I’ve been thinking about how to start this post for a while now. I’ve been thinking about this post for a longer while now. I want to convey the right tone and the right emotions. Regardless, I just wanted, needed, to write it out and I felt a post on Facebook wouldn’t do it justice. So here I am. Writing a blog post just like the good old days. Sometimes I miss those good old days; writing about my struggles, writing about my hardships, the days when I was a single mom, sharing custody of my kids, desperately trying to make ends meet at the same time as pursuing my dreams.
I think sometimes when we finally attain our dreams, reach those goals, we can forget how much those hard times – often filled with tears and pain – shape us and make us understand how truly strong we are.
Seven years ago, around this time of year in 2010, I finally got a two book deal with Kane Miller/EDC Publishing. It truly was a dream come true after 3 years of near constant rejection. Rejection that hurt just as much the 50th or 60th time as it did the first time. But when I got that email that an editor wanted to publish not just one, but TWO of my books? All that pain of rejection quickly dissipated away, but was so very, very worth it.
What followed in my career can only be described as meteoric success. Once I learned the business model of my publisher (direct sales), I figured out how best to work with that model to sell my books and get into schools. I had always known I wanted to do author visits and the direct sales arm of my publisher could not have been set up more perfectly for it.
I then went on to publish a total of six books in the past 7 years with Kane Miller. SIX!! Meteoric success. I mean that.
When I began, my publisher did not have any formal author visits guidelines or any kind of program, so I, along with some fearless sales consultants, jumped in with me to figure it out. I worked so hard that first year. I did my first 6 months of visits not charging a fee to make sure that when I did begin charging schools, I’d know I was well worth it and never felt the need to apologize for my fees. I am so glad I did that. A woman who knows her worth is not just a powerful woman, but a powerful business woman.
I traveled 19 weeks that first year. I honestly can say I was so in my element, so had found my passion, my mission, my calling in life that I did not feel tired at all that first year. (I still don’t get tired when I travel, but I now travel more like 12-13 weeks a year.) I was exhilarated to be inspiring and empowering children through books and literacy and the fact that I helped other business woman have a more successful business of their own? It was literally more amazing than anything I had dreamed up for my life in the past.
I have traveled almost every other week during the school year since then (except the year my husband was deployed and I could not travel – which was when I created my beloved Storytime Live. I needed a way to still connect with children). I have been to 37 states, presented at over 800 schools and talked to nearly a million children now. It has been quite the ride.
I have very openly shared that ride on Facebook and Storytime Live because that is just who I am. I am a live-out-loud kind of girl. I often overshare, and sometimes have gotten in trouble because of it, but I can’t be any other way. What you see is what you get with me. I of course, do have some things I keep private, but in general, I am an open book. I like to be accessible and share my journey, share my accomplishments, share when dreams come true, not to brag, but to make people out there KNOW that they can do it too. Because I’m not extra special, I’m not extra lucky, I’m not extra anything. I might be willing to work extra hard, but that is something anyone can do. And if I can create my dream life, so can anyone else. That’s why I share so openly.
Which brings me to the point of this post. (Sorry, I ramble, don’t I?) I want to share something that happened that knocked the wind out of my sails for a moment or two. I was Cordelia, flying high, soaring over the ocean, racing the dolphins, talking with my beloved, blue whale, Beatrice when suddenly, and very harshly, I tumbled to the ground.
Beatrice, the book I was not sure I could even write, the book I openly shared the process of writing, the book I shared excerpts with on Facebook, the book I promised children I would write and get published for them, the book I fell in love with and hoped others would too, was TOTES REJECTED by my publisher 6 weeks ago today.
And can I just tell you? I WAS UNPREPARED, MY FRIENDS. OUCH. I never saw that coming. Looking back, yes, it was cocky. Yes, I should have prepared myself. But in my head it was a perfect fit for my publisher. It was a companion book to my picture book. I had shared with my editor that I had contacted a Ted-Fellow, a world renowned marine biologist who studies blue whales, whose research I had used for my book, had agreed to fact check my book and write a forward. I paid the honorarium out of my own pocket because I knew what a perfect addition she would be for this book. I WAS SO SURE. I had worked so hard. I was so proud of this book. I was so proud of this baby I had worked on for over two years. I repeat, I WAS SO SURE THEY’D BUY IT.
I can hear The Universe chuckling at that last paragraph in my head right now. Actually, I hear The Universe snort laughing.
You wanna know what rejection feels like? Imagine someone coming up to your child and saying, “Wow. That kid. Who hit him with the ugly stick? Did he go back for a second beating?” Yeah. Like that.
Okay, that’s not what gets said, it’s way more professional of course, but BOY. THAT’S WHAT IT FEELS LIKE. The process of creating a book is literally holding your heart in your hands and asking people to judge it. And they do. Lordee, they do. You better develop a thick skin to be in this industry, because even once you are published? Oh lordee, then come the reviewers. That’s another topic for another time – but I should note that my most favorite review of ALL TIME is for Bob is a Unicorn. Here, lemme get it for you. It makes me chuckle EVERY DANG TIME.
Okay, back to Beatrice. So Kane Miller decided that my book was not for them. And you know what? THAT’S OKAY. It truly is. I would like to note right now that I ADORE my editor, I ADORE this publisher. I do not take this personally. I can’t. No author can. Publishing is a business. It’s not personal even when it feels personal – IT’S NOT. Kane Miller is a business and I knew at some point, the day would come when I would submit a book that wasn’t right for them for whatever reason. That day came 6 weeks ago. And dude, 6 weeks ago? I’m not gonna lie. I was sad. I was mad. I cried. I doubted my self and my abilities. I allowed myself to feel it all. I processed. I got a tattoo to deal with the pain of rejection. I don’t recommend this for everyone, but oh my goodness, my Magic Wand and my Happy Stars make me SO HAPPY.
I got the Happy Stars because the scene where Cordelia plays with the moon and the stars is not just my favorite scene in the picture book, but also in Beatrice. Because the sheer joy Cordelia is feeling as she is rushing up into the night sky, and the utter astonishment she feels when she looks down and sees her friends and neighbors down below – she sees their energy fields and it looks as though there are stars above her and stars below her. She is flying in what feels like a field of stars twinkling and shining and smiling for her. Cordelia is overwhelmed with the beauty it is to be alive and overwhelmed by seeing the true beauty of other human beings.
I never want to forget why I wrote this book, Beatrice. This is why this book NEEDS to be published. For several reasons I won’t get into, I have decided to self-publish Beatrice. It is the right choice for me and for this particular book. I will of course still submit other books to Kane Miller as they will always be my first choice to publish. One day, they might reject another book that will not make sense to self-publish and I will submit to another publisher. But for now? I guess Whatif Publishing will now be an arm of MNS Creative LLC! I am hoping to have Beatrice: A Tale of Magic, Truth, and Connection available for purchase summer 2018. (If editing doesn’t take too long.)
I truly cannot be more excited about the direction my life and career will take as I go down this new, unforged, path. There will be hardships, tears, and harsh landings to be had, I am sure. Of course, I will be sharing them all. Because that’s what I do, I share my life’s journey because if it helps even just one person be brave enough to begin walking down their scary, unforged path to create the life they know they are meant to live? It will be worth it!
So, stay tuned, people! I have hired literally one of the best editors in the publishing industry to edit my book. I’ve already paid a deposit so… NO BACKSIES, Y’ALL! HERE WE GO!!!
Join me on my newest adventure! And feel free to imagine me riding on top of a magical blue whale named Beatrice with a red-headed girl flying up above us as we race across the ocean to where ever we are meant to be! We’re going to make magic together!