In my early years, I was very fortunate to find out that I was able to get published as an author, and not only that, but was also quite a good one, too! It’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you finally hold that finished work in your hands, and it’s so rewarding, because it feels like you’ve really done something that has a long life to it.
I can remember when I wrote my first book, Slide Guitar, I was initially called up for it because it was supposed to be a third of a three-part book about Pedal Steel, Dobro and Slide guitar. Well, the first thing I realized I should tell them was that those should result in three separate books, as opposed to an all-in-one book. I went in to meet the editor, and I told her that first “these should all be individual book projects.” She understood me right away, and agreed. The other two parts to the 3-part book were already spoken for, but they needed me to write the Slide Guitar part. Well, I also charmed them by toting my National Steel guitar up to their offices, and proceeded to give them a kind of “performance” of the sorts of things I’d cover in the book. They, as a company, were floored, and it seemed that I could do no wrong in their eyes! I kept on talking, and showing them what I could do, and before you knew it, on that day I walked out of there with a three-book deal, for myself under my belt!
I had signed on for the Slide book, as well as my Nashville Guitar and how to Play Blues Guitar books too! What a feeling! There I was, only 20 years old, and ready to create 3 books on subjects that were so near and dear to my heart. I can still remember, after they were published, how I went to their annual “sales meeting”, and not only talked about the content of my book, but also put on a terrific show once again for them, but this time for the salesmen, many of whom had come from far and wide. I can tell you that they never forgot this, and it made a huge impression on them. So much so, that the book broke all of their company’s records for sales in the first 6-month period. Wow, did that feel great, and that first check was huge! It was funny, because my actual “advance” for writing the book was around $250! I’ll never forget the editor asking me “what are you going to do with the money?”, like I was a little boy, which must be how they perceived me. I was wondering if I should answer, “put it in my piggy bank, of course!”
But, regardless, it was such an exciting time, and it felt so good to have my ideas always approved so quickly. It sure made for a great feeling of accomplishment, and also to be recognized at such a young age for my abilities which were still so new and so fresh! After that, I took a bit of a break from writing, but began to write columns for Guitar Player and other magazines, and then started getting back into authoring more music books in and around 1982, when I began to write for some real major publishers. Writing is a great joy, and something I truly love to do…who knows, maybe there’s a budding author waiting inside of you?!