Monday, January 30, 2012

The Next Step: The Journey Begins

At the end of last year, God began speaking to me about the next step for my writing career. I had been praying for months for God to give me some direction. Last year, I found my writing at a standstill. I’d gone to the ACFW conference last year and got some interest in my manuscript.  Unfortunately, I got rejections from most of the proposals I sent out. Nice rejections. The “You’re a great, funny, creative (add your own positive adjective) writer but this is not the direction we want to go with our fiction.”

It seemed like all doors were closed and I was feeling like they would ever be opened. I know all writers come to this stage, but it seems like I’d been camped out there a few years. Actually, I have been stuck for a few years. I decided to seriously peruse publishing in 2005, so that makes seven years.

I’ve completed two manuscripts and a third that is within 10,000 words of being finished. I’ve had multiple non-fiction pieces published and earned a spot as a regular columnist on an online magazine. I’d been to four writers conferences and was even a finalist in Genesis in 2010. Despite all that, I felt like I’d come to the end of my rope and running out of options of seeing my writings in print.

And then God started talking. (Isn’t it interesting that He started talking when I came to the end of myself?) He started taking about…wait for it…self-publishing.  And what a conversation it was! Please forgive this non-linear thinkers attempt at chronicling how that conversation went, but I’ll do my best.

First, it started with knitting. I’m a graphic designer and wondered if that skill could translate into knitting patterns. For months, I’ve been dreaming about designing my own patterns. Once it is perfected, I will sell it on a website for knitters called Raverly, basically self-publishing it.

That was the first hint and there were many more to follow. That’s how God talks to me about me. He speaks in repeating circumstances. The next repeating circumstance was a deluge of articles on self-publishing. As an author who wants someday to be published, I try to keep abreast of all that’s going on in the industry. I read several agent blogs, Publisher’s Weekly, and Writer’s Digest (online and in print) and the Yahoo! entertainment page for books. And for a span of two weeks, seems like all of them were discussing self-publishing, some of it positive and some of it negative.

And then there were successful self-published artists. Notice I said artists. They weren’t just writers.  A friend of mine released her first indie CD and a well-known Christian rock group left their label and solicited donations to fund their new project.  And who can forget Amanda Hocking. Everywhere I looked, there she was.

After all of this kept swirling in my mind, it finally dawned on me that God might be trying to talk to me. That He might be telling me to self-publish. Of course, the revelation brought me distress. Even with all the successes, self-publishing still hasn’t lost its negative stigmatism. Some people feel that self-published books aren’t as good as traditionally published books, other feel that it’s a cop-out, a way to avoid going through the rigors of traditional publishing. I actually thought some of the same thoughts before now. Needless to say, God had to work on me.

And that He did through the next set of recurring circumstances. My pastor began a series during our New Year’s Eve service. It was entitled, A Year of Expectation. He preached about Moses. He preached about God spoke to Moses, told him to do something totally uncomfortable and how Moses argued with God about his perceived shortcoming. In short, the point of the sermon was to do what God told me to do and stop worrying about whether or not it’s going to succeed. Ouch.

So after all this, I am going to self-publish some of my writings. Some is the operative word in that statement. I have so many partial manuscripts on my hard drive and several notebooks full of story ideas. Most of them, sadly, don’t fit into CBA. I do have some manuscripts that will fit, but my self-publishing will focus on the ones I don’t think will.

And that’s another thing about God’s instructions. I have no plans to abandon getting published by a traditional publisher. For me, it isn’t either/or. It’s both. I have put as much prayer and consideration into my traditional career as I have my self-publishing career.

One more thing about God’s instructions. He told me to chronicle my entire journey on my blog. This will become a new feature on my blog called The Next Step (I’ll explain the name in subsequent posts).

So this is the first step of my big adventure. And most adventures are better when shared. Won’t you join in my journey with me? You can start by praying for me as I set out. Also, you can follow my journey by following my blog (in the right sidebar). I thank you in advance for your support and may God bless you on your journey this year.


Becca-expressions said...

Good for you!! Not just about the self-publishing but for listening to God and heeding His prompting.

Brian said...

Honey, I’m so proud of you. I’ve watched you battled with the idea of self-publishing for a while. I’ve seen the disappointment of the “nice” rejection letters first hand. I’ve even seen the mud level rise up to your waist from your rainy seasons of being stuck. But what I love most about you is you have no intentions of staying lost without direction, despondent from the rejection or complacent from being stuck. Your intention is not only hearing from the Lord, but achieving the impossible. The funny thing is those things that we’ve accomplished last year, last month or even last week seemed impossible for us at that time, but they were possible through God. I know this journey may be challenging and there will probably times where you’ll be frustrated, but remember that when you in God’s will ALL things work for your good. I’m breaking out my pom poms now. I’ve resolved to cheer for you not only in the good time, but those dark lost times, too.

Mary said...

Thank you Terri for this. You don't know how much this post spoke to me. I wait expectantly to see how God brings this to full term in you. Keep your eyes on the prize

Eileen said...

Terri, I know what it's like to self-publish. I'm not here to promote myself but I just read "Love Simplified" and then quickly looked you up. So glad you have a blog so I feel like I can "talk" to you. For me, after a year of "redirections" (nice way of saying rejections) I decided to self publish because Xlibris was having a sale. That's it. I took it as a sign and my book was released in June. I have more to say but I dont want this comment to be too long :)