One Year Publishing Anniversary

“Do you know what your problem is, Paul?” A family member that I deeply love and respect rhetorically asked me. “You’re too honest.” Contrary to my family member’s assessment, I have not been completely forthright about why I self-published The Gift of Samuel: Grey Dawn. Given that it’s the one-year publishing anniversary of the novel, now seems as good a time as any to share what I’ve been withholding.

When my recurring dreams of Samuel transformed into a story, I knew in my head and my heart that it was a trilogy. However, with the first book’s release, I was purposefully quiet about this fact. Logic dictated that the chances of the first novel being a success were exceptionally slim. For starters, I was the least likely person to write a good book. They say that good writers are voracious readers, and I was not well read. In fact, I spent most of my life avoiding books whenever possible, as I struggled with all things related to words, reading, writing, and spelling. Numbers made sense to me, and I excelled in math. Two plus two always equaled four, while what’s considered “reasonable” to one could mean something completely different to another.

Given the high probably of book one’s failure, I saw no need to further embarrass myself by announcing that the novel was the first of three. The possibility of publishing one book that no one enjoyed carried enough risk of humiliation; there was no need to add potential insult to injury by publicizing that two more equally lame products were in the works.

Then I had my first review from a beta reader, a cousin of mine, who I knew would give it to me straight. “I loved it,” she emphatically told me. “I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end. There’s got to be a second book, right? I need to know what happens!” From there, the reception from future readers and reviewers echoed the same sentiments. The first book didn’t suck. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a good book and readers wanted the rest of the story!

With my initial fear abated, it was time to update the book’s website and back cover, let it be publicly known that The Gift of Samuel: Grey Dawn was the first of three books. In doing so, I contemplated using this as the opportunity to also tell everyone why I am writing the trilogy and my ultimate goal with this endeavor. That’s when the logical, never satisfied critic, deep inside me, whispered in my ear, reminding me of the magnitude of embarrassment that awaited me in taking such action.

Like it or not, we are a culture obsessed with odds. I get it. Measuring probability is rational. It makes sense. It gives us a sense of security, of knowing the unknowable. If Joe Baseball Player has a .310 batting average against right-handed pitchers over his ten-year carrier versus a .210 batting average against lefties, odds are ten percent greater he’ll get a hit facing a righty. 12 out of every 100 drivers hit a deer every year, so you might want to consider comprehensive car insurance, not just liability insurance. Two plus two always equals four.

This brings me to the second reason I was sure I would fail. The odds are 1 in 10,000, a 0.01% chance, that I will make enough money with The Gift of Samuel to make ends meet without having to subsidize my income with another job. The odds are 1 in 100,000, a 0.00001% chance, that The Gift of Samuel will someday be a household name. Why even try with these kinds of odds? It would make much more sense to let the dream go, save myself the time, money, energy, and frustration of completing the trilogy and focus my attention on my day job. Plus, it’s safer not putting myself out there for the ridicule and embarrassment of failing and becoming another casualty of the odds. But I cannot play it safe.

I wrote The Gift of Samuel: Grey Dawn, and will complete the trilogy, because I want everyone to know that I’m in flawed like everyone else. I am weak more often that I care to admit. I have doubts on many levels. I’ve failed and I’ve let people down. Yet, I am writing and publishing these books because I want to give people a sense of hope with this fictional story. Moreover, I want people to be inspired by what I’m doing in my real life. Despite all of my shortcomings and the impossible odds, I was able to persevere and was able to make enough money to make ends meet with The Gift of Samuel. From that perseverance and that willingness to take a chance, my goal is to be able to quit my day job so I can become a greater instrument of love, in some other capacity, that is yet to be determined. I wrote The Gift of Samuel to beat the odds and inspire others to follow in my footsteps.