I worked on my first novel, Fanged, for three and a half years. The story went through several revisions before it was ready to be published, not least because I had three planned sequels to consider, and each time I revised the first book, I had to keep the plots of the subsequent books in mind. But the time finally came when I was ready to get my novel out to the world, and I had a choice between pursuing the traditional route and self-publishing.
It took only a few agent rejections for me to research the self-publishing route and decide that this was the path for me.
The few rejections from agents I received didn’t make me doubt that my novel was good. All of my beta readers enjoyed it and gave me honest criticism, and I knew I had written an entertaining page-turner that also had substance. I had received positive feedback from fans of vampire novels and from vampire newbies – “I’m not really into vampires but I loved your book!”
Literary agents, however, aren’t only looking for books that are good, but books that they think will sell. And I, a first-time author who wrote a vampire book, wasn’t (in their minds) someone who was going to sell.
Knowing what stories will sell and which ones won’t is almost impossible to predict, especially when you’re a writer of genre fiction. Vampires come in and out of style all the time, and I was sending query letters for Fanged once the vampire fad had started to die out. There wasn’t room for me in a saturated market.
That’s why I decided to make my own market and self-publish my book.
I could have applied to agent after agent until I received an acceptance letter. Maybe that would have worked. I had only received 10 rejection letters, fewer than J.K. Rowling received for Harry Potter. I could have plugged away, and maybe I would have eventually been successful.
But I knew that I didn’t want to wait any longer to have a copy of my own book in my hands, to look at the cover and think, “I wrote this.”
Sometimes when I have writer’s block or feel discouraged about the writing process, I pick up a copy of my own book and remind myself, “I wrote a whole book.”
There are few feelings more satisfying than holding your own creation in your hands after years of hard work and dedication.
I might not try the self-publishing route every time I finish a creative project. I will definitely try the agent route again in the future. But I’m glad I self-published book #1.
Because when your father’s doctor’s aide looks at the patient chart, recognizes the last name, and asks him, “Are you the father of Theresa Basile, who wrote Fanged?” you know you’ve done something right.