My Debut Fantasy Novel
If you heard some hollering last week, that was me. I received the most awesome news that Solarflame, my debut fantasy novel, has been picked up for publication by the indie press Rhetoric Askew Publishing. I have to say, after dozens upon dozens of rejections over the past few years, receiving a positive response is freaking AMAZING.
Like many aspiring authors hawking novel-length manuscripts, I queried agents without much success. In my critique group, a couple people have gone the self-publishing route. One, the very talented Carol DeMent, has had some great success doing that. For myself, I was pretty sure I wanted to keep trying to get picked up by a publishing house and had been considering for some time to look into smaller presses. What finally convinced me to do just that was my experience at the 2019 Willamette Writers Conference (is it just me, or does August 2019 seem like a lifetime ago?).
At the conference, I pitched to a couple different editors, one being an indie press editor and the other being an editor from a big New York publisher. I ended up having an after-conference discussion with the editor from New York, who gave me some insight into the publishing world from her perspective. This was invaluable because it convinced me that pursuing publication at an indie press is a great idea. So, that's what I did. I started querying every reputable indie press I could find. This eventually led to Rhetoric Askew Publishing offering to publish Solarflame.
In his seminal book Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Mass states (and I'm paraphrasing here): quality writing leads the publication and developing a readership base. I really think that's true. With that in mind, here are some links to posts I have written about concrete things I've done to make it to this point on my authorial journey.
The Great Rewrite: accept you're going to have to rewrite and just do it.
The Arduous Edit: come up with a plan to shore up those weak points in the story and edit for as long as it takes.
Editing for Sophistication: slay those adverbs.
Short Stories as Writing Assignments: focus on improving the weaknesses in your writing and maybe get published in the process.
If you're lucky enough to have people willing to critique your writing, always receive the criticism with an open mind.
The list could go on, but the posts above will provide you with the general idea of what I've done to get here. The last thing I will add is be persistent. Don't allow a mountain of rejections to deter you.
Anyway, look for Solarflame next year! I wish you all the best in your writing pursuits, and as always during the pandemic, stay six feet apart while in public.