Back in September I wrote two posts titled Accepting the Journey & Accepting the Journey pt 2 about my road to publication. For obvious reasons, they were difficult to write, but I did so because I'd been asked on numerous occasions to share my story. And because I'm no different than most writers, I understood their request. Hearing the history behind other authors' publication has always inspired me. We're a tight-knit community. Our stories keep us united and generally give hope to those not yet published.
Therefore, let me begin by saying: The release of Dead Witness in 2008 was an accident.
My dear friend and wonderful critiquing partner Keith Pyeatt, (we've worked together since the 90s) in a moment of inspiration, had Lulu print a few copies of his paranormal novel Struck, and sent me one as a thank you gift. (Keith has since gone the traditional route and his novels Struck, Above Haldis Notch, and Dark Knowledge have been published)
Keith knew I'd been feeling a little down over all the rejections. Not long before this I'd mentioned I was considering using the letters to wallpaper the ensuite. So, after I held his book in my hands, felt its pages, relished its essence, I did the only thing left to do, I ordered a copy of Dead Witness for $10 US. I needed to be reminded why I was a writer.
A few weeks later, my husband and I stopped at the mail boxes on our way to the city. As soon as I saw the package I knew. My husband coaxed me to open it up. I hesitated. Nervous, I suppose. Finally, when we reached town, I ran out of excuses. I tore open the wrapping and voila...
I was impressed. My husband was overjoyed. While I was in the salon getting a badly needed haircut, he was stopping strangers in the mall and showing them, "My wife's book!"
When he said I must have more printed, I told him he was nuts. $10 US, I don't think so! He said the more copies I ordered the cheaper it would be.
Okay, he was right. And since we'd stopped at our son's before heading back to Cluculz Lake, and our son said he wanted a copy, and probably his brothers would, and his friends, I realized Ralph had a point.
I went home and ordered 100.
I have more friends than I realized. All the books were gone the first week. My husband, (the bad influence) said I should order more. Residents around the lake were asking about it, said they'd like to buy a copy. For money?
I ordered 125--but insisted that would be it. No more!
They sold during the next month.
But that didn't change my mind; I was not going to order any more. No way.
Then in November I received a phone call that changed my life. Overwaitea Foods in Kelowna called and asked if I'd consider supplying them with copies of Dead Witness for their bookstore. Overwaitea Foods, who has since changed its name to Save-On Foods, opened in 1915 in New West, BC, and has since grown to Canada's largest western-based food store chain. They wanted to put my book on their shelf. All because my best friend's daughter worked for them at the time and had brought in a book to show Laura, who in turn read it, then called her boss.
I was glowing for 30 seconds. Until reality set in. I had no more copies. Besides, how would I get the books down to Kelowna? Seven hundred kilometers south. How would I pay for them in advance? Overwaitea didn't want to stock pile them. Where would I store the books? In my ensuite?
I thanked Laura profusely and explained the situation. I'd already spent months trying to figure out how to distribute copies of my books across North American. I had given up on finding an agent the year before after my 3rd one had some kind of a nervous breakdown. It's a long story. I knew the cost would be too great and had resigned myself to the fact that this was the end of my life as a published author... until I found a traditional publisher. This was merely a reprieve from all those rejections letters.
Laura suggested I contact Nancy Wise at Sandhill Book Marketing. Sandhill distribute independently published novels across Canada and just happen to be situated in Kelowna. So, I called. What the heck, couldn't hurt right?
|Nancy & Laura|
Nancy listened to my story and graciously suggested I have a copy of Dead Witness dropped off at her office. She'd read it and get back to me.
I called my best friend, who hand delivered a copy to Nancy the next day.
I waited a week. Laura called. I told her I'd get back to her ASAP. I called Nancy. She hadn't finished the book and would call when she did. I waited another week. Laura called. I didn't want to push things. I asked for more time. Three weeks after the initial call from Laura, I called Nancy back. She had bronchitis and didn't know when she'd finished the book. She was half-way through--still. I told her Overwaitea was anxious. (Which still boggles my mind)
Nancy was quiet for a second. Finally, she said, "I don't generally do this, but I'm emailing a contract. Sign it, then get it back to me today."
By this time my heart is pounded. Nancy asks me who's printing the book. I tell her Lulu. She says, "No. Call Hignell Books in Manitoba." She gives me the contact info. I hang up, call Hignell, speak to a nice man. His assistant sends me an invoice. I look at it, call her back. She sets up a day to print the book, then gives me contact information so someone can help me through the process of send them the pdf files.
In those days, setting a type print for a book was still iffy. We did the whole process over the phone. July 4th, 2009, 1/4 of the shipment arrived at my door. The deliveryman bought books for his wife and daughter. The other 3/4 of the shipment arrived at Sandhill Books in Kelowna. Overwaitea Foods stocked their shelves, and I began the long process of marketing.
Heck, just recording the events leaves me exhausted. Because believe me, it was hard work. If Laura hadn't read the book and liked it, then contacted her head office. If she hadn't suggested I call Nancy, (turns out she's from my hometown!) and Nancy hadn't suggested I call Hignell...
This was all very wonderful, a bit surreal, yet only the beginning. Nancy then talked to Theytus Books in Penticton and told them she knew an Aboriginal author. She then told me to query them with my newest manuscript Broken but not Dead...
Did I mention I began writing in 1984?
If you're a writer and you've enough rejection letters to wallpaper your ensuite, I hope this post gives you hope. Because honesty, I lived without hope for a long time, yet here I am, published, with Dead Witness now available as an e-book through MuseItUp Publishing.
If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. I promise.