This is a publishing story, but it’s not. It’s a story of hard work, inspiration, and still falling short. It’s a story of rallying once again, and finding your way.
The story behind A POSTCARD WOULD BE NICE is a long one, but the short version is, I read an article a few years ago that discussed men being victims of sexual abuse. I thought about my own experience with assault, and how it had impacted my life–then I tried to apply that to what it might look and feel like for a guy going through something similar.
In my work and research, I learned that the statistics aren’t all that different from men to women. Nearly 1 in 5 women are victims of sexual assault, and for men, it is 1 in 6. I have sons, and I have daughters, and those statistics were staggering to me.I felt so paralyzed trying to do justice to the story that I wanted to tell, that I didn’t write on it at all. I just kept notebooks and let the voices of my characters grow in my head for months.
Oliver’s voice finally came to me when I was on a weekend trip with my best friend, Liz. As usual, we traveled to a major city, toured museums and ate too much. The best part of traveling with Liz is that we are so comfortable splitting up and wandering off on our own. I broke away from her at The Met and wandered alone for about an hour. In that time, I found Oliver and Paloma. Their story that had been such a tiny seed for two years in the back of my mind, was suddenly right there. Though Oliver has a quiet voice, it was a roar to me that day. As soon as I got home, I wrote APWBN.
I sent it off to my agent, and she put it out on submission a couple of months later.
And we waited.
We had some early interest. A few really nice notes back with passes.
And then my dream publisher requested a rewrite. You see, the book was originally told in dual point-of-view between Oliver & Paloma, but they wanted to see something different. So I thought on it for a while. And by this time, it was time for my yearly trip with Liz. We returned to The Met and I again found my inspiration. I came home and rewrote the book in its entirety. It was painful, it was hard, it was what was right for Oliver’s story.
I polished it up and sent it back to my agent, and then we waited some more.
And kept waiting. Eventually they called to say it was going back to acquisitions.
And one afternoon, while I watched my youngest at gymnastics class, my rockstar agent, who had tirelessly advocated for this book, called and told me what I didn’t want to hear for the last year–that it was so close, but that they’d passed. The months had added up to over a year on submission, and at that point, I struggled to even cry. I was relieved to have a definitive answer.
They had some very complimentary things to say, and some feedback that was appreciated. They called it an “important book,” “beautifully written,” “a sure conversation starter,” but ended the letter with “unfortunately those things don’t always translate to big sales.” I was gutted.
Publishing is a business, I understand, but of course, in my naivete, I’d hoped that “important” would weigh more heavily in the decision. Some suggested I shelve the book. That I wait until my next manuscript was out on submission, and if it happened to sell, that maybe an editor would take another look at this book. That made sense. I have zero hard feelings for the publishers that passed, and I’d love to work with any of them in the future. But honestly guys, it felt more important to have this book out there than to have it in a drawer, waiting for the market to shift or do whatever it is going to do to make this book saleable.
That’s why I am so grateful to be able to return to indie publishing once more, just as I did in 2011 when I published my first book, Grounding Quinn after many close calls. And it’s why I’m hopeful that I can do a little good with this book.
So because I believe in this book, and because I believe that even when there are not blockbuster sales, a book can still be worthwhile, a portion of the sale of each copy of A POSTCARD WILL BE NICE will be donated to 1in6.org, an organization that supports men who are victims of sexual abuse.