Hello everyone…I am so excited to have author Sybil Nelson of the fun, entertaining and awesome Priscilla The Great Stories as a guest post!
Priscilla has on own website too! Lots of fun activities and more about her great stories! Check it out:) Guys, I’ve checked it out…her site is really cool!:)
Priscilla’s site www.priscillathegreat.com
Now meet the fabu author of Priscilla stories Sybil Nelson who shares her writing journey!
Sybil Nelson is a wife, a mother of two and a full-time Ph.D. student at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Sybil loves speaking to children and young adults, sharing her inspirational personal story of how she went from poverty to a PhD. If you would like to schedule her for a speaking engagement, please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Rocky Road to Publication
My road to publication has been bumpy to say the least. For a while I was rather bitter with the entire publishing industry, but I can honestly say that now I am at peace with it. I’m happy with where I am with my writing career. I’m developing a large and loyal fan base and my sales record is nothing to sneeze at. So let me tell you how I got there.
I was a math teacher who loved to read and got sick of there never being any black characters in books. I knew for some books it wasn’t possible, but for modern day books, everyone knows at least one black person right? Why are they always ignored in books? Especially black women. So I jotted down some poorly crafted chapters of a book about a black ballerina married to a white basketball player and their spoiled rotten children. That story didn’t really go very far and I gave up writing for a while.
I spit out a creepy and disturbing short story about an interracial couple living in 1970’s Virginia. I liked the story so much that I expanded it into a full length novel then started submitting to agents. This was my first mistake. I submitted way too early. The book was not ready for professional eyes. Fortunately, I kept writing while blindly sending query letters to agents and I wrote my second book The B Word of Bridgeton about a black ballerina who falls in love with a white basketball player. Sound familiar? It was basically the story I wrote earlier except it took place when they were in high school and focused on how they met.
Around this same time, I discovered www.thenextbigwriter.com, a wonderful review site that whipped my story into shape. This time when I submitted to agents, I felt it was the best story it could be. Yet and still, it took me two years to actually get an offer of representation from Uwe Stender of TriadaUS agency.
I had a real bonafide agent and I mistakenly thought that any day I would be picked up by a publisher, right? Wrong. That’s when the real work began. My agent sent me through months of revisions before he started sending to publishers. And then once he did start submitting, that’s when the rejections started flooding in.
Fortunately, during this time, I kept writing. I wrote during every free moment. Which weren’t many considering I had kids and a full time job and a husband and grad school. But I still managed to write three other books during this time.
November of 2008
The B Word comes under serious consideration by a big publisher. They send me through one major revision, and then another, and then another, and after three years I still didn’t have a final answer from them. During that time many people said, ‘well that’s just too much time why don’t you take it to another publisher?’ And they fail to realize that it was rejected by every other publisher. The people that had the book now are huge! I wanted to give them all the time necessary to decide. I’ll come back to what I did to that book later.
Okay, so during this three year stalemate with that big time publisher who will remain nameless, I also wrote Priscilla the Great. Writing this book was so easy and I would say, magical, except that sounds really corny. But in a way it was. I wrote it in less than a month. Priscilla’s voice just poured out of me. In a matter of weeks after the first draft was completed, this book caught the attention of another major publisher who shall remain nameless. They sent me through one revision, and then another and then another. Eight months later, they passed.
One thing that happened during this year that managed to boost my confidence a little was that my agent sold the movie rights to Priscilla. Since then I’ve even had dinner with the scriptwriter. Very exciting indeed.
During this time, of course I continued to write, but I was also getting really frustrated with the whole publishing process. I had written nine books over the course of four years and I had nothing to show for it. So, I decided to self publish. I was just about to release my book The Guardian of Eden as a self published title when I decided to give a small publisher a chance and I was accepted. The book title was changed to Secrets of Eden and was published as an ebook in August of 2010.
Around the same time, I self published my book about the interracial couple in Virginia called Ain’t No Sunshine just to see what the experience was like. Well, it turns out that Ain’t No Sunshine is my best seller and pays many of my bills.
Inspired by the success of Ain’t No Sunshine and discouraged by the sales of Secrets of Eden and Priscilla the Great, which I had placed with another small publisher, I left my agent, pulled my books and decided to go completely Indie. I even pulled The B Word of Bridgeton from that major publisher who was holding on to it.
I poured myself into the Indie Publishing world. I studied others who had success. I blogged, I facebooked, I tweeted, I did everything I could to get my name out there. Today, a little over a year later, I have over 15,000 sales and I regularly give speeches in local schools. I am very happy with the self-publishing process.
I do have a few warnings for people who are thinking about venturing into the Indie Publishing scene. Treat it like a business and be professional. That means, unless you are a graphic designer, hire someone to do your cover. Unless you are a professional copy editor with years of experience, hire someone to do your editing. Have a professional looking website and a blog that is directed to your target audience. Many Indie authors make the mistake of marketing toward other authors instead of aiming for readers and building a fan base.
So that is my rocky road to publication and there is much more to come. I still have ideas for many more books and I have goals to publish at least five books a year for the foreseeable future. My ultimate goal is that my rocky publication road will one day lead to a smooth glide to the NYT Bestseller list.