Guest Author J.A. Belfield Shares Her Thoughts On Living The Dream

J.A. Belfield has been a big help to me in getting my feet wet in the publishing industry. She’s one of those kind people who always gets back to you. Always has sweet encouraging words, and I have to say, I’m really excited to share her guest post on my blog, and if you’re looking for something different to add to your literary collection whether it’s an ebook or a paperback book, I’ll be sharing those links, too.

So here she is everyone, Author J.A. Belfield with her thoughts on Living the Dream and Making It Happen. 

It’s not unusual for a writer to fantasise about being published. I mean, you’ve completed your first novel. It’s the best thing EVER written. You’re right up there with the likes of J.K. Rowling, and any other author who’s made enough money to warrant airtime.

So, daydreaming about holding a hard copy of your book whilst refreshing the page that showcases your bank balance is normal. Right?

Stop fibbing. You all know you’ve done it.

Anyhoo, making that fantasy into a reality was where the hard work really came into play.

You see, when I decided I had something I wanted to share with the world, the stigma of self-publishing was still pretty rife with prejudices. It was frowned upon. Like your writing wasn’t worthy if an agent or publisher didn’t want you.

In all fairness, some of the titles I’ve read over the past couple of years have changed my opinion on that. Because I’ve read some traditionally-published books that were seriously kind of Meh, just as I’ve read some self-published titles that have completely blown me away. This shift in opinion has stretched far wider than just me, though, to the point that few people turn their nose up at self-published titles anymore.

Unfortunately, this attitude shift came a little too late for me, so, regardless, I ended up going down the traditional path.

Now, here in the UK, there are very few (if any) Independent publishers. And being naïve and unaware of the breadth of the industry, I thought submissions to those in the UK were my only route. Which caused limitations—because pretty much every publisher I wanted to submit to wouldn’t accept unsolicited (un-agented) submissions.

So, it felt as though my only option was to go the agent route—which, again, caused more limitations.

If you think there are strict guidelines for submitting in the US, you should go buy a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook (the UK version of the Writers Market). Inside the pages of this guideline to getting your work out there is an in depth description of all the Dos & Don’ts of submitting. Unlike in the US, the UK agents still prefer(red) to receive submission via snail mail. BUT, a submission couldn’t be sent in, without first writing and requesting permission to do so. Which meant you could have a 6-12 week wait for them to reply to your ‘request’, and if they bit, you could then have a 6-12 week wait (sometimes longer) for a yay or nay. And some of these agents didn’t accept submissions currently out with other agents—which meant, for some of them, you had to go through the process one agent at a time.

Now, I’m sure you can do the maths yourself to figure out: THAT’S A LOTTA MONTHS, PEOPLE!
Nevertheless, I went this route, because I wanted my work ‘out there’, darn it.

Then the rejection started piling in.

The rejections were anything from a ‘No thanks’ scribbled across the query letter I’d sent them, to a ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ kind of response.

Have you ever received a rejection? They SUCK! Each and every one you get deflates you a little more, and chips away another little piece of your soul and confidence and that happiness you were basking in during those moments of fantasising.

HOWEVER, this is where you either stand tall or fall.

I chose to stand tall.

So, I carried on writing. I joined a critiquing site and tried to improve my craft. And I started the slow process of learning more about the industry I so badly wanted to be a part of.

Know what I learned?

That I didn’t have to restrict myself. That I did have other options. That there were other ways.
So, once I’d figured that out, I began the arduous task of online searching for smaller publishers and US agents, and alongside those, all of the background checks necessary to ensure they weren’t scammers just out to rob me of my money …

Sure, I continued to hop down the agent route once I realised I had more to consider, and a far faster and easier (AND CHEAPER) method of reaching them, but I also sucked up the courage to start approaching some publishers direct.

So, I subbed a few different pieces of mine to a few different places.

For MONTHS (again—and I mean MONTHS!!!!!!) I either heard nothing, or got the ‘no thanks’, or (even worse) didn’t hear anything back at all. And the prospect of self publishing was starting to look more and more like my only doable option.
Until early 2011.

Within a month of each other, just as I started speculating about cover art and what I’d do about editing and stuff, I had three offers.

\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/
All of these offers were for different stories.
\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/

One of them was for a short story of mine titled Hereditary* by an E-Zine.

One of them was from a US romance publisher for a novella of mine titled Animal Attraction**.

And the last of them was from J Taylor Publishing for Darkness & Light, which started the journey of my Holloway Pack series (FINALLY!) reaching the world, in July of 2011—2 years after I’d first wrote the book.

I haven’t looked back since. And, as a result, I now bring to the table CAGED: Holloway Pack 3. 🙂

So persevere, listen to what people are saying, accept the advice and criticism and rejections as the guidance it is, and for goodness sake, folk, don’t just sit at home thinking you know it all, that this is an easy or fast way of making money (*rolls eyes* if you’re in for the money, you’re in it for the wrong reasons—trust me), don’t assume everyone else owes you the information that you should be seeking for yourself because no author should head into this industry blind, and in the meantime keep on writing and writing and improving and rolling …. You never know where that determination might get you.
*Hereditaryis now available to read on my website.

**I didn’t accept the offered contract for Animal Attraction, and it went on to what my readers now know as Instinct (a Holloway Pack prequel), published by J. Taylor

Isn’t she wonderful? Thank you J.A. Belfield. I am grateful to have you here today. 

Book Links

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on August 31, 2013, in Caged, J Taylor Publishing, J.A. Belfield, Living the Dream. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Living the Dream, I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing the giveaway. I have added this series to my TBR. evamillien at gmail dot com

  2. Hi Eva, thank you for stopping in. J.A. Belfield is one amazing lady. :0) I sure enjoy hearing from other dreamers how they fight for what they want, and especially all the learning points along the way. Have a great Saturday. Erika

  3. Thank you so much, Eva. ♥Erika, thanks bunches for letting me loose over here, and for helping out on the tour. ♥♥♥

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