2010: Year I began my first completed manuscript
2012: Year I began querying
16: Number of completed manuscripts
10: Number of publishers queried
9: Number of manuscripts rejected
2: Number of stories published
1: Number of contracts signed
That’s my path to publication, boiled down to a few numbers. On the surface, it’s kind of a bleak picture. Sixteen completed books and only one contract? I have to admit, when I first looked at those numbers myself, it knocked me pretty far down. And it doesn’t include the agents I queried when I first started querying, before I switched my focus to direct submission.
The thing is, those numbers aren’t uncommon. Being an author is a choice and a career that will break your heart more often than it’ll heal it, and it can be difficult finding the strength to pick yourself back up after a particularly devastating rejection. Sometimes it’s not even a rejection – sometimes it’s poor performance. Because, as Kameron Hurley points out in this post, being published doesn’t mean it gets any easier.
Writing is a master class in perseverance. How many people out there gave up after their first manuscript failed to take off? Or their third, or their sixth? One Night in Buenos Aires was my eleventh completed manuscript. Of the five I’ve completed since then, three were rejected, one I’m still waiting to hear back on, and the fifth I just finished on New Year’s Eve.
Reading Kameron’s post, it amazed me just the sheer amount of work she put into promoting God’s War. That work paid off – she won a few awards for it (like being nominated for a Nebula is a small thing. Jesus. That’s awesome.) and she ended up with a contract for a book she was dead certain readers would want to read. Her convictions were shaken, she was tired, she wanted to give up – and she didn’t.
I think Kameron’s my new hero.
No, I know she is.
This is what happens when you persevere. This is what happens when you know, you know, deep down, you’ve written something people will want to read. It’s easy to lose sight of it, under all the doubts and rejections. So you have to look for the small things that make you keep going.
I could add another number to that list – 2013. That’s the year I got my first acceptance. Kind of amazing, considering I’d only been querying for a year. Since I started writing, I’ve had support from all corners. The BF (who jokes that I write porn). The friends I’ve had since grade school. My boss. My former boss. The woman who headed the department next to mine for years. Random people on Twitter. I’ve met fabulous writers through blog hops and Twitter, at conferences and my local RWA chapter. I’ve had encouragement from editors who ultimately rejected my work. My biggest cheerleaders? My CPs: Liv Rancourt, Whitney Fletcher, and Shannon O’Brien. Without their feedback and support, and especially Liv’s adamant belief that Fracture needed to be released into the wild, things could have been very, very different.
2014 was a difficult year. My blood sugar went a little nuts from all the stress I was under, and I haven’t been able to get it back under control. ONiBA and Rehab both released. I submitted six manuscripts (some old, some new) and received rejections for five of them (still waiting on the results of the sixth). I made plans to release both Fracture and Hidden Scars when those rejections started coming in again.
Some writers may never reach that big payoff they’re dreaming of. It’s a fact, and it’s a depressing one. Some may realize their dream of being published only to find it’s nothing like what they thought it would be.
I chose this path, and I knew it’d be a difficult one to follow. Those tree roots, man, those are killer. The end’s out there, though, a spot where sales are good enough to cover outlay and I’ve got a solid core of readers and bloggers looking forward to my next release. The end of it may not be Fracture. It may not be Hidden Scars. Hell, it’ll probably be some book I haven’t dreamed up yet. But until a pit opens up in the middle and swallows me whole, I’ll keep trekking, even when my muscles scream at me to stop.
Also, I need to do more hiking this year.
Bottom line, it’s the little things that keep us going, and drive us to our keyboards, day after day. Find those, tuck them away for safekeeping, and use them to remind yourself it’s not time to give up. Not yet.