Please welcome the fabulous Amy Atwell who is sharing her very unique and entertaining perspective on her publication journey! Welcome, Amy!
Today, I want to share my journey to publication and why I think I’m smarter than an iconic fictional heroine.
When I say the name Scarlet O’Hara, what sort of images does it conjure for you?
Stubborn and blinded by love.
I found Scarlet to be all of those and more when I read the book Gone With The Wind. I shook my head over her tragic flaw: she was so in love with Ashley Wilkes—who didn’t return her affection—that she couldn’t see the potential of a future with Rhett Butler.
Now, I mean, seriously… Ashley over Rhett?
But take a moment and picture Scarlet and Ashley’s world.
Fast forward one hundred fifty years. Leave behind the cotton fields and hoop skirts. Look around instead at the world of publishing.
Like Scarlet, I started my quest for publication with a goal in mind. I wanted to earn the regard of the handsome and wealthy Ashley Wilkes, beloved by all the young debutantes competing against me to win his regard. Yes, in this analogy, Ashley Wilkes represents the big traditional print publishers.
Ten years ago (yes, I’ve been writing toward publication that long…) we didn’t think of print publishing as “traditional.” It was pretty much the only game in town. I remember seeing those digital publishers pop up on the internet—much in the same way Rhett Butler popped up from that sofa when Scarlet all but threw herself at Ashley in the drawing room. But at the time, I didn’t take digital publishing seriously. No, I just had to make those traditional publishers understand how much they loved me!
The first stumbling block I encountered was exactly the snag Scarlet hit: Ashley was already in love with pretty little Melanie. Melanie, who was perfect for Ashley—and indeed, just plain perfect—well, I don’t know about you, but I never could bring myself to hate her. Oh, I wanted to. Just as I’d love to hate the beloved and best selling romance authors who’d attracted the eye of the very publishers I wanted to notice me. Notice me! I’m young and strong and resilient, smart and maybe a bit unconventional. Think of the beautiful future we could have together!
But Ashley stood by Melanie and rejected Scarlet. Oh, I know the sting of that rejection. And there was little I could do except stick as close to the Melanies as I could and try to figure out what they had that I didn’t.
Now, mind you, Rhett Butler continued to appear around Scarlet’s world. Showing flashes of interest in each other, neither was ready to make a firm commitment. As I faced rejections from the traditional print publishers, I studied the growth of digital publishing. I was curious, but not ready to give up my dream. But then, I couldn’t bring myself to throttle or drown Miss Melanie, either.
And then came the civil war. Admittedly, the shake-up we’re experiencing in publishing isn’t as deadly as
This is where Scarlet and I diverge in this analogy. Even while
That’s where I think I’m smart. After writing and submitting a few manuscripts to the big
Meanwhile, publishing continued to transform. Digital publishing numbers increased exponentially while print sales dropped quarter after quarter. Suddenly, Rhett Butler wasn’t lurking down by the warehouses anymore. He was being invited into drawing rooms and attracting the eye of many of the debutantes. Lord have mercy, (fans self) but he was looking good.
I was at a crossroads. I could, like Scarlet, continue blindly on the path I’d been following for years, chasing a static dream even though the publishing world around me was evolving. Or, I could change what I wrote, try to fit more neatly with the unspoken expectations of the
Or, I could accept the offer of a rather handsome rogue who was quickly gaining recognition in the industry. Carina Press was my Rhett Butler, and I accepted the offer with joy, knowing they loved my unconventional story just the way it was.
This is, of course, the tale of my journey. I don’t share it to convince anyone else to follow my path, your path will be unique. The moral to the story, if any, is to set your writing/publishing goals. Do your best to understand WHY those are your goals. From time to time, review your goals and ask yourself the hard question: is it time to revise the goals?
Best wishes to all on your publishing journey. I’m happy to answer what I can about my experience working with Carina or any other part of my ten-year trek. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance with roguish heroes and stubborn (but not too stubborn) heroines. Her debut romantic suspense, Lying Eyes, is available digitally at Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. An
Amy, thanks so much for joining the Bandits today. Your story is inspirational and entertaining! KJ