By Peggy Morehouse Strack
I love most everything about writing novels. Creating vibrant characters, choosing fascinating settings, and developing intriguing plots are all part of the fun. The difficult part is not being able to easily display my handiwork, and let’s face it, when we create something, we like to share it. Actors want an audience, chefs want diners, and gardeners want admirers, but it’s not so easy for the novelist. A painter can invite friends over for dinner, point out her latest portrait hanging on the wall, and feel gratified by the compliments. An author can’t say, “I just completed 300 pages of my new book, have a seat, and read my manuscript.” Well, she could, but her guests would have to stick around for a few days, and they probably wouldn’t return.
A novelist must be patient. Work hard, create the best story possible, and then publish it. Although it is difficult to break into traditional publishing today, there are so many options to get your story out there. Self-publishing “done right” is currently highly respected in the book world. Review giants like Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly have special categories on their website just for independent authors and literary agents are always on the lookout for writers who prove they can successfully market their books. There’s also the digital-only option for those who don’t want to invest the money involved in producing hard copies.
Once you establish an audience, no matter how large or small, the author-reader loop of the writing process is closed, and satisfaction can be realized. I self-published my first novel, A Stop in the Park, almost two years ago and the feedback continues to flow in. Just last week, two local bookstores informed me that they needed more copies and the receptionist at my dentist’s office asked, “When is your next novel coming out, Peg? I loved your first one and can’t wait.”
I must admit, I do get a warm feeling inside when people tell me they “loved” my story. That it touched them in a special way. It’s like giving a gift to a friend and seeing a genuine smile when the package is opened. Negative critiques are okay too. Even Harry Potter didn’t find a place in everyone’s heart. The bottom line is, I told my story and it’s out there in the world for viewing.
Remember, a huge royalty check or a spot in the top ten on the New York Times Best Seller List isn’t what publishing a novel is about. It’s letters like this from someone I’ve only met through my novel, A Stop in the Park:
A few months ago, I purchased your book for my 95 year old great-great Aunt Dot who lives in Kentucky. She has raved about your book and has since spoken with my grandmother about another book that you may have written. I see on your website that you will be publishing a short story via the Kindle, which she does not have and also another book. Would there be any way to get a hard copy of the short story?
What about you? Is there something you’d like to create, but haven’t. What’s stopping you?