Standing at a Crossroad

This spring marks a bittersweet milestone. Two years ago, I nervously sat across the very first literary agent I’ve ever met and pitched her Phoenix. She was lovely, said it sounded very interesting but had a few suggestions. Then the clincher, she was actually leaving the business, but encouraged me to send it to her boss (but the boss rejected).

Let’s fast forward to today. According to my Querytracker stats, of the 250 agents I’ve flagged I’ve sent 206 queries and have received 184 negative responses (either rejections or no responses). Six agents have requested pages, five have ultimately rejected and one has had my full manuscript since August.

“Egads!” you’re thinking. “Why isn’t this girl taking up crocheting or calling time of death on this manuscript and moving on to something this?”

Because I believe in Phoenix with all of my heart. I believe that writers are only partially in control of the story, that when the author is ready, the story will present itself to the person best suited to write it. Phoenix believed in me, it unveiled itself to me at a time when I needed it. I can’t give up on it.

With 44 agents left to query and fewer added to the list on a daily basis, I’m now asking myself what’s next. Am I ready to give up on Phoenix? No. And thankfully, Plan B is looking more and more enticing.

Self-publishing is no longer the literary walk of shame. Other authors, even those who have traditionally published, don’t look down at us emerging authors with disdain like we’ve accidentally tucked our skirts into our pantyhose as we walk home with our heels in our hands. Instead, they are walking alongside us (hell, maybe they would even be so kind as to tell us we’ve tucked our skirts into our hose).

This month’s Writer’s Digest is the annual self-publishing spotlight, and the grand prize winner, Kingdom of Simplicity by Holly Payne. In the magazine article, she tells how the manuscript was rejected by several publishing houses, but rather than give up on the story, she launched her own imprint and publish the novel herself. In addition to the WD honor, Kingdom of Simplicity received the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award for best first fiction from a new press. My friends, that is no walk of shame, that’s proudly strutting.

I know this doesn’t mean I’m home free. There is a reason that people sell their stories to agents and then publishing houses, they do all the hard work and guide the author through the process. But, nothing worth having is every easily attained.

So, I stand at the crossroad. One road leads me down the path I’ve been traveling. The other takes control of my writing career and literary journey. Both are uncertain, both are terrifying. Which would you chose?

About Kimberly Packard

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years. When she isn’t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, Oliver the cat and a 75-pound lap dog named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors.
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Standing at a Crossroad

  1. R. Leslie says:

    Keep your chin up! As you said, there is no shame in self-publishing if you don’t hear from those you’ve contacted, and someone might contact you later to release a print copy. Or it’ll give you a title (and proof of revenue) under your belt when you’re ready to submit your next manuscript. Just ask yourself how you want the world to see your baby (on the computer or in their hands). Good luck!

  2. neelthemuse says:

    Thank you for sharing your story….its always nice to know about the road taken by new writers…

  3. I have been told repeatedly that rejection is the nature of this beast we have subjected ourselves to. However, you still have agents to query and you have the self-publishing option. It only takes one agent to say yes. So, until you hear that final “no”, there is a chance. If you believe in your work, fight to the bitter end. You owe it to yourself. Good luck.

  4. maudlin says:

    Keep believing in it!

  5. Here’s what I have honestly come to believe – publish independently. It’s what I’m doing with my completed MS. Keep in mind you’ll have to pay for marketing, etc. but anymore, small publishing houses want you to do that too – after you’ve signed a contract that gains them the lion’s share of any royalties. Invest in yourself.

  6. Pingback: You Can Go Your Own Way | I Make Stuff Up

Leave a Reply