Getting Started in this Business

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?

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

8 thoughts on “Getting Started in this Business”

  1. The day is coming, I can smell it, too! Your post is great timing, because I’ve been working all day researching gift shops to visit next week to talk about carrying my short stories. It makes my stomach ache just thinking about it, but as you say, it has to be done! Thanks for the inspiration today. =)

    1. Sorry it took so long to get back to you Krista, but good luck with your short stories. Did you have any luck with the gift shops?

  2. Nice post, Jim, very inspirational! I miss my favorite, independent local bookstore. The owner worked hard to get well-known authors in for readings. After meeting the likes of Pete Hamill and TC Boyle, I’d eagerly rush home to write. Keep going!

  3. Wow, 30 years with the same characters? I’m debating if I want to do a book 5 of my Dragonslayers series, which has spanned a good portion of my writing life only to become published in the last 3 years. I guess he really loved those characters.

    And at my first book signing, I didn’t sell a single book either- I think I ended up giving one away to my host that day. The next signing, I sold 4. And one good weekend, I sold 14!

    Nice post.

Comments are closed.