Lessons learned from Journey to Aztlan

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It’s now been around 100 days since Journey to Aztlan hit the streets and I think it’s time to measure its life, thus far.

I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned about Journey to Aztlan is that its name seems to scare people.  I was sitting at a signing event the other day and, though there wasn’t much traffic, the traffic that did pass by had a hard time pronouncing the word, “Aztlan.”  So, to help with that: The word “Aztlan” is pronounced, “Ahts-lahn.”  It means, literally, the place of white herons and is a central aspect of all Chicano literature. As a matter of fact, I do not think it’s possible to understand anything about Chicano literature or psychology without understanding the concept of Aztlan.  It’s the physical location of the Southwestern United States and was believed to be the homeland of the Chicano people.  Within Journey to Aztlan, I transformed the concept into the internal source of all that’s good and strong and beautiful within all people and provide a story arc to access that source.  (For those who may derive from a more western, Judeo-Christian mentality, Aztlan, to me, equates with the image of God that exists within all humanity).

The second biggest lesson I’ve learned is that Journey to Aztlan is a deeply personal story about healing and transformation. Every time I’ve done a reading, I’ve cried. In front of people. Like complete strangers.  I read and then cry as I read.  But, although it’s personal, I’ve seen it resonate with audiences and the feedback I’ve received thus far has been way more that I hoped.  Journey to Aztlan does in fact resonate on a cultural, emotional, and psycho-spiritual level with anyone who reads it. I feel lucky and blessed to have learned this lesson; I think every writer would.

The last lesson to share, at this point, is that it’s stinkin’ hard to sell a book.  I’ve written a bunch of books now and I can say with absolute certainty that writing a book is way easier than selling a book.  Really, sitting down at me desk to pound out a bunch of words is fun and thrilling and, at times, cathartic for me.  But, convincing people that buying a book is in their interests is pretty dang tough.

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So, within the first 100 days of Journey to Aztlan’s life, I’ve learned those big three lessons.  I’ll continue to do all that I can to get it into people’s hands because I know it can be a useful and entertaining tool in the war against Addiction, Anxiety and Depression. Plus, I’m having a blast selling it…I have no doubt that its transformative energy is real and I know it provides real solutions to the challenges that impact all of us.

  1. Thank you for sharing valuable lessons. It is kind of scary to hear that selling a book is harder than writing it, but that does make sense. For the most part I think writers are more introverts than extroverts, which selling calls for.

    I wonder if you changed the title (not suggesting that you do) to one of those “self-help How To” if it would have been an easier sell.

    1. When I was starting out, I imagined writing a book, getting it published, and then watching it hit the best seller list. But, the hard truth is that even with a big publisher, if a book doesn’t get legs in ninety days, it’s on its own. selling a book is a business and has to be approached that way, otherwise, a book won’t ever sell. Authors are creatives, but not necessarily entrepreneurs. I’m beginning to see that marketing and business planning are more important to selling a book than any creative writing domain.

      I’ve had so many different ideas about the title. My original working title was “My Rebuilt Soul: From fractured to functional” but editors changed my mind. really, i recommend that people just trust their gut when it comes to their work: They’re the ones who will have to explain it to buyers and they need to be comfortable with its name. Thank you for the feedback, though. i really appreciate it.

  2. Thank you for sharing valuable lessons. It is kind of scary to hear that selling a book is harder than writing it, but that does make sense. For the most part I think writers are more introverts than extroverts, which selling calls for.

    I wonder if you changed the title (not suggesting that you do) to one of those “self-help How To” if it would have been an easier sell.

    1. When I was starting out, I imagined writing a book, getting it published, and then watching it hit the best seller list. But, the hard truth is that even with a big publisher, if a book doesn’t get legs in ninety days, it’s on its own. selling a book is a business and has to be approached that way, otherwise, a book won’t ever sell. Authors are creatives, but not necessarily entrepreneurs. I’m beginning to see that marketing and business planning are more important to selling a book than any creative writing domain.

      I’ve had so many different ideas about the title. My original working title was “My Rebuilt Soul: From fractured to functional” but editors changed my mind. really, i recommend that people just trust their gut when it comes to their work: They’re the ones who will have to explain it to buyers and they need to be comfortable with its name. Thank you for the feedback, though. i really appreciate it.