Sunday, May 3, 2009

Can you put a price tag on your writing?

I don’t usually get on my soap box—but I cannot hold my tongue. Or in this case, cannot keep my fingers from skating across the keyboard. I am going to address one of my pet peeves--those who do not appreciate the gift of writing. I have three short stories published by The Wild Rose Press which is now White Rose Publishing. After taking countless classes in creative writing, both at local colleges and online, attending workshops and conferences and putting in far longer than the average eight hour day, I fancied myself the next Nora Roberts. I sent out query letters and partial manuscripts to literary agents all over the state of New York, certain they’d be ringing my phone off the hook. No such luck. Those phone calls never came, but one rejection letter after the next filled my mailbox to the hilt. Devastated, my heart wept. Totally disillusioned, I was ready to throw my dream of writing out the window. But then I wised up and realized the only way to get what I wanted was to fight for it with all I was made of. And that’s when things changed.

When I want something, I develop a competitive edge. And perhaps that’s what it took to push me so hard. After pulling my head out of the clouds, I developed a stiff upper lip and some mighty tough skin. And you know what they say…when the going gets tough…the tough get going. So I buckled down and enrolled in as many writing classes as I could find, polishing my manuscript to the best of my ability. And after getting feedback on it from my critique group, I felt ready to pitch it to a New York agent at a writers conference.

Nervous but confident, I presented my ten minute pitch, feeling certain I’d be asked to submit the entire manuscript. Once more, my dreams were shattered. The agent handed me back my business card…and I sure didn’t need him to show me the door.

Feeling sorry for myself, I was once again thinking perhaps writing just wasn’t meant to be. But then someone sat beside me at Starbucks while I was drinking a cup of coffee. I was so upset I wound up pouring my heart out to this woman who I had never met before. She handed me her business card and told me to submit my manuscript to The Wild Rose Press. That woman was Liana Laverentz. And that’s how I got my foot in the door with The Wild Rose Press. Through God’s intercession, when one door closed…another door opened.

The editors are wonderful to work with and the authors are willing to go the extra mile to lend a helping hand. Lori Graham is my editor and the feedback she gives me makes my writing shine. And when I got my first contract one year ago, it was like hitting the lottery for a million bucks. It had nothing to do with money. It was the feeling of accomplishment after striving for it for so long. No one understands a writer like another writer. There is no comparison to those words, “I’d like to offer you a contract.”

So you might be asking yourself where this is going. After my first contract, Lori offered me two more contracts shortly thereafter. Nicola designed my beautiful book covers and Rae Monet designed a killer website for me. I have had three releases this year along with a free read, all in the White Rose line. And my heart swelled with pride. So when someone made the derogatory comment, “I’m sorry you didn’t get a good price for your books,” my heart dropped.

Certainly we don’t get the money the big publishing houses pay, but what we do get is a whole lot more. We have editors who give us the chance to resubmit our work by giving very beneficial feedback, a caring staff, some of the best artists and awesome authors. And we all connect to support, promote, and be there for one another through thick and thin. The bigger publishing houses more than likely wouldn’t have such a rapport. I am proud to be a member of the garden and very proud to write for White Rose Publishing.

writing is a gift, a God-given talent meant to be shared. And I’m proud of my talent and hope to leave my footprint on the world when I’m gone. The emotional rewards far outweigh the monetary. And I know I speak for all writers. Writing is in my blood. If I didn’t get paid a penny, I’d still write in my journal or my blog. I write for emotional healing and to help make this world a better place.

As you know, before the loss of my vision, my passion was painting. Blending colors into a rich palette of crimson, peach and indigo into a desert sunset filled me with peace and tranquility. When I lost my sight, I was devastated for the obvious reasons, but mostly, because I could no longer paint. But after a long and winding road, a new dream resurrected when I discovered I could paint just as vividly with words. I never want to forget the simple beauty of a rose or the exotic beauty of a wildflower. And describing what I used to see and paint in such vivid detail is my way of remembering. Can you put a price tag on that?

24 comments:

Nicola said...

Well said, Sharon. There is more to life than money, and while the big bucks would be great--I'm sure none of us would turn down a hefty pay-cheque--there is certainly nothing derogatory about putting for something more/else first.

I'm certainly glad to know your experience with TWRP/WRP has been (and will continue to be) a positive one. Praise God!

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

You said very succinctly and accurately what I went through and many other writers I know. I've been thinking lately could I quit writing if I thought I should? Not in a million years! I can't not write! Sandy

Cindy K. Green said...

I think you echo what all of us authors are thinking and feeling, Sharon.

BTW--How great you were brought to TWRP by Liana. ;)

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

So right Sharon!

I have my WF novels with an agent now and his most recent response is basically "the big house are staying with their current authors." Period.

Without the wonderful opportunity offered to us by TWRP/WRP - many of us would NOT be published today - myself included.

I too am very proud to be a part of such a wonderful company with its lovely staff and I'm humbled to be included in the class of writers here.

One thing I've often said, "its not about the money, its about the message."

Of course, a nice chunk of change would be good LOL! But at least our work is out there, available and touching lives.

That says a LOT!

Don't let these comments get you down. Just keep writing, keep sharing your faith. God will put us where HE wants us to bloom.

PamT

Donna B said...

Words to live by Sharon. It's not all about the money. Some of the most unhappy people are the richest ones out there. You are rich in talent, you're rich in friends, and you're certainly rich in God's eyes. Yes, writers NEED to write. And you've answered His call to use the talents He's given you for His honor and glory. I'd say you're one of the richest people I know...doing something you love and making it really count. In a world of darkness your light shines bright.

Thanks for your stories!

lastnerve said...

I loved your post today Sharon! I am so glad you found White Rose Publishing because I have gotten to read your wonderful stories

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks Nicola. And so right, none of us would turn our backs if offered a bigger paycheck, but isn't it a sad world when people see only the green? There are more shades of the rainbow on an artist's pallet...and the writer uses them all to create. I thank God for giving me both gifts..

Sharon Donovan said...

So right, Sandy. How can a writer not write? It's part of who we are and defines who we are in so many ways. Sometimes spoken words get lost in conversation, but written words leave their mark and will be remembered long after words have faded.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks Cindy. That's why I posted it today. This comment someone made has been bugging me for some time and rather than let it fester inside me like a volcano ready to erupt, I worked it out in words. That's what we writers do. Great therapy! And so much cheaper. And meeting Liana at the Pennwriters conference was indeed a God given gift.

Sharon Donovan said...

So well said, Pam. And sure the nice chunk of change would be the icing on the cake..and none of would turn our backs on it. Our mamas didn't raise no fools, after all. LOL But how true about God putting us where he wants us to bloom. What a vintage tweet for the garden!

Sharon Donovan said...

Aw, Donna, your words humble me. Thank you. But I write these words for all writers. Every time I hear a friend or not say, "Are you still working on that novel?" I repeat a quote that is burned in my brain. "No one understands a writer like another writer." We bond on so many levels and my life is truly all the richer for all the beautiful roses blooming in the garden. One of these days we will leave this earth and go to our eternal reward. And isn't it nice to think we have left our mark on the world?

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks Val. It is people like you who inspire us to write more. Someone recently asked me what advice I would give a writer starting out. Two things came to mind. The first is to never give up on a dream. The second was to write to please the audience, the writer. If our stories touch one reader out there, make someone laugh, pull someone out of a deep depression or bring a ray of hope into someone's life, what possible price tag could be put on that?

K.M. Daughters said...

We agree, Sharon. Nothing compared to the thrill of Nicola's offering us that first contract....except for the second. The opportunity to publish our books with such an excellent, supportive, innovative company as White Rose Publishing (and The Wild Rose Press) is God-sent to us. We are blessed!

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks for posting, ladies! And I know we are all on the same page here. Nothing like those contracts! They make us feel like a million. And what better way to inspire others than through words of encouragement? Here's to the future of TWRP and WRP!

Teri Wilson, Romancing the pet lover's soul said...

Sharon, I loved your post! Especially the part about your meeting Liana in Starbucks. If that's not a God thing, I don't know what is. And, personally, I always knew God liked to hang out at Starbuck's, one of my favorite places to write. LOL

Of course I agree with everything you said. I am astounded at some of the things people will say to a writer, things they would never say to someone in another profession. Things like, "how much are they paying you?" Never in a million years would I ask someone how much money they made at their job.

I used to spend a lot of time and energy dreaming about being published with a big name company. Then I learned something that forever changed the way I felt about my writing - I discovered that one of the members of my critique group is an atheist. I realized then that if my inspirational romances never got published by anyone at all, God was still using my writing to do His will. I am proud to be a White Rose. After a lot of prayer, this publishing house was my first choice to send my manuscript, Cup of Joe. And I will never regret that - I am very happy here and I feel that God has confirmed this choice as the right one for me in many ways. We are all glad you're here, too, Sharon!

God bless! Teri

Ashley Ludwig said...

Sharon,

You are an amazing woman. A force of nature.

I just ordered my first batch of "Author Copies" of All or Nothing. I almost fainted.

I can only imagine how it will feel to cradle a cover in my hand. To flip the pages. To see my name on the spine.

Yes, I'm a better author now, due to the care and grooming I've received while a budding rose in this wonderful garden of Rhonda & Rjs. I am still submitting to them, because I believe in what they're doing.

Someday, I might try the agent route again - but for now, I'm most happy surrounded by friends like you.

Many blessings, kiddo.

~Ashley

Sharon Donovan said...

Teri, here here! You are our shining star and proof that God opens doors all in His own time. Congratulations on all your wonderful accomplishments this weekend! You must be so proud. And while we would all like to be represented by an agent, the garden will always have some of the brightest blooms. And so right about people asking "How much?" Money's great and we all need it to pay the bills and have a few luxuries, but isn't it a great feeling to gain recognition? Nothing can hold a candle to that.

Sharon Donovan said...

See what I mean, Ashley? Writers just get it. You are so excited to hold your book with your name on it and realize you're holding your dream in the palm of your hand. That's pretty amazing. And that's my greatest goal. To date, I have my eBooks published and hope to soon have a few in print. And when God wants that day to come, it will. But the blogging, interviews and reviews have been an awesome ride, one I wouldn't trade in for the world.

MarthaE said...

Very good comments! I am reminded that the work we do should always be "as unto the Lord." It is not always about the money! I'm an attorney and business owner. Often people think I am making big bucks. I do make a good living but nothing special as I have my own company and law office...with all the headaches of ownership!
I'm glad that authors are willing to share their gifts even when it isn't for top dollar or top Best Sellers lists (yet! who knows!)

Wendy Davy said...

Sharon,

You are so right. Writing is my passion, it's in my blood. It's not all about money. Never give up! Never quit. You never know what God has in store for us next!!!

Wendy
www.wendydavy.com

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks for adding your comment, Martha. And there you go, another labor of love. Some do what they do and others choose what they do. And are the ones that make all the big bucks the happiest? No doubt owning your own business has its ups and downs, but knowing its your creation makes it all worth while. Writers share their words and you share your knoledge of the law. We're all here to leave our foot print on this earth.

Sharon Donovan said...

Truer words were never spoken, Wendy. Great minds think alike, I hear. I'm glad to hear that fire in your voice. Everyone who has left a comment shares the unbreakable bond of blood, sweat and tears...and the sheer joy of success.

Hywela Lyn said...

Sharon, I'm sorry I'm late coming in on this but glad in a way, because I feel so uplifted and 'inspired' reading all the lovely comments left for you - and I agree and empathise with every one of them!

As an unknown writer in the UK, one's only chance of having a book published is either to go the self publishing route - or get an agent. Well, getting an agent is as difficult as getting a mainstream publisher. After the usual rejections for my beloved first novel 'Starquest' (not an 'inspirational' as such, but my main character has a very strong faith) I came across a link to a US publisher, The Wild Rose Press on a UK forum to which I belong. I submitted with hope but not too much confidence. Nothing can describe how I felt when I opened the email from the then Faery Rose Editor in Chief, Amy Herald, offering me a contract, when I returned home after an operation. Perhaps I was 'directed' to TWRP as you were by Liana. Surely that meeting you had with her was 'Divine Intervention!'

Who cares if I don't make the money everyone imagines writers make, I've had the pleasure of seeing 'the book of my heart' in print and holding it (and sleeping with it under my pillow) Even more than this I've had feedback from readers and other authors saying how much they enjoyed reading it. This is surely the real reward - sharing something you have lovingly created with others.

Sharon, your 'word paintings' are both beautiful and inspiring and you should be so very proud. I am humbled and honoured to call you my friend.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lyn. Thanks for dropping in. Yes, isn't it wonderfully uplifting to read so many spirited comments? It makes me proud to be a writer here in this beautiful garden. And I am so happy you came across the link to TWRP that day. Yes, it was God's intercession when you needed a special lift. And what a gift you gave to the world with your book Starquest. I just loved it and feel so fortunate to call you my friend, too. The authors and staff of TWRP and WRP make this world a better place. Sharon