I always thought that the traditional way of agent-publisher was the way to go. And, self-publishing was a way to get your beloved, heart-driven novel lost in the Indiana Jones warehouse of on-line books. It doesn’t seem so now. I’ve discovered literary agents are very narrow in what they’re looking for since publishers basically control the market, looking to make as much money as they can. I don’t blame them. Seriously, I have no hard feelings. I believe in capitalism for the most part. Through all that, I’ve stayed true to my story. My love for it is stronger than ever. Publishers want to stay in business. The agents are a cog in the big machinery. If a certain genre is hot at the moment, that’s what they look for from the literary agents. I was driven to write a love story. I wasn’t driven to write the hottest-at-the-moment genre. And, it’s okay! I believe very strongly that there are readers for my story out there, and self-publishing is the way to go for me.
Thank God, my sister Annette, my de facto administrator, and an excellent one at that, is well-versed in these kinds of things, learning a lot as she goes. She’s worked for years for an author/comedian. We’ve discovered (well, basically stumbled onto) a self-publishing website called Smashwords, which distributes ebooks to many different ebook retailers.
The best reason for using self-publishing is that I feel like I’m the one in control. I’m happy to say, I’m not bound to any type of formula for my genre, erotic romance, and I no longer feel that I am a slave to formulas and begging for an agent to accept me. I love my work (I say that a lot). This is the right thing for me to do.
While trying the agent-query way, I was always in panic mode pretending I wasn’t, sending out queries and begging the universe for someone to please, please, please like my story. Please like me, like me, like me! I was unhappy trying to second-guess what a good query letter was. Prospective agents seemed like the proverbial glass ceiling, only it was more like plexiglass not even a bullet could bust. I don’t even own a gun. It was terribly demoralizing. But, and it’s a very big but … everything happens for a reason.
So, what positive things have come from what many would think a failure? First of all, nothing we do that doesn’t work out is a failure. Tama Kieves says possibilities that don’t always work are like vitamins that keep the positive feelings going. Each try, each “failure” builds on more possibilities. Every experience has value. What I learned from sending out as many queries as I have was that the most important thing was to LOVE my stories, LOVE my characters, and have FAITH in the process.
And, what all that love boils down to is SELF-LOVE! I’ve learned I cannot control the process or the path I’m to take with this craft I’ve discovered I have. I can’t predict any of the things that will happen. However it is paramount to have a desire, a dream. My desire is to share Eva and the Irishman with as many people who love this this kind of story as much as I do. And, finding an agent or publisher or a place to self-publish are only the mechanics to reach readers, not the be all, end all. How this all happens is not mine to predict. Trusting life is what I must to do.
I must listen to what my inner guidance system (my positive emotions) is telling me, and go from there. Every action taken must be an inspired action. One that feels good. No desperation, no panic. It feels good to use self-publishing. I’m learning to take each step as it shows up. Then the next step. Then, the next. And so on. Paying attention is essential. It’s easy to get way ahead of oneself in a grand plan. I can see it all at the pinnacle of the mountain, yet I still have to traverse the side of the mountain. There’s no skipping steps.
I was at a talk a couple of years ago. A local author who’d had a book published way back in the seventies, had not written anything for many years after that, what with raising a family and work and all, until recently. He’d written a very clever book about an historical figure placed in moder times. I was struck by how almost bitter he was that he couldn’t find an agent and publisher, even going back to the same agency he’d worked with thirty years prior. During his talk, there was an opportunity for him to give a reading. He didn’t even read his own work. He had prearranged members of the audience to act out the scene. Then, afterwards he groused about his inability to find an agent. He even said that agents didn’t want you if you didn’t already have a name. I couldn’t believe his bitter tone. I ended up walking out before he finished.
As a writer and someone who wanted to be published someday, this was a devastating thing to hear. It was so negative. It took me a long while to recover, but I still kept writing. What I had learned from that experience was that this author had lost the love for his own work. That was evident to me since he didn’t read his own passage. I’d had a chance the previous year to read a passage from Eva and the Irishman, and I couldn’t wait to do it. I even brought my daughter to the reading. This other author had admitted he had the dream of a screenplay, then conveying cynically he’d given that up and insinuated that none of us should have those dreams. I have since vowed to never lose my desire, even if it is too good to be true.
I love my big dream. I will never stop desiring to share this story. Tama Kieves says desire it … “that too good to be true desire.” Yes, the one that’s too good to be true! It has become so much a part of me that I cannot let it go. I’ve learned to corral it and think bit by bit moving forward with it. To let this go is not in my wheelhouse anymore. And, who knows, perhaps someday an agent will see my work and love it. I won’t let that go, either.