The Journey is Mostly About Perseverance by Cassiel Knight

Our blog is our place to talk about our journeys. And since the other Janes have been sharing theirs’, I thought that I should talk about mine. It’s a story about a publishing career that almost didn’t happen.

The path to publication for Key of Solomon the first full length novel I published with a mainstream epublisher, Samhain Publishing, was a long and, at times, a frustrating path.

Key of Solomon is not the first book I’ve ever written or published. My first book is buried in the deep reaches of my computer. I also, if I look around hard enough, have half of it printed and spiral bound so I can always remember how far I’ve come. Which, when I find it and revisit the story, well, let’s just say I’ve come very far. 🙂

Key of Solomon is actually my third completed manuscript and second published. In 2007, New Concepts Publishing published a post-apocalypse romance called Hit Me with Your Best Shot that I’m releasing with a new cover and updated story through Lyrical Press in February 2012. The fact that Key of Solomon is a third book doesn’t mean it holds any less of an important place in my heart. In many ways, it means more.

You see, in early 2010, I gave up on this story. For two years, I’d shopped it and garnered a lot of rejections. I won’t tell you how many – trust me when I say it was a lot and well past 100. The later rejections came in with a common theme – interesting premise, obviously a good writer, “I just didn’t love it enough.” Six words that still cause shudders to run up my spine. I get why this is used, honestly, I do. Doesn’t make it any easier to read because there has to be something the agent/editor didn’t like and doggone it, why can’t they just say? However, that’s a different talk for another day. 🙂

Finally, I’d had enough. I was done. I never wanted to see that story again or any of its many versions. By this time, my decision should have been easy. But it wasn’t. So, I made a very painful decision to put this book aside. I didn’t know what I needed to do to fix whatever was wrong. I’d redone the beginning to death to no avail.

Now, when I say, I put this book aside, I mean ASIDE. Gone. Kaput. You see, I yanked everything related to this story off my hard-drive, purged my desk file folders and more. Why? Because it hurt too much to keep seeing this story every time I opened a drawer or my work-in-progress folder. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to move the online files and tuck them in another folder.  No, I had to get them completely off my system so I couldn’t even accidentally see the documents. It was a dark time for me. It was around this time that I even thought about giving up writing completely. And no one knows this – but you do. Now. I didn’t tell anyone about how low I’d gotten. It just hurt too much to be thinking about giving up on my dream.

Still, even with all that, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t let go of Lexi and Mikos. I believed in them, their story and most of all, I believed in myself as a writer. This story was good. I knew it was. Maybe not great, but certainly worth being published, and I would have put it up against so many of the others that were being published.

Besides, I convinced myself, I had two full manuscripts out there and even though I hadn’t heard from the agent or editor for over six months, they still hadn’t said no. That was enough for me for one last shot. One last hurrah.

With a tiny piece of hope still burning in my heart and the strong conviction that THIS story was worth publishing, I contacted the editor and agent.

One of them, the editor, Bethany Morgan of Samhain, replied that she hadn’t received it, but still wanted to see it. I’d gotten an opportunity to do an online chat/pitch with her, and she seemed to really love the story. She hadn’t rejected it; she simply never received it. Imagine the feeling of relief. I immediately sent it off. Shortly about the same time, I heard from the agent who had it, but hadn’t read it. Not long after I resent the full to Bethany, the agent gave me a lovely rejection.

A couple of months later, I got an email from Bethany. I swear, I must have stared at the subject line, afraid to open it because I was so terrified it would be another rejection. The last rejection I’d ever get on this story and maybe the last rejection I’d get as a budding author. Instead, she told me loved it and asked if it was still available.

After I got my heart beating again, I replied, of course, it was! The rest, as they say is history and this past March, Key of Solomon, Book 1 of the Relic Defender series was released. The book I had all but given up on it had found a home.

I shared my story because it isn’t as much a tale of how I got published but is more about not giving up. And of believing in yourself. All that time, I kept hearing from others who said some books should never be published and maybe that’s true. However, the one thing I can say with certainty is to trust your heart. But be honest. You’ll know. And mine said I should not give up on Lexi and Mikos.

Even though I was ready, and actually did, pack up Key of Solomon, I still had enough hope, determination and belief to see this book published that I gave it one more shot. That I didn’t just dismiss the lack of response and move on. And guess what? It paid off. It can pay off for you too. Have faith, trust your gut and keep believing in yourself.

To end, I’m going to quote from Commander Quincy Taggart in one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, Never Give Up. Never Surrender. And to me, that’s what publishing is all about.

How do you keep going?

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Posted on September 28, 2011, in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You are a shining example of what it means to hang in there! I am so excited you are still here.

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  2. Good article. Perseverance is the key to getting published these days.

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  3. Kim: Thanks for sharing your survival tactics and determination. You rock!

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  4. I love that, Maggie, and it is so true. We have to believe in ourselves first. We are the only ones who can and that’s before anyone else. How do we expect others to if we don’t? And I have to admit, one thing that served me well was after a lot of rejections, I’d get angry and basically “tell” them (never, never, never did I reply to a rejection unless it was to thank them for specifics) how wrong they were, etc. The times I got angry, then determined to SHOW THEM, BY GOD, that’s what helped me survive. I’m even doing that now with a book I’m shopping that isn’t, like Key of Solomon, doing well with agents. Close, but not close enough. Thanks again, Maggie, for being such a huge supporter.

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  5. Kim, I am so glad you did not give up! This business can be debilitating. At least now, with more distribution options than ever, I believe that anyone who wants to share her stories will have an opportunity to find her market.

    In a recent blog post I did to prepare for a blog tour, the question was asked what is the one thing I would say is most important for writers to know or do? My answer was: A writer must have an unshakeable belief in herself and her work no matter what anyone else says–CPs, editors, agents, anyone. That is what you had Kim. In the end you KNEW this was a story that had to be told. In the end you KNEW other people would want to read that story. Next time you have difficulties, I hope you pull on this experience and don’t get to that depressed-giving-up-your-dream place.

    Sure you should listen when trusted CPs give you craft badvice, or when an editor offers substantive comments about how to improve the work. But only YOU know your work. Only YOU know the story. Only YOU know the value. If you don’t believe in your work, or if you let others determine whether your work has any value, then you won’t make it as a writer. There are far too many “experts” who are willing to shoot you down.

    I’m fortunate, because I learned this seven years ago from a couple of writers who have published hundreds of novels and even more short stories: Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. Even when my craft needed to be improved they would never allow anyone to say it wouldn’t sell or to say things that impugned the story itself. Every time they read a story they said “This is good enough to be published.” They might give advice about the market–small book, big book, single title, category, niche–but they would never say “This won’t sell.” It was an amazing lesson that has kept me sustained through the craziness of the business the past seven years.

    Bottom line. Okay to help fellow authors by making comments about craft improvements. Not okay to judge value in the market. No one is accurate on the market all the time–even most of the time. Only you, the author, can say whether it has value. Hold that value close to you like a family treasure and don’t let anyone, ever tell you it is worthless. Polish your work and then get it out in the market the very best way you can.

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