In 2009, when I first started writing Wild Rosegarten, it was titled “Book 1” and set in 2012. I wrote straight through to the beginning of what is now the fourth book before I ever considered chopping it into pieces and selling it. I thought, “I have three books ready. That should be an easy sell. People love series.” I have a friend “in the biz,” and I emailed her to ask how to sell a book.
I didn’t even have a real title, but after that conversation, I envisioned emailing my query letter to agents and publishers and having them fight over my manuscript. I imagined seeing hardback copies on shelves. I used to blush, thinking about what I’d say if someone said to me, “I read your book.” These weren’t delusions of grandeur; it was complete cluelessness about everything about publishing. I had no idea that everyone and his cat had written a book. I had no idea that the vampire ship had sailed. I also had no idea that the way I wrote back then wouldn’t attract anyone to read my book.
I learned about myself as a writer – that I tend to over describe settings. I drew pages and pages of scenes and floor plans so I could get the details and the action just right. While some readers appreciate that, others like to fill in all those details themselves. That feedback (from an editor at a publishing company that rejected my novel) encouraged me to find balance. That small piece of advice made all the difference and sparked a huge rewrite of the entire series that vastly improved it.
I still want to see Wild Rosegarten in hard cover, but I’m a practical soul. I realize that the book isn’t mainstream enough for the “big five.” It can’t be classified simply as fantasy or romance. This has made it nigh impossible to find an agent to represent it. Everyone is looking for something new or a new spin on something old, but cross-over genres aren’t it. I find this ridiculous, as most people want romance veiled by a story with some real meat to it.
For a while, I gave up on this book and this series. I moved on to other projects I thought might get my foot in the door. Then, while sending out queries for Fairest, I found Damnation Books and Eternal Press. They published Fairest, and now, they want to publish Wild Rosegarten. This book that doesn’t work for (apparently) any agents and few publishers is perfect for EP. The book won’t be in hardcover. In fact, it will be digital first, paperback print-on-request. It won’t be on shelves unless I go to stores and ask for them to carry it, but it found a home. It found an awesome group of people who will stand behind it, make it the best it can be, and sell it.
Yes, I still have dreams of landing a deal with a publisher like Penguin, but I have to be honest with myself. I may never write something that they want. Even if I do, I may not be able to do all the things they require of their authors. I have a full-time job as a math professor. I can’t just drop everything to go on book and convention tours. I have to stick local, and I have professional research to conduct. I love teaching, and I have no intentions of quitting my job, unless being an author becomes a lucrative profession for me. I don’t see that happening, but one never knows.
The point of all this is that my goals as an author and my dreams for my book have changed drastically in the five years since I first started typing out the scenes in my head. It isn’t that I’ve lowered my expectations; I’m just being realistic about the entire process.
After all, I just want people to read my stories.