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Sharisse Coulter – A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Getting Published

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Getting Published

by Sharisse Coulter

It all started with an idea—a simple idea of a character—that eventually turned into a story. That story turned into a first draft, and finally, after two years of editing, getting feedback, editing, reading, editing, rinsing and repeating, a fully-fledged manuscript was born. And, not unlike labor, it sounds simple so long as you’re not the one with the contractions. Unlike becoming a mother, however, the publishing process is less instinctual.

I was ready to find an agent, a publisher, and go about a career as a writer the way all my writing idols had done before me. I knew it would be difficult, demoralizing even, getting rejection letters or hearing nothing at all about my manuscript that took two years of my life to create. But I was prepared. Determined.

Partly, my determination came from the fact that I am married to an independent musician. I’ve helped manage his career for the last (near) decade and know what a time-consuming process it is to do-it-yourself. I know how cutthroat the booking process is and how often people lie to your face or sabotage one another in the false belief that only one person will ever Make It. So I knew, for my sanity as well as my marriage, that only one of us could go it alone, and that slot had already been filled. If my novel were going to make it out into the big bad world, it needed to be with the help of one of the traditional publishing houses.

So I did what any over-achiever would: wrote a great query letter, researched agents who represented similar authors, and devoured books on writing, publishing, finding agents, and accepting publishing deals. I was all set. And then, a funny thing happened on the way to getting published: I was offered an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

My husband and I were approached with the opportunity to go on tour—as a family—and have the creative control to decide what, when and where we would go. For those of you who aren’t up on the current state of the publishing industry, you may not be aware that advances aren’t what they used to be. More than that, an industry hanging on for its own survival is less inclined to take a chance on a new and unknown author. And even if I were lucky enough to get an agent and a publishing deal, it would never have happened in time for our tour, nor would they sink the kind of money into my book promotion to send me, with my family, out on a 5 month 55 city book tour.

Before I had a chance to send out even one query letter, I ended up on the road to indie-pubbing, planning a tour route, and organizing graphics for our 35’ tour bus. What I thought would be the worst thing for my book and marriage has turned into the most incredible adventure of my life. My husband and I will be touring the country on what we’re calling A Novel Music Tour, doing shows together, and helping to promote each other’s creative endeavors. We get to make our living doing what we love and introducing our toddler son to a million new experiences. I have no idea where this path will lead, but I know I’m grateful for the opportunity, and open to the possibilities.

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Genre – Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

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