As many veterans have discovered, the brutality of serving in wartime is only half of the ordeal of service; coming home and readjusting to life as a stateside service member or civilian requires a whole other level of focus and commitment, but it is a stage of military service that far too many veterans are unprepared for. For Bob Tanner (www.wattpad.com/user/BobTanner), a Marine and member of the Delta Company Outlaws who faced depression and PTSD upon completing his service in the Middle East, writing his story proved therapeutic, but putting his story in front of an audience of 20 million Wattpad users gave him the support and understanding that readers could offer.
Tanner’s book, Memoirs of an Outlaw: Life in the Sandbox, was written on the platform and is now available through CreateSpace. In it, the author details what his military experience was like, as well as the issues that can plague many returning soldiers. Good e-Reader interviewed Tanner about both his book and about putting it in front of others through first a Tumblr blog and then an open platform like Wattpad.
“I started searching around and found Wattpad,” Tanner explained of the process of writing the book in front of an audience of readers. “As I finished each chapter, I posted it. I started getting feedback from the Wattpad reader community and some of the people who provided feedback seemed to be more experienced in writing, so they would help me out with grammar corrections or advice on how to build a character, add descriptions, and to fine tune my writing. I still had to hire an editor, but they were great.”
Tanner started investigating the publishing process while his book was still in progress on Wattpad. With so many other life commitments, he didn’t feel the search for a literary agent and publishing contract was right for him; he investigated self-publishing as the book was never intended to be a bestseller, but rather as a memoir for him and his fellow servicemen, and as a legacy story to leave their children.
“It was great to get that feedback, but emotionally it helped as well to know that other people were reading that story and commenting that it was a great read, thanking me for my service, and all that other great stuff. It helped in many different ways, not just for writing, but emotionally, as well.”
At the time of the interview, Tanner’s title had nearly 33,000 separate reads on Wattpad, with seventy user comments and almost five hundred votes. Memoirs of an Outlaw is free today on Kindle, and available in paperback.