Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Road to Publication...

You read these stories all the time. An author talks about all her many rejections, the books under the bed, the 'almost' moments. Yes, I have them too. All authors do. I have not met an author yet who didn't have quite a few rejections stacked up in her email inbox or in her mailbox.

But I suppose it's always nice to read one more, because it gives that unpublished author some hope and the reader some insight into the whole process.

Go back to 2002. I read online about this 'event' called the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). And how this group of aspiring writers had banded together to encourage each other to try writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. At this point in my life, I'd written lots of descriptive paragraphs and a couple of short stories. I even had about 40 pages of some weird YA fantasy novel written, stashed away on a floppy disk somewhere.

But I'd never tried to write a whole book. In fact, I almost believed I couldn't. I didn't think I had an idea for a whole book in my head.

See, I'm not one of those writers who wakes up with characters and voices and snippets of dialogue in her head. I have more of an 'open your mind and see what spills out' kind of creativity. And the more I use it, the more ideas seem to be in there. Strange thing indeed.

So, I joined the NaNoWriMo that year. Wrote about 37K of a story that had no outline or plot really. And once the month was over, I left my book half finished and lingering on my computer.

Jump ahead to 2004. My husband and I decided to leave the state we were living in and move to the mountains. Rural, quiet. I worked from home. The kids went to school, and, without a commute and a daily job to slog through, I had a lot of free time. I pulled out that old book and made myself finish it (there's a bit more detail to that story, but then this post would be even longer). The book was really quite awful. I remember querying a couple of agents. Most rejected me flat out. The one poor soul who requested the book was very kind about what parts he found good.

But by the time I was in the middle of that process, I'd started another novel. More women's fiction-y than anything else. It took me about a year to finish that one. Did more querying. Got more agent requests for the thing. Ended up with nothing.

Of course, in the middle of querying this 2nd book I saw all the flaws and problems. Knew it needed a big old edit. And was too sick of the book to try to fix it.

I wrote a few more books that also went nowhere. My idea was to find an agent and get that NY contract with a big publishing house. But along the way I met other authors online and learned about the world of epublishers. How you can query your book directly to an editor and don't have to worry about the agent liking your book first.

So I kept that idea in the back of my mind. Always trying for the agent first...but this time around with my book, The Ninth Curse, I was getting frustrated with the kinds of responses I was getting from agents. They all seemed to like my writing style and my voice, but would get caught up on one dumb thing or other in that first 2 or 3 chapters. And I'd get the reject.

As part of my plan, I'd decided to sub this book to Samhain, as I knew they were publishing similar books. My agent hunt had about run its course, and I was convinced this book was GOOD. Thank goodness my editor at Samhain, Sasha Knight, agreed. Within a month of my subbing the book, she'd sent me an email offering me a contract.

The following week, she contacted me to let me know that a spot had opened up in the schedule, and instead of waiting about 9 months for publication, I would have my book up on their site by APRIL. Yikes!

So here I am today. With many many rejections. Several books that went nowhere. And a contract in hand! It does happen. You can survive an avalanche of rejections and 'under the bed' books and come out stronger and better and published.

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