Publishing World Wisdom from John DeDakis
The author series continues, sharing the knowledge (often hard-won) from published authors as they tell us what they would tell their pre-published selves. This month's featured author is the talented John DeDakis, who gives an entertaining conversation between his pre-published self and his post-published self.
Award-winning novelist, writing coach, and manuscript editor John DeDakis is a former editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." DeDakis is the author of five mystery-suspense-thriller novels. In his most recent novel, FAKE, protagonist Lark Chadwick is a White House correspondent defending against “fake news” in the era of #MeToo. DeDakis, a former White House correspondent, regularly leads writing workshops at literary centers and writers’ conferences. He is also the host of the video podcast “One-to-One with John DeDakis” on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Originally from La Crosse, Wisconsin, DeDakis now lives with his wife Cindy in Baltimore, Maryland. In his spare time, what little he has of it, DeDakis is a jazz and rock-and-roll drummer. (His longer biography on his website is fabulous and worth a read.) Check out is his website at: johndedakis.com (You can catch up with all his social media links listed there.)
STOP BEING A SCAREDY-CAT
By John DeDakis
A conversation with my pre-published self:
ME: Dude. I mean Dude. What are you afraid of? Wait. Lemme guess. You’re afraid of failure, right?
PPME: Yeah. That’s part of it.
ME: Not being perfect?
PPME: Big time.
ME: Not being good enough? Rejection?
PPME: Keep going.
ME: Being seen as stoooopid?
PPME: Yes. Being judged. That’s a big one.
ME: Here’s a hint from your future self: All of those things are going to happen.
PPME: Then why bother?
ME: Because when it happens, it won’t feel nearly as bad as you think it will.
ME: Trust me on that. I’ve actually had all those things happen and it’s still worked out fine. In fact, it’s worked out better than I could have ever expected.
PPME: How so?
ME: You will write at least five novels and they’ll all be published traditionally.
PPME: Get out.
ME: Scout’s honor.
PPME: What’s your secret?
ME: Job one: Stop being a scaredy-cat.
PPME: I’ve got the scaredy-cat part nailed.
ME: Just don’t give up, Dude. Get better.
PPME: Okay. How?
ME: Go to writer’s conferences.
PPME: But I’m shy.
ME: Breaking news: agents, editors, authors, and publishers are just people.
PPME: Yeah. People with lots of experience and the power to make me feel like an idiot reject.
ME: It’s true they have power, but in my experience, they’ve been diplomatic when turning me down, plus not all of them did. In fact, I found my agent at a writer’s conference.
PPME: That’s encouraging to hear. For me it’s been a struggle to write just one book.
ME: Fair enough. But going to a writer’s conference is one of the best ways to face your writing fears.
PPME: How so?
ME: Because you’ll discover that people won’t puke and run away from you.
PPME: Good to know.
ME: Indeed. You’ll end up gaining confidence so that networking gets easier and more natural over time.
PPME: I’ll take your word for it.
ME: A wise move.
PPME: But what’s networking got to do with writing? I’ve got nothing written to market.
ME: Someday you will. And when you do, you’ll already have relationships in place, relationships you’ll build one by one over time. These are people who will buy your books and who will encourage you, and teach you, every step of the way. Since I’ve been published, doors have opened for me that I never knew existed.
PPME: Got an example?
ME: Right after I got published, people would begin asking me to give them feedback on their manuscripts.
PPME: Sounds like a time suck and a pain in the ass.
ME: Not if you monetize it. You’ll discover that your time and expertise are valuable. People will pay you for your insights.
PPME: Really? How much?
ME: Don’t quit your day job—yet.
PPME: You said doors. Plural. What other unexpected doors opened to you after you got published?
ME: I discovered I have a teaching gene. I’m able to take the lessons I’ve learned about writing and rejection and have molded them into classes I teach at writer’s conferences and literary centers around the country.
PPME: Nice. Fulfilling?
ME: Incredibly so.
PPME: What’s the payoff?
ME: It’s not about the money. Remember: I already know that about you. You have a core motivation to be an encouragement to others.
PPME: Yes. True.
ME: You will discover that one-on-one writing coaching will be extremely satisfying.
ME: Because you’ll be able to help people by working with them individually as they wrestle with their own writing demons.
PPME: Let’s get back to marketing.
ME: Let’s not.
PPME: Why not?
ME: I feel that’s my weakest skill set.
PPME: Really? You’ve got me fooled.
ME: Marketing’s been hard.
PPME: In what way?
ME: First, it can be a time suck, if you let it.
PPME: Do you let it?
ME: Sadly, yes.
ME: There’s no end to the ways you can get your books and writing services in front of people. Consequently, it can crowd out writing time.
PPME: Speaking of which: Got anything coming out soon?
ME: Thank you for asking.
PPME: My pleasure.
ME: As a matter of fact, the audio book for my third novel, Troubled Water, is about to be released.
PPME: Do you have a big marketing splash planned? (No pun intended).
ME: Har har. You should be a writer.
ME: No splash. In fact, you’re the first person I’ve told—in addition to the other folks who are listening in on our conversation.
PPME: What’s the book about?
ME: It’s about 90-thousand words.
PPME: Har har. C’mon . . . dude. You know what I mean.
ME: In Troubled Water, my protagonist, Lark Chadwick, is moving to her new job as a cops and courts reporter at a daily newspaper in Georgia when she discovers the body of strangled teenager. It’s the first victim of a serial killer and Lark has the inside track.
PPME: Cool. Audio book you say?
ME: Uh huh. Voice actor Candace Fitzgerald is the narrator. She does a great job bringing Lark to life.
PPME: Nice to know Lark’s life is going better than it is for her in Fast Track, the first book I’m still struggling to finish.
ME: Yes. Lark’s life will be very interesting. Just like yours will be. Trust me on that.
PPME: If you say so.
ME: I do.
Just as young journalist Lark Chadwick is about to begin her new job on the cops and courts beat, she discovers the body of a strangled girl - the first victim of a serial killer. Lark's got the inside track, but there are complications: jealous rivals in the newsroom, her job in danger, a hunky colleague who becomes a suspect, a superstar athlete with anger issues. And just who is that mysterious bag boy at the local market? With the help of her friend and mentor Lionel Stone, Lark's nerve is tested like never before in a dramatic life or death showdown with the killer.