I’ve been reflecting back on the last year, and yes, I realize that most do this inside a narrower time frame more closely around the beginning of January, but hey, I’m on holiday and it’s only the 5th in any case – so, yes, reflecting – 2013 was a fantastic year for me, my first book came out late in 2012 (October) and I began blogging a month later, so at the beginning of 2013, I was very much still new kid on the block and finding my way – But wait, let me go back to the beginning – I should point out I’m one of those writers guilty (if that’s the right phrase) of putting all my effort into WRITING, giving no thought at all, or very little, to what would happen afterwards, meaning that my life revolved around writing and polishing and little else.
Most of my effort concentrated around The Khekarian Threat, the first book of the series simply because I couldn’t see the second book getting accepted if the first one wasn’t.
So, my entire life up until 2013 consisted of writing and polishing, then sending my attempts to an agent. Back it would come weeks or months later with the “No thank you” note we all get, ruling out that particular agent for further contact. Publishing agents are not thick on the ground, publishing houses deal with a limited few, so the entire lot is rather tightly tied together. That means I soon ran out of agents and options – at home and overseas.
Every reject letter sent me back to my desk to polish or change bits – to improve and improve and improve, and to try again.
As my chances ran low, I began studying the industry and was quite disturbed by what I found: Agents too busy to get through their slush piles. Agents (a LOT of them) deciding on or rejecting an entire manuscript based on the FIRST sentence of the COVER LETTER. Agents frightened to take risks with unpublished writers (then how do you get published the first time?) and agents not wanting any writer who writes outside the box.
MOST agents do MOST of those things.
Well, that was me dead in the water. I’m a writer, not an advertising specialist. How do I trigger excitement for a 600 page story in ONE sentence – the very first one in my cover letter? How do I NOT be an unpublished writer if I’m not published. How – in flipping God’s Universe – do I capture an agent’s interest if I am outside the box completely?
As 2012 drew towards its close and the final reject letter arrived from the one source I thought would not reject me (why? Because it was the only publisher I knew that actually read the manuscript and would judge it on its own merit – The Khekarian Threat was rejected for being outside their normal fare – outside the box, in other words) – I lost hope completely. I cried.
I cried because I had nowhere to go. I cried because I had “wasted” 40 years of my life chasing a dream. I cried because all those around me, with the exception of Greg, thought I had wasted my life too, and it looked as though they were right. I cried because I had a fantastic story and the makings of a fantastic series that no one would ever see. I cried because I knew that if I died and lived again, that story would still be lost to me and would never ever see the light of day.
All that effort. All that research. All that time and training and that sheer hard slog – wasted. I had channeled my life along one path and one path alone, and that path had just proved to be a dead-end. That’s where I was towards the end of 2012. That moment of, ’What now? Do I die? What is there left?’ horrible feeling when all is lost.
Greg has always been with me and for me, and a couple of years prior to this, he had been suggesting that I write my story as an e-book. I rejected that idea every time he suggested it because I couldn’t see how that would work. I thought I’d be out there totally on my own – kind of one book in one shop where no one would come. As for self-publishing… back in the start, that used to be frowned upon and called “vanity publishing” (which is not at all the same thing, but I didn’t know that then).
Finally, with my back to the wall and nowhere else to go, I decided to look into the world of self-publishing – paperbacks and e-books. What I found was astounding.
I discovered that a LOT of very talented writers are in exactly the same boat. They follow their talent and write the way they want to write – not the way some agent tells them to. And instead of taking the rejection, they moved forward, deciding to go around the problem.
Amazon gave me the means and the market place. It was all there and all easy. No upfront fee (they take their cut from your sales – perfect). So, as long as you can put it all together, cover and all, there’s a way forward.
Forward, I went. I learned how to do it myself, and I published. Then I dived in and learned how to blog, and began blogging less than a month later. That was the very last day of October. Two months after that came 2013.
I would have to say that 2013 was a year of freedom for me. With my first book published I was – at last – free to work on the second in the series, which has also been published (July 2013).
I learned to relax in that year, too. At first I thought of blogging as a necessary nuisance, my only mans of advertising. I expected to hate it and to find it hard to come up with something once a week. Now I see it as a form of expression, a chance to be me, and a wonderful way of meeting people – and I love it and post every day.
Now 2013 is over and I have come far. I have grown more competent and more certain of myself and my abilities. I am finding like-minds and – better still – people who love both books and are waiting for the third, due in July 2014. I feel I have found my place.
I also love the integrity I find in Blogsville. I have met some amazingly kind souls here – some are writers, some are not – and I love to see the rapport amongst so many people. I could not imagine my world without this connection, now.
2013 will always be remembered as the year things turned around for me, the year I moved forward, the year I stepped away from trying to please some unknown person at an unknown desk, and took fate into my own hands.
Greg was the one who triggered it all, of course. I don’t know how long it might have taken me to find self-publishing and blogging on my own – I may never have looked into it. So, I thank Greg most of all, but I also thank each and every one of you out there who made my entry into this new world easy. Every contact made me feel welcomed and at home, every voice encouraged me, and every day made it easier.
So, there you go – in 2013, I met you! 😀
I expect 2014 to be pretty fantastic, too.
Have a great day, everyone!