Blogging has been difficult for me lately. It's hard to find the time, when I have an adorable son to take care of and am trying to use every spare minute to write Tangled Promise, Shattered Veil's sequel. But I DO want to let y'all know I'm still here...and I have something I really want to say.
If you've read some of my early posts you may know some of this already, but for newcomers, here's a quick, dirty history of my publishing journey: in 2009, I wrote Moon Child. I revised it, queried it in early 2010, and received three offers of representation from great agents fairly quickly and painlessly. I thought I was golden. The agent I chose had tons of experience, was forthright and honest, and super organized. We went on submission shortly after I accepted her offer. And...Moon Child didn't sell. I wrote By Blood. We submitted it to editors. It also didn't sell. MAJOR HOTSAUCE got deployed. I missed him terribly and awoke one morning with an idea for a scifi trilogy. Right from the beginning, I knew THIS one was going to be different. THIS ONE was THE one. I wrote the first draft, the second, the third. We went on submission. Dreams of three-book deals and auctions and general awesomeness danced through my head. Somehow, I'd been able to keep hope alive, despite my first two failed attempts. I told myself Shattered Veil was special. Things would be different. I was so confident, I started writing a fantasy just for me...not because I thought it might be marketable or because my agent asked me to (in fact, she didn't even want to read it), but because I just KNEW SV was going to sell and I'd be busy for years writing the rest of the trilogy, so why not have some fun and do something different now?
Well, Shattered Veil didn't sell. There were reasons for this, I'm sure, and the book it became is vastly different from the version that was shopped to publishers.
And that's what I want to talk about. I worked with several professionals on Shattered Veil during my traditional publishing journey. One suggested I cut an entire subplot. One thought the beginning didn't work and thought I should cut the first 60 pages. And I did it all. Every change. Even though the book it became WASN'T what I'd envisioned. Even though it made the story feel incomplete to me. But I did it because I was so desperate to sell a book to a major publisher that I was willing to do anything. Change my main characters motivations? Sure. Cut a storyline because it was too "adult"? Why not? I lost myself in trying to please everyone else.
This is the truth: I'm happy my books didn't sell to a publisher. I would have liked the money, the validation, the bragging rights. And I have SO MUCH respect and love for my traditionally published compatriots. This is not a rant against the establishment, I promise. But what I've realized over the past couple of years is that traditional publishing was NOT the right fit for me. I was MISERABLE waiting to hear back from editors. I was MISERABLE not having any control over the process. The constant rejection completely sapped my confidence and desire to write. When I decided to self-publish, it was like I could take a full breath again. I absolutely love working with my cover designer, having actual input into what my book is going to look like. I LOVE that I had the freedom to tell the story I really wanted to tell in Shattered Veil. I put the cut storyline back in. I took the feedback about the first 60 pages and rewrote them, but I did it my way, instead of just cutting them. I made the book the story *I* felt compelled to tell. To say I feel passionate about Aris's journey would be an understatement. The way she is at the beginning of the book - even though some people find her annoying - was IMPORTANT to me, because her growth wouldn't mean the same thing if we didn't see where she started.
The rub: It's scary putting your stuff out there, even when you feel confident that you told the story you wanted to tell. I've been scared that all those editors were right about me and my stories. What if nobody wants to read them? What if they don't sell?
And this is what I've realized: Sales and quality don't always coincide. Sure, seems obvious, but it's tough to remember when your rank keeps sinking lower and lower. I'm an unknown indie author just starting to build my social media presence, just starting to get my name out there. Are people finding my books? Not yet. But I'm okay with that. And I stand by my decision to self publish. Because recently, I've read some of the most amazing reviews for Shattered Veil. And I've realized that I'd be happy giving my books away for free and never making a dime if it means I get to read strangers say such amazing things about them.
"It's about a person being restricted and confined to certain expectations by everyone - lover, family, society - and growing beyond those and realising that she's grown beyond those. As many times as Aris doubts what she's doing and thinks that she will fail, she keeps fighting. She's determined and stubborn and proud and that makes her story a joy to read." Read the full review here.
To have people "get" what the story's about, and who Aris really is, to read how much they appreciate her transformation...well, that's the reward.
Do I want to make money with my writing? Yes, yes I do. I want to contribute to my family's financial security and to my little guy's college fund. But I can honestly say I'm no longer willing to define my success by how many books I sell. I'll be defining it by the kind words people share about my books, and the emails I receive begging for the next one. It doesn't matter if the people reading my books get them for free through NetGalley or for a blog tour. They're still readers. And guys, readers willing to read your stuff - even if they DON'T like it - are the most amazing people in the world.
Do you want to read Shattered Veil? I'll gift a Kindle copy to the first three people who comment on this post.