• Michelle Cox
  • How I Found My Way to She Writes Press, Naturally - Part Two: The Convoluted Path Continues...
How I Found My Way to She Writes Press, Naturally - Part Two: The Convoluted Path Continues...
Written by
Michelle Cox
May 2015
Written by
Michelle Cox
May 2015

(This post is a continuation of Michelle's first post here.)      

Having been rejected by over 200 agents and still trying to figure out this strange world called publishing, I got it into my head that the next logical step on this journey would be to go to a writing conference.  After perusing several, including a particularly alluring one in the Bahamas, I decided upon The Writer’s Digest Conference in New York as my best bet, bought my ticket, said goodbye to my husband and kiddies and dashed off to fight the dragons in their own den!  Though my new historical mystery was almost finished at this point, I couldn’t help believe that this might be my last chance of getting someone interested in the big baby.  Sadly no one was, but I’ll get to that later.  More importantly it was at this conference that everything changed for me. 

            Enter SheWrites Press.  

            It all started when, after excitedly perusing the schedule of various workshops, I finally chose one entitled, “Think Strategically!  How To Determine The Publishing Plan That’s Right For You And Your Work” by agent April Eberhardt, whom I depressingly recognized, by the way, from my big Guide to Literary Agents.

            Ms. Eberhardt’s talk proved to be brilliant in that it enlightened me on the many different modes of publishing out there, beginning by crushingly informing me that there are really only five major publishers in the world.  Only five? I thought, swallowing hard.  She then went on to explain what publishing with the Big 5 might entail, including loss of rights, loss of creative control, dwindling advances, small profit, etc.  Next, she moved on to briefly talk about self-publishing, which was a viable route, to be sure, she explained, except for the inherent distribution pitfall. 

            Then, with the sun breaking over the horizon, as it were, she presented a third alternative, the hybrid press, such as yours truly, She Writes, which, she noted repeatedly, provided a way for authors to “publish, and publish well.”  Astounded, I began scribbling down notes and looked around the room wondering if everyone was hearing what I was hearing!  It seemed the obvious path forward!   

            After the workshop, I went back to my hotel room to collect my thoughts, totally stunned by what I had learned, my innocence beginning to slowly crack apart as I dejectedly sat on my bed, thinking.  Suddenly the excitement of the upcoming pitch fest in which I had still hoped to find a taker for the big baby somehow now lost its glittering appeal.  I no longer wanted a deal from the Big 5, as if it was somehow synonymous now with making a deal with the devil.  But I was here!  In New York!  I had to still at least try!  So lacklusterly, I went through the humiliating pitch fest with no takers (not surprisingly), but at least I no longer cared.

            As soon as I got home I naturally began to research hybrid presses, and in the end, after looking at several, I nervously submitted the big baby to She Writes, who, upon reading it, happily reported that it would be a Track 1 except for the minor detail of the length.  Feebly (I had almost run out of energy by now) I tried to hoist up my argument by vaguely pointing, again, to The Goldfinch or Outlander, but to no avail.  Brooke Warner very kindly explained to me (on the phone!  I was talking to an actual publisher on the phone!) that it was beyond their scope to publish something that large, and that, really, it would just be a vanity project at this point. 

            That word hit me hard.  Vanity.  Was it vanity?  Perhaps it was, I slowly admitted.  To be whining and complaining about how this thing should be published, pointing to other authors, stomping around, jumping on planes (okay, just one plane) to New York, etc.  It all seemed so silly now, I realized. 

            And in just one phone call I was done with the big baby, and sadly, with one last kiss, I put it to rest in a desk drawer. 

            Assuming new courage, now, I emailed Brooke about a week later, asking if she would instead be interested in my new novel -  a historical mystery set in the 1930’s, Chicago?  Brooke, again, kindly encouraged me to send it their way to look over.  Before I could excitedly hit “send” however, it suddenly occurred to me that I had written this short (94,000 words!) first-in-a-series mystery novel specifically to be more marketable, so why wasn’t I submitting it, then, to the Big 5?  After all, isn’t this why I had written it?  To get an agent?  To get picked up?  To prove something? 

            I realized, then, with a smile that I no longer wanted the Big 5, even if they somehow might want me.  Somehow on this long, convoluted journey, I had instead naturally found my way to She Writes and had become a better writer in the process.

             A Girl Like You will be out next spring, and I have to say, I’m naturally thrilled.

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  • Michelle Cox

    Hi, Catherine!

    Good luck with your current paring!  It's painful isn't it? 

  • For the record, I am paring the last 20,000 words to get to a perfect 80,000. It used to be 65,000 words overweight. I've found that I am much more sensitive to bogged down plot or phrases that overly complicated or just there to make me look good. (Kind of like that last sentence.) It makes cutting excess out easier than before. Objectivity is a great anesthetic. 

  • Hey Michelle! 

    I'm walking your same path, just a few steps behind. I like the premise of your book and I want to read it. Put me on your list and I'll read it. Thank you for posting this.


  • Michelle Cox

    I enjoyed your commentary, Cate!  Thanks for that.  

    I agree; I hate to think of what the world would be like without a nice, thick book to curl up with!  Your comment about always having the original book in it's entirety, at least in my mind (or a word doc. file!) struck me as being very true, however.  Someday, the big baby may come to light, but until then, I'm off and running with my new series.  

    Good luck with your book and your trimmings!  

  • Michelle Cox

    Thanks, Liz and Lene!  I'm honored to be in such fine company!

  • Michelle, my story was so similar to yours! I saw April at WD Conf in NYC in 2013, and that's what did it for me. Published with SWP in Spring 2014... Congrats!

  • Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your journey! Can't wait to read A Girl Like You! I came to the same conclusion as you and I get more impressed all the time by the She Writes Press team.