Paulo Coelho wrote, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I always liked this idea, but I didn’t really know how it could be possible. The whole universe? Conspiring? Really? A month has passed since I launched my family memoir about my father’s experiences as a young Finnish sailor in a Nazi concentration camp. Before its release on March 19, two months ago, I blogged about the process of self-publishing and all of those things I knew nothing about but had to learn along the way. Of course, I spent countless hours reading, studying, searching and discussing every minute detail of self-publishing. I learned why I should definitely self-publish and why I most certainly should not. During that time, many individuals appeared just when I needed them. They offered their talents in diverse ways: teaching, advising, prompting, mentoring, critiquing, editing, designing, encouraging, and even sympathizing. I was always astonished that just when I became frustrated, or feared I had gone down the wrong path, someone presented themselves to guide me along the way.
Perhaps I was naïve to think that publishing the book and launching into the world was enough. I could wipe my hands, place them on my hips and declare, “My job here is done.” In my head I might even wear a red cape like some cartoon figure. It quickly became apparent to me that the journey had not ended, but just taken a new direction. How to reach potential readers, share my father’s story, let my book find its way. I needed help. And fast. So, I started reading everything I could about promoting a self-published book. I read blogs and articles and books and blurbs – anything that might tell me how to take the next step. But an amazing thing happened. Again. Doors started opening. Windows even. People I knew, and several I didn’t, contacted me to participate at a conference, be part of a fair, speak at an event. Before I knew it, my little book was being held in hands that might not otherwise have found it. Of course, I was hearing positive feedback from friends and family, but others, too. I received phone calls from strangers about how the story moved them, how important it was that it had been written. The universe was giving me the nod. Granted, my universe is fairly small, but nevertheless it is expanding all the time.
Writing, self-publishing and promoting is difficult, sometimes frustrating work. What I learned was that remarkable things happen when you work hard to achieve your goals: somehow, as Coehlo wrote, the universe conspires to help you. Don’t get me wrong. I continue to learn as much as I can, ask questions, try new ideas. To my endless wonder, people step forward, eager to guide me, direct me down a new road, or suggest a detour. I’m not exactly sure how it happens. It’s one of the universe’s many mysteries, I guess, but I thank everyone who, perhaps unknowingly, is part of that expanding universe.