If you’d asked me ten years ago if I thought my book Dear Manolo would ever come to light, I would probably have said, of course—one day. If you told me how hard it would be to make that goal a success, I would probably have asked, “seriously,”? But, unfortunately, I found out the cold hard truth is that getting published is not as easy as it sounds. In the beginning, I sent out countless, okay, I’m exaggerating (20 to be exact) queries—many of the letters weren’t even greeted with a response. But even the few that were kind enough to do so weren’t interested in my project. No one seemed intrigued with the concept of a modern-day Cinderella story. My fictional adaptation of magical realism wasn’t anywhere on their radar. I was utterly disheartened at first, but then I got the idea—urged by my husband that if there weren’t going to be any traditional takers—if I wanted to get it done, I would have to self-publish.
At the start, I felt like I was taking the loser’s way out. Not hearing back from agents and editors made me feel like my work wasn’t good enough. Even though I had written for several online publications and had the experience of interviewing some notable people, I was convinced—from the repudiation that my talents were sub-par at best. Regrettably, that introspection would carry over to my writing and, at times, curtailed me from completing personal projects.
If I wasn’t working on a feature or essay for one of those publications–one of the few places I felt my writing was appreciated—I would procrastinate in finishing my book. Surfing back and forth between my blog writing and social media networking, I would try to make an effort to complete the work, but I found it difficult and felt uninspired.
Before I had a solid draft worth ascribing into print, it took five years, give or take. So that, along with procuring the necessary funds to see it to fruition, proved to be a long and arduous journey. But if I wanted my story read, then this was the only logical path. I convinced myself that if I genuinely believed in the nonsense, I would have stopped writing a long time ago. Although it’s encouraging to receive praise from professionals in the literary world, however, when you don’t or when the feedback you receive is less than stellar, it’s important to remember why you started writing in the first place. I know my reason is to convey new ideas and sentiments, propose unconventional outcomes in a story, and hopefully entertain and amuse my readers. Once I reaffirmed my acceptance and trust in myself, I was well on my way.
And even with the firm belief that I was a good enough writer, I questioned my choice, was I taking the easy way out? The answer came swiftly–no, I wasn’t! Had I successfully acquired an agent and published traditionally, that would have made the process much easier. In addition, an entire team to handle all of the editing, design, marketing, and distribution would have made the creative process so much smoother. But I didn’t go that route, and even though I’ve taken so long to reach the finish line, I’m glad that I didn’t give in to the false acceptance that I’m just not good enough.
When it comes down to it, I know what I like. Although I will always need a second (maybe a third) set of eyes on my work and trust and rely on other’s opinions from time to time, publishing my book myself has been an extraordinary learning experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything—except a multi-million dollar book deal. Just kidding.