Monday, June 10, 2013

Dreams, Changes, and #FUN stuff!

Dragonfly was the first book I ever wrote and tried to sell to agents back in 2009.

Back then, it wasn't perfect, my novel-writing skills were poor. I'd only been a journalist, an editor, and a former English major and teacher. 

But I got a lot of full requests, and polite rejections. I think 15 was the final number before I put it away in 2010. Some pretty big names, too (Paige Wheeler, Kevan Lyons, Kelly Sonnack, etc.) 

I loved the story, the characters, the journey. I loved writing it, and I couldn't wait for everyone to read it. In the year I'd spent waiting to hear back from those guys, I'd written Undertow (#2), Watercolor (#3), and started Mosaic (#4)...

...and then I read Nathan Bransford's advice: If you can't sell the first book in a series, why are you still writing it? (Basically, stop and write something new.)

He was right. And it hurt so bad. 

But I put my dream books in the virtual drawer, dusted myself off, and wrote The Truth About Faking. Then, while I was shopping it, I wrote Rouge. And I got a literary agent. And in 2011, I got an offer for a book deal with a Big 6 publisher.

In the meantime, several of the lovely critique partners, advice sharers, and friends I'd made through this blog had started self-publishing. It was still early in the indie game, and it was still considered a huge risk. 

We were told that if you self-published, you could kiss any traditional dreams goodbye. We were told, the traditional guys wouldn't touch an idie book with a 10-foot pole. We were told you instantly became a pariah. 

But my friends were risk-takers. One--Susan Kaye Quinn--had gone the small press route with her first book, a YA romance, and after that experience, she took the reins and went independent with her very successful science fiction book Open Minds.

And after my agent couldn't sell The Truth About Faking, I decided to self-publish it. In Sept. 2011 it came out, and it's still selling very well today.

Why am I tell you all this?

Because it broke my heart when I put Dragonfly in the drawer. I believed that book was dead, and I'd never have the joy of sharing it with readers... and I was wrong.

Granted, in February when I decided to pull it out again, it still had all those first novel problems. I had to take a sledgehammer to it, break it apart, put it back together, remove all the boring parts, beef up the tension, polish out the dialogue...

But my dream came true last week. And every time someone emails me that they love the story or they can't wait for July 18, I get a little misty. So much is changing in publishing, and it's a wonderful time to be a writer. 

Follow the path that's right for you, traditional or indie, but no matter what, hold onto your dream. Be persistent. Don't listen to what "they" say. And for goodness sake, just keep swimming!

The Dragonfly tour continues!
Finally, looking for #FUN? Romance Reviews is doing a Sizzling Summer Reads ginormous book giveaway and Dragonfly is a part!

Check it out!

Visit The Romance Reviews site (link) for all the fun, but watch out! That game's addicting... (The Dragonfly Q&A is #19.)

Have a super week, reader- and writer-friends! I'm in final edits for Undertow, but I'll be back with more tour stops tomorrow~

14 comments:

Summer Ross said...

Great advice and just what I needed to hear.
~Summer

Old Kitty said...

Awwww glad you got out your Dragonfly from the drawer and are now sharing it to the world! Well done you! Take care
x

Jessica Bell said...

You're fabulous. You know that, right? :D

Pat Hatt said...

Back then, seems like so long ago but really isn't, sure came a long way at your bay.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I'm so glad your dream came true and that you didn't give up on your story.

J. A. Bennett said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I think we all have moments as writers when we feel like it's never going to work out and we need hope that our books will find a way even when everything has gone crappy. Love this post!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So excited for you. Those manuscripts dear to our hearts are so important to pursue if we can. I have one now that I'll query and may put in the drawer. But I might pick it up with fresh eyes in a few years. You're inspiring me.

M Pax said...

Some day I'll pull my first series out of the drawer and rework it, too. Moving on may be the right choice for learning, but you're right. I had several requests from big names on that series. So there's something there. It needs a lot of work, though. In the meantime, I learned a heck of a lot by writing new stuff.

So maybe it's OK to walk away for awhile. All the best with Dragonfly!

Kari Marie White said...

Leigh, you always manage to make me smile. Congratulations on having the courage to follow your dream.

I'm looking forward to reading DRAGONFLY.

LTM said...

Thanks so much, Lee & JA! Persistence is sometimes as important as anything we can do. But having a great support network like you guys goes a long way in making that happen! ((hugs)) <3

Michael Di Gesu said...

YAY, LB!


I am so GLAD you didn't give up your dream of your first book and series...

I had started the same way and I will NEVER give up on my first book/series dream either....


BB hugs for great success!!!!!!

Bailey68 said...

Good luck! Looking forward to reading Dragonfly! :-)

Angel McGuffey said...

Congrats on making your dream come true, and thanks for the giveaway too!

LTM said...

Thanks, Bailey! I hope you LURV it~ :o) <3

Thanks, Angel! And you're welcome! It's been a lot of work, but here's hoping you all enjoy the results~ <3