Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011, A Year Of Hope and Thanksgiving

2011, A Year Of Hope and Thanksgiving
By Renea Winchester

Growing up in a small town in the western North Carolina mountains, I had the most improbable dream of becoming a veterinarian. I had an affinity for horses, dogs, cats, and the wild animals my dad rescued during the course of his day while working with the power company. At a young age I charted a career path. There was one vet in our area who, I reasoned, would be retired just about the time I finished college. With my mother's encouragement, I asked him if I could volunteer during the summer.

I was promptly rejected.

It would be the first of many.

The pain of rejection is something authors must endure. Our stories are rejected by agents, publishers, and sometimes the readers whom we adore. Still, we press on, driven by an inexplicable need to share the characters implanted in the chambers of our heart.

While the desire to write came to me as a teenager, it was quickly squelched when my diary was discovered, read, and distributed to fellow students. Writing returned and became a driving force in the 90's as I journaled my way through a divorce. With the encouragement of the great Appalachian Writer, Wilma Dykeman, I returned to writing. I soon became convinced writing was what God placed me on earth to do.

I'm thrilled to say I am a published author with one book and numerous articles to add to my bio. However, instead of this being an exciting time, I am concerned about the future of the industry. So are my colleagues. Publishing houses have compressed, rejecting seasoned authors and those new to the business who can't help but wonder, who will print my next novel ? Today, many successful authors have been rejected by their agents and dropped by publishing houses who have represented them for decades. So what should a newbie author, or someone hoping to get their book published, do?

Now that 2011 has arrived filled with as much uncertainty as the last many authors are wondering is this the year to consider a new career?

Perish the thought !

2011 isn't the year to return to school and become a veterinarian. 2011 is the year to reach out to readers like never before. Twitter, Facebook, and other on-line avenue do generate sales, but what about more personalized marketing? What about a personal invitation to read what you, the author, have worked so hard to perfect? I ask this question because I can't help but believe that social media has become a mosh pit of countless authors competing for readers.

While I don't have the prestigious title of "best-selling" author, my book In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes has been well received. Contrary to the belief that In The Garden With Billy was a "regional book," it crossed the Mason-Dixon line and spread across this country.

Kathy Louise Patrick recently said, "books are NOT six week commodities stories can be timeless if well written."

My publisher and I believed in the story. I contacted Independent bookstores who rejected me, but reconsidered once readers started asking for the book. I contacted the Atlanta Journal who initially rejected me but eventually ran an article in the Living Section about Billy. (Thank you AJC!) You see, I believed in the readers who have fallen in love with In The Garden With Billy. I knew there were many other good books on the market, but I also knew that if readers gave me a chance they would love In The Garden With Billy.

So thank you, to everyone who added my book to your reading list.

Thus I begin the year filled with hope that authors will embrace readers like never before, and that readers will give newly-published authors like myself a chance.

Renea Winchester is a two-time winner of the Appalachan Writer's Award for Essay. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Georgia Backroads, Smoky Mountain Living and Long Leaf Style, Georgia Magazine as well as Georgia Public Radio 90.1 FM. She is a frequent contributor to Her memoir, In The Garden With Billy: Lessons about Life, Love and Tomatoes, was released October 2010, by Little Creek Books.


Karen Harrington said...

This is such an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Peggy Webb said...

It sounds like a lovely book. Best of luck. And remember...this journey is not about getting published but about telling the story.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Renea, I would love to read and review your new book.

I think we have lots in common and wish we could talk in person.

I am blessed to have a wonderful publisher who stands behind me through thick and thin. I've worked with them since 1994 and it has been a difficult, but great experience.

My husband and I are reading a good book about publishing called The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, but it is about lots more than getting published, it is also about marketing your books. You're right, book clubs, direct contact, blogs, facebook etc.

Let's keep in touch,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Anonymous said...

Renea as we have spoke on facebook, you know I LOVE your book! I have recommended it to friends and yes it has crossed the Mason Dixon Line as it is in Kansas! :)
Thanks for sharing your story!
Debbie McMurry

Ad Hudler said...

You're a gem, Renea.

JLC said...

Trite but true: you are an inspiration. I disagree with Peggy, though--telling the story isn't enough unless someone reads it, which means it really is about getting published. Either way, we have to remember to keep trying.

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