3 S.R. Johannes: DejaVu Blog Fest

Friday, December 16, 2011

DejaVu Blog Fest

Housekeeping Stuff
  • All giveaways from the Untraceable launch will go out on Monday. Sorry but it was so much, it took me a few weeks to get together. :) You know who you are.
  • Untraceable was listed #77 in action and adventure last night. So thanks for your continued support. If you want some extra copies - the ebook is on sale for the holiday - limited time only. It will be $.99 cents until Jan 1st and then it will return to $2.99. So how can you pass it up?? ;)
  • The winner of Megg Jensen's book (Anathema) and swag is Hannah Hale. send your address to shelli@srjohannes.com and it will go out with Monday's massive batch.
  • BIG announcement and mega giveaway on Monday - come back and see :) Let's just say it is another experiment. Also I will talk through my lessons learned in self pubbing next week too to hopefully help others on this journey. I will give you an update on sales.
  • Here is a marketing series I've been doing on Daphne (KT Literary's blog) part 1 (kickoff), 2 (Branding) and 3 (Platform). Next week part 4 and 5 will finish the series from branding all the way through creating a marketing plan. Stop by and let me know if you have questions!

DevaVu Blog Fest

Today I am joining in to my friend's  DL Hammon's Deja Vu Blog Fest where hundreds of writers/bloggers are posting your favorite post of all time.

I had a hard time choosing. In the end, I did not choose my favorite but it was certainly the hardest for me to write in the 3 years I've been blogging. It was also the first time I had really felt a ton of support. And at the time I needed it.


Sept 2011

Yes, I'm slowly returning from the cyber dead.

And I've missed you guys. As weird as that sounds.

To be honest, I've had a few publishing world setbacks over the summer that I haven't really wanted to be honest, I've been hiding out. Embarrassed, sad, excited about new opportunities and projects, relieved, mad, frustrated, hopeful and yet totally discouraged with this industry overall.

Over the last 2 years, I've moved out of ignorant bliss into a confusing reality.
That's not to say it's bad but sometimes those realizations and changes hurt because they are not always what you want. I've realized a few things about this industry:

*not everyone good gets published
*not everyone published is good
*a great agent doesn't mean they are good for you
*as much as we love writing, it's a business and it's about money.
*It's hard to reconcile passion with money.
*Its all in the timing
* Doesn't matter who you know, its down to have a good book that hits at
the right time.
*Even though this industry feels as though it moves slow, I think it moves fast. A door that is open one month is closed the next.
*No matter what you do or how hard you work, you cant force anything.

So I guess I will come clean so I can move forward honestly and openly.

My awesome agent and I decided to part ways. To be honest, even though my agent was awesome and hardworking and communicative and fun and supportive, sometime you need a fresh perspective and something different than you did 2 years before. My writing has changed, my genre has changed, and my direction has changed. All relationships are unpredictable - some are for a reason, a season or a lifetime. This one for me was a season, although at the time we paired up - I always assumed it would be for a lifetime. Why would we part? Why would I leave? Why would we not work? What would change? Answer: we never know.

And though I adored (still do) my former agent, sometimes the person you adore and respect still may not be the right person for you. And no matter how brilliant they are or how far they get you or how much they help you grow, sometimes you can only grow so far and can't grow anymore until you let go. The last few months have been hard and confusing. I've second guessed the decision, I've wondered if moving on was a mistake, I've unfairly questioned her, and have even questioned my own writing ability.

But now that I am on the other side, its like all relationships. Remember the special love you found when you were younger, the guy who was great and cute and funny and perfect for you on paper, but for some reason, he wasn't the right one for you but you couldn't not explain why. You felt crazy to give him up but scared to stay knowing it was not long term. The one you didnt want to leave b/c you were scared you may not find another who loved you as much. And no matter how great he was or how much you so wanted him to be the long term one, you couldn't force it if your visions/future didn't align or your timing is off. And you question if you will ever love again.

Thats' how I feel now.

Know what I mean?

To start over is hard when you think you are just about to make it. I've been to acquisitions so many times, I've lost count. I've done so many noncontractual revisions, I've lost a sense of my writing, and I've gotten so close, it's broken my heart more than once. To realize you can get that close to a dream so many times, to bust your ass and do everything you are supposed to do and more - and still - not make it. I never thought that was an option for me. I think I'm a giving person and a positive person and the last three months have really challenged that. It's been hard to be supportive of those making it, hard to hide my own bitterness towards the process, and hard to find the motivation and confidence to push forward.

Anyway, I miss my agent. Miss her ideas and funny jokes. I think we did great things but there comes a time that in order to move on you have to let go of something and take a chance. So here I am faced with an unknown truth and scared that maybe I've taken a wrong turn somewhere. Scared I may never realize a dream. Afraid I wont find that agent or editor who believes in me as much as I believe in myself.

As always, people bounce back but I guess I thought once you got to a certai
n point, there was nowhere to go but up. And now I realize that's not the way it always is. Sometimes, you take 3 steps forward and then 2 steps back, having faith that you have still made progress.

So for now, I'm working on a new project and starting completely over, hoping that my time has not somehow passed me by. Hoping that I get another chance to make a difference. Praying that my vision is the same vision as a higher power. Trying to have faith in a process that is so subjective and random and finicky and unpredictable.

The only things I do know for sure.

Passion + luck+ timing+ persistence is the key to publishing. But fate is the deciding factor.

I love writing and love so many people in this industry. But sometimes you can only get yourself so far before fate and serendipity take over. Timing is so important and that is something I am not in control of....ever. Hard for me to admit or imagine.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I wasn't going to say anything but to be honest, everyone talks about the good and no one ever talks about the tough parts or the sad parts or the struggles until something good happens. And I needed to come clean for me so I can reach back out again to my friends online - the ones I've abandoned in the face of hard decisions and disappointment.

So to all my beautiful online friends, I'm sorry I have not been very available and thanks for your support.

Of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts.....


Elizabeth Briggs said...

*hugs* I'm sorry things have been rough for you, but I'm glad you're back. Hang in there - your time will come!

Elizabeth said...

I can so relate to this, and I'm sorry it happened to you. i went through the acquisitions dance with two books before I parted with my agent in 2007. To drop from the highest of highs (I AM THIS CLOSE!!!) to the lowest of lows (I AM BACK TO WHERE I STARTED!!!) is enough to wear anyone out. The important thing, though, is that you didn't give up. You took time to figure things out and then you moved forward with something new. That takes guts, my friend. And though we don't know each other, I want you to know I'm ridiculously proud of you for not letting this keep you down. Kick those feelings of frustration and despair in the groin and keep on being awesome.

Elizabeth said...

Two Elizabeths in a row! SCORE.

Jenilyn Tolley said...

Welcome back! I'm sorry to hear that things have been so difficult for you! Thanks for being honest and open and sharing your experiences with us. Good luck!

carmenferreiroesteban said...

Thank you so much for your honesty, Shelli.

I totally relate to your post. Even though I published my first book back in 2007, I am still struggling for recognition.
As you so eloquently put it even if your book is good, getting an agent is hard, as it's getting published.
And having an agent doesn't guarantee publication. And getting published, I may add, doesn't translate into public recognition or sales.
Why we keep on doing it?
My guess is that, at least for me, writing is an addiction, a curse that binds me to the computer with the promise of the bliss of finding that perfect word, that perfect scene.
Keep your faith and write on!
Best of luck!

brian_ohio said...

Sorry to here this. If it wasn't for our insanity as writers... we'd move away from publishing. Alas... we're all crazy... some in more degrees than others. I've had 3 agents... and I'm still hoping. I'm looking forward to hearing how your new project is going! All we really have control of is our words.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, Shelli, I'm so sorry to hear this. But you know what else I am? Grateful. I appreciate your willingness to share your story, because you're right--too often, the hard stuff goes unsaid. We all need each other: for celebrations, yes, but also for encouragement and solace and unconditional support. And you have my support 100%! :-)

Robin Mellom said...

I just love you.

And your new project is INSANE, it's so flipping awesome. It's the one, baby. Mark. My. Words.

We need to go for a Sangria soon. ;)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Yours was one of the first blogs I started to follow. I remember contacting you for agent advice and how kind and open you were.

This business can be so painful. There are no guarantees for anyone. Your persistence and commitment to writing above all the heartache is something to be admired.

Here's to that first love. We all are grateful for your honesty.
Caroline xoxo

Alison Stevens said...

Having not yet gotten as far as you have, I can only imagine the heartbreak you're going through. Thank you for sharing it with us. As someone still searching for that agent and editor, it's good to hear how the process works for everyone, not just those who make it big. Best of luck to you. You'll find your moment.

Christina Lee said...

Hey, you are speaking my language over here!! (((hugs))) Haven't talked about it much either, but parting ways is HARD.

And this--->> "I think I'm a giving person and a positive person and the last three months have really challenged that. It's been hard to be supportive of those making it, hard to hide my own bitterness towards the process, and hard to find the motivation and confidence to push forward."

So much YES--saying that out loud is hard!! Welcome back and congrats for having the courage to do it all (And STILL DREAM)!!!

Dawn Kurtagich said...

What amazing, courageous honesty. Thank you so much for being brave and kind enough to share. You are an amazing woman, and I can't wait to see your book in print one day, I KNOW it will happen for you! *hugs*
We support you!! :)

Larissa said...

Welcome back, Shelli! I missed you! Sorry to hear about your summer. I totally understand how you've been feeling. So here's a big cyber (((hug))). Glad to have you back, and thanks for your honesty.

DL Hammons said...

I want to second what Shannon said. Thank you for sharing your story with us! For those of us just entering this realm, we need to have our eyes wide open and know what to truthfully expect. Good luck on your new journey!!! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm so glad you're back and thanks for sharing this. I agree with Shannon that it's good to sometimes share the hard parts too.

I've so been there too. I started out starry eyed and so full of hope. But about 8 years later and I am hopefully finishing my first book while juggling a full time (and suddenly uncertain) job and family. And I'm realizing from putting pitches and queries out there that this may not be the book.

I do enjoy the journey and write when I can and hope for the best. But I am realistic and know I need to focus on the paying, hopefully more certain, job. I think we need to encourage and support each other and celebrate our journeys whether they lead to publication or not. Because we are the same people inside no matter what and getting published doesn't define our self worth.

I hope you'll stay around so we can support you and you can support us.

Robin said...

Big hugs, Shelli. Here's to new beginnings and new directions.

Follow your bliss, hon. :)

Kristin Tubb said...

You are brave and thoughtful and wonderful, friend. Sending you hugs!

nicolekrell said...

So glad you are back! At the same time, I am so sorry! Good for you for not giving up. That is the most important aspect out of all of this. If you love what you're doing, never give up!

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Shelli, It's so good to see you back on line. I agree with your thoughts about timing and luck and fate. But only pure doggedness will keep you in the game long enough for all three to align correctly! I am glad to hear that you are staying in the game.

I really related to Carmen's comments too--getting published moves you into a whole 'nother level of "no control"--over sales; over whether people like your book; over people's snarky reviews; over whether anybody will buy it; etc., etc.

To stay sane (admittedly, I'm always a bit borderline ;-)), I've decided that the only thing we CAN control is how we tell our stories. Everything else is out of our hands.

So tell your story, girl! There are plenty of us who want to read it!

Julie Hedlund said...


I'm so glad to see you back online, but sorry that things with your agent and your books didn't work out as you had hoped. I would just echo what others have said here and thank you for sharing the not-so-great part of this business with us. We have all experienced these disappointments in different ways, and it's good to know we're all in it together and we can be honest with each other.

Good luck as you take your next steps. I am certain you are on your correct path.

Kristin Lenz said...

Thank you for "coming clean" and sharing. I am starting over too - sounds like we've been on a similar path. I'm grateful for this generous, supportive community along the way!

Jemi Fraser said...

Oh, Shelli, my heart is breaking for you. What a difficult road you've had for the last few months. I can't even imagine the roller coaster of emotions you've been through. I'm so glad to hear you're working on something new. Keep going forward. There's no doubt in my mind you WILL make it. *hugs*

beth said...

Much, much, much love for you.

Kim Kasch said...

Nothing good is easy. Nothing too easy is good. Mom used to say things like that to me all the time. It doesn't make it any better but sometimes hard words are true.

Hang in there.

Sophia Chang said...

Thanks for sharing this and we're all so glad you did! It's true; I'm always ranting to my bf about how everybody's online lives seem perfect and awesome and everyone has a great marriage and a writing room and lots of money.

CJ Omololu said...

Someday soon you'll look back on this as the yukky time before all the good stuff happened.

Miss you terribly!

Kai said...

I just wanted to thank you for your honesty. I understand much of the pain and disappointment you've experienced and face that question, "Do I continue" on a regular basis.

I know you've made a difference in many writers' careers already and I know the karma or good juju (whatever you want to call it) really will come back on you. Maybe not as you expect it or even want it and certainly not on your timeline. Just remember to stay open to opportunities beyond what you are striving for.

Best of luck with your new project.

Laura Pauling said...

Welcome back and sorry you've had such a hard time. Hopefully this new project will bring you some of that excitement back.

i've seen enough of these posts from writers who have left their agents now to know that getting an agent isn't the answer. I know the tougher road is still before me. I know that great writers with great books don't always get deals. And I know that some books really aren't that great but got published. And that there are many writers who come so close only to not make it that last step.

I wish you the best with this new manuscript. And someday we'll all be celebrating together.

Portia said...

Thoughtful post--I agree with others. Your honesty about the process is moving, and I just want to give you a hug. :-)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Wow. And *hugs* and I'm so tremendously impressed with your tenacity and honesty and openness. Thank you so much for sharing, and you are doing the very smartest thing: starting something new, fresh, something that will revitalize you so you're ready to go forward.

I've been a follower from a while back, but I hope to keep closer tabs (now that you're back! yay!). :)

Durango Writer said...

Your post has probably helped more people than you know! I applaud your honesty and courage. Sharing your journey helps us all gain perspective on this crazy life we've chosen as writers. *hugs*

Hardygirl said...

Go Shelli go!!!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

((hugs)) I know your time hasn't passed you by, Shelli. Keep believing, it WILL happen. And I will be there to celebrate when it does!

vbtremper said...

Good for you for making the hard decision and living to tell the tale. Good luck! I know you'll bounce back, better than ever!

Lisa and Laura said...

This was a brave post, Shelli and I imagine that every single writer can identify with this on some level or another. This is a tough biz and perseverance is half the battle. XOXO

Katie Anderson said...

Great post, Shellibean! I believe in you :)))

Jean Reidy said...

Shelli - Your post is so honest and so heartfelt and SO TRUE. Thank you for opening up online but especially for taking a difficult experience and allowing the whole world in to learn from it. At the same time, I hope the whole world reaches out to thank you and comfort you and call you "friend." If you don't mind, I'd like to direct other writers to your post. It will be a gift to them.

Gail said...

This post was probably a difficult one for you. But you have a way of cutting through the the essence and true meaning of things. I remember contacting you after one of your posts that was real and deep and touched my soul. You helped me believe that a writing career was possible.
Keep believing in yourself and that fate will bring you to the goal you desire as long as you stay true to it. Yes we need some luck, but determination and passion to a cause weigh in with a larger share.
Feel the collective warmth of all our arms around you for support. Know that the almost 1400 followers you have (spoken from someone still trying to reach 100) will follow you to whatever kind of publication you choose. We believe in you!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Brave post, Shelli. And many folks will take comfort in knowing that while this can be a hard, hard path - they're not the only ones facing what can seem like insurmountable (and freshly changing!) challenges. Loved Vicky's response - "tell your story." All best wishes for the next steps in your journey.

Barker said...

Shelli, Thank you for your willingness to be open and honest about the dark side of this business. Anyone here for very long will face rejection and dejection. Aspiring writers need to be aware of the rough road ahead and those further along the path can offer you sympathy and understanding.
I hope that your ebook experiment goes great for you!

Jo Kittinger

Evelyn said...

Thanks for sharing, Shelli. I'm really sorry it's been such a rough time for you, and am wishing you the best. Ev

sally apokedak said...

It's a roller-coaster. The first time an acquisitions editor called my house, I thought, "this is it!" a few months later I found out that wasn't it. Same with every step along the way. Getting an agent doesn't guarantee anything. Going to committee is no sure thing.

And I know enough to believe those who have said even after you're published you haven't arrived.

I'm with Vicky. Write the stories you love. The rest is gravy.

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...


You're going to do just fine. I was excited to read what is next for you!

What matters is what your readers think and the only way to find that out is to get your work out there... With so much hard work and so much passion, they are sure to love it.

C'monnn in - the water's warm!!! Go get 'em!!!

KC & May
Like us! Facebook.com/maythek9spy

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Shelli, Big fuzzy hugs, and I can so relate. I wish I could say I didn't, but I've had similar challenges. They're so hard to deal with and I truly admire your determination to keep at it - in your own way. I'll be following and anxious to read your stories. e

Kit said...

Such a wonderful post, I do agree there are so many parts of this out of ones control. We are on quite a ride, up and down-
Kit Grady

Creepy Query Girl said...

thank you so much for this honest reflection on what you've been going through- I think it's important to share the difficult and frusterating aspects of this business. Keeping a positive attitude isn't the end all or be all of making it. Being realistic and knowing what you're up against is key and moving on and keeping at it is essential. Thanks for this!

Matthew MacNish said...

Your honesty, and your courage, are inspiring. We've got your back.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Shelli -- popped over here from LiLa Roecker's blog. Nice to meet you. Thanks for being brave enough to share your story. This is a hard, hard road we're traveling, and you're right -- no matter how good, persistent, hard-working, helpful, cooperative, and talented you might be, there is a big element of luck and fate involved over which you have no control.

And yet, we keep at it; don't we? Because we love to write.

And not writing is not an option.

Casey McCormick said...

Big hugs to you, Shelli.

SapphireSavvy said...

I just left my agent too. I spent a long time thinking it was a terrible decision. I fantasized about begging her to take me back. But you know what? She never spoke to me. I wasn't obnoxious, I only asked for updates every few months, and she never wrote back once till I said "Maybe we should part ways." Now I am writing another book and getting excited. Some agents just don't know what they're doing in today's environment, I think. We're better off without them. *hugs*

Lydia Kang said...

Wow, I didn't know all this had happened. Thank you for sharing it with us. There are so many truths to what you've said about publishing.

Thanks so much for joining the Blogfest, Shelli.

Nisa said...

I guess this industry is really like everything else in life. It really does have its ups and downs. Some days are harder than others. Thanks for sharing what you've learned. It's very much appreciated. Congrats again on your book. It's my Christmas present to me this year! (How awful does that sound? lol)

LynNerdKelley said...

Wow, so sorry you've had to deal with all that heartache. Thank you for sharing this and reposting it. So much of what you say is so true. It's such a crazy time in publishing right now. As long as you don't stop believing in yourself, you're going to make it. You will, so never stop believing in yourself. Nice to meet you. Wishing you all the best, especially in the New Year and new beginnings!

Alison Miller said...

Over the last 2 years, I've moved out of ignorant bliss into a confusing reality.

So true. And pretty much where I was at last year. Oh, how much I've learned. I love your list and I love this line: Passion + luck+ timing+ persistence is the key to publishing. But fate is the deciding factor.

Thanks for sharing!

Joyce Lansky said...

So could you send your former agent my way? I need one!


Margo Kelly said...

Ah. So much truth in this post!!


I wish you all the best of everything. :)