself in hot water for which he must pay the consequences. Unlike Tom, however, Buddy’s misdeeds are without much forethought. They happen because Buddy is…well…he’s just Buddy.
What’s on the horizon; any new books planned?
I have a couple of things in the hopper currently. First, I’m stepping up my efforts for marketing my second published book Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. I’m contemplating bringing it out in an e-book. I also have two other books I’m thinking of self-publishing. One of those is a revised and updated version with a new title OPERATION ACHILLES—A Shadow Revolution, of the first book I self-published. The other one is a fictional biography of Louisa Houston Earp. Louisa (pronounced with a long i) was the granddaughter of Sam Houston and was married in real life for a short time to Morgan Earp before he was assassinated in Tombstone, Arizona in 1882.
She turned out to be one of the most favorite of all the characters I have created. She was a trained concert pianist who played classical music in Western honky-tonk saloons and won the crusty cowboys over to actually liking it. She was also a crack shot with her modified .38 pistol, and showed no hesitancy toward using it when needed.
Where can we keep up with you and learn more about you, and what you are doing? And where can we find your book?
You can find my website at www.willedwinson.com. All of my current blog posts are located there, as well as a free download of my book. The print version of my book is available at www.amazon.com
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We will be looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
You’re welcome, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear on the Blue Sage Blog. I hope all you Blue Sage members have a good and successful year with your writing.