About two years ago I had a talk with a coworker, as my eyes glazed over with tears. I had just gotten a rejection on a full and it crushed me. My coworker’s advice was, “Just self publish. Isn’t it more important that readers have your work, and you continue to write than you spend another two years querying?”
I rolled my eyes. He didn’t get it.
I dismissed his advice, and got back on the horse. I revised my work. I went to workshops. I made connections. I signed with a small press, who eventually led me astray. I self published that book, to “save it”. I flew down to New Orleans and pitched my work to agents and publishers that included the big five— and got full requests!
I was learning. I was motivated. I was hungry for that contract.
But– I wasn’t writing.
When I’m not writing, I get depressed. Every rejection felt like a stone cast at me. I started becoming obsessed with reworking my one manuscript to fit into that perfect box. It had to be diverse, yet relatable. It needed heartbreak, but HEA. The voice had to be distinct, and fresh. The heroine had to make us feel empathy, but be kick-ass and strong. The setting should be anywhere but NYC. The age difference between the characters was too great, and therefore unrealistic. Too many characters have blue eyes, give her brown eyes. Why not change this to YA? No, how about NA? Kill this character. Make him crazy. Make her crazy.
It was making ME crazy!
I became afraid of my inbox. No news meant they were still considering it– or never opened it. And a message more often then not was heartbreaking. I had an agent respond after seven months of having my full with, “Sorry it took so long. Not for me.”
But, there were some great rejections too. Some agents were moved by my characters, found emotion in my story, calling it original and complimented my writing. They said I had the talent, the story just wasn’t for them. That was what gave me hope, and to those agents, thank you.Truly.
I hadn’t written anything new in over a year. I didn’t feel like a writer anymore, I felt like a poser. I needed to get back what I had lost. I was hungry for words. I sat down at my keyboard and started writing in a genre I never ever thought I would write in: A New Adult Contemporary Romance.
I’m dark and twisty. I like to torment my characters, kill off heroes instead of villains and surprise readers with the unexpected. Sweet love was not my forte.
That’s when I realized, it didn’t have to be. If I was going to self publish this work, I could be angsty and snarky. I could be me. I wrote the 83K word manuscript in 21 days. I was alive again! The words flowed, I fell in love with my characters and I had the writing bug once more.
I moved on to what I was told the world didn’t want– Vampires.
Once more, I wrote fast. I fell in love with the work and I wanted it to be amazing. I put The Blood Clan Chronicles through an editing process and hit publish alone in my office, late at night, in silence. Two days later I told my friends. Then I told Facebook, and finally twitter.
Something I didn’t expect to happen, happened. The book started selling. Readers contacted me asking for book 2! I published book 2… and it sold as well. Then I noticed a bump in my original self published book that was saved from the fires of the small press. On a small scale, I was creating a name for myself. Last week my little Vampy ranked, making the top 100 list in Horror and Occult. My little secret book was on a digital shelf sitting BESIDE Stephen King. It was the kind of thing that I looked at, scratched my head and said… whaa???
Of course, moments like that are rare. At least for now… but it’s a start! It’s given me confidence I was greatly lacking. You know what else gives me confidence? The team of writers I associate with on a daily basis. It’s important to align yourself with people who have common goals, take pride in their work and support you. This is a TOUGH business. You need dragon scales to be able to bounce back in this field. The best way to acquire those scales? Be passionate.
Passion leads to motivation. Motivation leads to learning. Learning leads to success.
Now I’ve settled into the skin of who I am. I Am An Indie Author. I own it. I wear it like a badge of honor. It took me years to shake off the shame, but now I couldn’t be prouder. I have taken my career into my own hands. I found my readers, I sell books every single day! I write with more passion than I ever had before. I’ve taken the critiques, the advice and soaked it up like a sponge. I’ve made an effort to discard my bad writing habits and embrace solid writing techniques.
I used REJECTION to make me a stronger writer.
They say every no leads you to the right yes. Maybe the “yes” had to come from me. Yes, I choose to self publish. Yes, I choose to write in an overcrowded genre. Yes, I am willing to work from the moment I get up until the moment my head hits the pillow.
Indie authors do not take the easy road. We write, we revise, we edit, we INVEST in cover art, editors, and formatters. Then afterward we need to think about marketing. Marketing costs money– ads, blog tours, swag, promo– it all adds up. Just like anything else, we learn from trial and error what works. Some days you lose money. Some days you make money– those are the good days.
The better days are when you hear from a reader across an ocean asking for more. That’s what makes this all worthwhile.
Above all, it’s key to focus on your goals and to stay positive. So on this, the eve of Thanksgiving, that’s the attitude I bring to the table. Passion and Positivity.
I wasn’t what the traditional publishing world wanted, but, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it means I’m what readers wanted.
I’m in love with writing again. I should have listened to my coworker years ago.