Patience and Epiphanies: Maximizing the In-Between Time

“Dreams take more than hard work. They take passion, perseverance, authenticity and the ability to sit still for more than a few milliseconds at a time without pulling your hair out.” – me

When I was a tyke, my mom gave me “quiet time” in the corner when I became too much of a handful, which was often. I recall standing with my nose in the corner for hours, aching with all of my might to jump, dance, sing and sprint around the house, wondering how I could possibly survive this torture! A few years ago, I learned that I rarely stood there for more than a few minutes. It seems how we spend the in-between time makes a big ‘ol difference.

My Girl Boner book proposals (yep, multiple) have been in the hands of the same considering publisher for over a year, or 10.6 million years in 3-year-old-ese. I suppose I’ve grown up a little, as as much as I’d anticipated a swifter process, I honestly haven’t felt impatient. I’m grateful for their interest and my agent’s diligence as we work to find the best way to package my work. Even so, I’ve been unsure lately whether the process is going as it should—particularly as more time passes. I’m at what you might call a watershed moment. Which is exciting.

I’ve learned to trust the path, keep my options open and follow my instincts. Rather than allow myself to feel impatient or tortured with my nose in the corner, I now work on myself, craft and career, as dedicated creatives do. Recently, I’ve added meditation to the mix, a practice I’d long deemed impossible for my monkeys-partying brain. I can’t tell you how transformative it’s been. Perhaps that’s why my perceived confusion of late feels like a watershed.

Waldo finds himself

Most of all, I continue to pursue my passions, even when I don’t know precisely where I’m headed career-wise. I’m guessing some of you can relate—yes?

If so, you know that such efforts pay off in all sorts of ways. I adore my show, listeners and readers, have some awesome speaking engagements and potential film and TV projects on the horizon, and can feel myself growing in ways I can’t quite articulate. And yet, something seems missing. (All of you who relate to this, too, say AYE.)

So I asked myself the other day: Self! What is missing? What would fill that elusive void that’s keeping your panties in a bunch?

August McLaughlin blog

Almost immediately, women flashed in my mind—the many I’ve interviewed, heard from and spoken to since Girl Boner was born. It isn’t the the delay in securing a publishing contract that irks me, I realized. It’s that I’m not doing as much as I could for these women. Simply writing that brought tears, as YOW went my heart.

That doesn’t mean I’m rushing off to self-publish, though I’m always grateful that’s an option. I am, however, committing to doing more. Later this week, I’ll share one of the stories I wrote for my initial proposal, based on an interview with a courageous woman named Butterfly. I can’t wait to hear what you all think. While many women have inspired me these past few years, seldom does a day or week go by that I don’t think of Butterly.

In the meantime, here some quotes I love that can help us maximize the in-between time, whether you’re between projects, seeking representation or simply aren’t living the life of your dreams just yet:

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” — Oprah Winfrey

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” — Joyce Meyer

quiet butterfly quote

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“It’s not about what I can get, it’s what I can give.” — Marie Forleo, Super Soul Sunday

Can you relate to any of this? How do you move forward when things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d hoped? Are you meditating, like me and Waldo? I love hearing from you! ♥

Self-Publishing with an Agent: A Viable Option?

As many of you know, I’m not skilled at keeping my mouth shut. (This is the point at which my loved ones cringe. Don’t worry, guys. This isn’t going to be a saucy tell-all. Sorry, everyone else. ;)) While I’ve learned to temper my blurt-y nature with reason, this case calls for outage. Or so says my gut.

I’m about to make a decision many authors face: to self-publish or not to self-publish. No, I’m not firing my agent, and he hasn’t kicked me to the curb. In fact, he brought the notion up—not as a last resort, but as a viable strategy.

“The times, they are a changin.” — Bob Dylan

After 14 passes from publishers, most offering positive feedback—some very—I’m wondering if I and my book seem too risky for the current thriller market. (My words, not my agent’s.) I suspect that unique and risky are synonymous for new authors, in some publishers’ views. Or maybe they dislike my novel, writing or heck, me, for other reasons. Regardless, my novel’s not yet found a home. And I’m far from alone.

Newbie thriller authors are seldom seen in Publisher’s Marketplace nowadays, I’m told, a significant shift from mere months ago. Meanwhile, many self-published authors are having significant success. Numerous have self-published their way to publisher recognition and sizable contracts—some have been taken, others turned down because the author makes more money independently. When it works, I’ve been told, it works well. Really well.

And yet, there are risks.

  • Self-publishing still carries some amount of “amateur” stigma. (Blech, I know.)
  • Getting self-published books into bookstores can be difficult.
  • Some upfront costs are involved, and there’s no advance unless a traditional contract formulates.
  • If sales are low, authors don’t make much money, publishers aren’t interested and bridges could be burned.

I have a hard time seeing any of these risks as insurmountable. Self-published authors and books are gaining continually more respect. E-books have surpassed bookstore sales. Sales risks affect traditionally published authors, too. And I have more than a few friends who’ve been grossly disappointed by their experiences with unenthusiastic presses.

If I go the indie route for now, I’ll be expected to do more marketing and promotional work than a traditionally published author. But honestly, I function as an indie anyway. I worked my butt of with modeling and acting, even with the best of representation, and feel all parties benefited as a result. Most successful authors I know operate similarly, regardless of their publishing style.

We’ve got to work our butts off if we want to make the most of our careers, no matter what, in my opinion.

Aside from the obvious benefits of self-publishing (greater control, quick turn around, etc.) some of you may be wondering about the benefits of self-publishing with an agent, versus on your own. I’m still learning, and am sure situations vary, but here’s what I’ve gathered so far.

Agents seem to offer self-published authors:

  • Teamwork. I’ve always preferred having a qualified advisor looking out for me legally and professionally.
  • Future contracts. Agents seek and secure traditional publishing contracts if or when it makes sense.
  • Rights shopping. Agents shop additional and subsidiary rights, such as audio, film, and foreign.
  • Help with grunt work. Agents often handle copy editing, book formatting, cover design, jacket copy and proofreading. They may also guide or facilitate marketing strategies.
  • Learning. I personally believe that ideal agents help us become stronger writers, and our work more marketable.

I’ve been asking trusted authors what they’d advise, given my situation. The consensus seems to be “Go indie!” with a couple of exceptions. I’ll learn more regarding my options this week, including whether another round of submissions is wise, and plan to make a decision soon. One thing is for certain: I’m going to keep writing regardless.

In the meantime, I’ll open the floor up to you. How do you feel about self versus traditional publishing? Or going indie in collaboration with an agent? Have your views changed with the changes in the industry?