Friday, September 26, 2008

Wake Up and Start Dreaming

Who doesn't like to hear the story of an individual succeeding in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds? Some like to call it The American Dream, but truly such accomplishments are examples of The Universal Dream, because the spirit that enables unlikely dreams to come true knows no geographical boundaries.

Next to author interviews, my favorite articles to clip and save (although today it's more like print and save--or bookmark and save) are author success stories. I have real-time and virtual folders stuffed full of great things that have happened to writers and literature lovers.

Sometimes I flip through the articles and wonder, "Why them?" or "How are they different?" as I try to find the common denominator for success. I know from years of writing advertising and marketing copy that the key to success is tied to making yourself or your work stand out in the crowd.

One way to stand out is to start believing in your dream. Most people give up before they even begin. Don't buy into the naysayer "wisdom" and "facts" that run rampant in publishing. Learn the difference between facts and truth.

Facts: Less people are reading books. Less people are buying books. Newspapers are eliminating book review sections. Small, independent booksellers are being swallowed up by the chains.

Truth: This is the best time to open an independent book store. As reported in The New York Times, Jessica Stockton Bagnulo graduated with an English degree from New York University in 2001 and went to work for a publishing company. Not feeling the joy she hoped the publishing position would bring, she went back to work part-time at an indie bookstore in the West Village where she had worked during college. Realizing that she was happier there than in her full-time position, Jessica decided to open her own bookstore.

But, in addition to all the facts stated above, Jessica also had no funds or connections that could help her raise the money she would need. So she took a class from the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation. While researching how to write business plans at the Brooklyn Public Library, Jessica saw a Citibank-sponsored contest for business plans. She entered and took first prize--$15,000.

Unbeknownst to Jessica, a business group in another part of Brooklyn surveyed their residents and discovered what people wanted most in their neighborhood was a bookstore. When the group read of Jessica's contest win in The Daily News, they contacted her and the meeting led to a fundraising party in the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Food and drink were donated by local merchants and the party was staffed by volunteers from the neighborhood as well as celebrities who read about the event and wanted to offer support. During the celebration, Jessica announced that she had a new business partner, a sales rep for Random House, who was making a sizable personal donation to the cause.

Perhaps Jessica was referring to "the facts" when she said, "Maybe I'm an optimist, but I see the other side of it. Which is that only a bookstore can inspire this kind of passion."

Why does everyone love a bookstore? Because it's filled with good stories! Love stories, adventure stories, how-to stories, fantasy stories, life stories and success stories. Support your local bookstore. Attend a book signing and buy the book. Then go home and write. Read in your genre and take time to learn about publishing. And if you believe (remember Tinker Bell), before long I'll be cutting out the article about you and putting it my success folder.

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