I have a very special guest today, the wonderful Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness. Not only is Joylene an indefatiguable blogger and generous friend to published and unpublished writers alike, she is a talented writer with one book published and a second on its way next year. I am thrilled that she consented to be a guest here today! Joylene says:
Have you ever wondered why you put so much time and effort into writing that story — only to receive enough rejections to wallpaper a small room?
Some writers say they write because that’s who they are. Some say it’s not a choice but a destiny. Others say it’s for the simple joy of writing a good book. I say it’s all three.
But how do you know if you’ve written a good book?
I had a conversation at my first signing that went something like this…
He picked up a copy of my book, looked it over, then set it down. “Nice cover. Dead Witness, eh? What’s it about?”
“It’s the story of a Canadian woman kidnapped by the FBI. They fake her death, make her family believe she’s dead, and convince her that if she doesn’t stay dead, the killer will go after her children.”
“It is. But what makes this story different is Valerie finds the courage to defy the FBI and go after the killer herself.”
“Sounds a bit daffy.”
“Not at all. She’s willing to risk her life to save her daughters.”
“She still sounds crazy. How much is the book?”
“That’s expensive for a novel.”
“That depends on what a few night’s entertainment is worth to you.”
He shrugged and bought a copy.
The next morning he emailed to say, “Joylene, I stayed up all night reading your book. I could not put it down. Thank you for writing such a good story. Yes, it was worth every penny.”
I’ve received many responses like this since publishing Dead Witness in July 2008, but that first one – well, it was my first. Yes, I wrote Dead Witness because it was a story inside of me fighting to get out. And yes, I write because that’s who I am; I can’t imagine not writing.
Marketers tell you that you must believe in your work to be successful. But until I heard from my readers, for years (24 to be exact), I never truly believed in my ability. Those responses were a validation. If they loved my book, then it must be good. They weren’t family and friends; they had nothing to gain by lying.
One day I received a bad review, and something very special happened. Instead of becoming an emotional cripple and folding like an accordion, I realized that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I know Dead Witness is a good book, and I know I can’t please everyone.
If you’re a writer, then write. Learn your craft. Know that if you doubt your ability, time and effort will diminish that doubt. One day you’ll be overwhelmed with the most powerful and beautiful feeling ever: My book is worth every penny.
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Joylene Nowell Butler was born in Manitoba and raised in British Columbia, Canada. She attended Douglas College and Simon Fraser University. In 1992, she and her husband retired to a community in central BC called Cluculz Lake. There, Joylene wrote 4 other books and is currently working on her sixth. Her novel Broken But Not Dead will be released in 2011 by Theytus Books.