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Opinion: The Real Rewards Of Publishing A Book

Opinion: The Real Rewards of Publishing a Book

Paul Connolly headshotWhen 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

Cover of The Fifth Voice by Paul Connolly

Paul Connolly's debut novel

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.

Success Story

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.


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.

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“Why the joy of publishing isn't all about sales by @ACappellaPaul: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/rewards/ #AuthorALLi #selfpub”


Author: Paul Connolly

Paul Connolly's debut novel "The Fifth Voice" was published via SilverWood Books in 2014 and draws on his own passion for quartet and a cappella singing. Find out more about the author and his work at his website www.paulconnollyauthor.com.


This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Thanks, Paul, for reminding me why I write. It’s the pleasure of the process, the meaning it has for me, and the few heartfelt notes I received from my readers who were touched by my books. It’s easy to forget in the struggle of trying to “make it”–whatever that means.
    Thanks for a great post!

  2. One of the most unexpected rewards I received from publishing is that I’ve made a ton of new friendships. And not just with other authors. Some of my favorite people now are people who read my books and contacted me in some way to talk about them. I have a handful that I talk to on a regular basis and who I simply adore.

  3. I’m all about that first reward you mentioned. The first time a review of my novel, “The Place We Went to Yesterday” had a reviewer quote what happened to be my favorite line of the novel, I cried.

  4. Great article and spot on. When our book came out, Barnes and Noble was interested. We used the same distributor, but because we do print on demand, they would not stock it on the shelves in case they decided to “return” some at a later date. They originally wanted 25 copies for some stores in NYC.

  5. Your examples are wonderful, Paul. One that I can add to the mix is having someone from Auckland, New Zealand send me an email to let me know that she had requested my book for the Auckland library. Definitely a highlight since I live in Toronto Canada.

  6. Such a heartfelt post Paul. I loved it. Yes, it’s when the book touches someone else and a magic bridge is created in the world of words and ideas, that I feel something special has occurred.

  7. Excellent stuff.
    The first few times I had a reader comment on how one of my books changed things for them, I was in bits for the rest of the day. I’m a little less shocked now, but it touches me each time and reminds me the real reason I wanted to be published.

  8. Yesterday I had an unexpected reward for my collection of Christmas stories, having thought they’d be off everyone’s radar till the next festive season. A neighbour emailed me to say that her elderly father in the US (we live in the UK) had instructed her to let me know in person how much he had enjoyed the copy she’d sent him for Christmas. (She sent one to relatives in Australia too.) I’ve never met him and don’t know him, but it meant a lot to me that he was motivated to send a personal message to tell me that he thought I was “a great writer”. I’ve no idea what else he reads or what he’s comparing my work to, but just the fact that he took the trouble from so far away made my day. Added bonus: the neighbour invited me round to coffee for the first time ever, asking me to bring a copy of the book for her to buy to read herself. Wanting to read a Xmas book in January because the recommendation was so high? That made me smile too!

  9. I was an avid reader long before I became an author, so reader response is always an extra pleasure. I can still remember my first fan letter. This was back in the day, so the reader took the time to send it to my then-publisher, who sent it on to me.

    In the throes of managing a challenging business, it is easy to lose sight of why it is I write, to lose the sense of fun, the joy. It is my truth, that I wrote when no one paid me and I will continue to write if no one pays me. It is nice to feel successful as in my business, but that’s different from the satisfaction that comes when I know that a reader loved something that I wrote. That connects me right back to reader-me.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your experiences. 🙂

  10. My first novel, Storms in the heart, brought me to the realization I can offer something to the world. I am inspired each time a school called me to supply hundreds of copies for students. Today, about five institutions have used it as a learning tool for their students. I am so happy to see my thoughts accepted. In reality, writing a novel is less difficult than getting it published due to the hurdle of critics that awaits the writer.

  11. I couldn’t agree more, Paul – it’s readers’ reactions that are so precious. This is why I so love doing face-to-face events – be they signings in Waterstones and local bookshops or school visits.

    What matters more than anything and stays with me irrespective of how many sales I make are the little things children say and do. Like the little girl who came up and hugged me after a session of Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep at one school last year (she was all of 5 years old and had only been at school a few weeks – and told me that she loved me!) And on another occasion in Teddington Waterstones when a little girl who had already bought The Secret Lake the week before came in and found me there, then ran all the way home to get her book for me to sign… That kind of feedback is priceless! I’ve also had several A4 envelopes stuffed full of letters from school children – it’s so special! So glad to hear that you have inspired readers and done so well!

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