The focus of the IWSG is support and encouragement.
To a large extent, this is dependent on the
kindness of strangers.
As writers, we assist
one another in this virtual world, and special human connections are forged, which transform the writing experience,
sometimes above and beyond our expectations.
This post celebrates the special gift of
kindness that writers share.
* * *
First of all, thanks to Michelle Wallace for asking me to write this
piece. I believe that every time we write something about ourselves, we also
learn something new about ourselves.
Let me identify
myself as a writer of fiction, and a 'Hybrid' writer. That is, I started
out being published traditionally by New York publishers. Since then I have
also been published by Amazon's print house,Thomas & Mercer, and have also
digitally self-published one novel and a three-volume collection of short
stories on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Program.
Being a hybrid
author does not mean I'm brilliant, or incredibly talented. Passion for your
subject, perseverance and just plain luck (or timing) has more to do with being
published than raw talent. I am half Native Hawaiian, so have written a lot
about the Pacific. Publishers have found my books intriguing because not many
writers cover the Pacific. So that is an example of LUCK on my part.
I am also
PASSIONATE about my subject, and write five-six days a week and I think that
'blind drive' is another reason I was published.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE
YOU HAVE TO FEEL LIKE YOU WILL DIE if you don't write..
If you are
just in it for the money, I would suggest changing careers. Most writers are poor,
we do it for love. But sometimes beautiful books come out of love, and
they become bestsellers. Suddenly you're rich! And that is every writer's
dream. To write something you are proud of, and watch it become a success
is what I have always told my students, "WRITE WITH PASSION!"
If your writing is lukewarm it means you're not in love with your subject
matter. Find another subject.
Now for Joe
Konrath, and those three magic words. You should know that Konrath writes
a blog THE NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING, that has a following of over 10,000
readers. He started out traditionally published, hated the way New York
publishers treated him, and learned how to digitally self-publish his own
novels. Then he started his blog site to share his knowledge with other writers.
You see, from the start he was a generous man.
I had a book contract with a New York publisher for my next novel.
The advance was so small I wondered how I would survive until the book
was sold and published, which in traditional publishing usually takes 18
months! How would I eat? How would I pay rent? I began to feel hopeless,
Then a friend
took me by the hand and said, "You're not going to die. Read Joe Konrath's
blog. He is going to save your life."
Well, I went back and read every blog Joe
had ever posted, dating back to five years previous. I then decided to
publish a collection of short stories that no publisher in New York had
wanted. I followed his step-by-step instructions on how to
self-publish a book digitally. With the help of an artist, I learned about
designing the cover, how to find a formatter, and how to price
It took a month
or two to complete formatting and designing the collection of short
stories, HOUSE OF SKIN. The day it was finally published on KDP as an ebook, I
saw the beautiful cover for sale on Amazon and screamed. I think I cried
all day. I had given birth to my first book. When I was sane, I wrote Joe
Konrath a letter of thanks. I told him I had been near suicide with
hopelessness, and that he had saved my life. I sent him a link with the cover
of HOUSE OF SKIN, and thought I would never hear from him. He's wildly popular
and busy (and now a millionaire with the sale of his self-pubbed books.)
Joe not only responded
to my letter, he reproduced the letter word for word on his blogsite,
uploaded HOUSE OF SKIN with its beautiful cover, and then told his readers my
story. THEN Joe told his readers, "let's see if we can help this writer
sell her book. Come on guys, pitch in! Remember all the help other people gave
you. Now it's time for each of you to pay it forward!" I had never
heard that phrase before, it means to help someone and hopefully they in
turn will help the next guy. (A movie was made of this with Kevin Spacey and
Helen Hunt called PAY IT FORWARD.)
Well, long story
short, with Joe's thousands of readers, within a few hours, my book HOUSE
OF SKIN had jumped in sales ranking on Amazon from something like 700,000 to
number 8. That's right, number 8. Number 1 in sales ranking is the
biggest seller in the world at the moment, usually a Stephen King book.
Well, that day I broke a record on Amazon, for the fastest rising book in
sales ranking for all time. In a few hours the book had multiplied in
sales over 4,000 times. Of course within a few days, it slid down again,
but I had found an audience! And it stayed under the 100,000 sales rank
for over a year. (Today it bounces up and down as all books do.) There are
now millions of books on Amazon, so I feel any book under 100,000 in sales
rankings is doing fine.
most with me was Joe's extreme generosity, and his emphasis on those three
magic words, which he still uses today.
PAY IT FORWARD!!!!
"Help your mates. We're all in this together, let's become an army by
joining forces as self-publishers in the digital world." Through
Joe's blog site I have met self-pubbing authors who have become dear friends.
We help each other with cover designs, with editing, with just lending a
sympathetic ear. We barter our work and save money by avoiding big corporate
professionals. We are the Pay it Forward Ranks. We're pioneers in
this brave new digital world, where rules and algorithms keep changing.
It's scary but the one constant is...our FRIENDSHIPS..
new coterie of peers has become my universe. It's changed my career, and
my way of thinking. I no longer feel alone as I did with traditional New
York publishers. And I have become more generous with other writers. Digital
self-pubbers are much more generous, much more human because we're all pioneers
in this brave new world. And our world is based on those magic words.
A postscript to
this article. When my NY publisher Penguin, discovered I had
self-published on Amazon, they tore up my book contract and fired me. That is
how threatened they are by Amazon.
It made the front
page of the New York Times, showing how terrified New York publishers were and
still are of Amazon, and how threatened they are by self-published authors who
no longer need
New York publishers." OK, I lost my prestigious NY publisher, but I
gained a whole new world of brave, innovative and caring friends. I have
never looked back. And this is the life I wish for you. One filled
with passion, hard work, and peers who are struggling alongside you, living the
mantra of Paying it Forward.
God bless you and Happy Writing!
is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father
from Talladega, Alabama. Her father, Braxton Bragg Davenport, was a sailor in
the U.S. Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor, when he fell in love with her mother,
Emma Kealoha Awaawa Kanoho Houghtailing.
On her mother's side, Kiana traces her
ancestry back to the first Polynesian settlers to the Hawaiian Islands who
arrived almost two thousand years ago from Tahiti and the Tuamotu's. On her
father's side, she traces her ancestry to John Davenport, the puritan clergyman
who co-founded the American colony of New Haven, Connecticut in 1638.
Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, Shark Dialogues, Song Of The Exile, and House
Of Many Gods. She is also the author of the collections, House Of Skin Prize-Winning Stories, and
Cannibal Nights, Pacific Stories Volume II.
Both have been Kindle bestsellers. She has just published her third collection,
Opium Dreams, Pacific Stories, Volume III.
of the University of Hawaii, Kiana has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard
University, a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a
National Endowment for the Arts grant. Her short stories have won numerous O.
Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and the Best American Short Story Award, 2000.
Her novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-one languages.
She lives in New York City and Hawaii.