When I was only contemplating becoming published, I had many misgivings about whether or not I had the chops to do it. I dove into my research, having written what I considered to be a publishable story, Spellbound. Almost every blog, every author interview, and especially every agent interview I read, had something to say about two things: having a platform and having a voice.
I had a voice! Didn't I? I sat down and re-read my story and decided I did have a voice. Then further research advised me how I had to describe that voice in an engrossing manner, well enough to catch the attention of an agent or editor or, best of all, a publisher. Describe it? What the hell did that mean? I had a story, I wrote it. End of story, right? Wrooooong. So very wrong.
I submitted to a couple agents and while there was interest, they didn't take my bait. And then I started hearing about the second thing: platform. Again, I was all, what the hell is that? I studied some more (thank God for the internet!) and learned platform was actually the application of that voice you think you have. You needed a blog, a facebook account, Twitter, all the social media one person could handle. Whew! It seemed like a lot but I had committed to this and besides, hadn't I told my husband this was my dream, and also it was my time?
So I started a blog. Holy cow, did it suck at first. I may have had a voice, but I certainly wasn't used to using it. I wasn't sure what to do except talk about my story, which I did. Then I started writing about my other work, then work I wanted to write. I joined facebook and developed this whole community of other writers going through the same thing as me. I bought Writers Searching for Agent-type publications and began to look for my angel. I mean my agent. I compiled careful lists of agents who I thought I might like, who had the same lists as the book I wanted to publish.
I taught myself how to write a query letter, how to play up the fact that I had zip for other publications, and I banged out blog posts. I even started to blog on other people's sites. For some reason they thought I had something to say. Then my first exciting bite! Defiantly, I had sent my submissions to a place that clearly stated they didn't take unagented submissions. I figured, what was the worst that could happen? Then the unexpected did happen: Harlequin Teen asked to see my manuscript! I sent it in and me and the hubs made a list of things we would like to do with the advance money. I know, right? I didn't know ANYTHING!
The rejection came a couple weeks later, a lovely worded letter with some great advice. They were passing on this one, but wanted me to submit in the future with any other projects. I was bummed and elated at the same time. Me and the hubs put the list we'd drawn up in a desk drawer.
Then a small independent publisher I had submitted to asked to see the manuscript. Fully jaded now, and expecting, realistically, nothing, I sent it in. Two days later they offered me a contract.
So, I don't have an agent yet. But what I do have is a voice. And five published works. And a platform. You are smack in the middle of it here on this blog. I passed 10,000 views recently and am pretty jazzed that most posts receive at least 35-50 or so hits. I suppose the take-away from this post is exactly like many others will say. Don't give up. Keep writing. Develop your own platform and your personal voice. And it's okay if you make a list.....just keep it in that desk drawer. I do, and I know someday I'll be pulling it out. And if you have a blog, let me know about it. I'll be happy to support you.