Friday, January 16, 2015

Try. Fail. Try AGAIN. Learn. Repeat

J.B. Fletcher, My Mentor
The show, "Murder, She Wrote" aired in 1984, and I was excited to watch this lady mystery writer as she solved crimes. I especially loved the beginning, as the light, and bouncy tune came on, and we see Jessica at her typewriter tapping away, and in between the scenes of the show. And then she shoves her pages of type manuscript into a leather binder, and closes it with the title of the show...

I'd get a little shiver down my spine, thinking about my own writing, that it might be possible I could be successful, like this fictitious writer in a show was.

There was something about her spirit, and her ability to not bow down to those who would try and poo-poo her thoughts on a case, or when they might be trying to scare her. She didn't flinch. Well, that's not hard to believe, since she was an English teacher. Teaching anything to young students has to have its ups and downs and scary moments.

But what I liked mostly was that she was a writer. It's what I hoped to be. Well, I was already writing, but she was a successful writer. That's what I had wanted to be my entire adult life. Well, being dyslexic didn't help much. If I'd have been a retired English teacher, I don't think it would have taken me a whole lifetime to get there.

Well, now we are in the modern era. But back in the 80's and 90's, I tried to solicit my manuscripts to the correct people, agents, and even publishers. Back in the day, you could actually go straight to the publisher. My mother-in-law had a face-to-face meeting with a publisher in New York. But she didn't pursue it. I never found out the real reason why she didn't, but I could guess.

Anyway, back to me and my dilemma.  I was turned down by everyone. Only a few places here and there, if my writing had just been a little better, maybe...

My only successes came in minor things, like short stories, poems, and a few other things. Nothing earth shattering. And those few writing achievements came with a lot of sweat and tears... and not giving up.

Well, I did quit a few times, and threatened to quit permanently. My husband has been behind me keeping at it all this while. He's the only one who has believed in me all this time.

Back to the story at hand...
When I was turning 50, I knew I just didn't have it in me to try to knock on a few more doors. I won't lie to you that every rejection killed a little bit of me to the point of--well, beyond tears. My husband, God love him, was the only person who kept me at it. He would pick me up with whatever words he told me and I just didn't give up. His mother was a writer too, he knew--sort of--how much it meant to me, and how hard I worked at it.

So, at that age I did what I thought I would never do. I self-published.

Please understand, at this time, it wasn't possible to self-publish the way it's done now. I had to find a "publisher" who would take my money and work the magic and put my manuscript into print. Well, to be honest, I did all the work on getting the formatting correct for them. I was helped through the process. I also submitted a picture for the front cover. It wasn't as expensive as, say, some of the other places. $400. was what I paid to get my book published and out there. I had a couple of very successful book signings--very thrilling, since I never thought I'd see the day to not only be holding a copy of my first ever published book, but to have a book signing.

I made my $400 back and then some with the sales of my book. Yay Me!

Something like this can boost your morale, and of course I had more books in me. I went on and wrote the sequel to "Spell of the Black Unicorn", but I knew that vampires sold. I had something else burning in me and I had to write it. I went on to write (and spent a couple of years working on it, just like the last book), developing what is now the Sabrina Strong series. At first it was going to only be 3 novels. The second book was hard to write. Sequels are a dickens to write. Ask anyone. You have to keep the same momentum, make notes on what happened in the first one so you don't get tripped up in the second one, etc.

Meanwhile, I knew I wasn't going to pay to have this one published. I needed someone who didn't take my money. I found plenty of those, believe me. I had my first chapter on some site, and eventually a small publisher "discovered" me and offered to publish my book "Vampire Ascending". I read the contract, they took no money from me, and suddenly, I had a publisher. This was great! I had a great cover, and they did all the edits. I was ecstatic!

I had another even more successful book signing at the same Borders in DeKalb. 

Borders Book signing

People were walking out with two or three of my books in their arms!

I went on to publish my second book, Vampire's Trill.

I rode this train until the unfortunate demise of Borders. I already knew Barns & Dribble were not going to order my books in for people to come and buy. They were stupid. I could not get it through their thick skulls that my books would sell.
NO. I'm not going to be able to get anyone to go to your stupid store, order and pay for the book prior to the book signing. Who does that???

So, that shortened my little ride on the author train. Then, after my third novel came out--and it was like pulling teeth to get him to get it out (and the edits were horrible!), (he was in the process of putting his own second novel out, so everyone was working on that).
Then, about three months later, he decides he wants out of the publishing business. This was a blessing in disguise, I realize, of course, as I was mortified by the terrible mistakes in the third book--the damned spine had the wrong title on it!

But this forced me to become Indie. Quickly. I didn't like this. I was trying to reintroduce "Spell of the Black Unicorn", working on those edits of that book. Instead, I had to drop everything and get all three of my books out that summer--as ebooks only.

Being Indie was never in the plans. 
I'm not tech savvy. I don't have the money to pay people to do covers, formatting etc, etc. I don't even like putting the book up on Amazon. I hyperventilate waiting to see if the thing takes on my slow modem. I find all that stuff just, like--well, like dusting a shelf. Annoying. I want to do something else.

Like write.

In the four or five years since I began the Sabrina Strong series, I've written nearly 8 novels. Four are published and the fifth one is ready. But there's a pause in the action. Maybe, once again, it's meant to be...

You see, months ago I tried to get someone to do the cover for me. Take pictures of a lone gargoyle... I waited and waited. People are busy, I get that.

Finally, I get two people wanting to help me and get two sets of photos and there's even an offer to do the cover... but that didn't pan out.

Disappointment looms.

So, I'm on the last portion of edits for number five book. I'm trying to get the book cover done, and it's not happening. I was just sick of doing this by myself! What can I do?

I complain a little to my long time friend, and author, Carole Gill. After a few emails back and forth, she told me to look into her publisher. Creativa.

I did.
They sounded good. Great, actually.
I took the plunge and sent them an email. Then with their permission, sent them the file of my first book, as they requested.

It hasn't been quite a week yet, as I write this Friday evening.
I'm not nervous. I don't have any doubts. I'm more confident about the outcome than I've been in years.

I'll let you know. If this happens, there will be new covers.


Hey, did I get you thinking? Want to add a comment? Be my guest and be nice about it. Since I've seen too many "anonymous" users I've taken this option off. Sorry, but you are only interested in selling me something. But my regulars are always welcome!