I am so excited to have my friend author EC Stilson joining us today for a guest post. This is the last post of our spotlight on Wayman Publishing too for the month. Sit back and enjoy her amazing story of never giving up.
In 2010 I turned down two publishers. One was small and didn’t have a nonfiction audience; the other one was religious and wanted me to change every “damn” to “dang.” But their suggested revision, “Dang it, my son died,” didn’t work for me. I tried finding another publisher over the following year, and toward the end, all the rejections sounded the same.
“The market is tough right now.”
“We’re only representing established authors at this time.”
“I’m sorry your son died, but I don’t feel there is a large enough audience of people who have miscarried or lost children because of birth defects.”
Maybe I had missed the boat. Changing my book–my journal–maybe that would have been the right thing–dang it!
I did some research after that. Here’s what I started including at the end of my query: 180 babies are born every minute and 1.8 of them are born with defects. A vast number of people can relate to my story but regardless of that fact, everyone has experienced grief, everyone has experienced loss.
The rejections were softer after that. (Adding facts to my query had helped.) Two editors even said that if I had an audience, they would have published my book.
“What kind of audience?” I asked.
“More friends or ‘likes’ on Facebook. You need a blog. You need a following on Twitter. You’re the one who will be able to connect with the people who need to read your book. You’re the one who needs to build this platform.”
That’s when I went crazy. In January of 2011 I started a blog. I had a small number of friends on Facebook, no idea what Twitter was, ten cents in my pocket, and zero followers.
One day I looked at my blog and was thrilled because I had ONE FOLLOWER! My heart dropped when I realized I’d followed myself on accident. I quickly unfollowed and continued on.
My friend came over a few days later. She watched me clicking away on the computer. “What in the hell are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m friending people on Facebook.”
“Do you actually know any of them?” she asked.
“Not yet, but someday I will.”
I had no idea how true that statement would be. . . .
Over the following year, with Facebook and Twitter as my main platforms, I gained over 24,000 followers. Before I knew it, people hired me to edit their books. I found amazing authors who I believed in. Not only did I publish my own memoir about my son who died (#1 for women’s memoir in September of this year!) but I started to publish other people. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve been lucky enough to watch the people I believe in succeed.
Now, nearly two years later, I’ve started my own press, we’ve donated thousands of dollars to those in need (especially families who have lost babies). Over fifty authors have been published through Wayman Publishing.
As I look back, remembering I could have changed “damn” to “dang,” or quit writing like I’ve considered so many times, I smile. Instead, I kept going through the tears and rejections, and I have to admit, it’s been a phenomenal journey.
I wanted to be published so my son’s short life would never be forgotten. Now I feel as if he’s grinning from Heaven because he played such a huge part in the future success of Wayman Publishing.
In closing: If you have a dream don’t give up. Sometimes we don’t know what the future will hold because it’s even better than we can imagine.
If you’d like to sign up for Elisa’s next writing workshop, please go HERE.