Friday, December 14, 2007

The Ladder of Success: One Step at a Time

I apologize if this comes across as mass solicitation, but I felt inclined to share some insightful, astounding and yet educational news.

Like many of us, I am a writer and I am passionate about books and all things literary—literally (no pun intended). Like some of you, I have struggled in coming to terms with a decision, one surrounded by mass controversy within the literary realm--and that was the decision to self-publish and promote my own writing or hold out until I landed a deal with a traditional (and larger) book publishing firm.

I wrote about my decision to release my first title under my own imprint earlier in the year in a blog entitled “
To Publish or Not To Publish.”. I felt inclined to share some information about how I was feeling more than what I thought the decision would do to my writing career. Needless to say, since then, I have learned quite a bit and on many-a-night, while working to review blogs, post query letters to fellow writers/reviewers, etc, I can honestly say there are times I wish I held out—at least a few moments more. But in the end, I wouldn’t trade it for anything; isn’t it the thrill of the ride, the sudden drops and breaks and loops that keeps us coming back for more?

Hindsight is 20/20; at least that’s what dad always said. I am sure we would all go back and do (some) things differently if we had the chance. But this isn’t a letter about how I feel after not holding out but rather a reminder to each of us that the pursuit of a dream can be a lifelong chase and we shouldn’t measure our successes by whether or not we become the next great author, well, overnight.

I read an article earlier in the summer in Writer’s Digest about an author who had previously published titles to her credit with a major publishing house but yet couldn’t find success with her present release. (At the time of the article naturally this particular book was published…more on that later). She, being a previously published author, described some of the same feelings as many of us writers who were yet to taste our first moment of bliss with mass publication and a large publishing house. She shared the same frustrations and doubt. I thought that was pretty interesting. Here I was battling with my own decisions, worrying that I might somehow ruin my career as a writer—a career mind you that I may still never fulfill—and here was this traditionally published author struggling to find a house, even her own previous house, to take on her next project.

So…what did she do? Good question.

This artist took it upon herself to study and learn the industry, not from a writer’s perspective, but from the business angle of writing. If you are in the midst of releasing your own titles, then you know that is no easy task. The headaches and sleepless nights and lost feeling of being discovered by the world as some would-be, wanna-be author, posing as a legitimate writer somehow behind blogs and banners and how-to articles, can be harder than the re-write process and even harder still than the day you decided to take up the pen and write your first draft.

Earlier this year I made my decision and my life hasn't been the same since. Like the author mentioned in Writer’s Digest I have created my own imprint--Ozuna Publications, owning full rights to the ISBN, copyright and all things related to my novel, "
Proud Souls." I have worked the past two years to polish, edit (and have edited) my story, along with countless hours of research to essentially learn the other side of the literary business--the business aspect of writing. I have studied marketing books and blogs, collaborated ideas with other writers in person and via the web and I have even taken a grass-roots approach to marketing and publicizing my work. I can say this: If I were one inclined to "rush to the top" with overly zealous ambitions of becoming an overnight success or (or even a) best-selling author, publishing under my own imprint would have been the WRONG decision. But spending the past few days reviewing some “top” notch blog sites and review columns, etc, I have to say I was a bit taken in by this sudden rush of personal accomplishment. In the words of others I could traces of my own footprints in the sand behind me, telling myself that I may not be far down the road but I am indeed moving forward.

The ladder of success in the literary world is a long narrow path in which only a handful may ever testify to what is actually at the top of the steps. But looking back now, let’s say 2 years ago to the summer of 2005 and knowing that I took the pen to the paper in July of that summer and wrote the first 60,000 words of my novel within a three month timeframe. And then looking back further to the summer of 2003 when I wrote the first fourteen pages to a potential short-story that I couldn’t end and looking at myself today, four years (+) after my initial attempt at writing the “great American novel” we all so desperately wish to produce, I am honored to say that I may never reach the top of the stairs, but at least I am high enough to look back and see the first step. And I think it’s something we should all do, so as not to become burdened by our own inabilities and shortcomings but rather toot our own horn and pat our own backs and give praise to our accomplishments because in time, with collaboration, research and a little effort, we are moving our way upwards, one rung at a time.

It hasn’t been easy and everyday is a challenge, a challenge to write a new query, working to doctor a poetic plea of those more professional online bloggers whose reviews and opinions and criticisms have obtained an honest online following, hoping that somehow they might say, who is this writer and what is this story and what about them (this man and his story) are worth my time and feedback? There is the challenge of maintaining a website with (hopefully) some content worth reading. There is the challenge of collaborating ideas and networking with fellow writers, all working and racing one another for the ultimate prize—the title of published or at least noteworthy author.

No, it hasn’t been easy and I would never persuade a fellow artist to consider the path of self-publication unless you could find it within yourself to assume the role of marketer, publicist and agent, not to mention Public Relations coordinator and lastly (and most importantly gopher. I have managed to obtain my own imprint, with all categories and documents and stamps approving my “house” as the official owner of my (only) title, Proud Souls. With sweat and blood and time I have managed to register my novel with Ingram and obtained a Library of Congress Catalog Number and I have landed (at least thus far) one bookstore in the Fort Worth, Texas area willing to carry my title. I have some radio interviews lined up for the spring, a major one being with Linda Bagwell, host of the Books-N-Authors and All That Jazz radio feature, compliments of Weatherford College. There are more and more locations where I have practically shoved my foot in the door, slowing giving way to a window of opportunity, all for five minutes of glory. At times I feel like an actor on a stage play, struggling to see the faces of my critics, knowing if I don’t say the right words in just the right time, it will all be over and someone else will fall in behind me as the cycle of try-and-try again progresses ever onward. I do the blog thing but not as often as many others, but I try when I can to provide some form of inspiration and insight into my methodical process of creating my story, because as you know when you are involved in a project as important and as personal as your own book—there isn’t much else to discuss. We become boring and flat over time and “nerdy” for lack of a better word. Once upon a time I was animated in my willingness to discuss the Dallas Cowboys or pickup trucks and maybe even girls, but today I hoop and holler when someone says the words ISBN or barcode. Yes, the life of a writer is a lonely life indeed. Whatever friends you may acquire, if they don’t pass out with boredom by hearing you talk about the same thing over and over again, you should cling on to them with your Kung-Fu grip and put them on your Christmas list for surely they are a friend indeed.

I have learned a lot and struggled a lot more and I have come to appreciate the finer art of the publishing business and the credit those authors who have “made it” with all manner of credit they deserve. Nothing in this world comes free and you know (even if you we’re touching the topic of money), it isn’t worth having unless you have earned it. Do I want riches? No. I am a family man and during the day I pose as a modern day superhero—the network administrator—infamous and evenly mysterious with my PING’s and packets, the double-click’s and the dual core processors that maintain the very websites that may never publicize my work as a novelist. I am a family man who after cooking dinner and brushing teeth and validating homework assignments and green’s or red’s or yellow stars on the daily folder, stresses and worries that I won’t get to bed in enough time to be worth a darn the next day, knowing that I have to write the article, to tell the world, that I am no longer on the bottom looking up, but rather I am on the ladder, pressing forward one step at a time and with each The End and query letter, blog or newsletter blast I am one step closer to letting the world know that I am a writer—an author—a herald to the characters that are borne within my imagination. I look upon my name and my book on the storefront and say oh yes Bobby Ozuna, you are no longer sitting at the bottom of this literary ladder but indeed on a path towards accomplishing a personal goal. is not the finish line but merely another step towards personal achievements within this harsh and cruel and wonderful literary world.

In time there will be more reviews (from some of you I hope, my colleagues and fellow brothers and sisters at arms with pens and journals and metaphorical poeticism.) I am hoping to hear from you, those who wish to take upon the challenge of rating the would-be writer and his work, “his heart’s blood” as W. Somerset Maugham so eloquently put it. No desire of my own will ever surpass the validation of the true literary critics—you—the reader, the homemaker, the network administrator, who searches and longs for a place of solitude to escape the burdens of diapers and call centers—and relies upon our creativity to take them there.

So say to yourselves my friends and colleagues: I am a writer because that is what I am. It is the essence of my soul and neither prize nor admiration will ever make my story less than what it was the day it came to my imagination and it will never feel better than the day I fought to bring it to life.

I can’t wait to hear what you say….

~Bobby Ozuna

No comments:

FUND a School Project today!!!

"Proud Souls" on

Need an Illustrator for your next book project?

Need an Illustrator for your next book project?
"Working with authors to help create the images that brings their work to life."

Bobby Ozuna on YouTube

Bobby's Tweets

Search This Blog

Page Views

I Tutor Math!

I Tutor Math!