It took about a year to write, and then there were four years of rejection letters, of folks not getting around to reading it, of my proofreader loving it so much she hand delivered to her publishing in the Big Six and then it get lost in their slush piles... of it just... dying...
It killed me. I loved my little story so much and it destroyed me that it was going to end up living in a drawer.
And then one day I got an email saying that if I had a manuscript ready to go, all I had to do was upload it and I could be published as this wacky thing called an "ebook", which could be read on a fancy new "reading devices" that everyone was sure would never catch on.
That one decision to quit waiting around for someone to tell me I was good enough changed my life.
It was pretty slow at first. According to my spreadsheet, the first month I sold 24 books! I was over the moon! The next month I sold seven.
But my friends and family read it and they told me it was really good. Some people said that I was even better at the writing thing than I was at the acting thing.
Out of nowhere, people were pitching in to support me, telling their friends and inviting me to tag along at their events.
(and my sister)
(and the city of Burbank)
It felt good. So, a month later, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month November 2010. I needed something new, and I was feeling really cranky that everybody was kissing vampires in their urban fantasy books. So, I decided to write a book where vampires were bad and the good guys were good. But I also had this love of language which you golden age of blogging bloggers taught me. You guys cracked me up! Your posts were GENIUS. And I wanted to somehow capture that spirit. So, I started writing Maggie for Hire.
Meanwhile, I had sent out The Woodcutter to some competitions. And I started winning! The Garcia Award for Best Fiction Book of the Year. The Best Fantasy Book in the Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards. The Winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Category of the Indie Book Awards (there was no second place in that one). And it was a little nuts. And awesome. And nuts.
Libraries started carrying my book.
(thank you KimmerKC!)
My goofy friends and family started hauling my book around and sending me fan pictures of my books in the wild to keep my spirits up.
I got a little obsessed with writing.
This really happened. I wrote a novel before I got around to getting to the dry cleaners.
Crafts were made and jokes were sent!
Two wonderful friends invited me up to San Francisco to record an audiobook.
(thank you Mark and James!)
I released Maggie for Hire.
And then the next November, I wrote another Maggie book called Maggie Get Your Gun as part of National Novel Writing Month and I went to the Night of Writing Dangerously, thanks to your support, which was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I released Maggie II May 2012.
I wrote a short story.
My bookshelf was filling.
(that green book on the left is the journal I wrote Maggie in. The brown one next to it is the journal where I wrote The Woodcutter. Other stories are written in the other books. I keep the first copy of every edition I release, so that's why there are so many of the same title on the shelf.)
I started getting more business savvy. I started hanging out on the KindleBoards and learning tips and tricks for how to make this thing go. I started experimenting with my covers and figuring out the system.
And then Amazon introduced a program called KDP Select which changed my life. I was given the opportunity to offer my books up for free a few days out of the month. The first day I offered The Woodcutter up for free, I had 15,000 downloads. It kicked me into the top 600 books on Amazon. And it got the attention of some very important people who I will be talking to you about in the coming weeks. I repeated the experiment with Maggie, and received an offer for a television option.
Today, there are over 55,484 copies of my book in the wild. I am making more off of the royalties of my books than I am at my day job. Amazon released the Top 100 American authors in each genre and yesterday, I was #66. I decided to step away from acting (...you know, unless it landed in my lap, in which case all bets are off...) and devote my time and energy to this thing that gives me all of the emotional satisfaction I was looking for on stage without any of the downsides. It's weird when this dream you've been working towards for twenty-five years doesn't quite seem like the dream you want anymore, because something so much better has shown up. I wouldn't be here today without my acting and improv and, yes, even that stupid anatomy class. But it is just funny.
I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this summer...
The book that came out is, I think, one of the best things I've ever written. There are a couple passages in there that I go back and read and wonder who the heck came up with that. I have a short story which will be coming out in a couple days. I have Maggie III ready in the chamber for me to start writing November 1st as part of NaNoWriMo2012. I have a holiday short story in an anthology which will be coming out this December with all proceeds going to the Make a Wish Foundation. And I have a really cool, life altering, game changing announcement which I will come back and devote an entire post to shortly.
All in two years.
I know this sounds cheezy, but none of this would have happened without you. Yes, you. You reading this right now. I might have given up that month with a whole seven sales if it hadn't been for you believing in me and cheering me on. You told your friends, and left nice reviews on Amazon, and bought copies of my books as gifts, and came out to say hello at the conventions, and retweeted my posts, and sent me love notes, and let me know that this mattered and I should keep doing it.
So I am.
Life is good.
And keep working on that dream. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.