Today I am welcoming Mark Sasse, author of Beauty Rising to Melissa's Midnight Musings. He's stopping by today to talk about the power of a gatekeeper. The power of those individuals who hold the key to success, in life, and in the pubishing world, and how their roles have changed in the era of indie publishing. Here are his thoughts:
The New Gate Keeper, I Am
The visited China for the first time in the summer of 1992 when my wife and I were part of an ESL camp working with some middle school English teachers in Dalian. For some reason, the story of “the gate keeper” has stuck with me all these years – not that it’s a particular interesting story. But I’ll tell it anyway because it has some relevance to the contemporary publishing industry.
I remember listening to one seasoned veteran who had been in China teaching for quite a while, talk about the concept of the gatekeeper – the one person in charge of holding onto the key and wielding its power to open, for instance, the library or the sports closet. So if you wanted to go to the library and it wasn’t open, you had to find the person with the key. That person might be on lunch or he might be (sorry, it was almost always a man) just not in the mood to make the key accessible for your use at that time. In this one tiny realm, whatever it was, this person wielded a large power and coveted the fact that to get a badminton racquet that you had to run through him. I remember times having to wait for the gatekeeper to come and open some classrooms; even the headmaster of the school would have to wait too because he also didn’t have a key. So to survive, you had to practice patience. You had to go through the right channels, bow your head and smile at the right person, bring a basket of fruit on the Chinese New Year to wish the gatekeeper health, wealth, and long life. You were, in essence, at the mercy of the gate keeper.
Hmmm. Doesn’t this have some eerie similarities with the publishing industry? For time immemorial, the mighty gate keepers – the publishing houses and agents – wielded all the power and held all the keys for all the doors that authors wanted to walk through. So writers would write, and then query, and write, and then wait, and then count the mounting stack of rejections, and write some more hoping for the big break – the perfect timing with the perfect person who finally believed in their project enough to get out the key and slide it into the key hole.
My how times have changed. This new era, however, certainly brings its own set of challenges for writers. Never before have writers been able to take control of their own destiny like they are able to do so today. With the indie publishing industry, the blogosphere, the endless tools and advertising aids at ones disposal, it truly is an exciting time to be an indie author.
But it also means that as the gatekeepers have diminished in importance, the floodgates have been opened wide, increasing the sheer number of indie authors over the past ten years. Now that indie authors have the tools to be heard, they have to learn how to stand out from the ever-crowded market burgeoning with new authors producing works in every genre. This is one author still trying to learn how to navigate these tricky waters, but make no mistake about it; it’s always exciting to be one’s own gatekeeper. No more searching around trying to find the one person to unlock the door you most want to enter. Now it’s all about finding readers who believe in the message you are delivering and who are willing to walk with you into the magical world of storytelling.
My name is Mark W Sasse. I am the gate keeper of my stories. I invite you in. I hope you enjoy.
Mark W Sasse resides in Malaysia where he teaches drama and history, and where he does his writing. He is passionate about live theater and has written a half-dozen plays which he has produced for the stage. He is a western Pennsylvania native who loves baseball, Asian food, and good music.
His newly released first novel is a work of literary fiction entitled “Beauty Rising.” It takes advantage of his vast Vietnam experience by telling the fascinating story of a troubled Vietnamese woman named My Phuong who steals the wallet of a foreigner in a crowded Vietnamese festival. This foreigner was Martin Kinney – the awkward young man who came to Vietnam to fulfill his dying father’s last wish. The stolen wallet unexpectedly sends them both on difficult journeys to discover love, hope, and redemption.
About The Book:
Title: Beauty Rising
Author: Mark Sasse
Published: December 4, 2012
"My heart sank. I dumped my father’s ashes in the heart of communist Vietnam – over a thousand miles from the death of his comrades – over a thousand miles from the smile of that girl. How could I have been so stupid?"
Only the bumbling, overweight, thirtyish, stay-at-home Martin Kinney could have mistakenly flubbed his dying father’s request with such gusto. This thousand mile mistake awakens the ghosts of long-held family secrets and puts Martin on a fateful course with an unlikely romantic interest – a young, beautiful, yet troubled Vietnamese woman named My Phuong.
With its cross-cultural setting and unlikely romance, the 61,000 word novel Beauty Rising creates a powerful, unique voice in today’s literature. In a swift-moving, dialogue-driven prose which is funny, honest, tragic and unpredictable, Beauty Rising explores the depths of culture, family, and love as the Vietnam War, a generation removed, continues to hang on the periphery of society, cursing families and causing destruction.
Buy the Book: Amazon
I'd like to say a big thank you to Mark Sasse for stopping by the blog today and sharing his insights with us.