Today I have the extreme honor of letting my publishing sister, Sharon Bayliss, take over my blog. A contest on her own blog this past May is what led my editor to 18 Things! Sharon, I’m forever in your debt, and you can stop by any time! Don’t forget, Sharon’s book, The Charge, and my book, 18 Things, are both on sale in the Kindle store for 99 cents until Saturday! Thanks to our publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for running this wonderful promotion!
Take it away, Sharon . . . .
No one could call me an overnight success. I’ve been chasing my dream of publication for fifteen years. Granted, I have had a lot of distractions during that time, college, marriage, children…you know, life in general, but I always returned to work on my goal of publishing a novel.
I am proud to say that on March 2, 2013, my dream came true. I published my debut novel, The Charge, with Curiosity Quills Press.
So how did I finally get it done?
In 2009 I started writing the novel that would eventually become The Charge. It went through so many drafts and total overhauls, early beta readers can only barely recognize the final published result. In the summer of 2011, I did my first round of serious querying. I went the “normal” route of querying agents. I had a few positive moments, some blog contest wins and an occasional positive query reply, but overall, the query process was soul-draining and ultimately unsuccessful.
Fortunately, I wasn’t thwarted. After rewriting my query almost fifty times (yes, I counted), I finally realized and accepted that the query wasn’t the problem. There were problems with the basic structure of the story.
So, I essentially started over. And this time, I write the query first. When I felt like I had an awesome query after only a few tries, I knew I had finally figured it out.
I got to work re-writing the story and when I was done, it just felt different. I knew I had gotten it right. I had two amazing beta readers look over The Charge. They made some excellent suggestions and I went to work on yet another significant revision.
One problem my beta readers pointed out was that The Charge didn’t fit well into the YA genre (which was where I had been querying it) because my main character was 18 and out on his own. I agreed, but aging him up or down proved difficult. Read more about my journey to discover the new adult category in the article, “18-Year-Old Characters are Strictly Prohibited.”
Despite the categorization problem, I felt excited and confident about The Charge, so I set out to query agents again and entered some contests. And…
Although I felt like I had made significant strides and was very proud of The Charge, the general consensus from the agents was, “no.”
I didn’t want to shelve The Charge, but I was discouraged and decided to at least move on to something else for a while. So, I wrote a completely different novel (but that’s a whole other story). I was feeling very excited about this new novel and was about to start querying it, but then something unexpected happened.
The publishing industry moves slowly and I’m not very patient. So, I had moved on before The Charge had really gotten a chance. I hadn’t thought about The Charge in a while, and then I learned that it had made it through the first round of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Then, a month later, The Charge became a quarterfinalist. I didn’t move to the semi-finalist round, but I did win a very positive Publishers Weekly review.
My success in the ABNA contest made me rethink everything. The expert judges and the Publishers Weekly reviewer thought it was great! The agents who read my query may not have fallen in love, or thought they would have trouble fitting it into the correct marketing box, but that didn’t mean the book wasn’t worth publishing. So, with my renewed confidence, I tried something new, I queried small publishers directly. And since small publishers were open to the “New Adult” category, I was able to query it in the category it really belonged in.
It didn’t take long at all for me to get some full requests, and in about a nanosecond in publishing time, Curiosity Quills Press made me an offer. I have to admit, I was thrilled but also discombobulated. Things had happened quickly and not the way I had expected. I had no agent to help me negotiate the contract. Even after lots of research and consulting with friends, there was no way to be 100% certain that I was doing the right thing. But my gut told me it was the right thing to do, and I know I made the right choice.
My journey to publication was long and often painful, but I believe it all happened for a reason. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Jamie, and for all your support along the way!
*My pleasure, Sharon! I bet you’re wondering what The Charge is about after that post. Here’s the blurb:
When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren’s brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.
He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who’s itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can’t stay away from. Convincing her he’s not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.
A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.
Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.
*You can visit Sharon’s blog to learn more about her, and to enter our $75 Amazon gift card giveaway 5 of us are doing to say thanks for spreading the word about the 99 cent sale, woot woot!!
So, have you had the chance to read The Charge yet, or adding it to your TBR list? Interested in the $75 gift card (well, duh, who wouldn’t be, right?!) Stop by tomorrow . . . I’ll be highlighting another wonderful book participating in the 99 cent promo!