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  • Writer's pictureDouglas James Troxell

How to Publish a Book in 4,367 Easy Steps (Part I: Steps 1 - 1,145)

In about a month, I will accomplish a goal I've had since I was ten years old. My first book, Trumptopia: The United States of Walmart, will debut and be available for purchase by the general public. It's crazy to think that this moment has been 26 years in the making.

I wrote my first book when I was ten years old. It was called "Sideways Stories from Peters Elementary" and it was a shameless ripoff of Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Each chapter was a funny story about one of my classmates. It was a cool idea, but I never finished it. Too many video games to play. That's when I learned my first writing lesson: Starting a book is easy, but finishing a book is very, very hard. It's the one thing that separates people who want to be writers from people who are writers.

To this day, I have no idea what made me write that book. There was some "writerly" thing rattling around inside me that came prepackaged in my DNA. I understand this now that I have two kids of my own. Each human being comes with prepackaged material that his or her parents are not responsible for, little mystery boxes God dumps into us and then watches our parents unwrap like those stupid kids who open random presents on Youtube.

For me, it was writing. No one I knew growing up was a writer. No one told me or encouraged me to be a writer. There was no reason for me to be a writer. My life would have been way simpler if I didn't have to write, but that was never an option. Writing was the thing I was supposed to do. When I wasn't writing, it was always nagging at me: "You should be writing, you should be writing, you should be writing ... " So I fed the beast when I could so it would be quiet ... at least for a little while.

I finished my first novel when I was 17. I spent most of the summer between my junior and senior years of high school typing away on our family's first desktop computer. The book was this really lascivious (a fancy word for "pervy") erotic thriller called "The Menage a Trois Murder." Basically, it was Fifty Shades of Gray for teens (but better written). Then I used our home printer to print out copies of the book, took out an ad in our high school newspaper, and sold them to my fellow classmates for $10 a pop. I sold 15 copies. Unfortunately, I forgot to calculate the high cost of ink cartridges (which my parents made me buy myself) and the whole endeavor ended up costing me $60 when it was all said and done. I could have pulled the plug on the whole thing once I found out that the math was not going to work out in my favor, but it was more important to me that people read the book than I make a profit. As an aspiring writer, I had already accepted poverty. This was also the point in my life where I realized that business and mathematics were not in my future.

Selling my novel to my classmates was the first time I felt like a real writer. Every decision I made after that was made with one goal in mind: To become a published author. Unfortunately, losing $60 on "The Menage a Trois Murder" was the most success I would have as a writer for quite some time.

Still to come: Steps 1146 - 4367


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