AUTHORS user Alisa Schindler on her journey from query to self-published writer
by ALISA SCHINDLER, AUTHORS user
Over the past two decades, I have written four fiction novels. Each time I finished the proofing, editing, revising and then doing it over another dozen times, I’d start the process of submitting. I’d write to sought-after agents and up and coming agents, or editors if I felt a certain connection. For my first manuscript, a romantic suspense novel called, The Obsession, I sent out my query and sample chapters with a pack of Red Hots in a fire engine red envelope. I worked in advertising at the time and thought I was being clever. The few agents who responded wrote personal notes–It was the 90’s!!–telling me that they thought my book had potential but just wasn’t good enough. And P.S. Thanks for the Red Hots.
The next few books I sent out with less fanfare but no less enthusiasm. There was mostly flat out form letter rejection but there was just enough occasional positive rejection to keep me starry-eyed and hopeful. Just an encouraging word from an agent or editor could keep me submitting for months. But ultimately, they each hit a point where I gave up. It was time to move on.
Back when I wrote my first manuscript, self-publishing was a non-issue. I had never heard of it and never once considered it. I longed with every fiber in my being, every tap of the keyboard, every envelope I licked, to be picked up by a traditional publisher. I needed that stamp of approval. I needed someone legitimate to make me feel legitimate.
Even as the self-publishing market grew, I wanted no part of it. I felt that if I wasn’t picked up traditionally, then I wasn’t good enough to be published and I stubbornly maintained that position for years.
But about three years ago, on a fluke, I started a blog. I grew my following and started freelancing at online publications as well. I also began interacting and networking with other bloggers and writers online.
I watched as they self-published memoirs and essays books, using their social media savvy to sell themselves and their work. It was fascinating and it started a shift in my traditional brain. Could I? Should I?
After a whole lot of consideration and thought, one day not long after my 46th birthday as I was reviewing yet another of my social networking friend’s books to be self-published, I had my breakthrough. Why not me? I didn’t need to be pat on the back by ‘the man’. I was good enough. I had a platform. And it was time. It was my time.
So I did it. I self-published one of my manuscripts and later this month, I’ll do another. I am over the stigma, assigned by myself as well, that self-publishing is for those who aren’t good enough. I’ve met too many amazingly talented, self-published authors who have written great books and are rocking their sales.
I’m no longer embarrassed to say that I’m self-published. In fact, I’m proud of myself. I’m just a little embarrassed that it took so long.
Alisa Schindler is a freelance writer whose essays have been featured online in the New York Times, Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Brain, Child and Good Housekeeping, among others. She occasionally blogs at icescreammama.com, and has just self-published, Secrets in the Suburbs, a fun, sexy fiction book, now available on Amazon. Find her on twitter at @icecreammama