Han Solo Said It Best: A Guest Post by Eileen Gardner, PW’s 200,000th Twitter Follower

Eileen Gardner -- October 25th, 2011

Eileen Gardner has just become Publishers Weekly’s 200,000th follower on Twitter. Turns out she’s an aspiring novelist and blogger; to mark our Twitter milestone, we asked her to contribute a guest post to PWxyz.

I think sometimes in life it is better not to know how difficult something is going to be before you attempt it. I can now file “publish my novel” under this heading. The odds of seeing my work in print are frighteningly small, but I didn’t know that when I started my quest for publication. If I’d known the odds going in, I probably wouldn’t have gone in.

Ok, that’s not true. Writing for me is not a choice. It’s a passion, it’s a calling. I couldn’t stop writing if I tried, and believe me, I’ve tried. But like a siren’s song, writing keeps calling me back. I am a writer.

About two years ago, I had that thrilling spark of a great idea. I sat down in my chair and put my hands on the keyboard. Every day. I fell in love with my characters. I thought I developed an interesting plot. And I did something I’d never done before: I finished.

I think we should give out awards to anyone who actually finishes a novel. It is a major accomplishment.

But as every author knows, once she’s completed her latest opus, no book becomes “real” until someone else reads it. My first question of course was “to whom do I mail this to for it to be published?” Oh, how I wish it were that simple.

While I was writing I never gave any thought to the publishing process or the business side of a writer’s life. I had no idea you need a Pulitzer Prize-winning query letter just to get an agent’s attention. Or that once you have an agent (another major accomplishment), he or she still has to sell your book.

I didn’t know about all the negotiating, editing, and marketing that takes place every time a new book comes into the world or the virtual army of people needed to make this happen. Some days, the two years I spent writing the book seems like the easy part.

I certainly didn’t know about the rejection. Nothing prepares you for the soul-crushing rejection that is an inherent part of every author’s life. Writing is definitely not for wimps. You have to grow a thick skin. You have to keep putting yourself out there again and again and again, risking heartbreak every time.

I wasn’t hip to the necessity of a platform. I didn’t know I would have to tweet and blog and Facebook my little heart out if I wanted people to read my novel. When I am published, I don’t know if I’ll ever sleep again, but that is a worry for another time.

What I do know is this: there is something magical about storytelling. There is something truly wondrous about the power of words and their ability to move, frustrate, delight, and inspire us. That is why people write. That is why I write, because I love being a part of that magic.

So besides writing, I do something else; I persevere. Each day, I say a little prayer to the query gods and send out another batch. I tweet, I blog, and I try my best to enjoy the journey. I write new stories. And on the days when rejections fill my inbox and the magic is hard to find, I take a deep breath and call to mind the words of that great philosopher and statesman, Han Solo, who I think said it best, “Never tell me the odds.”

Read Eileen Gardner’s blog here.

7 thoughts on “Han Solo Said It Best: A Guest Post by Eileen Gardner, PW’s 200,000th Twitter Follower

  1. Maureen

    Great article!! There is indeed something magical about storytelling – love your passion for writing and how you talk about that magic being harder to find some days! And as a mother of two boys who love star wars, you just gotta love a Han Solo quote!!

  2. Sydnee Elliot

    Eileen, you have covered the entire torturous process and why we do it and why we can’t stop. Terrific article. I’ve just gone through the editing process upteen times and have my book on Amazon and Kindle, finally. Now the real work begins, networking and marketing. Had I known beforehand what the process would be like would I still have plowed ahead with my novel? Probably. Once the process is rolling on, it’s difficult to give up. Looking forward to reading your blog. And good luck with your book.

  3. Helen Hollick

    Oh Eileen tell me about it! *laugh* – and it doesn’t get any easier even when you are published. Agents let you down, fads change – publisher decides no one likes X genre any more & you find yourself back at the drawing (writing?) board again.
    But do we give up? No.
    Do we think, yes that agent / publisher / critique / is right? No.
    Do we take up knitting instead? No.
    We re-write, we take on board the comment that we have too many POV changes, that the plot doesn’t flow la la la and we re-edit and we are certain the NOW our story is one that people will want to read…
    we plod on.
    Why?
    Because we have developed a relationship with out characters, they are not words on a page but real people and we are obliged to tell their stories.
    I was dumped by my mainstream publisher several years ago (and by my ex agent) I found a small indie publisher with an even smaller mainstream imprint. It turned out to not be a very good publisher, but it kept my head (kinda) above water for a bit. The company went bust last February.
    I had three choices: give up writing (not an option) find another mainstream (unlikely to happen) or indie publish.
    There was no way I was going to let my books fall out of print and my beloved characters tumble into obscurity.
    Ok so I might only sell one book a week through my hard work on Twitter and Facebook – but that’s one more book a week then I would have sold if I’d given up!
    And yes Han Solo was an early inspiration (and actually Indiana Jones is a huge influence on my latest character ex-pirate Jesamiah Acorne (a blend of Hornblower, Sharpe, Jack Sparrow & Indiana Jones) so I’ve a lot to thank Mr Ford for …. and I think that quote is superb. Thanks!

  4. Liz Crowe

    GREAT Post. As a newly published author, the whole “promote or perish” thing is draining I assure you. I love the need for a “nobel prize winning query” letter ….so true! I have 3 small pubs who have taken a chance on me but my own personal business plan includes finding an agent and taking it up a notch or 12 within the next five years. Remember, amidst all the promotion, continue to WRITE. thanks for the post.
    cheers
    Liz

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