Tuesday, 8 March 2016

My tenth writing-related blog post in which I go down the memory lane and look at all the publishing mistakes that I've made

Two heavily self-pity-riddled posts later, I've finally pulled myself together. I'm bursting with ideas for books I want to write as well as for writing-related blog posts and I'm filled with hope and optimism again. I guess letting oneself wallow in misery and self-pity is a kind of therapy after all. Today I'm going down the memory lane just for the heck of it, looking back at all the newbie publishing mistakes that I've made. Trust me, I've made more than a few. The good thing is that I've learned my lesson, right? However, looking back, I can justify myself by saying that I desperately wished to be published. I still do, of course, but I'm better at controlling my publishing-related urges now and I know that I mustn't rush headlong into another publishing enterprise. Here is the evidence of my failed attempts for everyone to see and learn what not to do!

I completed my first book (a novella-length fairy-tale) in 2005 and, fully convinced of my genius and feeling that I've created an actual masterpiece, I started sending out submissions — only to receive rejection after rejection after rejection. Of course, looking back I can plainly see the reason why (that book while charming was absolutely awful - if that makes any sense) but back then it was a terrible blow to my writing ego and to all of my hopes. I didn't complete my next book (a fully-fledged regency novel) until 2009. I was quite proud of myself; I'd been really scared to start writing it, being highly insecure about my knowledge of the era and my capabilities. But prompted by a friend I did it and I felt really great and optimistic about it until I started submitting it — only to receive rejection after rejection after rejection. 

By that time I'd become used to the prickle in my eyes and in my throat whenever I read another "unfortunately we don't think that your book is right for us" letter. I knew that the prickling would pass and the tears that inevitably came would be brushed away with a resolute gesture of my hand that spelled "I don't care". I would put a smile on my face and hope that the next submission would bring the coveted "yes!". I was impatient. I wanted to be published more than anything. I found a website where they published classic and modern books written by women. I sent them my book and they were happy to publish it. It was a tiny, two-people epub, but I was so happy to be finally accepted that I signed on and the book was soon out. It had a simple cover that depicted sweet rusticity and no editing and barely anyone knew about it. Obviously it didn't bring down the house. I was very nervous on the "release day" and ridiculously optimistic. I don't know what I expected. I was a clueless newbie and I was blundering in the dark. As far as sales and exposure goes it was a notable failure. I tried promoting it myself but nothing I did made much of a difference.

My next book was an experiment. It was a regency m/m novella. I completed it in a record time of two months (but then again, it was rather short) and sent it out. An independent publishing house I'd set my eyes on showed an interest in my submission. They agreed to publish it and we signed a three-year contract. This time the book went through a rigorous editing process. It is my belief that they were quite in despair when they started working on it and realized how much still had to be done. But in the end the book was published with a rather fine cover (from an actual cover artist) and thoroughly edited. I hoped it would do good. In comparison with my first book it did indeed do reasonably well. The publishing house had more outlets for exposure and several reviews appeared on websites they usually send their books to. But the earth didn't move. Gradually the sales became less and less and by the time the contract was up no one thought of prolonging it. Once again I tried doing some promotion on my own but being shy, cripplingly insecure, and not really knowing anyone I didn't fare very well. 

Driven by desperate frenzy to do something else after my failed attempts at getting my books noticed despite my best (or worst) efforts, I went and published my very first book with the same epub I'd published my second. I don't have to tell you that it was another disaster in terms of sales. The last book that I published was another m/m regency novel. It was the book that I disliked from the start but for some unfathomable reason was compelled to write. It attracted attention of a new epub back then and I grabbed the chance to get published, completely discounting another publishing house's interest in the book because they told me to revise and rewrite it before re-submitting it to them. I didn't want to wait. I had the itch that had to be satisfied. I plunged forward. I signed the contract. I changed several editors in the process and it took longer than I expected but finally the book was completed and published. I regret this decision more than any other I've ever made. It wasn't a good book and I despised it and was ashamed of it and did nothing to promote it at all. I just wished to forget it. Still it managed to get several one-star reviews.

That was my wake-up call. It's been more than five years now since I published my last book. I've been reworking my fairy-tale into a fantasy novel ever since. I've already written several drafts, thinking that each one was the last one and submitting it to agents, but going back to revision after next batch of rejections. I want to go the traditional way and I want to do it right this time. I've stopped submitting it for the present because I feel that it still needs a lot of work and that it has the potential to become really good and despite the need and the urgency to get published that sits within me I want it to be the best book I can write before it hits the shelves. I've learned my lesson. I think I've come a long way. I've learned things. I'm making short-term and long-term plans how to go about it now and I'm not going to publish another book unless I'm 100% sure that it's ready to be out there and that it's exactly what I want it to be and that's the way I want to do it.

Have you ever made any publishing mistakes? I have. Tons! bit.ly/1OYmEi2 via @faridamestek (Click to tweet


  1. Oh, Farida, I identify so much with what you've gone through. I've made so many mistakes, even while being completely aware that what I was doing was a mistake and still doing it. I'm right there with you trying to do it the right way this time. But publishing is hard. Good luck to you!!!

    1. Thank you very much! The best of luck to you too)) I honestly never thought that it would be so hard when I first realized that this was what I wanted to do. I think I never truly appreciated just how many books were out there until I came face to face with the fact. Now I see and wonder...

  2. The road to publication is so difficult, isn't it? I'm sorry you've had such a tough time with your writing and your books. But you sound like you've learned a lot. Doesn't help with the pain of what happened before, but you sound like you're on the right path now. I wish you all the best with all your writing and publishing and I hope you eventually find the right publishing house and the success you deserve.

    1. Thank you very much! I just wish it wasn't so difficult, you know)) But I've found peace, I think. I'm going to do do my very best and hope that one day it'll finally pay off.