For years, I struggled in the writing trenches. I like to tell people that it only took me 15 years to become an overnight sensation. For 11 of those 15 years, I was unpublished in novel lengh, collecting hundreds of rejections from agents (no lie--I've got notebooks fullof them), getting replies to my queries that said: NOT FOR ME (sometimes scrawled in pencil or rubber stamped), or a "Dear Author" form letter.
I had some success during that time. I sold nine short stories. One sold for $10, another for $20, and six sold for several hundred dollars each. Yes! I was finally a paid writer, but not an author. That came in 2005 when my first book was published by a small publisher. Along with it came a LOT of heartache. Small press means small print run. I got no reviews, that meant very few libraries ordered it. I was heartbroken. I sold the paperback rights and had a REAL print run (21,000 copies) that sold out, but it was to a book club. Those book club readers seldom look for an author's other books. (That series is now on hiatus while I try to figure out how to find a bigger audience.)
Then through networking (with our own Deb Baker), I had the opportunity to write the Booktown Mystery series. My Sisters-In-Crime chapter, The Guppies, were supportive. My critique partners gave me feedback, and the first book did really well. The second book (Bookmarked for Death) has done just as well, and I have high hopes for the next in the series, Bookplate Special, which comes out November 3rd. Additionally, I'll be writing a second series called the Victoria Square Mysteries. I am so thankful for the help I received along the way, that now it's time to pay it forward.
How does one pay it forward? Via networking, I was able to connect a couple of my writing pals with my agent--and they will be published in 2010 and 2011. I will be giving several of my Guppy sisters blurbs for their books. A bunch of us network to talk about book promotion, and we help each other by talking about our books on various networking sites. It doesn't sound like much--but the promo is especially time consuming.
I love working with my friends and seeing everyone pull together toward a common goal. I love it when one of my pals makes it to the Independent Mystery Booksellers Associations best sellers list. It's fun to raise that cyber glass of champagne in their honor. It's great when we share information that helps us find new readers and new avenues to talk about our work.
Paying it forward just feels good.
How do you pay it forward?