Some of us are old enough to remember the song that goes, “I’m a lonely little petunia in an onion patch, an onion patch, an onion patch – Oh, won’t you come and play with me?” by The Happy Gang. Writers spend lots of time in the onion patch trying to make their words bloom into pages of prose their readers will enjoy and possibly even treasure. When a petunia sprouts in the garden, it needs nurturing of all sorts like watering, fertilizer and maybe even a few whispered endearments to help it grow and eventually bloom into its deep purple, blue, pink, or red glory.
Novels, like petunias, need all kinds of nurturing, too. Books need T.L.C. delivered by writers, publishers, and promoters before landing in the laps of readers. Writing a novel, I’m quickly finding out, represents only one quarter of the effort it takes to bring a novel to a reader. Three-fourths of the effort to catapult a book into the hands of the public goes to formatting and marketing.
If most “indie” (independent) authors are like me, they would much rather be putting words on paper than struggling with fonts, gutters, front matter, back matter, sizing, pricing and selling. Launching the Arrowstar series on October 1 in both print and e-book format across many electronic platforms and through many print distributors often seems to me like being smack-dab in the middle of “an onion patch!” Some days I find myself wanting to pick up my petals, hike up my leaves, and run screaming from the garden! And then I think about the quote that I always include at the end of my emails, “Take a chance; amaze yourself.”
Being a lonely petunia probably doesn’t describe most writers, because, after all, we have our characters to keep us warm. But, the gritty art of writing does tend to be a very solitary occupation. What balances the hours and hours sitting solo in front of a computer screen? I believe some of that balance comes from reading reviews and comments written by fans. Readers’ opinions are highly valued by authors. Constructive criticism might lift a writer out of a writing rut, and praise certainly urges a writer onward.
The next time you finish a book that made you smile or brought you to tears, think about taking the opportunity to write a review or make a comment. It’s not easy out here in the onion patch! Your favorite authors will be thrilled to hear from you.
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