When author-publishers spend so much time and energy discussing what he terms “the three Rs of self-publishing – reviews, rankings and royalties”, indie author Paul Connolly redirects the spotlight to fall upon the rewards that really count.
2014 was a memorable year for me, with the publication of my first novel, The Fifth Voice, bringing all sorts of new and exciting experiences: good reviews, newspaper features, a BBC radio interview, and even a bit of celebrity endorsement amongst them. Perhaps the highlight was being stocked by selected Waterstones shops, and walking into the Windsor branch to find Paul Connolly on the same shelf as Wilkie Collins and Joseph Conrad!
This was topped off in the first week of 2015 when a Kindle promotion saw my book enter the Amazon Top 10 in the Literary Fiction > Humour category.
Unexpected Reward #1
All very exciting, but on Sunday 11th January, two things happened that made me think about just why we write in the first place, and what the real rewards are when we eventually get published through whatever route. In the morning I received an email from a lady that stopped me in my tracks. It reads as follows:
“Wonderful book! Hits home for me because I always wished I could sing well. Life didn't give me those opportunities. Now people tend to nudge each other when they hear me, no matter how quietly I try to sing. I never know why. I do sing in my home, where I live alone, but some songs get to me and I just have to add my voice… no matter where I am. I am 70 years old nowm so not much chance of succeeding at this dream but I will be well prepared when I reach Heaven. Lovely book. Thank you so much for writing it. Sue”
Reading that, I came close to shedding a tear. I realised that my book had touched another life and made a difference. I also realised that if I achieved nothing else with my book, hearing how it had affected Sue was reward enough for having written it. It also gave me the opportunity to write back with encouragement, telling Sue that it’s not too late for her to sing with a choir, and offering help if she ever felt brave enough to take the first step.
Unexpected Reward #2
That evening, I attended a book group meeting at the invitation of a friend’s wife who had recommended The Fifth Voice to her group of fourteen readers – all ladies. I admit that I was both flattered and a little nervous at the prospect. The only other situation I could think of in which a bloke gets invited to an exclusively female social gathering is hiring a strippergram for a hen party. And that thought didn’t help much as I walked into a packed living room, and a hushed silence descended. However, before long, questions were coming thick and fast, I was finding anecdotes bubbling up from the deeper recesses of my brain and, all in all, the evening was huge fun. I signed a few books, had a few drinks, and felt honoured to be in the company of these ladies who, to my delight, seemed to have nothing but praise for my work.
It’s understandable that independent authors strive for validation in the form of reviews, rankings and royalties, as we battle for recognition in a world where the odds seem stacked against us. And I’m no different from most in that regard. But in just one day, two events conspired to make me think differently about the rewards of being published. It’s not all about the three Rs. Sue’s email and the smiling faces of the book club ladies persuaded me that the secret to success as a writer is closer to home than we might think.
OVER TO YOU
If you've been lucky enough to receive such wonderful and less obvious rewards such as Paul describes, we'd love to hear about them! Please share your favourite moments of glory in the comments box.
“Why the joy of publishing isn't all about sales by @ACappellaPaul: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/rewards/ #AuthorALLi #selfpub”