The thing is. Many months earlier, I had found her online and wanted her to be my agent. And when I heard she attends the writer’s conference, I signed up to go. But then she tore me to pieces and I was a nervous wreck around her. Although I admired her knowledge and wanted to learn from her. This prize, this opportunity meant the world to me. I did it! Slash was going to have to read my pages! And I set out to make them better.
After a couple months I got a reply from her. She turned me down for representation, but she said even though I was nervous (I mean I shook the table and sloshed her glass of water), I did a great job on my reading at the contest. She said my writing was good and had potential, but that Chick Lit is a very competitive genre now and she didn’t feel it was a right fit for her. From that day forward, I spent every evening after work pulling together all the pieces of ten years of writing and wove them into my finished book and signed up for the conference in spring 2006. I pitched my book to an editor from Random House. I was so excited about it that she was swept up in my storytelling and asked me to send her the WHOLE book. It is a rare thing to be asked for the whole book. I was on Cloud 9. I mailed my book to New York. Delilah was sitting in a New York publishing house!
But then I got a rejection a couple months later. I tried not to get down on myself. I knew I still had something. I had just spent so long living it and writing it that I missed the timing. But things come back around and maybe one day it would succeed. That’s when a few years later I decided enough of this, I was going to self-publish. That way, the story would truly remain my writing style and not be morphed into mainstream writing that I feel all blends together.
I published my book in October 2011. I was so excited to finally sit back and relax and read my book, but I found typo after typo. My father helped me edit, but he worked on a hardcopy and I transferred his changes to the computer and my eyes missed a lot. Oh wow. My friends were all buying this atrocity. In spring 2012, I revised edits and made a second edition and paid for a Kindle version. Again, there were still some edits I missed. But I let it go. That fall, a year after my book was out in the world, I received an award.
An author friend of mine had nominated my book for a B.R.A.G. Medallion. It is an award from a group called indieBRAG. Geri Clouston is the president and 2012 was the first year they gave out awards. Their goal is the recognize the cream of the crop from self-published books. Ninety-five percent of self-published books are not worth reading for one reason or another. This is why, people had look down on self-publishing for so many years, and why serious writers, are skeptical about making that journey. I was at a party one night and my sister told someone I published a book. The lady was so excited and interested in me at that point and asked who the publisher was. I said, “I self-published” and she said, “Oh” and immediately snubbed me. I didn’t need her friendship anyway, but that is the reaction people give to self-publishing. Until recent years. And indieBRAG has been a big part in changing opinions.
In my first couple years as an author I put myself out there as much as my time and bravery would let me, to do book clubs and book events. I spoke at the Decatur Book Festival in 2012. (Picture of me on the front page of my blog.) I made a 1950s dress to wear as my costume to make my appearances more interesting and fun. I was having so much fun! This was (is) my calling.