Archives: Publishing

November 07, 2003

Sometimes when one repeats a word over and over, like carrot, the word starts to make less and less sense. If one writes the word down over and over, the spelling starts to make even less sense. One starts to ask, “Is that even a word? It doesn’t look right. It doesn’t make sense.”

Although they might have said or spelled carrot a million times, it’s the repetition that can sometimes cause doubt to the validity of the word.

That is how I feel about my book proposal.

October 02, 2003

For over two weeks I struggled with her advice; to make additions to the book which would involve adding “self help, resources and ideas.” I knew that her advice was warranted – she was a fabulous agent that knows what is selling in the world of books – but I was having a hard time accepting it.

Besides, she had already made suggestions that I completely agreed with and had altered the book in my own way and thought it was perfect as is. The additions and changes were really good, she said, but not enough. I had to add more of my voice, resources and how to’s. This was a problem for me as self-help isn’t my thing. Motivational writing isn’t my thing. Telling people what to do in five steps – so not my thing. I like to offer an experience and have people take what they can, but apparently, that wasn’t good enough. Without the additions the chances of her representing me were slim and the chances of a publisher wanting the book, even smaller.

To write something that wasn’t me felt wrong and I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. I had seen far too many examples of writers who wrote just for market. I remember a woman who was writing a book on “how to be your authentic creative self.” Yet every idea in the book came from her favourite writers and an agent. I found this quite hard to swallow. I also had a friend who recently published a book which used my phrases and ideas and I’m sure a lot more, but she knew what the market was and money and fame are extremely important to her. She’d write whatever people would buy, it had worked so far for her. There were other writers who got contracts via friends and also wrote about being yourself and accepting yourself, only to take their advance and buy breasts. I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t want to lie to an audience or more importantly, myself.

Yet, here I was, faced with the same dilemma; change my views and make a killing at a book or hold fast to my principles and remain unpublished.

Unsure of the right answer, I did what any confused person would do – I asked close friends for advice that I wanted to hear. I wanted them to tell me that I was right in resisting the agents words and that I was right to be authentic and not write something I didn’t want to.

When I approached my best-friend Emily about this I was expecting her to agree with me. But in her nonchalant way she blatantly said, “Well, you have to give people a reason to buy the book. You have to do something else.” She went on to give me ideas, ideas that I had or would do. Huh, I thought. OK, maybe.

My friend Kate asked how the book was going and I showed her my mock-up. She loved it and I was happy. See, I told myself, what is there right now is perfect, just as it is. I replied to her with my story of how it was suggested that I needed to add more of my voice and give people suggestions for the ideas I had. Kate, being a writer and a person who agrees with authenticity as much as I do didn’t tell me I was right In fact, she told me I should do what the agent suggested.

She explained how that my voice is different than a lot of people’s and that I wouldn’t write from the viewpoint of those currently on the market. She explained that perhaps my voice was needed and that I could take the advice and instead of being someone else, I could just be me, and offer what I knew.

This kind of advice popped up in several other people until I understood that I didn’t have to be a different kind of writer to take the agents advice. I didn’t have to write about glitter, about morning pages or weekly tasks. I didn’t have to change into someone or adopt an unfamiliar style. All I had to do was do what I’ve been doing all along – offer what I know and hope that it’s of use.

I can do that.

As soon as I made the decision that I would move ahead and make the advice my own, I started to get confirmation from all over the place that this was the right decision.

Without saying a word, I began to receive a flood of email from people who told me that, out of all the “self-help” and “motivational” books they had read, my words had helped them the most. They listed names of authors who I thought I had to be like in order to take the agents advice. However, since I hadn’t received these specific kinds of emails before and only started to receive them after I made the decision to take the agents advice, I decided to take them as a sign that I was on the right path. As I’ve said before, when leap in the right direction, the universe provides. I know that I really can offer guidance in a way that’s comfortable and authentic to me and still be useful to others.

Now I can move forward with excitement instead of fear. The possibility of trying something new and succeeding, well, it makes up for the struggle. I realise that I need to challenge myself and try new things and this is a good opportunity for that. Besides, I can’t give up without trying and if my authenticity, my words, my way, aren’t good enough then I’ll accept the fact that perhaps the book won’t make it.

But somehow, I have a feeling it will because authenticity, I truly believe, has it rewards. Even if it takes awhile.

Dec. 16, 2002

There’s nothing like a two mile walk home from the post office in the pouring, windy rain to make you miserable. Wait, there is – carrying a rejection letter from your publisher of choice during said walk.

Perhaps it wouldn’t have hit me so hard if I had been prepared for it. I truly believed that this publisher would publish my book for several reasons. They publish books like mine, they publish first time authors, I had an inside connection and (I thought) my proposal rocked.

What stung the most was that it wasn’t an out and out rejection; they liked my work – even holding an acquisitions meeting about it. The publisher thought I wrote well, liked the idea, and he even wrote me a personal note back saying that my submission had gone further than most. The ultimate decision to not publish it came down to judgment calls based on the fact they didn’t think the book idea had formed completely nor were they sure of the size of audience it would have.

I had come so close, but not close enough which left me more devastated than a simple “We just didn’t like it” would have.

This rejection left me debating if I should continue on or not with the book idea- maybe all the opinions from “professionals” hold more validity than my dream. On the other hand, there is this fearsome power inside me that wants to prove them all wrong by sending them a copy of my published book with a note saying “I told you so.” Is that arrogance or lost hope? At this point, I’m not sure.

Julie Andrews has perfect advice for a situation like this: “You cry a little and then the sun comes out.” Perhaps I’ll wallow a little, indulge my sadness and wallow a little and then give it another go.

I’ll do more market research (an area I knew I was weak on), I give them a clear, concise book (also something I lacked with my proposal) and just write more, finish it and polish it until it shines. Why? Because at this point in my life, I’ve blown any chances to go back to being a how I was.

Postscript:

I couldn’t wallow, I just couldn’t. I had a cry on the way home from the post and that was enough. If I didn’t believe in what I was doing, if I didn’t believe there was a market, I think I would have given up long ago. But it’s like with any personal dream – it’s inside you and you feel it every day. It never goes away until it’s fulfilled. If I gave up, that would be the real failure – not being rejected from a publisher. To help me focus on what to do next, I set up a poll for readers to help answer my marketing questions. This is to prove to the right people that there is a market and that somehow, this story that I’ve told is relevant in today’s publishing world.

Also, I spent most of the afternoon and evening working on my book and answering the questions that the publisher had. I’m going to redo it all (even rebinding the book thanks to my best-friend Emily) and send it back to the publisher. I feel like their rejection was a passive invitation. The worst that could happen was that they would say no again and since I’ve already been through it once, the second time around should be a piece of cake.

I’m going to use the rejection as a motivator instead of a debilitator. Somehow, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.