Please welcome my awesome guest blogger, Christi Corbett. Christi and I have been through some interesting times together in the publishing world. She’s got a lot of knowledge to impart regarding the rocky road to publication. I know you’ll enjoy this post and her debut novel which I happily endorsed.
Christi is giving away a fun package of writing goodies (notebook, sticky notes, pens, and other fun supplies) to one lucky commenter, so be sure to answer the question at the end of this post to be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday evening after 9:00pm Pacific Time so be sure to leave a comment before then if you’re interested in winning the goodies.
Publishing is a tough business and not for quitters. While right now I’m happily reviewing cover concepts and thinking of how to best promote my debut novel, it took over THIRTEEN years to get to said happiness.
Yes, it took me thirteen years to go from, “Hey, I’ve got a really great idea for a book!” to signing the publication contract from Astraea Press.
And there were plenty of times during those thirteen years when I considered quitting. Considered that maybe I didn’t have it in me to go the long haul. Considered that maybe the process was just too hard. Considered that maybe my story idea was stupid and no one would want to read about a family’s adventures and misfortunes on the 1843 Oregon Trail. Considered that maybe to get published I’d have to compromise my beliefs.
But, even though over those thirteen years there were plenty of days, months, and even years when I didn’t write at all, there was always a little voice deep inside me, rooting me on and saying “Don’t worry. Right now you’re dealing with a lot, but when things calm down you’ll get back to this story.”
So, I listened to that little voice while I was pregnant with our twins in what turned out to be a high-risk pregnancy that forced me into two months of complete bedrest. I listened to that voice when our twins were born one month premature. I listened for the next two years while I was buried in diapers, toys, drooling smiles, potty-training, and tears of exhaustion and joy.
I listened to that little voice while packing, unpacking, and then packing up again through a total of four out of state moves (Washington to Minnesota, Minnesota to Montana, Montana to Washington, and then Washington to Oregon).
Then, once our twins were two years old, that same little voice helped me to eek out five minutes of writing time here, another five minutes of writing time there, until lo and behold, my twins were five-years-old and I’d finally finished my book.
And then I realized that my book was horrible.
But that same little voice was still with me, now saying, “Ok, you’ve got a lot of work ahead, but you FINISHED and that’s something to be proud of. Now get to work on making it BETTER.”
So I did. I went to my very first writing conference and realized there were people just like me, striving to write until they got it right. I made some great writing friends at that first conference, and in a roundabout way, that was how I met Jillian.
Now, armed with my own little voice and a few writing friends with actual voices, all of whom were giving lots of encouragement, I ripped my book apart and revised it, from the first word to the last…SIX TIMES.
Then I found a local writing group and two critique partners (lots of love here to Artemis Gray and Margo Kelly!) who showed me I had a lot more work to do. So I revised it again…TWO MORE TIMES.
Then, I went to a conference in August of 2012. Conferences are expensive and I could only afford one of the three days, and getting that money took holding a yard sale. But, my husband and entire family are very supportive, so clutching my yard sale proceeds in one hand and my query letter in the other, off to the conference I went.
I met more amazing writers, got requests for partials from three of the three agents I met with, and then drove home with my dreams soaring—dreams that were quickly dashed when I got rejected by one of the agents and never heard back from the other two.
But still, that little voice inside just wouldn’t let me quit. I revised my query letter until it shone, showed it to everyone who would look at it, revised it TWENTY more times (no, I’m not kidding) and then one minute after I put my twins on the school bus for their first day of second grade I began querying in earnest.
A few months into it I had around forty rejections, but I also had six agents and three editors (Medallion Press, Tor/Forge, and a small press) reviewing requested partials/fulls, an R&R offer from an agent, and an offer pending from another small press.
Then, it happened.
I was rejected by an agent who called my book lovely and sweet, raved about my writing and the storyline, but ended with the statement, “…let your characters engage in sex and describe the sex. As it stands, I’ll pass. Put the sex in and I’ll take another look.”
I assure you, I have thick skin when it comes to rejections. I’ve racked up my fair share since I began querying, and normally took them with a grain of salt (and chocolate—lots of chocolate), but this one really bothered me. I understood if a rejection was based upon my writing style, the likeability of my characters, or a flaw in the storyline—but to be rejected solely on the basis that I choose NOT to include sex? That one didn’t go over well.
So much so that I finally decided it was time to query the one publisher I’d had my eye on for months. A publisher that cares not only for the authors, but for the kind of work they attach their name to. I’d discovered Astraea Press before I started querying in September and really liked the stance the owner, Stephanie Taylor, took against unnecessary sex.
During a 2011 interview, Six Questions for Stephanie Taylor, she made the following statement: “…Astraea offers a safe haven for good books where the focus is on the STORY and not the sex”.
I sent off a query to Stephanie at Astraea Press late one afternoon, and woke up the next morning to an offer! And it was my birthday too!
I immediately pulled my novel from consideration from all the others who were reviewing partials/fulls/had offers pending, because I believed so strongly in Astraea Press, and the niche they’ve carved out for themselves in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
I am thrilled to announce my novel, Along the Way Home, will release June of 2013 in e-reader format and then in July of 2013 in print.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my “Not-So-Glamorous Story of How I Got My Book Deal”, and I hope it inspires you to never ever EVER give up on your dreams!
Speaking of dreams, here’s the back cover copy to my debut novel, Along the Way Home.
Kate Davis is intrigued when her father reveals his dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory. Settlers out west value a strong woman, and though she manages the financials of her father’s mercantile her competence earns her ridicule, not respect, from Virginia’s elite society.
Jake Fitzpatrick, an experienced trail guide, wants land out west to raise cattle and crops. But dreams require money and he’s eating dandelion greens for dinner. So when a wealthy businessman offers double wages to guide his family across the Oregon Trail, Jake accepts with one stipulation—he is in complete control.
Departure day finds Kate clinging to her possessions as Jake demands she abandon all he deems frivolous, including her deceased mother’s heirlooms. Jake stands firm, refusing to let the whims of a headstrong woman jeopardize the wages he so desperately needs—even a beautiful one with fiery green eyes and a temper to match.
Trail life is a battle of wills between them until tragedy strikes, leaving Jake with an honor-bound promise to protect her from harm and Kate with a monumental choice—go back to everything she’s ever known or toward everything she’s ever wanted?
Jillian, I thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today. And to her readers, thank you so much for reading about my journey to publication. If you’re interested, I post more tidbits about my writing journey in the following locations. I’d be honored to hear from you.
Facebook Author Page: You can find me under “Christi Corbett—Author”
How about you? How do you keep writing/pursuing your dreams when it gets tough?