I always smile while reading J. A. Konrath’s blog posts.
Whether he’s being sincere, sharp, or snarky, he has a way of using just the right amount of humor, in just the right places, to get his point across without detracting from the seriousness of the topics he addresses.
I’ve just finished reading his newest post, Resolutions for Writers, and though I’m smiling, I find I have a point or two of disagreement with his advice.
Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that I am looking at the same view he is, but from a far different vantage point. His level of experience far eclipses mine, and I wonder if he would categorize where I am on this self-publishing journey as “a good start, with so very much more to go.”
J. A. Konrath, by comparison, is orbiting earth.
I am not glorifying him, or implying that he rules our planet. Rather, I mean to illustrate that he has ticked every box on the page; he has legacy books, e-books, print books, short stories, magazine articles, audio books, and a groundbreaking blog. He has marketed his novels countless times, in countless ways, all over this country, both in person and through social media. He has sold film rights to some of his novels, and he has been to Amazon headquarters for a sit down with their movers and shakers.
The only thing I could think of that he hasn’t yet done, at least as it relates to his work as an author, is to create video games based on his characters. And comic books, too. But I think that’s all that is left until another new frontier is either created or carved out for novelists.
Here’s my point about holding a different vantage point than the one he is communicating in his Resolutions for Writers blog post. Whiskey Sour, the first book in his Jack Daniels series, was published in 2004. My first novel, Ava, was published in 2012. That eight-year difference in experience is substantial, potentially life-changing, as in the case of J. A. Konrath.
Eight years from now, will I have crisscrossed the country for book signings? Will I have been invited for a private meeting with the chiefs at a major corporation? Will I be invited to speak at conferences?
I don’t know.
I can easily see to the end of this month, and if I squint really hard, I can see to the end of this year – sort of. Beyond that? It’s anyone’s guess.
When I read the 2013 portion of J. A. Konrath’s Resolutions for Writers, I was surprised at his advice. It didn’t seem to fit with the advice he had shared in previous years, or with the honest exuberance with which he always seems to recount both his successes and his failures.
But it was this part, in particular, that struck me:
“I'll never do another book tour. I doubt I'll ever do another official booksigning. I've stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email.”
I hope that’s only temporary.
When I was brand new to the idea of self-publishing, and I was still a year away from loading my debut novel onto the e-shelves, J. A. Konrath was the first voice of clarity I could find on social media whose posts contained carefully explained points about the pros and cons of choosing this path to publishing.
Over the past few years, practically everyone has wanted a piece of his energy, his talent, his success, his time. I’m no different. In fact, when I check in on his blog and see that he has added nothing new since last I was there, I tend to be annoyed.
That’s wrong of me, but it’s also honest.
He’s been out there leading this charge, fighting major intellectual battles on behalf of the self-publishing community. He personally benefits, yes, but so too do legions of others, me included.
If I knew where to send him a box of PG Tips, or a bottle of whiskey (Jack Daniels, naturally) as a thank you, I’d do it. And here’s the note I would include:
Dear J. A. Konrath,
You don’t know it, but you are a brick in the foundation upon which I am building my future. I thank you for sharing your wisdom with the self-publishing community, and for having no expectations of a return on that investment except, perhaps, that we will use that knowledge well.
I plan to.
In the end, it thrills me to read that J. A. Konrath is shutting out the noise and applying his abundant mental resources exclusively to his writing. It equally thrills me that his tireless work, and the quality of his novels, has created a fan base that will continue to fuel his success no matter where he is, or what he’s doing.
Eight years from now, I hope to also have earned the respect of a dedicated readership, and to have provided a roadmap of my journey, too, for the newbies – like I once was – who may find the information reassuring, even helpful, no matter which morning, in which year, they decide this is the day to follow a dream.