As a child, barely a teenager, back when I read my first fantasy novel, The Sword of Shannara, I saw (and still do) see expansive potential in the fantasy genre. I had a plethora of fantastic ideas floating around in my head, and here, in this wonderful book I was reading, I saw a way to get those ideas out. I loved to draw, but it wasn't something I was passionate about, and saying my ideas out loud oftentimes came out jumbled and directionless. But writing, finally, gave me a way to get my ideas and stories to coalesce into something tangible and fantastic.
I immediately began to write down my ideas, folding and organizing them into sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. I planned out my book, then another and another. I researched what it would mean to be a writer, how to hone my craft and edit my work. I learned what it meant to be a plotter rather than a pantser. I looked hard at what it would mean to become an author and how to get signed with a publisher. I knew going in it wouldn't be easy, and that finding an agent or a publisher would be a long and difficult task. I was up for the challenge.
It took years and years of work to finally get my manuscript to a point where I was comfortable sending it out to publishers. So much time had passed in fact that the publishing industry was already beginning to evolve from what I'd learned growing up about what to expect. In the mid 2000's, slush piles weren't really a thing any more. Agents got your material to one of the Big 5 Publishers these days. I kept my head up and I followed the road I'd been following for years. If an agent is what it would take to get my book published, then that's where I'm going.
I submitted my book to countless agents over the course of two years. I didn't get a single nibble, and I saw plenty of rejection. The biggest criticism I found was that my novel, even as a fantasy novel, at a whopping 300,000 words, was too large for a new author. But how could that be, I wondered? All the great fantasy novels I read as a kid were 200K plus words! Despite my reservations, I decided to break my manuscript up into more manageable books. After all, the road kept going ahead, and I had to adapt to the conditions.
After a couple more years of editing and submitting to agents and publishers, I finally signed with Wild Child Publishing in January of 2011. I had a lot of reservations going in, mainly because Wild Child was an eBook publisher, not a traditional print publisher. Print was possible, but only if I sold a certain amount of books, and guess what, I would be a book seller. Marketing was required as a part of my contract. Wild Child helped some to sell my book, but a large amount of the marketing and selling was my responsibility. Again, this wasn't the road I was expecting, but it was the journey I signed up for and I wanted to see it through.
My experience with Wild Child wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what I'd always dreamed of. There were parts of this journey that really meant something to me though. The marketing aspect rekindled my love for graphic design, which I think really helped the process. I also met Shawn Howen, my editor, who helped make me into a better writer and shape my book into what it is today.
In December of 2013, my first book, Spirit Summoner, was released by Wild Child Publishing. By February 2014, enough eBook versions of my book had sold for my publisher to release it in print. I was ecstatic. Finally, my book was in paperback, and I got to hold it in my hands! Furthermore, my publisher was so happy with my performance, she agreed to release my next book in print and eBook at the same time.
The road wound on, but the life of bookseller, marketer, author, and writer began to wear on me. The change happened gradually. The marketing and blog posts got monotonous and much less exciting to create and keep up on. Besides, it took a lot of time to put together! Editing, a very important aspect to the author life, was wearing me down also. I missed the writing, the actual creation process, but I found it very difficult to make the time to do this between everything else I was working on.
.Shortly after my second book, Soul Seekers, was released in late 2015, I got an email from my publisher stating Wild Child Publisher was closing. I understood the decision, but I felt defeated, especially since I'd worked so hard and made so many compromises. Now I wouldn't get to publish the last book in my series. My editor, Shawn, had my back, and encouraged me not to give up. She even offered to edit the final book in my series, which we're currently working through.
I kept on the road I'd started all those years back, and I self-published Spirit Summoner and Soul Seekers through Amazon.com both in Kindle and paperback. I ran the same marketing game I ran with Wild Child, and that seemed to serve me well for a while. Eventually though, it sort of just fizzled out. I wasn't happy posting to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram several days a week. I wasn't happy making up content. I wanted to write, but I wanted to stay on the road, too, and I didn't have time to do both.
I came to a decision after lots of deliberation. Once I published Devoid, the final book in my series, the road I'd started as a child was going to come to an end. It wasn't an easy decision. It actually sort of shattered my world for a while. But as I looked back at the journey I'd been on, it just wasn't the journey I'd always dreamed of. It was filled with all sorts of road blocks and detours and hazards that just weren't a part of what I'd dreamed. I'm glad I went on the journey, and I'm proud of the work I've accomplished. Regardless, the road called "Being a Published Author" is coming to an end.
But even though I might be hitting the end of this road, the journey will continue. There are other roads to travel, roads more to my liking, and hopefully, roads filled with excitement, beauty, and challenges all their own. I doubt this will be the end of the Chosen of the Light either, but these stories might just be stories and nothing more. No publishing contracts or marketing schedules or Hollywood blockbuster movie deals. But I'm okay with that.