To recap, I turned down two publishers. One was small and didn't have a non-fiction audience; the other one was religious and wanted me to change "damn" to "dang." But let's not get into religion again. I already wrote a post about that last week.
Back to the point. I tried finding another publisher over the next year, and toward the end, all of 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 it 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 got crazy. Last January I started a blog. I had a small number of friends on facebook, no idea what twitter was, ten cents in my pocket, and no followers.
One day I looked at my blog and was thrilled because I had ONE FOLLOWER! My heart dropped when I realized who it was--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 made it to almost 800 friend requests that day. One lady said, "I looked just like Aunt Esther." Her comment was great, except I don't have an Esther in my family.
A man said he hadn't talked to my father Roy in years. I just didn't have the heart to tell him, I don't have a father named "Roy."
I got a message from a young man. "Didn't I meet you at the bar?"
"Don't you remember?" I responded, and he accepted my friendship immediately!
It was the next morning though, when I almost died.
Another person had e-mailed me from facebook. "I don't know you. I see you've had a lot of connections recently. Why do you want to be my friend?"
My face flushed. The guy was military--which meant he'd see through ANY LIE! It was like the time I'd heard that if I slept without a bra on, my boobs would get bigger, but once I tried it, nothing spectacular happened--talk about disappointment!
I faced the computer. My little cursor blinked--the damn thing knew I was in trouble.
But I grew some woman balls then, and did the best I could.
This is what I wrote back to the man and ALL of the other people who had mistaken me for someone else (well everyone except bar-boy):
"Eight years ago my son died in my arms. The day God took him from me, I felt like someone had ripped out my soul, but through everything, I gained the courage to face an uncertain future. I realized God never left me . . . and things would get better.
"My son's life and death made me who I am.
"I kept a journal through the whole experience, and now I might find a decent publisher if I can just gain a platform--friends on facebook and followers on my blog and twitter.
"I know we haven't met in person, but I'd love to start a friendship with you, here on facebook. Will you be my friend and help me with this cause?
"I know my book can help someone out there--if it just has the chance."
E-mails started pouring in after that. I was too terrified to read them though, at least until I could put on some fancy boots and drink a huge thing of coke. (Boots and coke--they just make things better.)
To be continued tomorrow . . .
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