What I learned when you do it yourself:
Part I — The Leap of Faith(Reposted from a 09/27/2013 guest blog post on http://lisawrosenberg.com)
Dear Louella, Thank you for sharing The Crowded Kingdom with us.
It was not the sharing of the stories, nor the drawings, nor even the insights into my life, that was most difficult.
It was finding someone or some thing, some entity, to have faith in me — more specifically, in The Crowded Kingdom.
I kept a spreadsheet of literary agent and publisher names: address, status, contact information, and preferences. I kept in mind that Theodore Geissel (Dr. Seuss) was rejected 27 times; Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time rejected 26 times, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone rejected by a dozen houses until the young daughter of the CEO at Bloomsbury persuaded him to accept the wizardly manuscript. I kept typing “Query…” and pressing “Send.”
The responses started coming back.
Several came with requests to see more. As time went on, the dialogue with the outside world began.
Dear Louella, Thank you for sharing The Crowded Kingdom with us. We found the story interesting. I think it will make a fabulous illustrated chapter book. As much as I would love to work with you, and while I believe that your ideas might have market appeal, unfortunately... I don't feel I'm quite the right agent. I'm regretfully going to pass. The novel is not in line with our current publishing goals. We just don't have the resources right now to do it justice. Best of luck with this project and all your endeavors. I really hope that you find a great publisher for this!*
–*verbatim quotes from actual responses
I began to get nervous around Query Number 26. The dialogue had not changed.
But I had written and published before, and had seen the impact of my written word on stage. I took to heart the feedback that this little fairy story was something different, something that grownups and kids could both like. It seemed to delight grownups in writing workshops, and my teacher, who was a respected and beautifully accomplished writer. And it delighted my children, my girls, my first and true audience. Could it not delight other little girls and boys too?
And then my dear spouse gifted me with an iPad Mini for Christmas.
Many a time my electronic gifts from my husband are the modern age equivalent of Fred Flintstone giving Wilma a bowling ball for her birthday: something truly cool and useful for one human being — “something that I would use myself” — bestowed on another who is, at best, mystified.
But the iPad Mini opened my eyes to the beauty of the electronic book when I downloaded and read Gone Girl from cover to cover. Of course, Gillian Flynn‘s acclaimed suspense writing stood on its own, independent of the media. But I loved how the pages languorously turned at the flick of a finger; how I could bookmark pages with an electronic sticky or electronically jump back to a previous page as I easily as I could a real book. It felt like reading a book when you looked past the flat plane of the screen. I downloaded a sample of Alice in Wonderland for the iPad and loved it. It prompted visions in my mind of being able to hyperlink and browse other fanciful things if this were that kind of children’s story.
…as you know, I made the decision to self-publish The Crowded Kingdom as an e-book. I felt that the chance to publish what I wanted, when I wanted, given the outlets now available today through Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon Createspace, Lightning Source and Vook — among many other options — were too plentiful and prominent to ignore. On the one hand, I couldn’t quit my job as primary breadwinner and devote one hundred percent to the production and marketing of my craft. On the other hand, perhaps naively, I thought I had the focus and financial independence to strike out on my own.
And I assumed that somehow, deep down inside, I had no expectations.
The reality was quite different.
— End of Part I —
Stay Tuned for Part II: Making Contact