I’m pumped to have a guest on my blog today. Not only is she a friend, she’s an incredibly talented writer who just self-published her debut novel, Mindspeak. Which is the epitome of a triple threat – killer cover, killer premise, killer story. I’m salivating for a sequel! For real.
A Guest Post by Heather Sunseri
Writers. We are all the same, yet we are all very unique. (And by “all” I really mean “most.” There are always exceptions to everything.)
We want to snag a fantastic agent. We want the validation that comes with attracting the attention of a big-time publisher, followed by attracting the attention of lots and lots of readers.
We want the control that comes with designing our own covers (or at least control over deciding if a cover needs to be changed after we don’t like a design) and deciding what we want to include behind that cover — the story we want to tell.
We want the royal treatment from a publisher — book signings, corner displays at the bookstores, shelf space at Wal Mart and Target, trips all around the world to meet face-to-face with our most supportive fans.
We want big fat paychecks to start rolling in so that we can quit those day jobs to concentrate on our art, replace our 10-year-old cars, hire someone to clean our house (okay, maybe this one’s just me), and go on a much-needed vacation.
Oh, and let’s not forget that none of us want to wait for any of the above. To kind of quote my movie friend Veruca Salt, we want the whole world, and we want it now.
If you are a writer reading this, I’m willing to bet you were nodding to at least some of the above, even if you don’t want to admit to wanting the whole world and wanting it now. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I know that it’s hard to watch other writers reach these seemingly unreachable dreams and not want that success for my very own. And I’m willing to share. I don’t want those other writers to not be successful; I just want to be successful right along with them. You know… I want to meet up with my sister and brother authors at those infamous group author signings and share the spotlight with them. I can help their sales (not likely, yet), and they can help mine (exactly!).
In the past year, as I was finishing up MINDSPEAK, I thought a lot about the author spotlight and who I wanted to be inside that spotlight. Though I think all (okay, most/some – choose which word makes more sense to you) writers have similar dreams about being on the New York Times or USA Today Best Sellers Lists, I also think most of us are very realistic about the odds of reaching those high-end dreams. And in light of that, we have to be realistic about what our reachable goals are.
And keep in mind, the high-end goals are kinda-sort of out of our control. But the reachable goals? Not so much. We have a little control over those and the choices that get us there.
So, as I finished MINDSPEAK, I tried to set realistic goals for my story. What did I truly want out of the publishing experience? Did I want to query agents? If I queried agents, what would that first conversation be like? Would I share with him or her that the thought of waiting three years before my book hit the shelves made me sick to my stomach? Would he or she tell me that anything less than a two year wait period was unrealistic? And if that’s the case, and knowing that made me nauseous, would he/she tell me they weren’t the right agent for me, and would I agree? Did I have the guts to admit who I was as a writer before I signed with an agent?
Because here’s the deal. I still want an agent. I might even want a traditional publishing contract someday. But I know there are things I want even more before I go after those things.
I am not a self-published writer who turned her back on the traditional publishing industry. I’m still very much in love with the process of putting books into readers’ hands, both traditional and non-traditional.
I also happen to love business. I love the idea of creating a product, and then studying the best way to put that product into the end-user’s hands in the most efficient way possible.
So, when I finished MINDSPEAK I knew that I had choices. I had studied my choices ad nauseam. I knew what I wanted my spotlight to look like. I didn’t want the whole world, but I did want a small chunk of it right now.
For me, it was the dream of having readers sooner rather than later. From the agents I follow on Twitter and in the blogging world, I know that MINDSPEAK is part of a hot genre right now. Romantic Science Fiction novels of the genetic manipulation kind are selling. I’ve seen this type of novel snag agents and sell to publishers lately. Based on that and based on who I am as a writer and as a person, I chose the route to the nearest spotlight that was best for me. The best route for everybody? Probably not, but definitely the path I was meant to take.
Last night, my daughter and I watched The Lucky One, the movie based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. The very last line of the movie resonated with me after I had written this post. “Everyone has their own destiny, not everyone makes the choice to follow it.”
We all have hard choices to make. We simply have to know who we are and choose according to our own unique situation.
Let’s Talk: What hard choices are you facing today?
Heather Sunseri was raised on a tiny farm in one of the smallest towns in thoroughbred horse country near Lexington, Kentucky. After high school, she attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and later graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in accounting. Always torn between a passion for fantasy and a mind for the rational, it only made sense to combine her career in accounting with a novel-writing dream.
Heather now lives in a different small town on the other side of Lexington with her two children, and her husband, Mike, the biggest Oregon Duck fan in the universe. When she’s not writing or working as a CPA, she spends her time tormenting her daughter’s cat, Olivia, and loving on her son’s Golden Retriever, Jenny. MINDSPEAK is her first published novel.