Then on week seven, I got a letter. A simple, thin envelope. Not a good sign. I opened it, looked inside.... and felt positively insulted! You've heard the term rejection slip? This was the very example of one. A literal slip of paper, with the standard "Dear Mister Wells," up top, their "Sincerely ect" at the bottom, and right between them, two lines. I'm not kidding! Two, #$@#! sentences politely saying "no thank you."
Now I've gotten rejections before. Quite a few in fact. But this... I wish I'd saved it, but at the time I was so incensed I couldn't stand to look at it. They didn't have the respect to send me a more formal letter? It didn't even have a letter head for goodness sake!
And yet, I suppose I should thank them. It was that anger that changed things.
It took time to take effect, but that's when it started. By then I'd given drafts of my novel to friends, and a couple of sort-of-strangers that I trust, for feedback. All loved it and can't wait to own a copy of their own. Then I gave a copy to a Girl Scout from my mom's troop since she was right in the middle of my target audience.
She finished it in a day and has been hounding me for a sequel ever since.
So, everyone who reads it loves it. They all want to buy it. And yet the same story gets a rejection slip smaller than a shopping receipt? I think I'm in the wrong business. It's clear I have something here. If the publishers can't see that, then I'll just make it happen myself. Thus I abandoned my efforts for traditional publishing, and switched to self-publishing. Been the best decision I've ever made. I haven't felt this driven since the days after 9/11 when my career first began. It's a longer grind than I expected, true, but it hasn't stopped me.
And why should it? I have a story I have every confidence in. I mean after all, I have a Girl Scout demanding a sequel. I've begged and kow-towed to publishers for a long time, only to get a rejection I couldn't use for origami (I actually tried). Now to be fair, that house was the only one to be insulting. All the others were actually very polite and respectful. They still didn't buy it though. It's a tale being heard a lot more these days. Even well known authors are moving to self-publishing because they too are having a hard time getting contracts.
"They also want the better profits from it."
In some cases maybe. And I know some of you may think that's what I'm after. I'd be lying if I said that wasn't a nice bonus, assuming I even got to that point, but it's been made abundantly clear my story doesn't fit the usual mold. I've always said, "My target reader is 13-29, but really I think it will appeal to anyone". I can already hear the publishers crying foul about too large an age range. One could call it Young Adult, but not really. Then you have a story about wolves, told by wolves, entirely from their perspective. I can't think of another story that is similar to that. Not saying there isn't one, I just don't know of it.
"It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of money to do it."
You're telling me. A content editor alone is going to cost $1,400. That's without formatting, marketing, printing costs, author copies to take with me to book signings, all told I'm looking at a $5,000 bill. Then I have to get my name out there myself. Get exposure. Be seen, be reviewed (hopefully positively), and be visible enough to get sales. That's a tall order for a guy working a part time job that doesn't pay much.
But I have to go back to the story. I know it's good. I have reliable, honest people telling me it's good. I know it will sell. I just have to do the work to make it happen. And I have been.
As of today, I have an interview lined up for when the book finally hits the market, I have a content editor chosen and ready when I can gather the funds, I have two plans for a publisher - one better than the other but not a guarantee -, I have plans for some networking to spread the word, I have plans for local book signings on release day, I have an awesome artist working on commissions that will be used for PR materials, and I am putting together a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $5,000 I'll need to make it all happen.
Guess I won't be needing a traditional publisher after all.