Since I started writing with purpose (with the goal of completing manuscripts, not merely writing a few pages here and there) when I got my first laptop in 1994, since I joined Romance Writers of America and attended my first conference in 1996, my dream has been to publish with a traditional publisher.
My heart lifted each time I got a request from an agent or editor, then sank a bit each time I received one of what’s now hundreds of rejections for the 12 fiction (and one non-fic) manuscripts I completed, some even for partials after industry professionals expressed interest via queries or appointments.
I kept writing and submitting through many ups and downs. I gave workshops on persistence, including one with Jennifer Greene after we discussed across the airplane aisle on the way to a national conference whether it was just as hard to sell your 50th book as it was to sell your first.
I’ve even been rejected in person, more than once. An editor talked with me in the lobby for a long time at a conference, basically to deliver the news that she liked the latest project I’d sent but didn’t love it. And that that was the hardest rejection to give, because she couldn’t tell me what to change. After she left, friends were eager to hear what she’d said. Because in our experience, editors didn’t spend that much time with an author unless she/he brought some sort of good news or wanted to discuss a project in depth.
I’ve received more than a dozen revision letters from assorted editors and agents for assorted manuscripts. I made the requested changes, but they didn’t love them enough. One ms won a national contest, a different one was runner up in another. Five more manuscripts placed in or won a bunch of chapter contests.
Despite so many “close-but-no-cigar” moments, many friends got published, and I kept believing I could, too.
I know many authors are doing well or very well via self-publishing and also enjoy the freedom. A few even walked away from traditional publisher contracts, while others chose “hybrid” publishing…some traditional, some self.
After so much time, effort and money, it’s difficult to let go of my traditional publishing dream. I wanted to see an actual publisher’s name/logo on the spine of at least one of my books so much it brings tears to my eyes even now that I won’t. I wanted to have an editor on my team…not a freelance editor I had to hire, but one who paid for my work and wanted to help make it better.
It’s less than two weeks until my books officially release on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. As I bid farewell to a 20-year dream, I’m looking forward to having my books on sale at long last. And work toward another goal, to join PAN, RWA’s published author network. Will I earn enough to meet RWA’s requirement of $5,000 in the form of earnings for a Self-Published novel or novella that meets the definition of Romance Fiction? Stay tuned….