Monday, December 3, 2012

Guest Post by Nancy S. Thompson

Please welcome NANCY S. THOMPSON!
Two-and-a-half years ago, I experienced a moment of profound inspiration. The result was my first book, THE MISTAKEN.  I didn’t actually think I could complete a full-length novel, but I did, and when I was done, I had to figure out what I wanted next.  Yeah sure, it was a great accomplishment, but still, did I want this to be only for me, or did I want more?  Turns out, I wanted more.
So I started researching what it took to get published in today’s marketplace.  At that time, I was too naive to know how daunting a task that really was, so I soldered on, one step at a time.  I placed a message on Nathan Bransford’s forums, looking for a critique partner, and, once I found a few, started revising, a never-ending process.  Then I began to research how to write a query letter, another eternal but necessary chore. 
While investigating all this publishing stuff, I kept reading about the concept of a platform and how aspiring authors need one in order to be heard and someday market themselves.  I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but one site suggested I start my own blog.  That made me laugh. Who would ever want to read what I had to say? 
Well, not many, at first, obviously, after all, nobody knew me, but that was easy enough to change, though it took some time.  So I started my blog, which, at the time, I called A Writer’s Journey, and through it I met, followed, and discussed the issues I was interested in with other people just like me, assorted aspiring writers and a few published authors.  Turns out, we had a lot in common, and, for the most part, these folks knew a lot more than I did about writing and publishing.  So I met their friends and their friends’ friends, and so on.  I surrounded myself with a nice circle of writers who were all at various points along the way. 
But I still had to do the work, make my manuscript sing.  No small task, let me tell you.  And I had to write a kickass query.  I think I had probably twenty-five in all.  They evolved as I received rejections, entered contests, and received feedback.  All those rejections and lost contests were difficult to handle, but I learned something each and every time, and the experience toughened my skin, which, as any writer worth his or her salts will tell you, is absolutely imperative.
So by that time, it became more about tenacity and persistence.  I’d heard that it can sometimes take years to land an agent or a book deal.  And if that’s what it took, I would do it, because in the end, what did I have to lose?   Well, nothing, really, except maybe some self-confidence and pride.  But that was usually only temporary.  And because I tend to analyze what works and what doesn’t, I decided to change things up a bit and query a new start-up publisher directly.  I had good results from that and eventually got my deal.
It’s not perfect.  I don’t have the perks of the Big Six or their imprints, but I did get published.  And that’s what I really wanted.  Now I have work on the marketing.  Everyone says authors have to do most of this on their own, and they’re right.  And while I find it daunting since I know nothing about marketing, I’ll do whatever it takes.  It’s just another step in a journey in which I had no practical experience.  So this part is no different from any other, really. 
There is no magic button or shortcut, no easy way about it.  Writing is difficult and publishing more so.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication.  And there’s not a great deal of payoff financially.  You can’t be in the business for money or you’ll be sorely disappointed.  But there are other payoffs, other ways in which to feel satisfied.  Most of that comes from the writing itself.  The people you meet along the way, the things you learn, the way it changes you, well, those are the unexpected benefits and are equally gratifying.
Thank you Nancy! Kelley Gerschke wrote about her writer's journey in October. You can see Kelley's post here.


  1. Hey Nancy,

    So great to see you here - Livia's been raving about you and THE MISTAKEN for ages :)

    Cheers also for the honest insight into the publishing side of things.

    I hope to be there one of these days, and I may have to bribe you with some good Kona coffee to get the inside scoop :)

  2. So what if we don't have the big six perks? As you said, it's the journey along the way that's the real benefit. We'll learn and grow from it and become all the more rich as a person.

  3. "You can't be in the business for the money..."

    Your last paragraph nails it. Loving the journey is the point of writing! Good luck Nancy.

  4. Nice post, Nancy.

    "I surrounded myself with a nice circle of writers who were all at various points along the way."

    I know most people present the blog thing as if it's the key to big book sales, and I'm sure it helps, but I think this quote from your post is much more important. I know I have met some great people through my blog and the blogs I follow, and have learned a tremendous amount from all. And the encouragement and compassion is tremendous, too.

  5. Congratulations, Nancy. I appreciate your comment about tenacity. I think that's spot-on and will try to keep that in mind as I progress. You're absolutely correct, what is there to lose?

    I just read a great article about the business of book writing. The process doesn't end with the creativity; we have to become entrepreneurs.

  6. Wonderful guest post, Nancy.

    The writer's journey is a tough one. It may not always be pretty and some days, there might be crying involved. But, it's worth it. For the most part, the writing community is a wonderful and supportive one.

    Much like you, I've met so many great people through social media.

  7. Great post. It's NOT easy. And I'm not even to the querying stage yet. 0_0 *gulp*

  8. Great story Nancy! And you're right, we lose a little pride along the way, but that only makes us more humble...and that's always a win!

  9. Thanks for sharing your story, Nancy. The writing road is often bumpy but so rewarding in ways I never thought possible.

  10. hehe, shame there's no easy way about it ;)
    But it's soooo worth the hard work!

    So looking forward to reading The Mistaken, Nancy. It's waiting on my kindle right now.

  11. Congrats on pursuing until you got what you were looking for. This is a good article, and so many of us are going through the same confusion and work, some with different outcomes and procedures. It's great to keep sharing the experiences.

  12. So The Mistaken was your FIRST manuscript?? Crazy. Fraction of Stone was my fourth. haha. So nice to learn more about you Nancy (pub sista ;)) Thanks for having her Livia!

  13. So true about how you can't get into the publishing business expecting big bucks. You truly have to love the craft of writing in order to survive it, as well as excel at it!

  14. Thanks everyone! Feeling the love! It is a journey of commitment & love. Thanks so much for having me over, Livia! Big (((HUGS)))!!