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Monday, November 11, 2013

Painful Path to Publishing is Rewarding by Susan Sheehey


My path to publishing is much like many others. Sometimes it’s disappointing, other times it’s downright painful. But in the end, you stick with it, learn from mistakes, cling to the advice and suggestions of those who’ve gone before you, and continue to do what you love. Eventually, it will happen. It may not happen the way you expect, the path you take may lead you down avenues you never knew existed, and you’ll hear things that baffle you along the way. But writers don’t write to get rich. They write because they love it. Because they need it.
After writing and querying for the better part of five years, I finally sold a manuscript. It took me three novels to get there, and finally Audrey’s Promise was the one for me. With each of one of these manuscripts, I received a tremendous amount of rejections, from both agents and editors. Every fiction writer, including established authors, can relate to this.
Rejections hurt. Plain and simple. Writers pour their heart and soul into each page, toil over plots and character development, themes and symbolism, all in the hopes that an agent and/or editor will fall in love with it. Praying that it will mean as much to them as it does to us. A very well established romance author (who everyone has heard of, and she has shared this story at every conference I’ve seen her speak in), went through 20 manuscripts before she sold her first novel. Heart breaking to hear for those still trying to sell their first, but hang in there. There’s a point to this.
For those of us who’ve received a massive stack of rejections, the vast majority will not provide a reason why they rejected it. If they respond at all, it’s their form letter with a generic, Thanks, but it’s not for me. A rare few will give a more specific reason, such as ‘the hero’s motivations didn’t speak to me’, or ‘good story, but not different enough.’
I had a few respond with a very interesting critique that I didn’t know how to change. They told me the story was very good and they really liked the characters. However, the book had the backdrop of political campaigns, a very taboo topic in most fiction novels, especially romance. So they didn’t know how to market it. My novel was too much of a niche category, and therefore too risky.
Publishers are a business, first and foremost. There’s a tremendous investment in each book they contract, so from a business perspective, I understand their aversion to stories that seem too risky or too niche. But this was a story that I had to tell and there was no way to avoid the political backdrop (as neutral as I tried to keep between party lines). While I respected the agents’ concerns and ultimately had to move on to another, I refused to change that portion. Risky on my part, yes. Many others would have simply shoved the manuscript in a drawer and moved on to a new story. But I knew this novel would work and would speak to many people.
I queried Audrey’s Promise for a year before it sold. As frustrating and painful as the process was over that time, I wouldn’t have changed any of it. Because I learned so much from it. And that feeling when you get ‘the call’ (or in my case the email) is more than worth all of the struggles.
I hope you enjoy Audrey’s Promise, and if you feel so inclined and have the time, please leave a review on Amazon and/or GoodReads. If you didn’t like it, that’s ok too. I’ve built up a much thicker skin from the publishing process, so I can handle it! Thanks again for your support!

Audrey’s Promise Back Cover Blurb:
Audrey Allen is poised to become the youngest Texas senator, a position that fits her nickname, The Peacemaker. But she's unable to make peace with many in her hometown, where memories and grudges run deep from a decade-old tragedy.
Ethan Tanner, an ambitious and tantalizing journalist, joins her at Thanksgiving for an in-depth look at the promising candidate. But he has an agenda of his own that's not entirely honorable.
Ethan could stir up trouble for her budding career, or awaken the deep passions she's buried for so long. Will Ethan find that he values love more than getting the story?

Audrey’s Promise Excerpt:
“I’ll be up front, Audrey.” Ethan pulled out a hand recorder. “What ghosts do you have in your closet?” The wink he threw at her didn’t disguise the seriousness of his intent, despite the playful tone.
“Don’t you mean skeletons?” Miranda interrupted. “Nope, ghosts.”
“What’s the difference?” Miranda eyed the recorder.
“Skeletons are only scary. Ghosts from your past can truly haunt you.”
“Aren’t you a little old to believe in ghosts?” Audrey asked with an infectious smile.
“No. They make my job the most entertaining.” The light flashed in Ethan’s eyes and his grin became wicked. Audrey’s heart thudded against her sternum. It wasn’t fair to look that enticing.
“Sorry to burst your pubescent bubble, but Halloween is over.” Audrey smiled through Miranda’s chuckle. But she couldn’t take her eyes off Ethan, assessing his resilience. Would he push and badger just like every other journalist? Were his cojones as big as he flaunted?
Audrey’s Promise Buy Links:
B&N: available mid-November

Twitter: @SusieQWriter


  1. I love what you say about how rejection can be rewarding. Yes, it can take a long while to get that "call" (or e-mail) but when you finally get it, wow, you know you've earned it. Congratulations on this amazing book and what sounds like the beginning of a fantastic career!

    1. Thank you for stopping in, Mary. Susan nailed it!

  2. Many congratulations, esp. for sticking to it and persevering.

  3. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your support. Keep writing forward, everyone!

  4. So glad everyone has enjoyed Susan's story. Thanks for coming by.

  5. Thanks for the blog. I think many times publishers do themselves an injustice by not taking on different settings etc. Your book sounds fantastic and frankly, I appreciate the change of pace! Who wants to read the same 'ol same 'ol? Boring! I look forward to reading your book!

  6. Sharla,
    Thanks for the comment. The risky or too niche stories have always been a big gamble for publishers, which is why I think the indie-publishing and self-publishing route has sky rocketed. They are more willing to take a chance with these 'risky' stories. And think of all the gems out there that would have never been discovered had they not taken the chance, books like The Help, and even the Harry Potter series. All were rejected because pubs didn't know how to market or thought them too risky.
    I hope you enjoy Audrey's Promise!

  7. How true, Susan. It was good to see a lot of little publishers pop up who are willing to take risks too. My book Honey On White Bread had some trouble since it was the 40's era and the characters are fairly young. But a small house took a chance and published it. Made me happy!