I have a confession: I originally didn’t plan to publish at all.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? In all honesty, it was a matter of pride. I planned to quit while I was ahead, without any disapproval of my work. You see, I fully admit that I don’t handle criticism well. Even now, I don’t plan to read any of the reviews of my book because I’d take them way too much to heart. I didn’t want to worry about people finding out that I’d written a book, that I spent my time as a stay at home mom writing instead of focusing completely on my child. I just didn’t want to deal with all of the problems I thought would come from it.
But there I was, celebrating the end of my first draft, when my husband looked at me and asked, “So, is it ready to go?” It was at that moment I realized I didn’t have a choice in the matter – I was expected to publish.
After a few rounds of edits, I started looking around. I wasn’t sure how to get an agent – most of those I thought would be a good fit weren’t accepting, and of the agents who were, almost none of them wanted anything Historical that wasn’t a Romance. I thought I’d publish on Wattpad, because I’d heard of people getting actual publishing deals off of it, but what I hadn’t heard was that the deals were for rewritten fanfics, so after a while, I gave up on the nepotism and my issues with the site and pulled my account fully off. Honestly, at one point, I even wrote in a moderately steamy scene toward the end of the book so that I could classify LA BASTARDA as a Romance, but I realized that it seemed quite out of place (besides, I have this hatred of how every literary sex scene seems to be either “mind-blowing” or “horrifically traumatic”. Come on, where’s the acceptable or the funny? Where’s the realism?). Once or twice, I actually saw an agent who had a desire to read something set in “historical Spain” – only to learn that they were either a Romance agent, or were thinking of Franco-era Spain. I started to get down.
And then, one day, I was on Twitter, and one of the Wattpad accounts I still followed happened to tweet that while she wasn’t ready for the upcoming round, she wished everyone luck in their #PitchWars endeavors.
#PitchWars? I’d never heard of it. I googled it, and somehow found myself in the world of Twitter pitching. There’s #PitMad, #PitchCB, #SFFPit, and #PitchMas, among others. The thing that my Twitter friend was speaking of was actually something called #PitchWars, which is basically a contest where writers can submit their queries and a sample of their work to a group of people, who will then pick works they enjoy to “mentor” and hopefully bring into the publishing world.
And it was right around the corner.
Without even thinking about it, I entered. I made this WordPress specifically to post a bio and started talking to other people who were using the tag on Twitter, but then something changed. I started writing historical posts, biographies about characters and places involved in LA BASTARDA. I had a moment of, “What do I want to do?” I decided to start a Historical Fiction blog, much like The Anne Boleyn Files, and found myself delving into history as well as updates on #PitchWars. I gained friends, I gained a fan or two (I think), and then it was over.
I didn’t win.
It broke my heart, honestly. I started wondering if I should stop, give up, finish. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing thing, I thought. I ended up sending out my MS to exactly two agents, the only two I found whom would not only accept Historical Fiction, not Romance, but were accepting them right then. I never heard back from either of them, which I had pretty much accepted upon figuring out that a Twitter friend had submitted to one of them – and he loved her work. It wouldn’t make much sense for him to take on two MSes from a dying genre. I did have some interest from publishing companies, but when I researched their approval rating on such places as Writer Beware and Absolute Write, I found myself wary or unimpressed at best.
And unfortunately, that’s what English-speaking Historical Fiction is, I’ve learned – dying. If it’s not based around the Tudors, no one cares. Even within the Tudor subgenre, Philippa Gregory may make the best sellers list with her titles, and Jean Plaidy is relatively well known, but that’s it. The request for HistFic died out around the time that The Borgias aired. I’m writing nearly a half a decade too late – YA novels with supernatural elements and/or deadly contests are all the rage.
But I refused to give up. I refused to just let it go. I’d come too far to just throw in the towel, – at the very least, I wanted to see my book in print, even if I was the only person who ever read it.
And so, one day in the middle of NaNoWriMo, not long after the official “please wait 8 weeks” deadline for auto-rejection had passed, I made the decision.
I was going to self-publish.