Sunday, February 20, 2011

LRC Featured Author Jennifer Laurens Guest Post (Heavenly)

Thank you Jennifer for agreeing to participate and offering Heavenly for giveaway.
If you review any of Jennifer's books this month, you will get extra entries for the giveaway. Make sure you are signed up!
Heavenly Loving the Reviews Challenge and Huge Giveaway!

     Maybe it’s because I ‘m an only child that I’m used to going after what I want without hesitation. I’m not blaming, I’m taking responsibility for my publishing choices.

     I started writing full time 10 years ago. An instructor I told me to start querying, so I did. I had immense interest in the story I was querying, and one top agent asked for a full manuscript right of the bat.  That was a turning point for me. I learned some key things: my story was 250 pages overwritten ( this in spite of having been extensively critiqued in a professional class, etc. ) and, having that kind of interest in your piece so soon is not the norm. ( as I discovered later with plenty of rejections )

     I brutally chopped ( with finesse) the manuscript until I thought it was as perfect as it could be. The agent ( a top agent at Writer’s House ) read and re-read it but ultimately passed on the project. 

     Back to querying. This time a different project. This project was picked up by another agent, an enthusiastic young newbie I connected well with.  I flew to NYC, met her and her partner and thought everything was going to be fabulous. All my dreams were going to come true!

     No. She didn’t end up shopping the manuscript around much, and, after a year the contract ended and I was once again back to the drawing board.

     I queried again, taking literally hundreds of rejections on various projects. All the while I’m scouring the YA bookshelf in the bookstores thinking,”My work’s at least as good as this.” ( Every author’s thought) The frustration didn’t mix well with the long stream of rejections but I didn’t give up, I kept honing my craft. Kept querying. Kept getting rejections. This went on for about a year and a half.

     Finally, another agent took me on, this time an older gent who’d been in the business for a zillion years. He loved the project, and we talked on the phone and totally connected. But I skipped the trip to NYC. He shopped the manuscript, sent me all of the email responses from various editors and, after a year of hard work with no success, he suggested I find someone who could be a better fit. We parted ways.
By this time 6 years have gone by. I continued to write, stock-piling stories. I’ve permanently shifted into the YA genre.

     My husband has always wanted to write NF with his background in money management, so he opens a publishing house: Grove Creek Publishing.  Only, he never finds the time to write “that book” – but I have a stack. So, I start searching for designers, graphic artists, editors, etc. and put my first books out there.

     I’ve been producing books from inception to hard copy since. I’ve learned so much about the industry, it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve literally handled every aspect of a publishing house myself, and  have come to understand every step. Publishing is a LOT of work. But it’s also so satisfying creatively to write a book, create a cover concept, get the team together to create the cover and interior, and then play with marketing ideas.

     There is NOTHING like holding your hard copy in your hands.

     This year, I sold the rights to Heavenly to four foreign countries – all by myself. Which means I didn’t need to split any money with anyone, nor do I ever have to split any money with anyone. Ever.

     The beauty of the digital age is that doors are opening for artists worldwide. Indie film, indie music, indie authors can reach the world without having to jump through the traditional hoops.

     It’s the best time ever for indies.

     When people ask me about publishing, I tell them to MAKE their own way. Don’t depend on someone else to do it for you. There are roads out there, roads with little or no paving. You can take one of those or you can create your own like I did. Persistence is the sole of your shoes.

     Ten years has gone by now and, after everything I have observed and read and know about the publishing industry I’ve realized I made the right choice for me.  It’s possible to have what you want, even when an industry tries to make it impossible. And they do. There’s prejudice, snobbery, downright ugliness in every industry and the publishing industry is no different. ( But that’s another blog post altogether J )

     As an indie, I bypass all that and focus on what I do best and what I love: writing stories for my readers.

Jennifer Laurens

     Thank you Jennifer, having completed my first novel and beginning to stick my toes into the publishing industry, this is very real and relevant post for me. I am glad that you made your own way and are sharing a wonderful success story with me! 

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