By Vinnie Kinsella, Publications Consultant
Last year I went from having zero books on bookstore shelves to having two of them for sale.
As a lifelong lover of books, it’s a wonderful feeling for me to know that someone can walk into their favorite bookstore and ask, “Do you have Vinnie Kinsella’s book?” (It’s equally wonderful to know that the person they are asking can respond with, “Which one?”)
But like all major accomplishments, it didn’t happen easily. Getting these books out of my head, onto the page, and into stores involved a whole lot of time, energy, and dedication. There were many times I wanted to just say, “Forget it!” and give up. But I didn’t.
Through it all, I learned three important lessons about how to keep my resolve on the path to publication.
Be Passionate about Your Work
The two books I put out couldn’t possibly be any more different, but I strongly believed in the value of each of them. The first, A Little Bit of Advice for Self-Publishers, is a collection of the most oft-repeated nuggets of advice I have given to clients over the years. The second, Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi, and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life, is an anthology I curated around a topic I have much personal experience with.
For both books, I had to ask myself why I was publishing them in the first place. What would motivate me to keep going when the process got rough? For the first book, I found my motivation in the fact that I love the avenues self-publishing has opened up for authors but am often saddened by the quality of the self-published books I find. I felt that if I can help just one self-published author avoid putting out a subpar book, my work would be worth it. For the second book, my motivation was to help just one older man struggling with this identity to feel he is not alone.
Each time I felt like giving up on one of these projects, I would remind myself of my motivation, and my passion to continue would reignite.
Be Part of Your Literary Community
Publishing is a community effort. It involves editors, book designers, marketers, booksellers, and many other team players. The success of a book requires a society of readers to love and promote it. When you are huddled over your laptop in your writing cave, you can lose sight of the fact that you are part of a larger literary community.
When I found myself overwhelmed by the isolation of my work, I learned to reconnect by attending readings and spending social time with other writers. I learned to find ways to celebrate the accomplishments of other writers in my city and find inspiration in their successes.
And you know what? By being someone who showed up to support other citizens of my literary community, I was repaid in kind by other local authors when I released my books.
Be Publicly Committed to Your Work
For both of my books, I put my neck on the line by announcing in advance that the books were coming out. I did this after most of the content for the books was written but long before the books were ready to be sold.
This runs contrary to my nature. As my mom used to say when comparing me to my older brother, “He would jump right into the pool without looking, but you would circle it five times to make sure it was safe before getting in.” Telling people that I had a book coming out before it was a sure thing scared me. What if something happened and the book never came out? I would feel like a total failure.
But by putting the news out there, I gave myself motivation to follow through. And let me tell you, I really needed that motivation. Five months before the release of Fashionably Late, my mother suffered a heart attack, and I found myself suddenly responsible for her care. Had I not publically committed to the release of the book, I probably would have set the project aside at that point, perhaps never to pick it up again. But because I had made that commitment, I found a way to carry the project forward through the turmoil.
And even though it was rough going for a while, I’m happy to look back on that time and see such a joyous accomplishment in the mix. And of course, having my mom tell me she was proud of my hard work certainly helped.