The following article was published in 2012 when I was seeking a publishing company for my 2nd book. I have since published my 6th book to wide acclaim without their help.
THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE.
by Justin Sheedy
Any day now…
If you bash your head against a wall long enough and hard enough, eventually you make a small hole in it. With a bit of luck, a hole in the wall too… Right now, I seem to be peering through the tiny hole I’ve made in a wall, on the other side of which lies the Bright and Shining World of Authorial Success. It’s a very small hole.
My name’s Justin Sheedy. My first book, Goodbye Crackernight (a portrait of growing up in 1970s Australia), was published at the end of 2009. Yes, it needed a NSW Writers’ Centre Mentorship Program manuscript assessment to transform it from good but unpublishable raw material into an actual decent read and, yes, I had to have a new brain fitted after the ordeal of the transformation but that was well worth it.
As I write this, I’m still a ‘new’ author, yet no longer a ‘brand-new’ one. And can now offer a nugget of advice to those still brand-new: There is one important thing about your first publisher. One thing. Their Distributor. Try it: Walk into a bookstore, say, “I’m from Mars and I’ve just written a book.” Bookstore manager will say, “Distributor?” You then tell them and start planning your first book launch. Brand new authors, say it with me: “Distributor. Dis-tributor…”
With my first book launched, I visited nearly every store in Sydney to which it had been distributed and secured media coverage for it in a string of local newspapers, also on community radio plus Regional ABC radio (all possible to secure without a paid PR Agent, just a metric shitload of phone calls, emails and leg-work). But then one morning I received a return phone call from a local newspaper. A nice lady said, “You don’t know me but I feel like I know you. Thank you for writing that book; I’m still laughing and crying.” After I’d regained consciousness she said she’d like to help me (insert heavenly choir sound effect here) get onto the program of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010. Which I did. And the Rest is…
…a continuum of hard work, knock-backs and general head-against-wall bashing.
My latest book is entitled Nor the Years Condemn. It’s an historical fiction based on the stunning true Australian story of how the best and brightest of a generation ironically picked one of the fastest ways to die in World War II. And won it. This book, too, only became the book it should be after a NSWWC Mentorship Program assessment. …And I had my second new brain fitted in as many years.
By 2011, now being able to ring Australia’s major publishing houses and say the magic words, ‘published author’, I was able to get past reception at all of them and onto their commissioning editors. Each of whom said Nor the Years Condemn sounded great, ‘Please send it in’, and proceeded to reject it one after the other over the course of 2011. By the end of the year, however, having attended a Byron Bay Writers’ Festival E-Publishing info seminar subtitled ‘Bypassing the Gatekeeper’, I published Nor the Years Condemn as an ebook, then in January this year as a print-on-demand paperback at Amazon.
Soon after publication, reader reviews started coming in. (Please read them at the above Amazon link to the book!) Though such reviews have only been made possible by an international awareness of the book which I’ve built up through almost daily Facebook and blogging activity – I launched Crackernight.com in 2009. Plus I’m currently building on early gains made: The media contacts I secured cold in 2009 are now warm! Recent local press headlines for Nor the Years Condemn have included ‘A Must-Read’ and, poignantly, ‘The Fight for Survival’…
One paper labels me ‘In Demand’. Two more Sydney local papers have already conducted their interviews and photo-shoots with me, two more with coverage promised. If anyone from the major newspapers or ABC Sydney happens to be reading this, I have no PR Agent, only a story to which Australian readers as well as from the USA, UK, Philippines and Sweden are already demanding a sequel. Maybe you’d like to have a look at it. (?)
An Australian Publisher has yet to pick up Nor the Years Condemn though in the meantime I’ve just been invited to the Gloucester Writers’ Festival 2012 on the strength of it. This being the first time in the whole of my publishing experience that anyone has approached me from scratch, I asked the Festival Director what led her to me. Her answer? ‘Google.’
Yet back to work must I.
Any day now…
NSW Writers’ Centre member READER FEEDBACK on the above article. (Writes Portia Lindsay of the NSW Writers’ Centre: “I just wanted to pass on some lovely feedback from one of the readers.”) “Hi there! I found Justin’s story absolutely spot on – honest, inspirational and simply wonderful! Kindly pass my comment on. May you fly, Justin! Ayshe”.
My massive thank you to Ayshe, NSW Writers’ Centre member.
JUSTIN SHEEDY – April 2012
FOLLOW UP in June 2012 NSW Writers’ Centre Enewsletter!
FROM THE EDITOR: “We received a lot of positive feedback about Justin Sheedy’s story in the last issue – it seems that many of you can identify with his bashing his head against a brick wall analogy! Justin has recently returned from the Gloucester Writers’ Festival, where he had a great time talking about and selling his book, and meeting many lovely fellow festival-goers.”
– Massive thanks to Editor Portia Lindsay.
Justin Sheedy, June 2012
To read another article by Justin, click HERE