*Vulnerability Alert: Why I put a book out with no fanfare.

Some of you remember last years book launch. It was a fun and grand affair- including a blog tour, reviews set up in advance, giveaways, social media promotion, and an awesome release party. Everything you are supposed to have for a book release.

And don’t get me wrong . . . it was incredible, a dream come true.

BUT, I learned some hard truths about myself over the past year. After struggling for months with sickness and anxiety, I turned inward and went to therapy. It was there I learned my tendency for perfectionism, my need to “over achieve.” My dependence on the rules and “being my best self.” But I finally understood the root of it.

I was terrified of giving off the perception of half-assing something.

Here’s where I get uncomfortably honest. I wanted you and everyone around me to be impressed with my ability to go above and beyond. And please don’t misunderstand. I adored cooking all of the Italian food for the party, hand-making the bath-bombs, bookmarks, and postcards for the gift bags. My problem was that I was over achieving and doing that kind of thing in everything in my life- not just a one time book launch or party.

Brene Brown

I think it took making myself sick with anxiety for months before I began to understand that life is not healthy, or sustainable.

But how was I supposed to turn my life around after 36 years of living this way? I decided to take one step, in one area of my life, and give it a test run.

My next book.

What would it look like to write a book and publish it, simply for the sake of creating and loving it? What would it look like if I published The Lost Door without all the hoopla and promotion and stuff you are supposed to do as an author. What if I just put it out there for the world, and not do it perfectly? What would other authors think? What if it didn’t impress anyone? What if it didn’t sell? Would the world end?

Guess what, it didn’t.

In fact, it was incredibly freeing to let go of the expectations of a book launch. So much pressure is put on the first 24 hours on Amazon, preorders, reviews, etc. It was lovely to not care. Y’all, the book has sold 15 copies. 15. Three or four months ago, that may have depressed me, or worse, it may have crushed my desire to write. But I made the decision I didn’t write this book to sell 1,000 in the first month. I wrote this book because I LOVE to write, it brings me real joy, plus I’m a bit obsessed with this story.

So, the question is, what does life look like going forward? What did this test prove? Will I completely let go of my perfectionism? Probably not. BUT, I will choose where to unleash it more carefully. I will be selective, and over-achieve on the things in life that truly bring me joy. Because truthfully,ย  I love digging in and throwing everything I have into something, and the satisfaction of a job perfectly done. That is just part of who I am. However, I will no longer strive for perfection in all areas for the sake of the perception of others. And I will be more mindful to filter my motives in projects.

I learned a lot through this. We don’t need to do anything because others say we should. Or even because those who were successful before us told us to. Sometimes we just need permission to do it our own way, in a way that is healthy for us.

So if you’re out there, and you are feeling over-whelmed with life, I give you permission to stop take a breath, and relax. You don’t have to do it perfectly. No one will think less of you, and if they do, then they aren’t worth being in your tribe to begin with. I am honored to be surrounded with friends and family that support my new “half assed while smiling is better than being full assed while curled up in a ball crying” motto.

My guess is that your loved ones will too.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive of me over the last few months. So many bloggers, authors, reviewers, and friends have given me grace and patience through this process. And thank you guys for listening. I seriously love you all.

Steen

 

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I have made a decision!

I’m so fortunate to have people in my life who are willing to answer questions and have conversations with me that loop around and around in circles. I am so grateful the people around me are so patient.

I spoke with several author friends this past week, some of which are self published and still working hard to find their groove, and some who are a published through traditional publishers ,and still working hard to keep their groove.

I think the important thing to notice is no matter what avenue you take, you have to work hard. The good news, is that I am willing and ready to do that.

So that being said, I have decided to self publish The Door Keeper so I don’t lose momentum.

The good news is there will be no lapse of time the book isn’t for sale on Amazon. I’ve already uploaded it to Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and this week will transfer the paperback to Createspace. (Who was already printing the book.) If anything, the only difference you should see is the price decreasing a bit. (With no middle man, you save money!)

For the sequel, I will most likely attempt to sign with an agent and try to sell it to a traditional publisher once it’s completed. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Thank you all SO much for your support and kind words about The Door Keeper. I hope you continue to buy it, read it, and recommend it to your friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you specifically to Bonnie Clark, Melanie Dale, Jennifer Blaske, and Jennifer Schuchmann for listening to my rambling and speaking wisdom and truth into my situation.

You can continue to buy the book HERE, and it is now available on Kindle Unlimited. Thanks again, and if you’ve read the book and haven’t left a review yet, don’t forget to do that.

I’m so excited to move forward in this direction! Cheers to the many possibilities. *clinking coffee mugs

If at first you don’t succeed…

I’ve been dreading writing this post. A week has passed since I woke up to some upsetting news. My publisher, Royal James Publishing, closed it’s doors last Tuesday.

After being available for purchase for 2 months, The Door Keeper will be pulled from Amazon and Barnes and Noble effective immediately. The good news is that the publisher was very happy with TDK and how it was selling. Her decision to close had more to do with how the overall business was doing. But still, a big time bummer.

So, I’m back to square one. Well, not completely at square one at least. I have a beautiful cover, the writing went through a round of editing (although, I think it could use some more), I got some great reviews, the book is formatted for e-version, and all rights remain with me.

I don’t have any regrets. I knew signing with Royal James was a risk, and I have learned SO much since signing my contract. Lessons that I will absolutely use moving forward.ย It’s just difficult when you have been building momentum and suddenly have to halt everything. So the big question is, what am I going to do now? What’s my next step?

After seeking some counsel from author friends, I’ve decided to restart my search for an agent. An agent would be able to help me know where to go from here. An agent could answer the questions that I have: Do I self publish TDK and work on selling the sequel? Do I shelf it and attempt to sell the first and second together? Or do I just start over and re-sell the TDK before doing anything else with the sequel?

For friends of mine, I have about 30 copies left I can sell you from the trunk of my car. ๐Ÿ™‚ To those of you I’ve already talked to, thank you so much for your kind words and support. It means so much.

I’d love any input you guys may have for me. As in most of my short writing career, I’m in unchartered territories here…

What do y’all think? What would you do if you were in my position? How do I move forward from here?

Author interview w/ The Salonniere’s Apartments

Thank you so much to Marilyn for featuring an interview with me in her “Writing Room” part of her online apartment. She has curated an interesting, and quite frankly, awesome new online environment. (At least new to me!) She has created a space for you to browse, learn, and simply enjoy reading about everything from writing, art, health, food, and her favorite subject; books.

I encourage you to check out other parts of her blog after reading our interview! The link to the interview isย here!

Interview pic with Salonniere

 

How it happened.

I’ve had a few people ask me how I got a contract. So here is the condensed version of the process of the last seven months.

I finished my first draft of my novel in the fall of last year. My first draft was only 50,000 words, which for a fiction novel, is very short. After I had some friends, (way smarter than me), edit it for me, I started querying. I knew that self publishing was a viable option for me, but I wasn’t in a hurry to get my book out there and just wanted to see if I could do it the traditional route. (Find an agent, let the agent try to sell it to large publishers, etc.) Now, I got some great advice from a couple of author friends. (And all of this goes for querying publishers as well.) They told me to:

Query to a handful of agents at a time.

Try to find agents that fit your style and were people you would want to work with.

Query your letter to them personally. (Why are you querying them?)

Every rejection you get, send another query out into the world.

I sent out my first query letters in January. I picked 4 agents that represented authors like me, and slowly the rejections came. Some were in the form of emails, and some were just deadlines crossed. (FYI, most agents/publishers will just tell you if you don’t hear from them in 6 weeks, they aren’t interested. How’s that for testing patience! ๐Ÿ™‚ I always had 4 or 5 queries out at any given time.

Also, I found the agents I queried by looking in some of my favorite novels and saw who their agents were. Some I found online by simply googling “fantasy fiction agents.” As my husband always says, “When in doubt, google it.” I’ve done more googling in the past year than I ever imagined possible!

Through this entire process I had started writing the sequel to The Door Keeper.ย It wasn’t long before it was finished also. It too, was short, finished at just under 50,000 words.

In the spring when I wasn’t getting any traction or feedback, I talked to a friend of mine who had written an awesome trilogy and had it published. She said something that changed everything for me! She was honest enough to tell me the book was too short, that I needed to consider putting my 2 books together, and to not be afraid I would run out of ideas. She was right! I had wanted a trilogy so bad and was afraid I would run out of story. So I decided to try it…what could it hurt? If nothing happened, then I could just self publish eventually and re-seperate them.

During this same time, I had also decided to quit focusing on trying to query agents and attempt to query straight to publishers. Side note: most publishers will not accept unsolicited material, but a few of the smaller ones do. Also, some publishers will open their gates for a short, determined amount of time to read unsolicited manuscripts, so you need to keep a look out.

Around this time I also decided to start a blog and Instagram just in case I ended up self-publishing. I wanted to set myself up to be able to build a platform for my writing and have a place promote my book. My first follower on my blog was Royal James Publishing. They were in the first batch of queries I sent with my 2 manuscripts together, and the rest is history.

The main reason I decided to start looking for a smaller publisher was I wanted a partnership. I wanted collaboration. Having lived in the non-profit, social enterprise, small business, and start-up world for the past 5 years…I’m super comfortable here. I watched tiny business explode, watched some grow slowly, and always work hard to achieve success. I enjoy watching and being a part of that process. Plus, I have a weird obsession with getting in with things on the ground floor. I love being able to say I was apart of something back when it wasn’t big or important. (I guess it’s the deep rooted hipster in me.)

Honestly, I was prepared for this process to take years, but thankfully it didn’t. I think the main thing to learn from my journey up until this point is: learn as much as you can about a process and then tailor it to fit you. I’ve learned that the writing world is full of many different ways to get to one final result: a book for sale. Don’t be afraid to go traditional, or to be a trailblazer, or simply do something in between.

And when in doubt, just google it.

*Cue nervous laughter.

It’s finally sinking in. I have a contract with a publisher for The Door Keeper. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, I’ve seen this process from the outside. I have a few friends that are authors and I know I’m entering the harder part of it…letting go of what I’ve worked so hard on. Letting it out in the world.

But this junk is scary.

I’m about to submit my final manuscript to my editor. *Cue nervous laughter.

I’ve given my stuff to friends to edit before…people who love and support me. But this, this is a whole other animal. This is not someone who thinks I “poop sprinkles.” (Thanks to my friend Jen who gave me that lovely compliment. Extremely inaccurate, but still sweet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This is someone paid to find every grammatical error, every misspelledย word, and every plot hole.

I am definitely in for a rude awakening.ย *Cue nervous laughter.

All that being said, I am super excited to see what comes back. Nervous, yes. But mostly pumped to stretch and grow. I’ve never written a book before, but my editor has. I know that with every book I write and have edited by someone who knows a crap load more than me, the better I’ll get. And I do want to get better. We should all want to get better at the craft we claim, right?

So as of today, my story is officially out of my hands (for the moment) to be refined, sharpened, and honed to be the best story possible. For those of you who have been my beta-readers, the friends and family who helped me develop it to this point, I sincerely thank you. You all have already taught me so much. Look for your names in my acknowledgment section. ๐Ÿ™‚ You all have already played a ginormous part in The Door Keeper,ย and there is no way I’d be at this point of the process without you.

I think you all poop sprinkles. And I love you bunches. Thanks again for supporting me.