A book’s success is like surfing

Photo: Miguel Navaza (Creative Commons Flickr)
Years of practice (and failure) built this surfer’s graceful skill. Photo: Miguel Navaza (Creative Commons Flickr)

I’ve released a new book, and the process kind of reminds me of surfing. Okay, body surfing. I was never brave enough–or coordinated enough!–to try it with a board. Tanning on the beach? Forget that. Why lie in the sun when you can spend the afternoon catching waves? Many summer days at Santa Monica and Malibu taught me a thing or two.

Surfing is about position, skill, and timing. This means hours in the water, being ready, watching wave after wave. Learning how to know a promising wave from a dud. Being willing to swim like crazy to catch the awesome one. You can’t be lazy as a surfer.

Position would be the intriguing story premise and the cover. These are what put me in the water, and each one represents a risk. I wasn’t sure how the ‘magical reality’ element of the body swap would fly. And that sweet cover was spendy–but worth every cent.

Skill? I’ve been writing for 17 years. If Darcy By Any Other Name is an instant success, know that I’ve been rolled under by plenty of waves. (Yeah, the wipeout thing.) I’ve learned to escape the worst by diving under, but multiple thousands of clunky words lie at my back. Then too, I teach fiction writing to high school students. What I’ve learned in helping them improve is a lot.

And timing is about being in the right place at the right moment. There are more Austen readers now than ever before. No readers, no wave!

Photo: Swell Surf Camp (Creative Commons Flickr)
Photo: Swell Surf Camp (Creative Commons Flickr)

Surfing, like writing, only appears solitary. The photo at the top of this page shows a lone surfer, but I’m betting he wasn’t the only one in the water that day. Bobbing heads beyond the line of surf are not attractive, so they’re cropped out. Deal is, no one surfs alone. No one writes a book alone–or should.

The fellowship of like minds is crucial. As with surfing, skills are developed alone but there is safety in companionship. In the water and out, surfers hang together and talk. If writing greats C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien needed a support group, so do I.

Darcy By Any Other Name
Darcy By Any Other Name

Sales numbers continue to roll in, and not because of me. News about Darcy is being spread by people like you, my social media friends. A hectic school schedule has allowed me little time to compose ads or tweet or anything. I’ve put up a few posts on Facebook, and you have been sharing them.  I am beyond grateful.

Want to know more about this book? Cruise by Just Jane 1813 and read Claudine’s review. The giveaway is long past, but there’s plenty of book love going on.

Laura Hile (1)

This article was originally posted at Jane Started It!

12 thoughts on “A book’s success is like surfing

    1. Jen, thank you. It’s social media / Beyond Austen friends like you who are powering sales. Well, okay, that cover has something to do with it. I am grateful. Very, very grateful.


  1. I love your analogy. It fits well, even though you would never find me surfing, I have watched and wished I didn’t have my water fear, but it looks like fun. Funny how all things that look like fun, are usually lots of work, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the “be ready for the wave” idea that has changed things up for me–and the body surfing analogy has helped a lot. Because I might long for something to happen, but am I ready for it? Expectant? Taking action ahead of time?

      There’s an old story about Hudson Taylor who, when asked to pray for wind (the ship was becalmed and drifting toward a reef), told the second mate to lower the sails… because a wind would be coming. (Wait, what? Pray and then be ready for the answer?)

      I looked up the reference and, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we have the account in his own words. Hudson Taylor: Praying Down The Wind

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m learning much from you too, my friend (and not just about publishing, that’s for sure). While I am fairly certain you’ll never find me trying to catch a surfing wave, certainly you’ve nearly convinced me that I’ve missed out on much by never finishing an Austen book. I know it’s shameful. I’ve put it back on my TBR pile, and it’s all because of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Crystal, I’m smiling. Do you know how many of Austen’s most ardent movie fans have never read her books? (Do you know how many authors who write Austen-based fiction have never read her books?) You are in good company!

      I’d like to try body surfing again, especially now that people wear wetsuits. Only scuba divers used those when I was a girl. It was “grin and bear it” in the ocean above Los Angeles. Warm to people from the Arctic…


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