Once I started teaching, there wasn't as much time for writing, much less sending things out to publishing companies. That first manuscript – a middle-grade fantasy adventure story – sat on my shelf gathering dust. I never quite forgot about it, but almost. I was still writing during those years, but mostly short stories. And the whole idea of publication just seemed terrifying. I did start a new novel in the first decade of the 21st century, and I spent time over the summers working on it. Had I not ended up "retired" at 59, I'm not sure I ever would have finished it.
When Queen Anne School closed in June of 2011, I figured it was my chance to finally put real time into both writing and selling. Over the next three years, I finished that novel I was working on, I rewrote the middle-grade book, and I wrote three more novels. I loved writing. I would get up each day all excited about what I would produce in my little office downstairs, and I would spend about five hours completely immersed in my characters, my stories, and the words that came pouring out of me.
And then I tried to find an agent. "That's the way to go," everyone told me. "Publishing houses won't look at unsolicited manuscripts these days. You need an agent." So I did the research, I made my lists, I wrote query letters, and I submitted myself to scores of potential agents who might want to represent me. This wasn't easy. While the writing end of things was exciting and fun, the "selling myself" thing was horrible. I was lousy at it. It's not that no one responded to my queries – quite a few did – but in the end none of them wanted to represent me. I came close more than once. But close isn't good enough.
By late 2014 I had pretty much given up on the whole thing. I had written five novels, but I figured they'd remain unpublished manuscripts, things I could be proud of (and my family and friends could read) but that's about it.
And then one day in February, 2015, I just decided it was time to take control of things myself. I couldn't find a publisher who wanted me, and I couldn't find an agent who was interested. But I had five manuscripts. And I wanted desperately to see what my books would look like sitting on a shelf next to "real" books. So I went to CreateSpace and I set up all five books – I did the layouts (which was HARD!), I designed the covers, I wrote blurbs, and I had proof copies printed. When those books arrived at my house, it was as exciting as if I was really being published. I could hold those books in my hand! My name was on the covers! They looked like real books! And even if that was it – even if I never did another thing but have those proofs printed, I would always have those books.
And now here I am setting up a website, editing the proof copies, and planning to start actually selling books on Amazon. I have no clue whether or not I'll ever sell a single copy (well, my guess is my Dad will buy one!), but maybe that doesn't matter.
I'll let you know how it goes. And if you have a chance to read one of my books, I hope you'll let me know what you think – even if you think it's awful!