Having Your Cake and Writing it, too

I’ll admit it, okay?

Sigh.

I’ve been kind of frustrated with the whole traditional publication game. Okay? There it is. And a game it is, full of rules, regulations, and secret codes you have to figure out just to survive. Still, I have spent the better part of my life figuring out said rules and perfecting my gameface. Why? Because at first that was the only way to make my dream of being a writer come true, and even now, as an old-schooler, it still feels that way deep inside. I honestly won’t feel like I have succeeded until I have a Scholastic, Harper Collins, etc. logo on my dust cover. I know, I know, that’s blasphemy these days, when so many authors are going the indy route. But to a girl who dreamed of a Newberry Honor far more often than she ever imagined her wedding day, it’s just… it’s not the same, and it never will be.

There. I said it.

And so, the excitement of “Guts and Glory” being SO close to that goal has been euphoric, and I am doing everything in my power to make it happen. Everything. So the idea of self publishing that particular series… well… that’d be like professional suicide at this point. I’ve worked SO hard to get to this point. There’s no way I’m going to ruin it now. However, having worked so hard on my website, my brand, and my professional presence, I have felt the ever increasing need to offer… something… of worth to my wonderful blog-readers and young fans (yes, I do have some who aren’t my own children lol). Not only that, but when you say you’re a writer these days, and all you have to show for it is a blog, well, that’s just not good enough. Not when you can self-publish so easily.

Then came the offer to be on a radio show, and that’s when I knew I had to do something. I mean, how could I let an opportunity like this go by, right? But what could I possibly promote? I couldn’t self-publish “Guts and Glory”, as I have stated, and Winter is in-processes as my final graduate thesis, so it was also out of the running.

Enter “The Elementals”.

As I have stated in a few places, this is a series I have been writing for my own children, who are the main characters. Though it’s been fun to write and share with my family, I have not expected it to be published for a very long time, if at all. This is because it’s epic fantasy for kids, which is a genre most publishers won’t touch with a ten-foot-pole. Why? Well because epic fantasy as a genre breaks a LOT of the major rules for writing for kids. It’s long, for one, at 600 + pages, and it switches point of view constantly. There is such a long list of characters in the first book alone that I have put a character glossary at the end of it, and the world wherein it is set is extremely complex and multifaceted in its culture and history. These are all things that children’s books should never encompass… and I have done them all with “The Elementals”. Why did I do this? Honestly? Because it was fun. That’s all. Like I said, this series was never really in the running for publication, and I figured (as I told my kids), that if it ever was traditionally published, it would be because my name as a brand carried major weight at that point.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some epic fantasies for children that have been very successful. The main one that comes to mind is, of course, “Harry Potter”. But when you look at the series, pay attention to the length and depth of the first book. Yeah. It wasn’t until she had earned the right that J.K. Rowling was allowed to truly make her books epics. Another epic fantasy series for kids is Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising books, which, while they are amazing and I adore them, are hardly famous bestsellers. (I know, but ask any average kid if they know who Susan Cooper is… you’ll probably get a “no”, sadly.)

And that’s why a publisher will not publish “The Elementals” at this time… or possibly ever. I believe that this is a sad thing, indeed, because kids can and will read and enjoy epic fantasy, if given the chance, and if it’s written at their reading level.

And so, I have begun self-publishing “The Elementals”. I still have no idea if it will be particularly successful in any professional or monetary way, but that’s not really the point for me. What is? Well, for one, showing my kids that their series is important to mom, and two, to give something to my readers while I work on traditionally publishing “Guts and Glory”. Also, it just feels good to do something truly productive while I build my career… and, as always, it was fun!

So, maybe we writers can have our publication cake and write it too. 😉

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