1880s Arizona. Damaged almost beyond hope, Jesse inherits a bankrupt ranch. Survival comes at an inconceivable price: she must learn to trust the man who killed her brother.
That’s the logline from my debut historical novel, WHISPERS IN THE CANYON*. I am absolutely delighted to report that it will be released in late August by Soul Mate Publishing.
After almost three years of querying agents, I participated in an event called SonOfAPitch, an event hosted by Katie Hamstead. I submitted a query letter and the first page of my manuscript, and wound up in the company of many other authors whose submissions knocked my socks off. Amazingly, I not only made it to the third round (where only 20 contestants were chosen), but subsequently got a request for the full manuscript directly from a publisher.
During that same time period, I also joined a pitch session at Savvy Authors, and received two more requests for the full MS from publishers.
Three fulls! After three years of traditional querying and Twitter contests, with never more than a partial request. It seemed impossible. Could this be my lucky time? I could only wait and see.
After reviewing my work, one publisher requested what would amount to a complete re-write of the manuscript, which I declined to do. But both of the others offered contracts; the first one for an e-book only. Now, I’m an old-fashioned girl and I like having a book I can hold in my hands, so I said no, wondering at the same time if I was eliminating my best chance at publication. But my luck held out and the third publisher came through. I took some time to educate myself on contract basics, and after a few rounds of questions which were swiftly answered, I accepted the contract offered by Soul Mate.
I could finally breathe. I had success! My words would be published for readers to peruse and (hopefully) enjoy. And I’ll have a book I can hold in my hands!
This experience made something perfectly clear to me: it really is about taste. When one editor is looking for a complete re-write and another says “I love it!”, you’ve got to believe it’s about taste.
And the final “moral of the story”? There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Traditional queries to agents, direct queries to publishers, on-line contests, pitch sessions, self-publishing―they’re all great ways to get your words out there.
I feel now that I tried the agent route for much too long, but I know others who have had great success with it. I was just beginning to consider querying directly to publishers when the contest & pitch opportunities came along. Frankly, I initially thought of them as a chance to get my feet wet, hoping for but not expecting such great results.
So don’t let anyone tell you there’s a right way and a wrong way to get your work out there. Pick the option that appeals to you and give it a go. If it doesn’t work, move on to the next option. There’s a vast variety of tastes out there and somewhere, someone’s specifically waiting for the book that you’re writing.
I’d love to hear your experiences in publishing: what path are you on? what have you tried? what’s your next move? or have you already found success?
*Note: WHISPERS IN THE CANYON is the first book in the Donovan Family Saga. It was formerly known as LET THE CANYONS WEEP, and I’m absolutely in love with the new title!