Call me arrogant, call me smug, or in the words of the song by Wham, “call me anything you want to baby”, but I’m the one laughing all the way to the bank!
Here is my story of raw determination in the face of repeated humiliating rejection. If I can come through this journey and emerge a winner, you can too.
I began my writing career cutting my journalistic high teeth on articles for magazines and newspapers. I was not able to give up my day job, but a small extra income was useful.
Thirty years ago I took the plunge and wrote my first novel, a science fiction, end of world scenario with a heroine playing centre stage. I submitted this work to agents, publishers, and even tried the new online eBook stores that were beginning to emerge at that time. Rejection followed rejection, and I could have easily given up, but undeterred, I put the manuscript aside and wrote another book, this time about alien abduction! (I know, I know, I can hear you laughing! But it is a good story!) I was mortified to get the exact same response from agents and publishers alike. An emphatic no!
I began to think my writing skills might not be up to scratch. I joined a local writers’ group for help and encouragement. I received both in abundance and I was brimming with newly found confidence. Following advice to write in a popular genre to persuade agents and publishers alike to take an interest in my work, I began a third novel, a romantic comedy. This time the rejections were kinder, and the manuscript passed the first post, only to fall at the first hurdle, the publisher already had a similar title ready for release.
Back to base to lick my wounds, you’d think I would be disheartened, but no! I was determined to succeed. I wrote another novel, this time a romantic wartime saga, and submitted the synopsis and first few chapters far and wide. The rejections were kind, but they were still REJECTIONS!
At this point, I did give up. After spending ten years of my life dealing with hundreds of rejections over four novels, I was thoroughly demoralised. I put my manuscripts in a dark cupboard and refused to look at them. I got on with my life, working hard at the day job, just like everyone else I knew. However, in the depths of my heart, the ambition wouldn’t lie down.
I wrote short stories and entered them into competitions. I won almost as many as I entered, third-prize, second-prize, first-prize, and commendations were dropping through my letter box frequently, and I rode the crest of this wave ecstatically. I hadn’t lost it. I could write!
About that time, my family suffered a catastrophe. My son-in-law had a car crash and suffered massive brain damage. I flew to Australia to help my daughter look after their one-year-old baby so she could be with her husband. I kept a diary of the ten weeks I spent there, and realised the account would make a good story, and one that might inspire and encourage other people who were going through a similar ordeal. Months after my return, I set about polishing and organising my scribbles into a readable format. Then I began the usual round of submissions to agents and publishers, but got the general response. No thank you, it’s not what we’re looking for.
I knew there was a market for this novel, and considered vanity publishing, but it would be more than I could afford, so I searched and searched until I found Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon. I couldn’t believe what I read. For no outlay, I could publish a book and have it available to readers almost immediately!
I did more research, lots more work on the manuscript to edit and format it correctly. I made a cover in Photoshop, and submitted ‘It’s Penguin Shooting Day,’ with firmly crossed fingers.
In less than a year, I have published nearly all my work on KDP and some are also in paperback. I have written another wartime romance, and again, I am riding that wave of success. My monthly income is not to be sniffed at. I’m earning a living from my writing, and have given up the day job. It’s taken me thirty years to learn that, with self-belief and hard work, anyone can make anything happen. I did it, you could too. Although, I hope your journey won’t be as long as mine was.
Now where did I put that first novel? Maybe I can make it work for today’s market….