Know Thy Publishing Self

MindspeakI’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 magnolia 1

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.

16 thoughts on “Know Thy Publishing Self

  1. you are an inspiration! i think if more people viewed self-publishing the way you do, it would be all around a healthier emotional choice. it doesn’t have to be second-rate or “settling” for less than the best. there are two, viable publishing options out there! you put out a superior product, and i imagine you’ll see returns, girl. i know you will.

    now…when’s the sequel coming out? b/c you seriously left us hanging…. 😛

    1. Heather Sunseri

      Thank you, Jeannie. I really tried to make sure I put out a product that readers wouldn’t know the difference between New York publishing and DIY. Because seriously? Do readers really care? I know I don’t. I care if the story is good and it’s been edited well!!

  2. I’ve been really wanting to read Heather’s book! I just bought it on my kindle. I can’t wait to dig in.

    1. Yay! Thanks, Joanne!!

  3. Great post. Very inspiring for us “newbies”.

    1. Thanks, Heidi!

  4. Heather, you defined our choices so well. Years ago, there weren’t many alternatives to traditional publishing. Now, the options are dizzying.

    A lot of prayer and research went into my decisions. In my heart, I knew there was a publisher and agent out there for me. When we finally connected, it was like coming home.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I’m putting your book on my Wish List.

    Susan 🙂

    1. The options can be dizzying. But sometimes I think we know deep down what the right choice is for our own unique life even when it’s not the popular choice. And sometimes the right choice present itself, and it might be a choice we hadn’t even thought of.

  5. Heather, congratulations! Clearly defining what you want to do, putting yourself out there, and of course producing a great finished product–that’s major league achievement.

    As for writing choices, just write something with heart and purpose and have fun with it and get it into the hands of your target demo (the business part you mention!) and you have won. What else matters? In the vein of Yoda imploring Jedis to eschew “adventure, excitement,” I think the writer who gets into the biz looking to summer with Nic Sparks in Saint-Tropez or worrying about what color the Ferrari will be with the advance money has his or her head in the wrong place! Write something that will inspire or send a good message to folks or will last for your kids after you’re gone. Don’t worry about the “haters”! If you have one fan for every ten hatuhs, cast your net wide enough and you’ll be a bestseller. And just have fun! Sheesh, would you do anything if it only gives you stress and headaches! My first grade daughter plays soccer, but it’s not with aspirations of being an Olympian; it’s to grow and have fun!

    I think the only way to lose as a writer is to put yourself in a position where you have to write to eat before you’re ready for the urgency of that station. Have all the important elements of your life in control (like family!) and everything in the writing sphere will be just a bonus. Do your thing with purpose and you will absolutely be a winner!


  6. Cool post, Heather. I’ve got your book on my Kindle, waiting to be read. 🙂 Fun hearing about your process, all the thought you put into your publishing journey. And I’m excited for you!

    I love the twists and turns each writer’s path takes. I mean, seriously, no two publishing stories are the same. It’s just one of a bazillion things that convinces me God loves us and watches over us as unique individuals…it’s such a personal love and plan on his part!

    1. Thanks, Melissa. And you’re so right. There are no tow publishing stories alike. And there shouldn’t be, you know? We are all so different with different goals and different life experiences we bring into the process.

  7. Great thoughts, Heather. Glad you stepped out and took risks. It’s cool to see you go through this and I respect all the research you poured into your decision.
    ~ Wendy

  8. Love the post, Heather and Katie! Heather, you are definitely talking to some writers today. The waits in this biz are frightening sometimes. And yes, we all want that end result of getting our books into the readers’ hands, but we each have to determine the route that gets us there. And sometimes that route changes mid-stream! Constantly re-evaluating our goals is so important, just like you did. And YOUR end product is just amazing.

  9. Thank you so much, Katie, for having me today. I’ll pop in and out of the comments later today. Unfortunately, one of my other hard choices is the day job, which I’m off to now! 🙂 Happy Monday!

  10. Hard Choices. Seems I can never escape them. *sigh*

    Great post, Heather. I completely agree! I’m so excited for you and I’m also definitely considering wading into the indie publishing waters.

    1. I know what you mean, Jessica. It is impossible to escape the hard choices.


Comments are closed.