It isn’t a secret that getting traditionally published is becoming harder. My novel Essence was rejected thirty-nine different times when I started sending out query letters at the age of fourteen. Almost three years were spent compiling rejections only to become discouraged even though I knew my novel was getting better with each passing draft.
From the very beginning I had my future of being traditionally published planned out: signing tours, speaking engagements, starting a second novel, all before I graduated high school. It wasn’t until 2013 that I realized how impossible this plan was in reality. I was waiting for an agent to believe in me and take on my novel, but how could I do that if I was only fifteen or sixteen with nothing to show for writing credentials. To all the agents I wrote to, I was just an overly ambitious teenager wasting their time.
In February I picked up Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard and now August, my novel is published.
I had set out my plan: get my manuscript professionally edited, design my book cover, make a book trailer, continue to build my following on YouTube by talking about writing and self-publishing, and begin to count down the days until my book was officially published. The thing I said I would never do—self-publish—was happening, and it was by choice. In all my three years of writing I had never been as happy as I was when I decided to self-publish. I wasn’t waiting weeks to hear back from agents that were going to reject me.
I had two editors at BubbleCow. Gary Smailes (structure edits) and Denise Barker (copy edits). Every time I submitted my manuscript to get edited I was frightened for the simple fact that I had never received professional feedback before. I was going by the simple motion that I was told my manuscript was good and that I felt pretty confident after working on it for three years. Both editor’s notes where the most encouraging things I’ve ever read. That little paragraph you receive at the end of the report? I kept it and whenever I feel like I’m in over my head, I read that paragraph to remind me I can do this.
Self-publishing is increasing in its popularity and if I can do it at the age of sixteen while keeping up with school and a job to pay for the expenses of self-publishing, anyone who has the determination can do it also.