My name is Andrew Galasetti. I’m the author of the upcoming novel To Breathe Free. I’ve been a reader of Nathan’s blog for some time and an occasional visitor to these forums but haven’t had a chance to post.
I, like all of you, have been working hard on my literary dreams and wanted to share with you my journey and my thoughts on the experience of bringing To Breathe Free to fruition. I’m posting the following exclusively written article entitled “Fight like hell for your literary dreams!” for possible consideration for Nathan’s blog. But even if it is not reposted there as a guest article, I hope that many of you here in this forum enjoy it and that I can interact further with you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my following article. I hope you enjoy it! If you do, please post your thoughts.
Fight like hell for your literary dreams!
Every writer has massive obstacles pushing back against them as they attempt to turn their literary dreams into reality.
First, you need to seek and gather something inspiring to write about.
Then of course you must make the time to write. For the writer who hasn’t reached the professional level, there are plenty of things—like paying the bills—which take precedent. And even if you are a pro writer there are plenty of responsibilities of maintaining your writing career—and the responsibilities of life we all share, no matter our background—that keep you from writing.
Then once you finally do create the time, self-doubt likes to tell you: “You’re crazy! You can’t write!” And you believe it, losing your grasp on that precious writing time as it slips away never, ever, to return.
Then other times when you don’t immediately surrender to self-doubt, your head spins in the other direction as the other voice in there fights back, gently encouraging you to “Go for it! At least try… You can write.”
Then once you get going, tapping on those keys or moving that pen, self-doubt seizes any hesitation that you make as opportunity to flood back into your conscious. And again, it laughs and reminds you just how crazy it thinks you are for believing that you have any sort of talent in writing.
This is all before you even attempt to find a literary agent, publisher, and reach readers. Which, each alone, can take years and come with their own set of obstacles such as that one and only word which wordsmiths seem to fear: REJECTION.
Oh! And let’s not forget that little thing called “writer’s block,” which can strike at any moment.
Lastly, there is the inevitable: the limited time you have on this Earth.
Despite all these obstacles, I’m here to tell you, listen to that voice which tells you: “You can write” and use it as fuel to fight like hell for your literary dreams!
My literary dream is to publish my novel To Breathe Free and reach as many readers as possible. To Breathe Free is my attempt at writing the next “Great American Novel” and the first “Great American e-Novel.” The novel explores many difficult topics such as racism, poverty, domestic violence, war, death, and the American Dream. It weaves a complex story from the early 1900’s to the present-day, uniting all Americans and their shared pursuit, as Emma Lazarus wrote in her poem “The New Colossus,” of “yearning to breathe free.”
To Breathe Free is an ambitious project and a major risk but two advocates carried me through all the above obstacles and further adversities that come with any pursuit of a dream. One advocate was that voice in my head that said “You can write” and other, even more important advocate, was my late Grandfather.
My Grandfather passed away quite abruptly at the age of 91 in December 2010. When my family was looking through what little belongings he left behind, they came across a few old sheets of yellowing paper. On these papers were free-verse poems that he had written down in the past. I was utterly moved by reading them, especially one which I will never forget since then titled “Is what I am Where I am.” The poem depicts his dream and the dream of all us writers to have our writing be remembered in the hearts and the minds of readers. Here is the original handwritten poem:
I never knew who I inherited my passion for creativity and writing from until I read this poem. It was a bittersweet epiphany because I was motivated to begin writing To Breathe Free at that very moment but I also deeply regretted never having the opportunity to talk to my Grandfather about his passion for writing.
I don’t have an excuse for why I never found the time to learn more about him and his amazing talent. I guess… just the superficial things that we think make up “life,” got in the way and before I knew it he was gone.
His literary dreams could have crumbled away with the dry, yellowing papers which they are written upon. But I am determined to breathe new life into his dreams and fight like hell for them.
I decided to incorporate a selection of his poems into the forward of To Breathe Free and within the novel’s story so that I could fulfill both of our literary dreams of reaching readers and leaving behind a legacy.
With To Breathe Free I was originally searching for a literary agent and a traditional path to print publication. I, like most aspiring authors, was seeking the perfect advocate, a literary agent that could see the potential in my manuscript and be willing to work with it and champion its publication. However, again like most aspiring authors, I received rejection after rejection, from the personal and sincere, to the quick—and slightly less painful—form rejection, to the long drawn out, agonizing reply that begins: “Dear Author,” which you know after reading "Dear" is a “no.”
All this is part of the journey of being a writer that we must expect but it is still difficult to deal with. We write because we want to be heard. And when pitching literary agents or finding a publisher it can often feel like no one is listening. But those two voices in your head are. The self-doubt feels vindicated and is drowning out the encouraging voice still telling you not to give up.
I’ll be honest. I threw up my arms in agony and surrendered to the self-doubt for some time. I thought that it was over after all the rejections I received. I thought that I had no talent and there wasn’t any other way to reach readers in a substantial way besides through a legacy publisher.
After this agonizing surrender to self-doubt, I realized that dreams are just too precious to hand over to someone else to let them decided whether they should live or die. I needed to regain control of my dreams and the dreams of my Grandfather which I inherited, and that it was time to be a part of the e-publishing revolution.
Unlike the time of my Grandfather, we are living in an era with technological disruption that has bred unlimited opportunities, especially for aspiring authors like us. We can now fight like hell for our literary dreams!
There are no longer any excuses to why you can’t get your writing out there and reach readers.
If writing is truly your passion and purpose, you cannot live or die without doing it. ALL of us have responsibilities but you have to find a way. Life’s responsibilities are not excuses to prevent us from doing what we feel we were meant to do in life. You’ve gotta fight like hell for your literary dreams!
Don’t possess the know-how?
It is true that independent e-publishing does require a lot of a writer. You need knowledge of technology and entrepreneurialism, along with the skills of writing. But there’s a misconception, perhaps even a delusion, about the traditional route of print publishing, because just like the independent route publishing houses expect authors to know how to work technology, the internet, social media, and you still have to tap into an entrepreneurial mindset to promote your work.
Like writing, learning technology and ways to promote your writing is going to take time. But if you truly want to reach readers and realize your literary dreams, you’ve gotta fight like hell!
Don’t have money?
This is another major excuse that is no longer relevant thanks to technology. You may think that you need to hire an expensive programmer to format your manuscript into the ebook format that will work with all the major e-readers and tablets. However, there are programs that will easily allow you to export your manuscript as the correct format. For instance, I proudly use the word processing program “Scrivener.” As long as you want to publish a book that is mostly text, Scrivener will allow you to easily export your manuscript into EPUB or MOBI format which are the standard ebook formats for major devices and apps. The Mac version of Scrivener costs $45 and the Windows version costs $40. Scrivener is also great because it was designed for writers. It includes a full screen mode that blocks out all other distractions on your computer and allows you to just write. It does takes some getting used to the program but it’s very powerful and worth dedicating the time to become familiar.
Still think you need money to publish your book?
Well, you still have options.
While I didn’t need the help of someone to format my manuscript thank to Scrivener or a graphic designer to create a cover and someone to build a website for me because of my personal skills, I still require funding for an editor. I believe with great conviction that ebooks are truly revolutionary, I also still believe in the importance of editors when it comes to independent self-publishing. A capable editor that does more than just fixes typos and instead assists you with developmental editing, can help push you and your writing to a new level. As writers we become very attached to what we create. Therefore we have difficulties looking at our work openly enough to realize the weaknesses that exist. An editor can be the perfect person to help with that and the benefit of going with a legacy publisher is that the publisher provides one to work with. So as a now-independent author, I have been searching for a freelance editor to assist me with my manuscript. On my search, I found many outstanding editors with great experience in traditional publishing. You just need to do your homework on them and have a compelling manuscript with the funding to hire one.
Technology again can come to your aid with the funding because of sites like Kickstarter. I’m sure you all know about Kickstarter because Nathan has written about it before: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03 ... -self.html . However, for those who don’t know, Kickstarter allows creative people, like authors, to launch projects to raise funding for their dreams. People can pledge as little as $1 to help bring dreams to reality. However, it’s not a charitable handout. For their help, supporters get something in return, like a copy of the project creator’s book.
I launched a Kickstarter project for my novel To Breathe Free: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tobreathefree/to-breathe-free-a-novel http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tobreathefree/to-breathe-free-the-first-great-american-e-novel (*Edit: link to newly relaunched Kickstarter added) and it’s been quite an interesting journey so far. It takes a ton of work. You cannot simply launch a project and wait for your funding goal to be reached. It’s going to take time and effort. Even have to contact anyone you can possible think of: friends, family, strangers, and the media. I’ve been working my project like it’s a full time job and every second has been precious so make sure if you ever launch a project that you can burn the midnight oil. Be forewarned that sometimes a project will languish for weeks until it builds momentum or other times projects can take off as soon as their launched and then fizzle out. But until the time runs out on your project deadline you have to work like crazy and fight like hell for your literary dreams!
No matter what path you decide to venture out on, whether through a legacy publisher, print-on-demand, independent print publishing, or independent electronic publishing, don’t let anyone or your own self-doubt force you to abandon your dreams. Life is too short when compared to the potential immortality of your writing. So get out there and fight like hell for your literary dreams!
Again, my name is Andrew Galasetti and I’m the author of the upcoming novel To Breathe Free. I welcome you to please visit my website here: http://www.tobreathefree.com/ and I welcome your questions, comments, thoughts, and your own stories on independent publishing and your literary dreams below or at my email address: email [at] tobreathefree.com.
Thanks for reading!
*Edited on 5/21/12 to update with new Kickstarter link