Here I am, summer of 2017 with no agent, no pub deal, and not a whole lot of hope. I’ve got this polished manuscript that I worked super hard on, and it can’t go anywhere because it’s “tainted”—it’s been on submission before.
I didn’t know what to do. I’d completed and revised a YA contemporary story in the meantime, but something just wasn’t working with it. I’d edited it into the ground and just kept making it worse. There was no chance for querying it in such a state. Between feeling like I had nothing new to offer the literary world and sulking over all the work I put into my pirates for nothing, I contemplated throwing in the towel completely.
I still wanted to be a writer more than anything. Nothing had changed there. But I didn’t know what to do or where to even start.
Then it hit me. Just because agents couldn’t sub my pirates didn’t mean I couldn’t sub them.
I began the hunt for smaller presses and found three that I thought might be fun to work with. After carefully querying each one, I waited.
A couple weeks later, I received my first rejection.
Another week went by, and I saw an email from an editor at another press. Expecting the second rejection, I was surprised to see that she liked the three sample chapters and wanted to read the full!
I sent the manuscript and waited.
Player three entered the game with an email stating that they were very interested and still reading.
More waiting. (Patience is not my strong suit, people!)
September rolled around and I hadn’t been doing much writing or anything terribly creative, really. My brain just hurt and hope dwindled.
One ordinary day, my hubby and I plopped on the couch for lunch, and I scrolled through my phone to check email.
And I had one.
From the editor I queried at Anaiah Press. Alas, I could already tell that the first line of the email was “I am so sorry”.
I groaned and took a bite of my sandwich before clicking on the email to read the rest.
(Paraphrasing) “I am so sorry I forgot to let you know I got your pages! But I guess that doesn’t matter now, because we would love to publish your book!”
My phone tumbled out of my shaking hands before I could read any more. I started to cry instantaneously, which caused me to choke on the bite of sandwich I’d shoved into my mouth. Hubby flew to my side to see what was wrong. I snatched my phone up from the floor and pushed it in his direction, barely squeaking out a “They want my book!”
The weeping lasted quite a while. Like, a really, really long time. Embarrassingly long.
I connected immediately with my editor and just fell in love with everyone at Anaiah. It made signing the contract with them so easy, and they have continued to be amazing throughout the whole process! I know I’m in the right place!
More editing, planning, and polishing took place with deadlines at every corner. This time, it didn’t seem so bad, because there was a glorious goal in sight!
UNANCHORED releases in e-book format on April 17 (https://www.amazon.com/Unanchored-Stephanie-Eding-ebook/dp/B07BFQJG9L) with the printed release coming this fall!
This journey has had some wild ups and downs, let me tell you. If I’m being totally honest, I’m completely exhausted. But if you see me freaking out over small things book-related on social media (or in real life), now you know why. I can’t say that I’ve ever worked this hard or been knocked down this many times on anything I’ve ever done. I’m a little bit proud that I didn’t give up, quite frankly, and a whole heck-of-a-lot excited that I FINALLY HAVE A BOOK WITH MY NAME ON IT!
Up next, I’m planning to get back into the query trenches this summer with a women’s fiction I’ve been working on. I’m both terrified and excited to do the process all over again, knowing what might be ahead. But writing is still my dream, and I don’t see that ever changing.
The idea to write a pirate story settled in my brain in 2015. I joined a group of awesome writers that I hit it off with really well. For the first time, I had friends on the same journey to keep me accountable and help critique my work.
I wrote all of UNANCHORED in the month of April. It flowed onto the pages so easily that I was sure something had to be horribly wrong with it! When I got positive feedback from my critique group, I didn’t even know what to do with myself!
I began the editing process and even won the opportunity to work with an editor in a writing contest.
Then I began the querying process. My agent response was great! About one third of the agents I queried requested pages, but something was still missing with my story that didn’t quite make them fall in love.
After several months of querying in batches, I had one agent ask for my partial. She ultimately passed, but offered a simple pacing suggestion. Since I highly respected her opinion, I made the changes and sent another round. In came the full requests, and I tried not to hyperventilate with excitement!
In the spring of 2016, I signed with an amazing agent after several offers of representation. I could not even believe it! My big dreams were finally coming true! By this time, I’d nearly completed a YA contemporary and had begun working on a women’s fiction. I could not wait to see where all my stories took me!
My agent and I passed the manuscript back and forth with the intention of polishing it up for publishing submissions. Day after day, I watched other writers announce their publishing deals on Twitter, and I longed for the day when I could share such news about my pirates.
Finally, submission day came. I’m pretty sure I cried tears of joy when my babies went out into the world for the first time. I imagined my entire career unfolding before me and probably checked my email 6000 times a day!
Just like with querying, the rejections trickled in. Since they all contained words of affirmation, I held onto hope that my story would soon find its home.
It didn’t happen.
In the spring of 2017, after just one round of publishing queries, my pirates were pulled from submission. The historical fiction market just wasn’t there, and I was devastated. Absolutely. Devastated.
It was hands-down the toughest moment in my writing journey. I wanted those pirates to be published more than anything! If their submission ended in failure, I knew what that meant for my manuscript: shelved. Done. All that work I’d put in for so long meant nothing.
Another month passed, and the second bomb dropped. My agent and I parted ways as my writing direction shifted into wildly different genres.
Nothing panned out the way I’d wanted. I went from feeling on top of the world to dropping back to the starting line. Only this time, the manuscript that I’d poured my heart and soul into sat on the shelf, all used up, with no hope of ever finding a publication home.
That’s so not the end!
Part 3 coming soon!
My debut novel UNANCHORED releases in less than a month.
But UNANCHORED is not the first book I’ve ever written.
I wanted to take the opportunity to share my writing journey with others who might be feeling discouraged with the process. I know that I feel the ups and downs of this journey every single day, and if we don’t have a community to lean on, it makes it that much harder to press onward.
I want to share my personal journey in a few parts. Otherwise, it’d get too long and boring to throw it all out at once.
Let us begin.
First of all, this is what I’ve always wanted to do: write. I just had no idea WHAT I wanted to write. I went to college and got my bachelor’s degree in English and Language Arts, with the intention of one day becoming a writer. I thought maybe magazine articles were the way to go. They’re voice-y and fun, right? But I didn’t want anyone else telling me what I could or couldn’t write, and it seemed that any lucrative magazine job required me to move far, far away. Not happening.
Then I got the idea to write self-help books. I weirdly love to read them and be told how to improve my life, so why not write them?! At first, I figured I could write for teen girls, because I worked with our youth at church and loved talking through deep issues with the young women. That idea flopped.
I became a wife and mother, and voila! I wanted to write about my struggles and conquering there, so I started that book. I wrote about three chapters and bored myself to tears. So much for that.
In 2013, my husband accepted a job a state over. I didn’t want to go. (Remember that whole moving far away aversion? Yeah…) So, in early 2014, we packed up our lives and headed to central Pennsylvania. We had two children, not quite two and four years old. We lived in a rental house, and I had no job, no family nearby, and my social life consisted of Sunday morning church services.
I got a bit lonely. So, I created my own friends. (Why would you not do that?) I sat down with my computer and started hammering out a young adult fantasy about dreams and friendships. I loved that world and spent every spare minute in my day there. Shortly after I finished that book, I hammered out the sequel. It took me almost no time at all.
There was a small problem, though. My knowledge of publishing was just a bit on the naïve side. I thought you just had to finish a book, proofread it, then put it on a disc and send it off to a publishing company. Bing-bang-boom! You’ve got yourself a New York Times Best-Seller!
Yup. That’s what I truly thought happened.
Once I actually researched how to navigate the process, I began querying the first book in my DREAM SEEKERS series.
I accepted help from 1.5 critique partners—my first ever experience with an outside source helping me edit my work—and then I saw fit to query that beast.
I entered every writing contest I could find with no success. I queried approximately 200+ agents and received one full request that turned into an immediate form rejection.
That was my only story idea. I had edited it and rewrote it continuously for almost two years! I had a sequel ready to go! How could agents not like it???
I wanted to give up. I had nothing else. I’d written two whole books! I put in the work! That should get me where I wanted to go!
National Novel Writing Month crept up on me, and I really wanted to participate with the super-cool group of writers I’d found, but I had nothing to write.
And then I started thinking pirate-y thoughts…
(Come back later for Part 2! I’m not done yet!)
UNANCHORED is up for pre-order on Amazon! Check it out!
The cover reveal for UNANCHORED is coming March 13! I just got my sneak peek, and it is GORGEOUS!