You guys are in for a treat today! Sharon Bayliss who's debut, THE CHARGE is out this month from Curiosity Quills, is going to share her path to publication. It's not a traditional path. Sharon had lots of ups and downs. But her journey shows that there are many paths to publication - more now than ever. Writer's need to be aware of all off them - and be open to different opportunities when they come up.
Check out more (including an excerpt) on THE CHARGE here. And, after Sharon's post, there are a bunch of really interesting links that will make you fall in love with THE CHARGE even more.
No one could call me an overnight success. I've been chasing my dream of publication for fifteen years. Granted, I have had a lot of distractions during that time, college, marriage, children...you know, life in general, but I always returned to work on my goal of publishing a novel.
I am proud to say that on March 2, 2013, my dream came true. I published my debut novel, The Charge, with Curiosity Quills Press.
So how did I finally get it done?
In 2009 I started writing the novel that would eventually become The Charge. It went through so many drafts and total overhauls, early beta readers can only barely recognize the final published result. In the summer of 2011, I did my first round of serious querying. I went the "normal" route of querying agents. I had a few positive moments, some blog contest wins and an occasional positive query reply, but overall, the query process was soul-draining and ultimately unsuccessful.
Fortunately, I wasn't thwarted. After rewriting my query almost fifty times (yes, I counted), I finally realized and accepted that the query wasn't the problem. There were problems with the basic structure of the story.
So, I essentially started over. And this time, I write the query first. When I felt like I had an awesome query after only a few tries, I knew I had finally figured it out.
I got to work re-writing the story and when I was done, it just felt different. I knew I had gotten it right. I had two amazing beta readers look over The Charge, one of which was none other than Alexandra Villasante! They made some excellent suggestions and I went to work on yet another significant revision.
One problem Alex pointed out was that The Charge didn't fit well into the YA genre (which was where I had been querying it) because my main character was 18 and out on his own. I agreed, but aging him up or down proved difficult. Read more about my journey to discover the new adult category in the article, "18-Year-Old Characters are Strictly Prohibited."
Despite the categorization problem, I felt excited and confident about The Charge, so I set out to query agents again and entered some contests. And...
Although I felt like I had made significant strides and was very proud of The Charge, the general consensus from the agents was, "no."
I didn't want to shelve The Charge, but I was discouraged and decided to at least move on to something else for a while. So, I wrote a completely different novel (but that's a whole other story). I was feeling very excited about this new novel and was about to start querying it, but then something unexpected happened.
The publishing industry moves slowly and I'm not very patient. So, I had moved on before The Charge had really gotten a chance. I hadn't thought about The Charge in a while, then I learned that it had made it through the first round of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Then, a month later, The Charge became a quarterfinalist. I didn't move to the semi-finalist round, but I did win a very positive Publishers Weekly review.
My success in the ABNA contest made me rethink everything. The expert judges and the Publishers Weekly reviewer thought it was great! The agents who read my query may not have fallen in love, or thought they would have trouble fitting it into the correct marketing box, but that didn't mean the book wasn't worth publishing. So, with my renewed confidence, I tried something new, I queried small publishers directly. And since small publishers were open to the "New Adult" category, I was able to query it in the category it really belonged in.
It didn't take long at all for me to get some full requests, and in about a nanosecond in publishing time, Curiosity Quills Press made me an offer.
I have to admit, I was thrilled but also discombobulated. Things had happened quickly and not the way I had expected. I had no agent to help me negotiate the contract. Even after lots of research and consulting with friends, there was no way to be 100% certain that I was doing the right thing. But my gut told me it was the right thing to do, and I know I made the right choice.
My journey to publication was long and often painful, but I believe it all happened for a reason. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Alex, and for all your support along the way!
Thanks Sharon! What a great journey and an awesome book. Now, do YOU want to enter for a chance to win a copy of THE CHARGE? Of course you do!
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Connect with Sharon on the interwebs!
Sharon Bayliss is a native of Austin, Texas and works her day job in the field of social work. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living in her “happily-ever-after” with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). You can connect with Sharon at www.facebook.com/authorsharonbayliss and www.sharonbayliss.com