I am a believer in destiny. With my life, you have to be. I bet, you don't know too many people who started their life in the "invisible" country of Europe, called Moldova (eh... what?) Then, at the age of two moved (or rather, were moved by their parents) to the blessed city of Odessa, a resort on the Black Sea - at the time, a part of the Soviet Union, and currently a part of Ukraine. Who at the ripe age of twenty two worked in Havana, Cuba, translating for visiting Russian scholars, including an occasional interview with Fidel. Who've been to over twenty countries on most continents, eventually settling in the USA and becoming (almost out of the blue) a financial consultant with Smith Barney. Who later, in a 180 degree turnaround, quit the corporate world and traveled to Asia to obtain an International Master's Certification in feng shui. Who, having created a very successful feng shui consultancy business, decided that it was time to become a full-time writer.
And so, having done all of the above, I finally donned my writing hat, a hat I always wanted to wear but wasn't sure if it would fit.
In late 2010, I finished my first mystery novel, Stepford, USA (initially entitled Knitting Club Knows,) a part of the Jade Snow Mystery Series. At the time, my tech-savvy husband made a comment that I should look into the world of epublishing, because in his view, "paper books are passe and the future is Kindle and Nook." He also added that he wouldn't be surprised if Amazon branched out into publishing. It was a logical next step, he said, since they already have all the infrastructure in place.
I didn't buy it, passionately arguing that there was nothing like the feel of a "real" book in your hand, and that nothing would replace the thrill of searching for a cool new read at a book store or library. I was kinda skeptical about Amazon branching out into publishing, as well. Needless to say, I was proven wrong and my husband right, as my attachment to a traditional paper book blurred my vision, while his was detached and objective. But his words planted a seed in my mind - a mighty seed of "what if?"
Meanwhile, having put Stepford, USA through reviews by various audiences - with enthusiastic response - I did extensive research on agents, as well as publishers, and keeping my fingers crossed, started sending queries. I knew I was facing a grueling task to find anyone even remotely interested in my work. By nature, I am an optimist and my glass is three-quarters-full. But I am also a realist with well-developed intuition. And despite my constant optimistic pep-talk I just didn't have a good feeling about this whole query business. Something wasn't working for me, but I dismissed my doubts as a typical nervous reaction to the unknown. I didn't have a choice, but to go through an agent and a conventional publisher if I wanted to be in print, right? That's what everyone did - it was the only way, wasn't it?
Having a solid business and marketing background, I developed a strong query package. I followed bits and pieces of what I thought was good advice, found in various how-to guides and sources. I also experimented a bit and polished the query letter till it literally shone.
I sent out about 15-20 queries. At the same time, I've done something I always did when important results were needed - made a wish (I know, I know, some of you may laugh, others may think it childish.) But see, I am actually used to my wishes and dreams materializing, albeit, not always the exact way I imagined they would. If they didn't, I would still be living in the old country and you wouldn't be reading these words!
Long story short, in late 2010, I made a wish to find the right publisher by the beginning of March 2011.
The answers started arriving soon. A few polite rejections, with some encouraging words added to them. Then, one very rude rejection, from an agent in New Jersey (should I name names?) Then a request for a partial and another request for a full, followed by a few more rejections.
Initially, I planned to start querying publishers directly, if agents rejected. But at that point I just knew that my persistent feeling wasn't nerves, but rather my well-honed intuition that had never let me down was telling me something I couldn't ignore any more. It was telling me that conventional publishing industry wasn't the way to go and that I should self-pub.
Once I made my decision to go indie, I breathed a major sigh of relief, as if a big load just evaporated from my shoulders. Only then did I realize how truly uncomfortable I was with the whole old agenting/publishing model.
That very day I read about Borders going bankrupt. The writing was on the wall and the message was loud and clear. The same exact day, while browsing for information on self-publishing, I found Joe Conrath's blog, http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ an excellent and invaluable source for anyone who decides to go indie. I read it avidly, trying to absorb as much information as possible in a short time, realizing that I had some major catching up to do. His blog confirmed my suspicions about the state of the publishing industry.
When I first made my wish to find the right publisher by March 2011, I never dreamed I would self-publish. But by the beginning of March I developed my website, http://www.ladaray.com/, designed the cover for Stepford, USA, as well as preliminary covers for my future books and started the publishing process on Kindle and Smashwords. I am happy to say that Stepford, USA, is now available on both Kindle and Smashwords, and hopefully, will also be available on Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple IPad soon.
Ever since my decision, I've been much happier. My creativity soared, not being stifled by doubts whether my work would be accepted by people whose tunnel vision wouldn't let them recognize a good story if it was delivered to them giftwrapped.
And so, my wish came true and my destiny - to be my own agent, publisher and promoter - is clear. We live in times of great turmoil and of great revolutionary change in many spheres of our lives, including publishing. (If you are interested in my predictions about what to expect in the next decade, check out Book of Predictions 1 - The Last Empire, to be released in May/June 2011.) The old structures are being swept away and new, better, future-oriented ones are slowly emerging. We live in times when the fittest may survive, but the superior will evolve. I am a newbie at publishing. But I see clearly where the wind is blowing.
Here is to evolution!
In my life, I've done some major experimenting and the decision to self-publish is one of the biggest yet. I'll follow my experiment and my indie destiny right here, on my blog. As I write these words, I am making another wish - that my writing and self-publishing journey is a great success!
I am currently working on the second book in the Jade Snow Mystery Series, entitled Tsar's Gold. And with my newly found lightness of spirit, it's a wonderful ride. My fingers fly over the keyboard, the story is developing magnificently and the manuscript is to be completed ahead of schedule! I've also started working on my new non-fiction project: Book of Predictions, consisting of several short, to the point, books. The first of them, The Last Empire, is on schedule to be released in May/June 2011. I am also hoping to release a compilation of my feng shui articles in the form of a book soon. Finally, my big project, The Earth Shifter, a YA Crossover Fantasy/Thriller Trilogy is well underway. The first book is to be completed by the beginning of 2012.
To find out more about my current and future books, please visit my website: http://www.ladaray.com/
Follow my grand experiment's progress on my blog: http://ladaray.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ladatweets
I appreciate your comments and input!