Today, I took one step closer to seeing my dream become a reality. My dream of being a published author. Of holding a book in my hands that is filled with MY words and has MY name on the cover. I sent off my final edits, my dedication, my acknowledgements and my back cover blurb to my Publisher, Ant Colony Press. In 35 days, I will see the culmination of years of hard work, millions of moments of frustration, too many tears to count and loads of perseverance become a reality. It’s so exciting.
But, it’s also scary. You see, I’ve been on this writing journey for a long time. I wrote my first novel over 12 years ago. I tried for YEARS to pursue the traditional route of publication, which is securing a Literary Agent who then tries to find a home for your work with one of the big five traditional Publishers or their imprints. And for years, I was met with rejection after rejection after rejection. Each one hurt and made me question whether it was worth it to continue pursuing my dream.
I decided to write my second novel despite my fears and my imposter syndrome telling me I’d never be a “real” writer. Bits & Pieces literally poured out of me. I wrote the first draft in about 24 hours over 21 writing days. For those of you who have never written a novel, the first draft (for me anyway) is always the easiest. It’s getting the story down on paper no matter how imperfect or messy it is. The hardest work comes during re-writes and then edits. (That process took MUCH longer than 24 hours and 21 writing days!) I again queried agents trying to pursue traditional publication. Again, I was met with rejection after heart-breaking rejection. There were many days I would cry, scream, and threaten to just give up after receiving another “no”.
I finally got to the point where I became a bit numb to all of it and decided that for every “no” I received, I’d sent out another query letter and try to remain hopeful. Then, a friend suggested I join Twitter and talked about the tremendous Writer’s Community there full of agents, publishers and fellow authors. I hated to take the leap to join yet another form of social media because it feels like such a time-suck on most days. But, I did it anyway.
Let me tell you — it was the best decision I’ve made for my writing career. First, I’ve found such a great group of fellow authors who give awesome writing advice, encourage me and delight me with their words. Also, I’ve had more interest from agents and publishers since I joined in March than in the past 12 years. Twitter runs pitch contests where authors can try to pique the interest of agents, editors and publishers through a 240 character tweet about your book. If they like your pitch, then you send in more information, like a query letter, sample pages, etc.
I decided when I joined that I was going to take risks and participate in every Pitch Contest available. My publisher, Ant Colony Press, liked one of my pitches, requested more material and eventually offered me a contract. While they were reviewing my manuscript I had several Literary Agents reviewing my work as well. One of them, who worked for a large, reputable literary agency, offered me the chance to make some revisions and re-submit to them. I ultimately decided to go with Ant Colony Press instead, which is a small independent press.
My decision to go with a small press was based on a multitude of factors. One, the turnaround time for getting published is much faster. With traditional publishers, once you find an agent, they must then shop around for a publisher — sometimes, never landing one for your work. This process alone can take years. Then, if a publisher does accept your manuscript, it can again take years before your book is actually published. The process with Ant Colony from acceptance to finished product will take about six months total! Also, I get more control over my work. With traditional publishers, authors must change what they are told to including titles, character names, entire plot lines. I also get the final approval for my cover design, which is something you don’t get with a traditional publisher.
With only a little over a month until my dream is a reality, the fear has kicked in full-force. After reading my book what seems like 8 billion times, I can hardly stand it anymore. I fear that others won’t enjoy it. I worry that no one will read it. Mostly, I stress about all of the things I need to do that are so out of my comfort zone — like building this website, writing a blog, trying to market myself.
Despite my fear, I choose to celebrate today. By hitting send on the email to Ant Colony Press earlier with all of my attachments, I am one step closer to achieving my dream.
Thanks for reading and following me on this journey!