I had done no planning, no preparing (it's against the rules).
All I had was a blank screen, and a panicking brain.
WHAT would I write about? Well... uh... gotta make up a character, right? But who? Well, my good friend Chris had just landed at JFK yesterday, suitcases in hand. He was moving to NYC to "start over" after spending many years in Los Angeles.
Okay, I thought. My main character just moved to NYC from LA. Why? What would he do? Why would it matter?
Well, those questions turned into a 50,000 word novel (that I finished 4 days before the end of NaNoWriMo... score!)
Over the next 2 years I would triple the size of the book, cut it in half, double it again, and cut it in half once more. I posted each chapter as a blog that (not intentionally) convinced a large portion of gay Manhattan that "Gulliver" was an actual person. They were convinced they saw him at clubs and on the street. They asked him out on dates and offered him jobs. In the end, one thing was apparent: lots of people became very, very invested in him. They cared about him. They sympathized with and found commonalities in him.
My gut said I had something here. My mind said "you've written over 13 novels since you were 12... what makes you think THIS one will be any more worth it than the rest of that crap?"
I went with my gut, and self-published it as "Gulliver Travels" and began very aggressively promoting the novel. I did giveaways. I did a nightlife world tour. I pitched my story to radio, TV, and magazines.
As a one-man marketing team, I successfully sold thousands of copies, and got the attention of AmazonEncore, Amazon's professional publishing house. They bought a copy of the book, they loved it, and they wanted to publish it internationally.
Jump another year, to today, April 30th, 2012. "Gulliver Travels" went through another 3 editors, another 12 rounds of edits... and tomorrow, May 1st, 2012, my first-ever professionally published novel, GULLIVER TAKES MANHATTAN, will go on sale around the world.
In Germany. In England. In France. In Italy. At bookstores large and small. On Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In paperback, eBook, and audio book.
Tomorrow. In a little over 12 hours.
To call this exciting would be an understatement. What can I say? When I started the book, I was doing it for fun. When I published it on my own, I was going with a hunch that some gay twenty-somethings might enjoy it. I never expected this. I never planned for it. And yet, here I am.
My dream is coming true.
So now, some thank yous:
- To my Mom and Dad and Brother for ALWAYS supporting my writing. From the first day I started scribbling in my notebooks instead of paying attention in elementary school.
- To my boyfriend, Joe, for being one of my very first readers, and one of my toughest critics.
- To my nightlife business partner, Alan Picus for turning me into a SOMEONE with a PLATFORM and an AUDIENCE. Without his investment and support, I wouldn't have sold more than five copies.
- And my original editor, Chris Alexander, who, ironically, was the gay twenty-something who stepped off the plane from LAX -> JFK that inspired the entire novel in the first place.
- And, finally, to the amazing team at Amazon, my editor David Downing, the senior book buyer and man who discovered me and Gully, Terry Goodman.
And now, we wait and see. Will I sell thousands and thousands of copies around the world? I hope so. Will people love my book and want more? Yeah, I hope so. Will I get a movie or tv deal of some kind from a lovely producer or IdeaGuy who stumbles across the book? My fingers are crossed.
As Gulliver says in the end of Gulliver Takes Manhattan (it's not much of a spoiler in my opinion):
"Basically, absolutely anything can happen or not happen at any second.
I should be terrified.
I am so fucking excited."
xo Justin Luke
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