OK, this is a bit long…
I Squeeeee’d about it yesterday but now I want to tell you the whole story and maybe you’ll find it interesting or even learn something from it you can take with you on your journey to publication.
I “finished” Fighting Gravity in the late fall of 2009. At this point I was completely clueless about, well, about pretty much everything. I’d never planned to be a writer, never pursued the craft. I’d always “written” in my head, but rarely put it on paper after high school. Fighting Gravity only happened because a story got in my head and Would. Not. Get. Out. so I tried writing it down in hopes of moving on. Haha. Joke’s on me. It was actually pretty good.
So I shared it with a few friends. Now I know everyone’s friends say “oh, it’s great!” and mine did too. But what really motivated me to pursue publication was how many of them told me it made them cry.
That is why I read; to be moved, to laugh, to cry, to sink into a depression for a week, or start dancing outside in the rain. If I’d done that for someone else, then maybe I really could hack this writing thing.
The point of the above, really, is to tell you that, as a manuscript goes, Fighting Gravity was, actually, mostly crap. Oh, there were parts that were great, but as far as the craft of writing went, it was really a stinker.
Fast forward to Fall 2010. I’d spent a year researching writing, researching publishing, submitting short stories to lit mags (and getting a few published,) finding the right beta readers and crit partners, researching and querying agents, attending conferences. I’d had a lot of encouragement and a lot of rejection and I’d learned tons and made a lot of great connections.
In November, I got into Authoress’s Secret Agent Contest over on Miss Snark’s First Victim and my first 250 words went up for everyone and the agent to crit and comment on. The agent hated it. OK, maybe hated is a strong word. Then again, maybe it’s not. She had a lot to say about what was wrong with it. Well, buck up, Leah, and do something with this. I did. I took her input and made it better.
Two days later I heard back from an editor at a Big House I’d been referred to from a conference. YAY! I took my fixed-up opening and sent her the full.
Well doesn’t that look nice? And, look, they look PERFECT for me. Dragon Moon Press. Hmmmm…
I sent in my submission. Two days later Gabrielle Harbowy emailed me back asking for the full. One day after that she emailed again. She’d finished the entire. damn. thing. and wanted to talk. SQUEEEEE!
Yeah, so that’s the longest part of the story, promise.
Gabrielle and I talked. She got my story. She got my guys, and she felt passionate about them and the story the way I did. This was so right. A few weeks later I had an offer in my inbox.
That’s it, right?
Well… I still had my manuscript out at Big House. And I had the full with two agents as well. Let’s not get hasty. Surely Big is better, right?
Well, I’d read before about how a small press can be better by far for a debut author than a big house. But still, Big is better, right?
It didn’t feel better, though. With the agents and the Big House editor I felt more and more like just another bullet point on their list of things to do. Dragon Moon was logically a better fit for my book for a lot of good reasons. Plus it just felt right. I already knew Gabrielle was right for my book.
I sat on their offer for at least a month, and it was more than that before I put ink to paper. I needed to pursue the other options or I’d always wonder. So I did pursue, and now I don’t wonder. I’m tickled pink that I found Dragon Moon and they wanted to work with me.
Moral of the story: don’t give up, and don’t limit yourself. Oh, and don’t eat yellow snow.