English writer and poet Samuel Johnson said, “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
This is true for local author Trevor Cooley, as he has spent a lifetime chasing the writer’s dream.
Cooley will be the upcoming speaker for the Tullahoma Parks and Recreation Department’s Lunch and Learn series, set for Wednesday, May 17 at the D.W. Wilson Community Center.
Cooley will address the public on the writing process and the best ways to go about publishing one’s work.
Behind the Writer
Cooley said his love for the written word was sparked as child being read to in class.
“When I was a kid, around second grade, I discovered the love of reading,” he said.
“I had a great teacher who liked to read to us in class. There was a series called ‘Me and My Big Brain.’ She would read to us in class each week and I was really into that story, so I started to take home books to read. My love for reading then really began to grow and I really got in the fantasy genre with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and books like that.”
Cooley said he began to develop characters and stories of his own.
“Over the years I read so much and I started to want to write myself because I had these ideas of what I would get. I read books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz and those writers. While they wrote in more of a horror genre, they liked to use their main characters as writers,” he said.
“It really painted being a writer as a glamorous lifestyle. The characters in my books now are actually characters I came up with as a teenager. While they are now being written from a grown-up perspective, I’ve basically been living with these characters and the world I’ve created for most of my life.”
While Cooley imagined writing as somewhat glamorous, he was also aware of its realities. It wouldn’t be until years later and with the help of his wife Jeannette that he began to pursuing his dream.
A Time to Write
Cooley began writing after he began dating his wife Jeannette.
“When I was dating my wife, I would tell her about my stories,” he said.
“She was the one who pushed me to write. She made me sit down and start. I was working full-time at my job, so I would write in my down time and email myself what I had written that day.”
While it would take Cooley over a year to finish his first book, it was just the beginning of his writing journey.
Proud of finally reaching a longtime goal, Cooley then moved on to the next process — trying to catch the attention of a publisher.
Over the next 10 years he would send his book to publishers, receiving only formal rejection letters, leaving Cooley wondering if he would ever get published.
“I continued to work on it and rewrote it several times,” he said.
“The troubling thing was that the letters were just a formal rejection letter. None of them would tell me exactly what they didn’t like about the book. That’s mostly what it’s like becoming a writer. It’s like saying that you are going to become a movie star or a recording artist. You don’t just do it. You either make it there with really hard work or by a lucky break.”
After receiving what Cooley estimates were around 80 rejections, he decided to explore the world of self-publishing.
“Being self-published used to mean you’d have to find a company to print your stuff and then you’d have to put down a bunch of money to buy a bunch of books and then go around libraries, bookstores and conventions until you could sell enough to get a name for yourself. It wasn’t efficient and hardly anyone could make it that way,” he said.
Cooley found a more efficient way to get his book out to the masses thanks to technology in the form of digital books.
“While I was going through this process, digital books started to become a thing,” he said. “And Amazon has a marketplace for this sort of thing. They really support self-published writers. They provided a promotion outlet that wasn’t there before. There’s a place for us, who are published, to have a place to have our works seen.”
After years of rejection from publishers, Cooley’s dream of being a published author finally came true. While he said the process has been slow, he is now a full-time author.
He is the author of the “Bowl of Souls” series and “Noose Jumpers,” with over 11 books to his name.
Lunch and Learn
Cooley will share his story of becoming an author and the steps aspiring authors should take to get self-published.
“I’ll be talking about what you need to do to get noticed on Amazon,” he said.
“The great thing is that you can build your own fan base. While you have to promote it yourself, you can build that fan base — you don’t have to have an inventory.”
Cooley added that he hopes to inspire others to write, as he hopes to inspire positivity through his books.
“Every aspect of my writing journey has been exciting. I went all those years just showing my books to friends and family and now people from all over the world have read my stories, which is exciting. My dream as a writer is that I can inspire others to do something positive in their lives,” he said.
If You Go
The Lunch and Learn will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17. The cost to attend is $8.75 and will include a buffet lunch. For more information, call 455-1121.