After years of struggling to get my novel noticed, I had reached the end of my rope. I started taking matters into my own hands by starting a page for the book, sharing chapters and gaining excited readers in the process. That was all good, but it wasn't my dream. My dream was to be a published author. Finally, I received an email a few months later from a small publisher who wanted to offer me a contract. I was ecstatic. Shocked. Happy. Thrilled and a million other emotions all rolled up into one. Who knew I would add disappointed to that list a few months later? I know many of you might think I'm bitter and maybe I am, but to move on from this experience I decided to share it with you, hoping that maybe it could do some good in the future. I'll go through my experience with you step by step.
Editing Process: I'd like to think my manuscript was perfect, but I'd be delusional and only fooling myself. Apparently my editor was delusional as well. She went through the chapters quickly. She sent those chapters to me one by one. Not a thing was changed. No advice. No red marks that highlighted what needed to be taken out, improved on etc. Damn, I knew I was good, but I didn't know I was THAT good. Apparently all was perfect so she sent it to the 'printer'. (After the book was published numerous spelling and grammatical errors were discovered. I was horrified and still am) I made a note to never trust an editor again. I will always go over my work thoroughly, over and over and over and over again until I'm sick of it.
Cover: I was given some input on what I wanted the cover to look like. What I hoped to see. What I did not want to see. The finished result was okay, I guess, though I thought the one I made myself was better. It was not special. It didn't capture the essence of the novel. It didn't pop. It didn't send shivers down my spine or make me want to pick the book up and read it. To be honest, it looked like my eleven year old sister did it. I guess I should have spoken up more. Maybe I should have put on my diva hat and insisted it be done my way or else...I'm not sure if the cover played a part in my poor sales, but who knows? They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, a lot of people do. I would know I'm one of them.
Promotion: LOL. There weren't any. The publisher claimed that they gave every book its fair share of promotions on their website, facebook page, twitter etc. A year passed and I've yet to see my book link or cover page appear on ANY of their social networks. How would I know? I've been watching. Waiting. Judging. Quietly. Secretly. They seem to promote from a 'special' list of books that included most of their staff. It was like high school all over again. The popular kids reaped the benefits, while the others sat on the side lines and watched. Mouths drooling.
The bulk of my sales came from ads that I paid for. I didn't mind doing it. I just wished my publisher had believed in my book as much as I did. If not, why offer me the contract in the first place? Why take my dreams in the palm of your hands only to play with it and then crush it into dust like they never mattered? Why act like I don't? Was it to fill some quota? Accumulate book titles to make it look like you're on the verge of becoming a big time publisher? Or was this all my fault? Maybe I jumped at the opportunity too quickly. Maybe I was too eager. Maybe I should have done it this way or that. Maybe I was just too inexperienced. All these questions and maybe's plague my dreams every night. But I've taken away a lot from this experience. I'd like to think I'm wiser because of it.
I'm not saying that you should NEVER sign with a small publisher. I recently signed a contract for a couple of books. All I'm saying is be careful with the publishers you choose. Ask questions. Lots. Make sure they actually read your book. Speak up. Don't be bullied around just because you want your dreams to come true. It's better to hold your dreams in your hands than give them to someone else who will do nothing but destroy them and, "When you get to the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hang on."