Well I have news for them, REUNION would've been a good buy.
After several months of diligent blogging, tweeting, and review peddling, my breakthrough novel had sold over 6,000 copies without their help. I did everything a publisher could've done on my behalf; the editing (Jacque Penn/Neal Hock), the cover art (me), the ebook formatting (Ted Risk) etc. I didn't think I'd have to work as hard as I did. I spent hundreds of hours promoting and guest blogging. I built a platform through The Writing Bomb and The Kindle Book Review because I had started at ground zero.
Before I go any further, I have to thank the dozens of readers and writerly friends I've met on Twitter and facebook. Indie authors will never succeed without the underlying support of others.
Perhaps my lack of "Platform" was the only reason Reunion was rejected, but I doubt it. Maybe they thought the story was too risky. Or maybe they thought the masses wouldn't be interested in a supernatural thriller about the struggling survivors of a school shooting?
Whatever the reason, they passed. It wasn't good enough for them. And honestly, I DO NOT feel any bitterness toward the publishing system. They had their reasons, and a business plan, and I didn't fit.
No worries. No skin off my back.
But you know what? I'm really glad I didn't let the old-publishing system discourage me, or make me reconsider whether Reunion could succeed. I guess I just don't like to hear "No". I never have. So I wasn't about to let their decision stop me from moving forward.
Being the industrious person that I am, like so many indie authors, I put my nose to the diamond-grit grindstone and started to figure out how I could get this book out to readers without a publisher. It took many hours of study, and blog reading, and online research, but it was so worth it. I discovered that "pay to publish" is just wrong. I discovered that the steps required to get a good product is much easier than I was led to believe. And I discovered that I didn't need a publisher to sell the story I needed to tell.
I believed that the life of a school-shooting survivor would be difficult. I believed that these teenagers lives would be dramatically altered. In my heart of hearts I felt a deep concern for the pain and hurt and scars that they must have endured. And I knew they would carry the pain with them, affecting every aspect of their adult lives.
My research proved that I was correct. Did you know that when young people go through school shootings, the effects (as in level of post-traumatic stress) are often far more severe than those of trained soldiers who experience military combat? It's true. The reason is because adolescent and teenage frontal lobes aren't always fully developed, among other reasons, so the impact of the experience is magnified, causing severe cases of ptsd. In fact, I communicated with one of the survivors of the Columbine shooting before I published and he told me that it took him 10 years before he began feeling "normal".
Interesting isn't it? Imagine the variety of experiences. Imagine the countless twists of fate?
As a writer my mind took my concerns and went wild. The result was Reunion, a supernatural thriller that has since become an Amazon best seller as of yesterday (December 24, 2011), a day I will never forget.
That day has changed my life, but not for the reasons that you might think. Yesterday is so special because it proved that I'm worthy of respect as a writer no matter what the publishers say. AND because it proves that YOU are too...if you are diligent.
Every time an independent author makes the best seller list, it proves that the old system is broken. Best selling indies are clear evidence that publishing houses don't always have the best eye for what will sell. Making the Amazon Best Seller List also proves that publishers do not know how to weigh the value of an author's level of determination, and commitment.
I think I have a great story, and I know I have determination. Had they only but asked, I could've communicated why I was going to be a best seller with or without them.
But Amazon Select did it? Never mind Amazon Select. I made the decision to join while others didn't . I made the decision to go on a 45-day blog tour. I made the decision to price my book at 99¢ until the time was right to change. There are many great books and Amazon and an agent will never never help fate choose who wins. Publishing success is more complicated that one simple program. It's my beief that prayer and God's good graces have more power than any online program. And I know there was plenty of that over the course of the last several months.
All to say, I feel like I won the wager between me and the publishing industry. I don't care if Reunion falls out of the Top 100 before I finish this post. I still won. Indies everywhere won in 2011 and 2012 is looking even better. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
~ Jeff Bennington is the (Best Selling) author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance & Creepy.