Saturday, August 23, 2014

My own story

In November of 2011 I began writing an outline for a story. December 27th I wrote the first words, "Deep in the forest..."

Time passed. I wrote and wrote. Read and read. Learned and grew and changed course and changed course again.

October of 2012 I began to follow the method I'd learned. The generally accepted one. I queried a lot of agents, asked them to have a look, to consider it, to give me a chance. Because that was how to get a book on my bookshelf. That was how to get Silexare alive.

The agents weren't interested. Some sent automated emails saying "No, thank you" a couple weeks after I'd poured out my heart to them. One or two actually typed the rejection emails out. The majority never acknowledged I'd attempted to contact them.

I wondered what I'd done wrong, what I was doing wrong, why I couldn't just get a bite. I considered maybe changing the story so they'd like it better. Surely I could do something they'd like. Maybe it needed more romance or a love-conflict. Maybe I should change the sex of the main character. But what if they still didn't like it? Should I give up?

That's how I spent a year of my authorial career. Then one day in October of 2013, I had a quiet, peaceful, volcanic-eruption of an epiphany.

My dreams are my own. Their dreams are their own. Stop trying to merge the two.

About ten months later, on August 11th 2014, I pressed "publish" on Amazon KDP. This was almost three years after starting writing. Almost twenty years after the first time Silexare crossed my mind. But this epic occasion felt a bit empty.

I mentioned it to a few people I'd done it.
"Congratulations!" they said. But I was numb.
"How does it feel?" they asked. I felt exactly as I did before. Exhausted but with work to be done.

I trudged through IngramSpark's process. It was frustrating and complex. I put together a cover, front and back. Went through the entire document, adjusting spacing, headers, chapter titles, illustrations. Finally I got my file uploaded. I pressed "publish."

This time I didn't mention it to anyone. And I'm sorry. Some of you have been waiting a long time to hear about this.

Still it felt weird. I still had (have) a ton of work to do. Website stuff, pledger prizes, artwork, promotion...

But today (written Thursday, Aug 21st),
I pulled into my driveway from work. On my front porch was a box. I had a good idea what it was. I went around back and let Jax out of the pen. Got the dishes out of the car. Waited for Bray and Simon to get home. Then I went and looked at the box. It was pretty banged up. There had been options to have it sent first class or with special accommodations. But those were more expensive and frankly, I'm scraping the bottom right now. So I brought the box inside and opened it slowly while Bray watched from the blue recliner.

Here's what was inside.

I don't know about you other published authors out there. But it wasn't until this moment that I realized what I'd done.
This is all I had wanted. I just wanted a book to hold in my hand, to put on my shelf. I just wanted a book to hand to my son, or my mom, or my wife. That's all.
Well, here it is. I did this. And now, it's mine.

To all seventeen agents who told me no or ignored me entirely, (and yes, I consider seventeen a lot. It's a hell of a lot more than I should have ever queried) I'd like to say two things.
First -
This is all I wanted, you mother@#$%ers! Was it really too much to ask?

Secondly, and most importantly -
Thank you.

Because now Silexare belongs to me. Sky Island Publishing belongs to me. The Silexare Compendium belongs to me. A Sawmill's Hope belongs to me.
And it belongs to whomever decides to give it a chance.
This is all ours. And I can't wait to share it with you.

Please allow me to offer a word of advice for those of you who are where I was:

If you want your own book sitting on your bookshelf
Don't waste your time lurking on forums, seeking validation for your ideas.
Don't waste your time begging agents to look at you, consider you.
Don't waste your time reworking your query and synopsis and pitch over and over and over.
Don't waste your time studying an agent, an editor, a trend.
Don't waste your time on people who will never care more for your dream than how much money it can make them.  

Just get up and go put a book on your bookshelf. 

For all of you who've already put a book on a shelf (whether virtually or physically, traditionally or independently)

You have made a permanent mark on literature that NO ONE can ever take away from you! I hope you loved every bit of the process as much I did and I hope for your sake, for literature's sake, and for your fans' sake (no matter their number) that you do it again!

This is very poor self-promotion, I realize. That's ok. Self-promotion isn't my intent with this post. I just want you to know what I had to learn. There are options.

If your intent as an author is something besides what I mentioned above, and you're interested in the traditional publishing system, I'm not judging you or encouraging others to judge you. It's just not for me.