Fourth Anniversary Post – “The Rejection Window, Part III”

Today, October 16th, 2014, is this blog’s fourth birthday.  😀

Back in October 2010, I had no idea of the twists and turns my life would take, in my effort to bring the Vampire Syndrome Saga to the world. My only goal was to get the first book written and up on Amazon. By October 2012, I had met that initial goal, but the bigger goals were starting to rear their head.

Publishing.

It was time to dive in feet first, and find out what (a few divisions of) the Big Five really thought about “Vampire Syndrome.”

Nothing like jumping straight into the frying pan, learning things the hard way. 😈

While all of that grease was frying and sizzling, a pair of guardian angels watched over me. Kristen Lamb, and Emily Guido. Kristen’s spot-on, sage advice from the trenches saved “Vampire Syndrome” from a fate worse than death, the “void” of an e-book-only Big Five deal, an unholy hybrid of the worst of both worlds. And my dear Emily Guido showed me the path to a better way. A small press that would stand behind my creative vision.

It was a very small press at the time. I was the second author ever to sign a traditional publishing contract with PDMI Publishing (Emily was the first, as you have likely guessed by now). Dozens of authors, illustrators and editors would soon join the fast-growing team at PDMI, embodying a commitment to value author’s personal creative visions, and transfer those visions into print intact.

I am immensely proud of everything that PDMI Publishing, LLC has managed to achieve in a few short years, and I have made many valuable “behind-the-scenes” contributions, helping PDMI to lead the way in the innovation the publishing industry so desperately needs (as I found out the hard way, back in 2012). Industry leaders (such as Kristen Lamb!) have lauded PDMI as a model for what publishing should be. 😀

By October 2013, “Vampire Syndrome” was in print, in both YA and Adult versions, and I was already writing “Vampire Conspiracy”, Book Two of the Vampire Syndrome Saga (now being edited by PDMI).

So, as I prepare to write “Vampire Invasion” (Book Three of the Saga), you might ask, “What did you mean by the suffix ‘The Rejection Window, Part III”?

It seems that the little oddities of publishing have not yet reared all of their Medusa-like heads. As I toured around Denver with my freshly-printed copies of the new Mass Market paperback of “Vampire Syndrome”, I found the last thing I expected. The ghost of rejection, moaning through the dusty stacks of century-old books at one particular bookstore. A store who places bookmarks into hardcovers bragging that the books were not bought at Amazon, yet the same store is not taking any more local author consignments. Which, of course, “forces” those same authors to sell their books on Amazon, instead of this “hip” little indie shoppe. Whoops!

Actually, I’m exaggerating just a bit there. All the other indie shops I toured were very interested in my book.  But this is a day and age where every “local author” book printed will be available on Amazon. Which means the shop that declined my book also (by default) declined the opportunity to take a sale or two from Amazon. You could say “in theory”, but people still discover books in brick & mortar stores that they have not seen on Amazon. The main convenience of Amazon is also its main problem: You only find exactly what you’re looking for. No one can beat the brick & mortar retailers at helping people to discover great books they would have never heard about otherwise.

I was rejected by a few arms of the Big Five, but believe me, a rejection from an indie bookstore is the one that “hurts the most.” It is true that just one indie bookstore not stocking my novels doesn’t amount to much more than a tiny speed bump at this stage of my career. PDMI will book me for signings, including at large chain stores. But I mourn the local store who won’t take any more local author consignments, not because they could not take my work, but because it’s a bad omen for them. Will this store still be open by the time my blog celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2015? When the Big Five rejected me, it forced me to make getting my story to market intact my number-one priority. All kinds of good came from my decision to stand my creative ground. Through my work at PDMI, I have been able to help others keep their creative vision intact as well. A pleasure all the money in the world could not buy. Which is why the indie bookstore rejection is the one that “hurts.”

Because no good will ever come of it.

Guest Post: Daven Anderson “I survived Colorado Gold, and you can, too!”

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog Guest Post:
Daven Anderson “I survived Colorado Gold, and you can, too!”

By Daven Anderson

As we find ourselves enjoying another lovely fall season in colorful Colorado, some of you reading this may be lamenting that the only “Colorado Gold” you won last month were the fallen leaves you raked from your backyard.

You didn’t win. You didn’t final. Agents aren’t camping out in your backyard, contracts in hand.

Fear not, my literary friends, for I am here to tell you that you have not reached the end of your story.

Quite the opposite, in fact. You have reached the beginning.

The true prize from the Colorado Gold is not to win or final, but to learn. To learn to listen objectively, instead of taking constructive criticism personally. To learn that professional writing is a journey of the soul, not just a process. And to learn that the true skill a professional writer must demonstrate, on a daily basis, is perseverance. The best writer in the world is equal to the worst writer in the world, when both are writing nothing.

I still apply the many lessons I learned from my three-year Colorado Gold odyssey. One of which is that the qualities which make your odyssey personal are the oddities no one else can ever gain insight from. The criticisms you received are unique to you, your work, and the judges’ mood the evening they read your entry.

Some of you may choose not to re-enter a particular work in future years if it did not win or final in Colorado Gold. But those who can persevere, and learn from the criticisms, can make their work much stronger than it was before.

I entered the same novel in Colorado Gold three years in a row, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The latter two entries incorporated many hard-won revisions, in line with the insightful criticisms I received for my previous entries.

Re-reading my 2010 entry filled me with the urge to put a bag over my head. I am frankly shocked it scored as well as it did. After the 2010 contest, I was filled with the motivation to hone my skills.

In 2011, I entered Colorado Gold flush with confidence, knowing that my entry’s prose had improved a seeming ten-fold, compared to the foppish tones of its predecessor. The comments were much more positive overall, yet my score was only four points higher than the year before. In gearhead terms, my “new Mustang GT” barely beat my “clapped-out Pinto” when the final scores were tallied.

Ah, what to do for 2012? Maybe the judges were confused about the juxtapostion between my prologue and Chapter One. And I had heard much talk of prologues being anathema to agents and editors. So, for my 2012 Colorado Gold entry, time to broom the prologue and start with Chapter One.

Of course, my hard work in 2012 was rewarded with my lowest score yet. Yes, even my rank amateur 2010 entry outscored its 2012 successor. Yet the comments and critiques I received for the 2012 entry were notably more positive than for either of my previous entries. Even within the small world of Colorado Gold entries, the scores alone don’t tell the whole story. And this was the most important lesson I learned from that year’s contest.

Yes, my novel “Vampire Syndrome” failed to win or even final in Colorado Gold, for three years in a row. The only thing “Vampire Syndrome” had won by the end of 2012 was a publishing contract. I am far from being a unique example here, as a fair number of my fellow RMFW members also have released traditionally-published novels that did not win or final in Colorado Gold.

So, in summation, lament not your “loss” in Colorado Gold. Those who learn and persevere have what it takes to win the writing game. You may lose the “battle” of Colorado Gold, but the lessons you learn can lead you to your true victory. The triumph of prose, and the self.

Symbolism – do my readers get it?

Symbolism shouldn’t be TOO obvious, but when a reader picks up one of your clues after reading your work several times, then you know you did it right! 😉

Vampire Conspiracy – Sneak Peek into the Playlist

Now that the main text of “Vampire Conspiracy” (book two of the Vampire Syndrome saga) is finished (and being edited by PDMI), I’m working on peripherals, such as the glossary and the playlist.

A brief glimpse into Chapter 32, “Deconstruction Crew”:

Jack:

“Are you sure about this?” Razvan asks us.

“We’re positive,” I answer.

“We’d like to drive back ourselves,” Coach Ron says.

“Do you want motorcycle escorts?” Petra asks.

“Thanks, but we should be fine,” Diane replies.

“A lot of people runnin’ and hidin’ tonight,
A lot of people won’t get no justice tonight.”
“Armagideon Time”, original version by Willie Wilson

The 10 lessons I learned from being an Author . . .

Perfect, spot-on advice from my dear friend Emily Guido! 😀
The perfect wsy to start October!

The Light-Bearer Series by Emily Guido

Get-what-you-give-giving-back-picture-quote1. Be KIND . . .

If I am not kind, then I should expect to be treated badly.  It may not be today… but it may be a time when I really need it.

2. Don’t be HAUGHTY . . .

I am the first person to say that I am not the expert in anything.

3. Read other Author’s work without an AGENDA . . .

No one in the world wants to be pre-judged. You have a genre that you feel comfortable with, that’s great. However, branch out and test the waters with other genres without any judgement. You will be happy you did!

book-review-620x3304. Always read a book from COVER to COVER . . .

If you talk to a person, you don’t walk away during mid-sentence – that would be rude. Don’t do that to your fellow Authors!

5. Be good to YOURSELF . …

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