One Door Closes, Another Door Opens
A bit over ten years ago, I went to see a midnight showing of one of the Twilight movies. Or more Specifically, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. When I got home, I woke my husband up (It was about 2:30am, and he wasn’t pleased,) and proceeded to cry to him for two hours about how I felt legitimately destined to be a published author. I explained that I’d never felt more drawn to doing something in my life, and that if Stephenie Meyer could get published, then why the heck couldn’t I?
Let me back up a bit: I’d been writing books for years. Since I was a kid, to be honest. Some of the books were indescribably bad. Others weren’t so bad at all. But I’d never dreamed of trying to be published. Like….published? As in, an author with an agent and a contract with a publishing house? I assumed it would never happen to a college drop-out stay-at-home mom like me. I had a brother who’d tried to publish his “great American novel,” but had been rejected—prompting him to quit his efforts and brood about the unfairness of life forever.
When I started writing more seriously as an adult, I did it with just a few small goals in mind: 1.) I wanted to actually *finish* an entire book; and 2.) I wanted to entertain my friends with my stories. But upon seeing the monstrosity that was the Twilight Saga (a monstrosity I ate up with a spoon and still enjoy indulging in on occasion—DON’T JUDGE ME,) it became clear to me that if Ms. Meyer could publish her stories, so could I. There wasn’t anything stopping me.
And that’s what my husband said… once my two hour post-Twilight existential crisis came to an end… followed quickly by a reminder that he had to get up in two more hours for work.
I’ll give you the Cliff’s Note’s version of what happened next: I wrote and finished and edited and polished what would become my first published novel, titled The What If Guy, and promptly started submitting to get a literary agent. Around this time, I discovered that one didn’t necessarily have to have an agent in order to be contracted with a publisher, so I simultaneously started submitting to editors at every publishing house I could find on Google. I sent paper submissions and emailed submissions. I sent blurbs and catchlines. I woke up, fed my children, took them to school, spent the next seven hours writing new books and submitting, then picked the kids up, made dinner, then abandoned my husband with the littles so I could go back into my office to do it all again. And…………
I got rejected over 130 times. Mind you, I’d been pimping not only The What If Guy, but also a few other books I’d written long ago—and if you remember my statement above, some of them were pretty dang bad. So yeah. Rejection became the norm for me.
And then, one day in the early afternoon of late winter/early spring, when it was cold and wet and sunny and cloudy all at the same time, I received an email. It was an editor from a newly launched publishing house, who had read my book, and wanted to speak to me. After running through the house screaming, and promptly throwing up, I called her back. We talked for a while, she offered me a contract, I accepted, maybe cried a little, then had to hang up to pick my kids up from school. Mom life waits for no one.
Fast forward a decade……
I am now the multi-published author of ten books. I’ve worked professionally with three publishing houses, an have self published 6 novels. I’ve worked with several successful other authors on two romance anthologies, and was reviewed and cover-quoted by #1 best selling authors Susan Meier and Jane Porter. My book, Baby & Bump, hit the Amazon best seller list in the romantic comedy category, and I sat next to THE Kristan Higgins at a conference once! (Nevermind that I was too scared to talk to her, but anyway.)
But now? Now the bloom is off the rose, and I have been in the publishing game for a decade. It’s *not* for the weak. While most writers are supportive and giving, some can be cruel and divisive. While some publishers are supportive and kind, others are maniacal and dishonest. While some readers and loyal and encouraging, others are vicious as they hide behind their screens and troll your social media. It’s not a job for someone with a weak constitution. Which is why—two years ago, when my life seemed to implode and become heavier than I ever imagined it could—I walked away. I stopped writing, I stopped social media, I stopped promotion, I stopped everything. Just BOOM. Done. Peace out.
And for a time, it was good.
But now I’ve learned how to balance it all again. How to be a wife and mother and daughter and primary caretaker, without being spread so thin, I’m like a sheet of tissue paper in a hurricane. Now I am ready to come back into the publishing game. Maybe not as gung-ho as I was a decade ago, I don’t want to get burnt out and jaded like I was before—but I miss writing and creating and sharing stories with people. And that’s enough for me. It feels nice again, rather than stifling and suffocating and unnerving.
One important aspect of my journey back to putting out books again was to get the rights to two of my books back from my original publishing house. (I had already acquired my rights back to one of my books from it’s original publishing house when they were bought by a bigger company; and I still have three books contracted with another house that I’ve come to love and trust.) And while the jumpstart to my career I received from my first publisher is something I’ll never be able to thank them enough for, having full control of my work gives me (and my anxiety and OCD) such peace.
I can control where my books are sold, what their content is, how much they cost, what the covers look like, etc. I don’t have to worry about feeling like another cog in the machine, or ever being made to feel demoralized or humiliated. I don’t have to live in fear of my work being changed or distributed without my consent, or to be told that my work is “tripe” and tossed between editors like a tennis ball again. I likely won’t make very much money off of my self published books, but I do know what money is made, I will be the only one to receive it. And that’s enough to make coming out of “retirement” worth it. I know I’ll never be a wealthy author. No JK Rowling or Nora Roberts status for me. I won’t ever own my own island like Danielle Steele, but I will have control, and that’s important to me, to my brand, and to my characters.
So while the door to my first ever publishing experience is closing, a new door is opening. THE WHAT IF GUY and KEEPING SECRETS IN SEATTLE will be rereleased Labor Day weekend, complete with awesome new price tags and stunning new cover art—courtesy of Robinson Bear Designs. Additionally, my new adult novella, BREAKING GIRL CODE, has been rereleased as a stand-alone (it was formerly of the Once Upon a Summer Anthology) as well.
So many awesome events happening, and I’m so grateful to be back. Thank you for supporting me and loving my stories, and just wait….there’s more to come.