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I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. There were countless hours spent pounding out stories on an old typewriter at my parents kitchen table. Writing is something I’ve always done, not always in the same format, poetry, stories, plays and novels. Always, however writing.

Being a published author has been a dream, a goal of mine and it is one I have been working towards. I worked at it, I researched it, I networked. I read, voraciously. Then I wrote, and I wrote and I rewrote. Then finally I submitted to a competition, (not the first one I’d ever submitted too and not the first novel I finally finished). Much to my delight I made it through the first cut. Top 40 of 260. The next logical step was to submit to agents and publishers. After which I got a whole lot of nothing and a couple of rejections.

There was no way I was giving up on this, I loved my story, I believed in my story for as much as letting other people read it was terrifying.

The next step I decided on was manuscript assessment. A process no scarier than letting anyone read it, except hopefully if they didn’t hate it they would be able to help me figure out what I could do to improve it. The feedback I got was thankfully positive, I was thrilled that someone else liked my story. The best thing was this was where I got the best piece of advice, ‘it’s really good but a structural rewrite, if you want to put in the effort, will make it great.’ That one suggestion and I finally understood some earlier feedback that had made no sense to me.

This began the biggest part of my journey. I wrote, whenever I could, a scene here a scene there. I added, I took away. It was slow going, very slow going because when you are a wife, and mother as well as juggling work, it can be difficult to find time. Added to that was the fact this wasn’t the only project I was working on, sometimes inspiration for this project simply dried up but other ideas would just flow.

Then I had an amazing breakthrough. I got my version of the elevator pitch with a boutique publisher. Somehow I sold him on my story when I sold him on myself and my work ethic. He asked for what I had, which to be honest was an incomplete and patchy story. This kick started my writing again with vengeance. I wrote, rewrote and edited the first 50 pages and sent it off.

Even with no contract and no solid deadline it lit a fire in my belly. The writing burned through me and the story finally found it’s voice and form. The publisher got back to me and said as soon as I was done he wanted to offer me a contract. You may know how happy I was that day, it was as if everything I had worked for and through had been validated. Working my arse off I got it finished and finally got my contract.

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It would be wonderful if that was the end of the story. If we started editing and my book made it out into the world.

Instead I got

Nothing.

A few months after I signed my contract the publisher decided to go on indefinite hiatus due to stress. This left me in some state of limbo. What could I do, technically I was still in contract and he hadn’t closed the business just said he needed a break. I figured, that was probably a good enough reason to break contract if I needed too so I started putting out feelers again. Not a lot but a few, and there were no bites.

Then, from out of nowhere, when my contract was closer to its end than beginning, the publisher decides to go ahead and send me the first lot of edits, asking me how I would like to go forward. I was hesitant but the lure of publication is strong.

By this time though I had re-edited my story yet again, why not, it can always be improved. So I added his edits and sent off the new version. Then…

Nothing.

I send a message about cover art, because an artist I know has created a beautiful pic for me that I really wanted to use. I get a positive response.

Next thing I know a friend messages me and asks if I’m okay with the fact my publisher has decided to close his doors. That was the first I heard about it, then came the bulk email.

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I was heartbroken and so incredibly angry. I know there were extenuating circumstances, and I truly believe he didn’t mean for this to be the end result but it still felt like a crushing rejection. I ranted, I cried, I poured my frustrations out to an author I admire, who surprisingly answered me with some good advice.

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At this point you realise you have two choices. You either give up or you pick yourself up and push forward. I’m not much of a quitter, this is not something I’d spent a few weeks or months on and had little invested in, this was something I’d been working towards the greater part of my whole life.

Publishing is not an easy industry to break into and with the advances in technology I realised I had another choice; traditional publishing or self-publishing. My heart wanted me to go traditional, that was my dream. To have someone believe enough in my story to want to share it with others. I really wanted to be able to put a book in people’s hands. That path though could mean years of submitting and waiting and most likely a lot of rejections. Self-publishing meant I could get it out there by the time I was originally supposed to be published.

I bit the bullet. I love my story, I believe in myself (sometimes – so it must have been a good self-esteem day I made the decision) and I wanted to go forward rather than sit in a holding pattern indefinitely. I found myself an editor and hit send. I already had the art I wanted for my cover art and I know a wonderfully talented graphic designer who was happy to put the cover together for me.

When my editor got back to me saying that at times it ‘was like reading an already published book’, I couldn’t have been happier. With feedback like that you’d think it would be easy to upload to the e-book site and hit submit. One button and it is all done. That one button though carried a lot of weight, all my hopes and fears resting on one small click. In the end my hubby said ‘just do it,’ and I really had to take that chance on myself.

Publishing is scary, putting yourself out there in such a way opens you up to people you might otherwise hide from. Self-publishing may even be more so because at the end of the day you are the only one who believes in what you have done, it is all on you (friends and family don’t really count here, they are supposed to believe in you and support you).

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This is my journey so far. Not the one I wanted but the one I ended up with. I haven’t made my millions, I haven’t sold 50 copies as yet, but I have had great feedback from a large number of those who have read it. I’ve found some fans and even had my first royalty payment. All of which is better than nothing and better than not taking that chance in the first place.

 

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