Monday, May 14, 2012

Selling vs Sharing - The Truth About Being a Published Author by Aaron Michael Ritchey

I'm pleased to welcome Aaron Michael Ritchey to my blog today. Aaron was born with Colorado thunderstorms in his soul. He's sought shelter as a world traveler, an endurance athlete, a story addict, and even gave serious thought to becoming a Roman Catholic priest. After too brief a time in Paris, he moved back to the American West and lives semi-comfortably with three forces of nature: a blonde hurricane, an artistic tornado, and a beautiful, beautiful blizzard.

Aaron's new release is The Never Prayer, a paranormal YA novel from Crescent Moon Press. "Torn between her love for an Angel and a Demon, Lena thinks she knows the difference between Heaven’s Fury and Hell’s Desire. She never had a prayer…"

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Selling vs Sharing - The Truth About Being a Published Author by Aaron Michael Ritchey

Thank you so much, Patricia Stoltey, for letting me crash your blog and sing my truths. Wow, that sounded grand. But let’s go with it.

I attended the RT Book Lovers Conference this past April and it was one of the most powerful writing experiences I have ever had. If you are a book lover, I’d mark it in your calendar, sell plasma to afford the travel, and get your butt there.

But even though I loved RT, when I first arrived, I stood in the lobby, lost and frightened. Who was I to be there peddling my little book? Who was I to stand next to bestselling writers from huge presses who have sold millions of copies? Who was I to think I could be an author?

I was a frightened, little man living on just this side of hopeless. I wanted to leave. I wanted to run away.

And then I thought about my little book, The Never Prayer. I thought about my heroine Lena, alone, afraid, holding her little brother while they both wept because they were both orphans in a cold, hard world. Lena grows up in my book, she reaches out for help, she grieves, she loves, and she finds courage to do an impossible thing that saves countless lives.

I realized I wasn’t there to sell my books, grease palms, or suck up to industry professionals. I was there to share my story.

If writing is all about me getting rich and famous, I should be afraid. Because then I’m alone, trying to sell you something you may not want to buy.

My job, as a writer, is to bear witness to the wonder of this world, the wonder, the joy, the heartbreak. My job is not to sell my books. Nope. Let me repeat that for those out there, alone, afraid, overwhelmed. My job is not to sell books. My job is to share my story.

My stories are uniquely me. Just as your stories are uniquely you. Let’s share them with the world. We might get an audience of a million. We might only get an audience of one. But it’s still worth it.

My first novel, this huge, rambling, complicated mess, well, I used to pitch it as David Lynch meets Lord of the Rings done as a Shakespeare play. Lost yet? Yeah, I know. Complicated mess. Postmodern, Post-Urban Fantasy, Post Toasties. But my best friend read it, one of the only people to get through it all, and he cried at the end because we shared a similar struggle—it’s hard to live in the real world when our fantasy worlds, in our heads, seem so much better. I touched him. The book was worth it. My audience of one. Thanks, Peter.

At the RT Book Lovers Conference, once I got over my fear and self-doubt, I had a wonderful time. Talking to writers. Laughing. Networking. Holding a woman as she cried about her brother who had just died.

I’ve heard it said that all of our needs will be met through selfless service. We will get what we need when we reach out to help others.

I’m a writer. I’ve been gifted with the ability to shape plot, create characters, sing songs that just might have a powerful effect on the people who hear them. If I remember it’s not about selling books. It’s about sharing my story.

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Aaron, thanks so much for a touching post that encourages and inspires. We all need to hear these words from time to time.

For more information about Aaron and The Never Prayer, visit his website and blog. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

14 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Aaron.

Aaron - Thanks for sharing (yes, I used that word deliberately :-) ) your way of thinking about getting the word around about one's books. It really is a matter of sharing the story - the thing that made the author take all that time and make all that effort in the first place. I wish you much success.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes just sharing our story is enough!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

A great reminder that at the end of the day, it's not about the money (definitely not in this business!)

Aaron M. R. said...

Thanks all for the comments. Oh, if it were about the money. If only. But I get to practice being a clown, juggling the day job with the writing life. And Margot Kinberg! I wish you much success as well! Let's all succeed together! Hurray!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Money? You mean, that stuff you use to buy things? Luckily, that's not why I'm writing either. :D

Susan said...

Awesome post, Aaron. I remember your passion for your novel from last year's Colorado Gold conference - I really enjoyed meeting you and chatting about it. (Incidentally, I'm the one from the group at the Hospitality Suite who was writing the ninja mystery book - which is now under contract for publication next spring.)

Giving back to other writers is such an important part of being part of the writing community. We're one of the few professions where there's absolutely no need for one-upsmanship and competition. We are all stronger when we work in an atmosphere of mutual support.

Aaron M. R. said...

Money. Currencty exchanged for goods and services. More and more, though, I'm pondering the question - could one write enough to make a living? Others have. One of J.A. Konrath's friends quit his job and is writing full time. I'm pondering all of that. But could I kept the spirit of sharing if I had to live off what I've shared?

Lynn Proctor said...

beautifully stated--thanks for that part of your story

Aaron M. R. said...

Yesh, hello Susan! Ninja mystery. Love it. I wish you best of luck! Keep in touch when it's out. And thanks Lynn Proctor!

Angela Brown said...

Aaron, Aaron, Aaron. How much truth you bring in this post is unfathomable.

The person who writes to get rich, expecting something like a whirlwind to hit their finances and turn all things rosey, well, I hope the stars align to make it happen.

Otherwise, I'm glad I write to share my stories as well. To tell a tale from my viewpoint - or rather from the character's viewpoint - that wants to be told.

Jack Durish said...

Am I understanding this author's message? It's okay to tell stories without reward? What are royalties but an affirmation that someone is reading our stories? Would any of us stand at a podium in an empty room telling our stories? What would be the point of that?

I suppose that I can write without reward while I develop my skills. But, at some point, I have to begin succeeding or admit that I should apply myself to a different trade, and success in publishing is measured by royalties.

Aaron M. R. said...

Thanks, Angela!

On to Jack Durish. Thanks so much for the dissenting opinion.

If I focus on selling my stories for cash money, then I am selling. Selling is hard. I love me a good salesman because I know how hard it is to move product. I'm not a salesman. Oh, but if I were...

If I focus on sharing my story, I have much less fear and angst. Is what I do the same? The action is the same--querying, marketing, guest blogging--but how I feel is worlds different.

And yeah, I spent most of my writing career standing at a podium addressing an empty room. I spent 14 years writing and never querying. Because I was too afraid. Because I thought I had to sell.

Nope. My job is to share. I don't expect much success or money. As Henry Miller said, the only reward for writing is writing. And he spent nearly a lifetime at the empty podium. Until he became rich and famous -- Angela's whirlwind. Thanks again for the controversy!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Aaron, thanks for being my guest today. And I wish you a truckload of royalties for sharing your story in The Never Prayer. :D

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia, what a great guest Aaron is ...

and Aaron good to read your story and that differentiation between selling and sharing .. it's that starting point isn't it - not waiting for the phone to ring .. just get on out there and offer to share ..

The Never Prayer is a good title - draws me in .. cheers Hilary