Indie Publishing: Rejecting the Rejectors

Mini wonders about decision to self-publish.A few weeks ago, I wrote about a decision I would have to make about my next step in publishing: pursue a possible opportunity with a small press or try to continue building momentum with indie publishing. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but for the first time ever, I’ve turned down an invitation from a traditional press to send them more of my manuscript.

Awhile back, I sent a query letter to a small press that I thought might be interested in my next novel, Jordan’s Shadow. After a wait of several months, I got a message from them that they were interested in seeing a proposal. They had instructions asking me for a lot of things: marketing plans, one-sheets, bios, sample chapters.

For those of you who haven’t spent decades trying to publish a book, let me tell you how the process of traditional publishing is supposed to go. When you identify a publishing company that might be a good fit for your book, you send a query letter, giving them a brief description of your book and yourself. It should take a month or so for them to let you know whether they’re interested. If so, used to be, they would ask for sample chapters and a synopsis. It should take two or three months to get a yay or nay at this point.

If they like your proposal, the next step would be a request to see your full manuscript—reading and considering of which should take four to six months.

Even if all these steps work ideally, you can see that the process from query to getting an answer on your full manuscript could take nine months to a year.

But the process doesn’t even seem to work that well anymore. Summer’s Winter, which I self-published in January, is technically still under consideration by two traditional publishing companies. One has had the full manuscript for about a year and a half; the other has had the proposal for over a year. No definitive response from either, and no response to follow-up questions.

Another company requested the full manuscript of Jordan’s Shadow but said to expect a response in one to two years. Sure enough, it’s been about seven months so far.

And the companies ask for more and more work from the authors in their submissions. The days of a simple synopsis and sample chapters seem to be over.

I’ve gone through all these steps MANY times—always ending in rejection. One after another after another—sure that this time is the perfect match, this time will be it. Sure that I must NEVER turn down any publishing opportunity offered to me.

And yet, after praying and thinking for three or four weeks (yes, this time I let them wait!), I had to write the small press and tell them I was going to continue with my plans to self-publish Jordan’s Shadow, hopefully sometime this fall.

I hope my response was gracious. I’m so grateful for the encouragement, for the good things this new company is doing. Having seen first-hand how much time it takes to market and publish, I’m sure that the turn-around time on queries and proposals and publishing can’t be helped on their part.

But I actually turned them down. Briefly, this was my reasoning:

  • I’ve done this already. Not for years, but for decades. Perseverance is good, but if you persevere without learning anything or trying something different…well, isn’t that the definition of insanity?
  • Even if this company gave me a contract, they’re such a small press that I would still be in charge of my marketing, and there would be no advance.
  • Also, Jordan’s Shadow probably wouldn’t be out for three or four years. I’m learning that self-publishing is all about momentum and building a following. I need another book out soon, and this is the only one close to being ready to go.

Summer’s Winter has been a great start in indie publishing, so now that I’ve started it, I think I need to commit to it. (Unless somebody out there at a top publishing company wants to offer me a six-figure advance and a fat contract. Maybe even a five-figure advance. I can be flexible.)

But I gotta tell you, writing a rejection letter to a publishing company instead of receiving one feels just…weird. Maybe tomorrow the sun will rise in the west.

 

Share

Publishing a Novel: Carole Brown on How She First Published

 

Indie and traditionally published author Carole Brown on  how to publish.
Author Carole Brown

Wondering about publishing a novel? In this regular blog feature, authors tell the story of how they published their first book. I’m excited to talk to Carole Brown today, who is both traditionally and indie published! Here’s my interview with Carole: 

What was your first published novel?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman. A women’s fiction with strong elements of suspense and romance, it deals with a woman who’s bent on revenge upon the men in a cult where she was raised because of the murder of her eldest daughter. It’s intense and suspenseful with just the right touches of lightness and hope and romance to lift the reader from the seriousness.

The Redemption of Caralyn Hayman, suspense about woman escaping cult.

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go Indie?

Traditional for my debut novel. I’ve been “raised” to believe it was THE way to go so that was pretty much the only aim I had. For a long time.

How did that come about?

I was really discouraged, ready to quit. I’d studied hard, re-learned writing, acquired an agent and critique partners, attended conferences and workshops and talked with editors. Still no results.

At the lowest point of my despair, a dear older lady set me down, figuratively speaking, and told me God gave me the talent and that I needed to believe. Use what I had and leave the rest to God. Still with struggling faith, I pushed ahead. In April of 2012, I talked with an editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas who asked me to have my agent send my manuscript. I was approved, accepted and signed the contract in December. October 21, 2013, my debut novel released.

How did this make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?

I’ve loved it for the most part. But then I believe I found the publishing house that worked for my aims and goals and for my writing style. I also believe with all my heart that they work hard to encourage and help their authors to achieve success. They’re certainly willing to try many ideas to help us.

There are always snags and sometimes a few disagreements, but for me, it has smoothed out nicely. I work hard at marketing and believe my editor is pleased with my efforts. I now have three versions: print, kindle, and audio to offer readers of different requirements.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

Smiling . . . A month after The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman released, I was fortunate to Indie publish (with help from a good friend) the first book in a mystery series: Hog Insane, introducing the early-retired couple: Denton and Alex Davies who head to Tennessee in their RV with their dog, Taffy. It’s a fun, lighthearted, quick read. Entirely different from The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, but a nice read.

For the near future, I should have two more novels releasing. The second book in my mystery series: Bat Crazy which, of course, features Denton and Alex Davies again, only in New Mexico this time. Hint: What do vampire bats have to do with the story? J

My second release is the first book in a WWII Spy series (light suspense). Three sisters, Three spies. Three stories. Each of the three books deals with one of the red-headed sisters and their spies.

Here’s a brief blurb about the first book in this series, With Music in Their Hearts:

Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.  

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.  

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

 Thanks so much, Carole, for visiting my blog! I loved hearing your  story–so encouraging! 

Thanks so much, Robin, for allowing me to visit your site!

Carole Brown not only has her award winning (Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel. November, 2014, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies. 

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

 Connect with her here:

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Carole is  also am part of several other blogs:

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

Authors, if you would like to  be considered for this blog feature, use the “Contact Me” tab up at the top and let me know. Thanks!

 

Share