One year ago today I experienced the giddy, slightly mortifying experience of publishing my novel, Forged in Grace (which I’ve made FREE all weekend in celebration). It wasn’t my first publishing experience, not even my first book, but it was my first novel, and I had made the leap after a tremendous amount of anguish to publish independently.
I’m not going to quote you the millions I made or the bestseller slots my book fell into. It did about as well as an average book of its kind does in the world of indie publishing, relishing a few days in the numbers that count before returning to its place of near obscurity.
Around me voices in my head, critics, colleagues echoed the fears that chewed at me: It isn’t real. It doesn’t count. You didn’t work hard enough.
I’m not new to this game; I’ve been at it nearly two decades. I knew what my choices were and that many dogged colleagues in my position would just keep at it. (A strategy I also highly recommend).
You see, my book, and another like it, had been with a top agent; I’d worked with an editor “in the business”— from Crown Books—and taken my book as far as I thought it could go. New agents rejected it with the kindest of words, “I love your writing. This deserves publication” but ultimately nobody “fell in love.”
But I also knew that exciting things were happening in the world of publishing—that writers were taking control of their work and keeping that control, trying their hand at being their own publishers. I was excited by the idea of finding my people—my very own tea—to design and promote my work. I knew I had the drive, motivation and energy to do the work.
There are some moments on the journey of the year that I wouldn’t take back for all the book sales in the world. The way my community and friends rallied around me for my book publication party and lavished kindness and energy on me, spreading word of mouth. The friendships of the women who form my writer’s collective that helped me publish. The pleasure of connecting to readers. Not to mention the reward of learning within months, not years, what people thought of burn victim Grace and her twisted past with her best friend Marly. And there were even more rewarding events to follow: women sharing stories of similar difficult friendships that have stuck inside them for decades; survivors of other injury and illness who understood Grace’s isolation; people who felt seen and heard through Grace.
Even more interesting, were renewed invitations to teach and read and speak at writer’s clubs and conferences in the state. Invitations that had all but dried up after my book Make a Scene came out in 2007 because I was a new mother and had lost time, energy and ambition to put myself out there in any professional way. And all of these new invitations led to new books, two of which I’m now under contract for with Writer’s Digest Books in 2014.
So while publishing my novel did not make me rich, famous or critically acclaimed, it brought me and my writing back to life, led to meaningful relationships, taught me valuable lessons about just how much work goes into the production of a book, and led to other kinds of success.
If I had waited to publish my novel, I could still be sitting here waiting.
To celebrate, Forged in Grace is FREE on kindle all weekend. Also, subscribe to either the blog or the newsletter (right hand side of the main page) to keep up to date on my next books.
In April I release Night Oracle:
An artist with prophetic dreams and a jazz club owner with night terrors fall for each other over exotic cocktails, an orphaned child, and a tragic murder in this moody, sexy novel of romantic suspense.