I love the topic of an author’s journey to publication. Every author reaches the point of publication through a different route, even if there are some similar rest stops along the way.
My journey is one of trial and error. I started my “writing career” as a fiction writer.
I spent a couple of long years writing short stories and novels and shopping them around. The feedback was always positive – the writing was great, the story was great – but no publication seemed to think that I fit just right.
What I write isn’t particularly far from the mainstream, but the monsters that haunt me are human, and my stories are about the imperfect people who defeat those monsters. Still, monsters are scary, and what I found that publishers were leery of those I created.
The first detour on my journey came about the time I got a very positive rejection of my first novel, Biloxi Sunrise. The acquisitions editor that looked at it loved it. But. Again, not a great fit. The difference was that this time, the pressure was on. I was a stay-at-home mom with two young kids and a husband who worked hard, but wasn’t paid well. My choices were to start earning some money from my writing or get a real job.
I did the only thing I could do. I changed tracks. I shelved the book and the stories and I sold my writing soul for a paycheck. It was a good paycheck, mind you. Through a series of coincidences and connections I landed in the realm of business and technology writing. Assignments flowed like water, money gushed even faster.
One thing led to another and for years I focused on that career. I wrote articles, news reports, created training documentation, whatever was asked of me. Even books – 19 of them. Some were bestsellers (that 10 years later I still receive royalties from), others never earned out their advances, but they were good advances, so what did I care.
The problem was that inside I still wanted to write fiction. Eventually, I landed a great contract that not only paid well, but it allowed me some freedom to write what I loved during the downtime. So, I dusted off Biloxi Sunrise and spent some time rewriting it. I’d learned a lot in the years since I’d last picked up the manuscript, so I put all of that knowledge to work.
Then came the question of what to do with it. I wanted people to read it, but I’d been the traditional publishing route. I knew from experience that traditional publishers are spread too thin. They don’t support authors like they used to unless you happen to be a well-known brand. And fiction advances were on the decline.
I made the tough decision to go indie. I liked the idea of being in control of everything from the cover to the content and the marketing and all of the other details that come along with publishing a book. Let’s call that a real learning experience! It was, but I found happiness in it, and I’ve had a decent measure of success with that book. Since publication, I’ve sold more than 10,000 copies and made more than the typical advance would have been had I gone the traditional route.
Except, I needed to follow that up with another book to keep the momentum going. Hey look, there’s detour number two!
Life gets in the way. It did, and I was completely run off the road for nearly four years dealing with a couple of major health issues inside my family. I rarely thought about the book or the follow-up until those issues passed.
Thankfully, they did pass. One day I found myself with time to kill again, and suddenly Jack and Kate were there, ready to share my downtime. It took such a short time to write A Biloxi Christmas that even I was shocked. It was fun, even more than that, I felt like I was right where I belonged again, and that made me want to do more.
Ever the over-achiever, I finally decided to go all the way and format Biloxi Sunrise for print. Guess what? It’s almost ready for release. And when I picked up the printed copy of that book for the first time, it was all I could do not to cry.
The journey is just starting. The next book in the series, Biloxi Blue is due out in late-March. I’m finally doing what I love to do – what I was meant to do. And for that, I’m more thankful than I can even convey.