When I got my first rejection, I was THRILLED.
Suddenly, I felt like a real writer! I printed out the rejection and gleefully showed it to everyone around the office and squealed, "I'm-a-gonna get me a great big spike and I'm-a-gonna stick ALL my rejections on the spike, just like Stephen King!"
I also felt like J.K. Rowling, who couldn't get Harry Potter published if the broomstick under his bony butt depended on it, or Kathryn Stockett, whose blockbuster success The Help was rejected by 60 agents before Agent 61 swooped it up.
This, I thought, is the process. This is what happens. I was pumped.
I was still pumped when rejection #2 came along. And #3.
But by the time #4 showed up late Friday night on the heels of a crappy day, I wasn't as thrilled.
I can tell you right now, I will not be doing what Kathryn Stockett did. I will not be flogging my book out to agents for the next three years hoping someone will eventually take pity on me and throw me a bone. Gawd, I could be dead in three years. I'm old as dirt. If I want to see my book published I do believe I will have to do it myself.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I had originally planned on self-publishing. The way the publishing economy is shaking out, the chances of being published the traditional way is slim to none, unless you're a rock star and I'm no rock star. To carry on with the music metaphor, I can sing OK in the shower but I wouldn't make it past the first round on American Idol.
I dunno, I just thought I'd give 'er a go... see what happened. Ya gotta try, you know?
You have to try.
Besides, some of the most successful books on the market right now started out self-published. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, Still Alice by Lisa Genova and The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis were all originally self-published before the authors were offered contracts.
Bonus: I just did a search for the bestselling women's fiction on Amazon and guess what: the number one bestseller is self-published (The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski).
Even better? This summer FOUR self-published titles made it to the New York Times e-books bestseller list.
I highly recommend you read this post by David Meerman Scott about Lisa Genova's rags-to-riches success story with Still Alice.
And ya gotta love Terry Fallis' determination. He shopped his book around for a year, getting nothing but rejections, before he self-published and began recording chapters and sharing them on iTunes. Having more balls than most, Terry submitted The Best Laid Plans to the prestigious Stephen Leacock Award for Humour – and won. After that, the publishing industry was knocking on his door and he finally got the recognition he deserved.
What I get from all this is you have to do-it-yourself first and, if your book is good enough and liked by enough people, you will get noticed by the publishing industry and the next thing you know you'll have a New York Times Bestseller on your hands.
I think that's the strategy I need to pursue.
What do you think?