The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement, fear, anxiety, angst, and overwhelming joy all rolled into one enormous feeling of upheaval. Why? Because I landed a publishing deal for my novel MARRED!!!
Now that the legal issues are out-of-the-way, the contract signed and sent back, I can finally share the news. MARRED will be released this fall.
And it terrifies me.
The world will see my words, experience my story.
What if no one likes it? What if readers shred me in reviews? What if it doesn't sell?
These are real fears, albeit probably foolish ones. I have to wonder if other authors feel this way, too. Not many talk about this aspect of publishing. Perhaps it's because they don't want potential readers to know. Whatever the reason, I believe admitting that I'm human with real fears about failure is just being honest. How can that be a bad thing? Actually, I feel a little better
saying it out loud writing it.
When I started taking my writing seriously I had one specific goal in mind, to find an agent and get traditionally published by a large house. I stuck to that goal until it blinded me. Because when you have your heart set on one specific way to get published you tend to shut out other opportunities. Looking back, I realize how one-sided this line of thinking was. In today's publishing world there are many ways to turn your dreams into reality. Don't be like me and waste years on only one path. Branch out, consider your options.
Which is exactly what I did this year. Instead of querying agents I decided to go direct to publishers, a frightening venture indeed. I sent my manuscript to four publishers. If you decide to go this route here's what you need to keep in mind: agents do NOT want a manuscript that's been "shopped around". Meaning, if you send your manuscript to every small and medium press and then get rejected, you've effectively tied their hands. Very few debuts get picked up by one of the Big Five. I think the statistics show 1% out of 100. You have a better shot of winning the lottery. Which is why agents look at these small to medium presses as great alternatives.
Does this mean you shouldn't try? Absolutely not. Just don't close your eyes to other options, like I did.
I sent my manuscript to my top three choices and to one imprint I'd never heard of. And then -- BAM, an offer. By email (thankfully not from the unknown imprint). As I read and reread the email I kept waiting for the word "unfortunately" to pop up, certain I had missed it along the way.
Hearing about a team of editors who LOVED my story nearly knocked me off my chair.
I glanced up at my husband, Bob, who was on his way upstairs. "Honey, I think I just scored a publishing deal."
He twirled back to me. "What? How?"
"I don't know," I said. "Remember when I told you I was sending out a few submissions to test the waters? Well, one of them already wrote back. They said they loved my story. A whole team of editors loved my story."
"What do we do? Ask for a contract?"
"It's here. Now. Along with all kinds of other stuff, including a sheet for the Cover Art Department asking me for my input; how I want the cover to look."
Bob didn't move, shock registering on his face. A pause. And then his brow furrowed with confusion. "But I thought you'd get a call."
"Me too. And fireworks, a marching band, a plane skywriting the news above our house."
"Maybe you should read the contract before we get too excited."
He was right. And so I did.
Moments later, an unintentional shriek escaped from somewhere deep inside me. "It's true! I'm officially a published author!"
Hooping and hollering ensued.
Next, came the writing of emails to ask advice from other authors I respect who've been through this process, followed by running outside to tell the neighbors (we live on a mountain with two other houses so we're all extremely close).
I then buckled down, went over all the material my new publisher sent and wrote letters to the other houses thanking them for their time. I was now committed. This was it. My dream was becoming a reality right before my eyes.
Sue Coletta, Published Author.
It seemed too good to be true. Something must be wrong... that little bugger self-doubt creeping in, again.
Now came the hard part... I couldn't tell anyone. Not until I had signed the contract, the deal official. Although, if someone happened to cross paths with me during that period, virtually or in person, I felt compelled to share my news, but swore them to secrecy. A few friends who'd been fighting alongside me, down this road called "the traditional path into publishing", got an email too.
A release this fall is extremely quick, even for a small press. For some reason, that I am trying very hard not to question, the publisher had a few spots open for their fall release and want to include MARRED. To complete everything in time will be a lot of hard work, but hey, that's nothing new. I worked three straight years without ever taking time off, even a half-day. That's how focused I was in achieving my dream; it meant everything to me. Still does.
Without missing a beat, I set a new goal, a new dream, one I will work just as hard for, if not harder. In my opinion, this is one of the many aspects that's so great about this whole writing gig. You never know everything; there's always more to learn, strive for, look forward to, a focal point to zero in on. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a gazillion more times. Set a goal and then rejoice when you accomplish it. The more small goals you achieve along the way toward your big dream the more confidence you build. In theory.
This is a huge win for me. Now it's time to work toward my next goal, and the next, and the next. It's a never-ending cycle that ebbs and flows as your craft reaches new heights.
No other business that I'm aware of can say that, just as no other group is as supportive as the writing community. Without all of you, I could never have made it this far. You've been my rock when rejections stung, my cheering section when I achieved small successes, and my inspiration when I felt like I should hang up my keyboard. Writers are the most caring, generous people in the world, and I feel blessed to be part of this community.
Before I let you go enjoy the rest of your weekend, I wanted to also let you know that I bought a new domain for my site: www.suecoletta.com. Crimewriterblog.com will still work too. I've heard horror stories about successful authors who couldn't buy their own name because others bought all the sites to profit on their success, writing posts, selling books, basically posing as that author. So before I ever sell one book I wanted to make sure this could never happen to me.
I'm sure I'll share what I learn as I work with the editors, artists, etc., and show you my cover once it's available. This is such an exciting time in my life. I never thought I'd be so happy to do the little things, like updating my PayPal to a business account to sell books at signings, conferences, and the like. If you haven't experienced it yet -- it's awesome!
I'm riding this high for as long as possible. I even took most of the day off yesterday. It felt so weird being away from my keyboard.
Ready or not, here I come!
Sue Coletta is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime. Her debut novel, MARRED, a psychological thriller, is scheduled for release this fall by Tirgearr Publishing.