Here is the full story of Made Safe’s publishing journey. So far…
Listen, folks, if you don’t have some guts you won’t get published. I found that out early on. Around five or so years ago I made a conscious decision to stop thinking about it and finally chase my dream of being a writer. I sat at my desk and wrote. No surprise, it was garbage. I wrote some more and produced more garbage. I bounced ideas off my wife and she was very supportive, but I could tell that what I had was still not up to snuff.
I’m going to stop here for a second. Writing total garbage in the beginning is normal. NORMAL! NORMAL! Unless you are some sort of savant, the only way to get better at writing is to start out writing and that is almost always writing garbage. Take a minute and watch this:
This is one of the truest things I’ve ever encountered. I read my work and knew it wasn’t good, but I kept writing. I was figuring out how I write. After many other stops and starts and restarts, I got through a draft of my novel. This took a good three years or so. Then I tossed it aside. Now I knew my story. I am a pantser as I’ve said on many occasions so getting out that first draft is part of my process(I found out later). So I had my story, I kept writing and re-writing and editing and getting the story right. This took another year or year-and-a-half. So now I had my “manuscript”.
At this point, I went out and bought my copy of Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents and started trying to figure out who to query. The book was great for a newb like me. It has agents listed by genre in the index which allowed me to zero in on the agents that might be interested in my book.
So with high spirits, I crafted my query email and sent out the first agent query of my life. Then I repeated the process until I’d sent out twenty or so. Then I waited. I actually took some good advice and started writing something else while I waited and over the next few months the rejections started rolling in.
I rewrote my query and sent out some more. This time, I got a rejection stating that the agent would tell me why if I liked. I was eager for some feedback so I replied with an emphatic “Yes!”.
A few weeks rolled by and while I was watching TV with my wife the agent sent back his critique of my first twenty pages or so. It was ruthless and relentless and true. I was able to find a few positive things in the feedback but for the most part, it was dead on in the areas that I needed a lot of work.
With the help of my wife and writing mentor, I again set about revising my manuscript taking to heart all of the feedback from the agent. I combed through my manuscript for months and then finally was ready to query again. I sent it out to another twenty agents and again started writing something else. The rejections trickled in without so much as a request for more pages.
I revised again and started building my online author presence per a suggestion from a panel at AWP in Minneapolis in 2015. This led to a fantastic discovery. Twitter pitch parties.
The first one I entered was #Pit2Pub and if you like spoilers head here now. I got some favorites for my tweets and ended up submitting to a few publishers one being Pandamoon Publishing out of Austin, TX. Then there was more waiting and during that summer, I went back and forth on whether I should give up on Made Safe or not. I decided not to and entered another Twitter contest called #Pitchwars. I got multiple requests for more pages, but no full requests. The feedback I got from the mentors was fantastic and encouraging and I highly recommend that contest as well as #Pit2Pub.
Anyway, I was definitely hanging it up when I got the first offer for a book deal from one of the #Pit2Pub publishers. Tears flowed. I had been validated as a writer, my lifelong dream.
Then… another offer came in!
It wasn’t a fluke!
Long story short I signed with Pandamoon Publishing a week later and know I made the right choice with the talented group of people I get to work with every day.
So to circle back ’round. Thick skin, take the criticism, get better, submit more. The difference between published and unpublished authors is perseverance.