Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Finishing a series is always bitter-sweet, but reaching the end of Hardstorm Saga is more than that. It’s surreal. I still can’t believe actual readers are reading Tera and Batumar’s story.

I started writing this fantasy tale over a decade ago as a project for college. I sent it out to a few publishers. Amazingly, some even responded. This does not happen to a lot of unpublished writers without an agent, so I was twirling in my office while visions of a contract, actual readers, and rave reviews danced before my eyes. Although, seriously, I would have been happy with someone printing a few hundred copies of the book. I just wanted to hold my book in my hands. If any people at all, beyond my friends and family, ended up reading it, that would have been gravy.

The editor-in-chief at a major NY publishing house told me my story wasn’t exactly what they published, but referred me to other publishers and even let me use her as reference. Another editor at a big publisher read the first three chapters and requested the full manuscript. By the time I sent it, she moved on and the editor who replaced her wasn’t interested. Yet another editor at another major house told me she wasn’t sure how to sell this book to her marketing department, but she loved it too much to reject it. To this day, I still haven’t received a rejection letter from her. Did you pick up on the pattern here? Lots of love—no contract.

In the meanwhile, I wrote other projects and became successfully published in another genre (romantic suspense). But I never forgot Tera and Batumar, and neither did my college friends who read the story. From time to time, I would receive an email, friends telling me they were still thinking about the characters, asking when the book was going to be published.

Then came the self-publishing revolution, and did I jump on that bandwagon! I published Tera’s story, with the original title: THE THIRD SCROLL. And readers flocked to it! … Yeah, NO. Nada. Nope. Nobody cared. Crickets. Tumbleweeds of no interest rolled through the barren landscape of my writerly hopes.

Luckily, a smart person told me that three things sell a book: cover, title, blurb. So, I changed all three. I even rewrote the original ending and took out a scene that was a sidetrack from the main story. I republished the book in its spanking new glory as RELUCTANT CONCUBINE. And readers flocked to it! Yes! For real! Tera’s story spent six weeks as the #1 romantic fantasy at the largest online bookseller’s bestseller list. I’m so not kidding this time.

All of this is my very long way of saying: Hang on to your dreams and don’t give up!

BTW, do you know what the most common feedback is that I get from readers on this book? It goes along the lines of “I love the book, but hate the title. So cheesy! Why didn’t you give the story a proper fantasy title?” Sometimes I say, “Like what? The Third Scroll?” And I get, “Yes! That would be perfect!”

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