Step 7: Right after my agent started presenting RUDY TOOT-TOOT to editors I lost my job. I'm pretty sure the two events are not related, but who knows, I love a good conspiracy theory.
I took advantage of the two months between gainful employment opportunities to write the first draft of another book. Thinking I might be best served continuing in the children’s book market, I chose an origins-of-Santa story I’d been contemplating for several years.
I wrote the first draft of THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS in about 6 weeks. Then I reached out to a diverse group critique partners, including children’s book authors, YA authors, and authors of literary adult fiction. I had a fifth-grader read my book, and I read the book aloud to a class of third-graders; the kids all liked it. I incorporated the feedback from my critique partners (NOTE: a.k.a. "critters" in some writing circles) and revised the manuscript and emailed a copy to my agent. I thought it was pretty good. My submission was met with:
I called to follow up on the submissions for RUDY TOOT-TOOT. My follow-up was met with:
For nearly six months I heard nothing from my agent, and I tried to reach out to her monthly. I noticed on one call that she now had an intern. I saw in Publisher’s Marketplace that she was selling books. Just not mine.
Eventually she responded to an email and let me know that RUDY didn’t get any offers, but said she would read my new book. She asked me to give her a month. I did, and when I got back in touch with her, she had not read it. She asked for another week. I gave it to her. She still did not read it. It was one more week when we both realized that our author/agent relationship was not going to work and parted ways. It was bittersweet, because as frustrating as the end was, her editorial guidance and feedback helped me to grow as a writer and storyteller.
But I do believe that things happen for a reason, and I'm not about to hold a grudge, because eventually...
Step 8: I revised THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS again and again. I applied everything I had learned and poured my heart and soul into the book. The result is a very special story; I feel honored that The Muse picked my fingers to hammer it out, because I think it's a great read. I guess that's a conceited thing to say on some levels, but what do you expect? I'm asking people to spend their hard-earned money on the book and take hours from their busy lives to read it...you should hope I think it's good.
I considered querying and going the traditional publishing route, but I realized that to do that, my book would not be published until 2012 at the very earliest…more likely fall of 2013. I decided that I did not want to wait that long. The story is ready to be told.
But speed-to-market is not the only reason I decided to self-publish. I’ve been watching the changes to the publishing market over the past several years. I wouldn’t suggest everyone self-publish. I don’t know if I’ll self publish my next book. But for this book, I feel the time is right, and I’m comfortable with my decision.
THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS is available at Amazon.com in print and Kindle editions, and it also available for the Nook at BarnesandNobel.com.