A couple of years ago, I was in the midst of writing Heart on a Chain when I found an online writing contest for a short story of 2,000 words or less (it ended up at around 1,970 words). I thought, What the heck?, and decided to enter. I wrote two short stories, one of which was Geek. (Want to read it? You can here.) It won an honorable mention, which was pretty cool.
I finished writing Heart on a Chain, but Jen & Trev just would not leave me alone. They insisted on having their story told - in full. So I sat back down and began writing their story. It came fairly easily because of the fact that I knew how their story went, and also because I was so fired up to write it. However, I felt a little stifled by having to follow the short story. It was sort of like writing with an outline, which I don't do. But I was determined to keep all aspects of the short story in the novel-length version. At some point I gave up on that idea. I mean, it still follows it pretty closely, but I allowed myself creative license, and went where I would with the story. Eventually, those 1,970 words became somewhere around 78,000 words, and Geek Girl was born.
A note on the title: The short story I entitled Geek. When I began writing the full-length version I changed the title to Geek Boy because I felt there were too many things already titled Geek. When I joined an online class for writing a query letter, the instructor suggested I change the title to Geek Girl. As soon as she suggested it, I knew right away it was the perfect title. It's been Geek Girl ever since.
After many submissions to and rejections from a variety of agents, I was discouraged. I knew I had a decent story, if I could only get someone to read it! At this point I had joined forces with a couple of my classmates from the query class in a critique group, and mentioned that I was considering just going ahead and publishing it as an ebook. One of my fellow critiquer's mentioned that he had heard of Amazon's publishing company called CreateSpace where you could self-publish your book - for free. This was good news, because when I had looked into it previously, they were all vanity publishers that wanted the writer to pay to have them print their book. I don't even know how many you'd have to sell to make back the amount of money they wanted!
So I found my way to CreateSpace, which led me to Kindle DP (the ebook version). From there I found Smashwords, and eventually Barnes & Noble's PubIt. I was published! That was July of 2010.
And then . . . nothing. People weren't lined up to purchase my amazingly wonderful book, can you believe it??? Of course, I knew absolutely zilch about marketing, so not much happened. Then I began searching and learning, and discovered many good marketing forums. I began marketing in every way I could discover, and at the same time was finishing up editing Heart on a Chain, which I also self-published in December of 2010.
It takes time and a lot of hard work to get word of your book out into the world. Around the time I was publishing Heart on a Chain I was feeling pretty discouraged. A cousin of mine works at a small bookstore in a small town, so I asked her if they'd allow me to do a book signing. They couldn't as they had contracts with certain publishing companies, and they suggested I look into getting published with one of them. They gave me a few names, one of which was Cedar Fort, and so I began searching again.
This time I was looking for a publishing company that would accept authors without an agent, and more specifically one who would look at a book that had been previously self-published. I found a few and began the whole query process once again. Only this time it was a bit more complicated. I had to send some info specific to Geek Girl, such as previous sales, where it was published, how I had marketed thus far.
On February 18, 2011 I received an email from Angie Workman, Acquisitions Editor, at Cedar Fort which began: "Thank you for submitting your work to us. We would like to publish Geek Girl. I’ve included a contract for you to look over, sign, and return within 30 days." Hallelujah! What an amazing feeling that was. I signed on March 1, 2011 and sent the contract back to them. I also immediately took Geek Girl off sale anywhere I had it up.
Ironically, March was the month of my highest sales for Heart on a Chain, a record which holds to this day. Had I had those same sales in February, I would likely not have signed with Cedar Fort. Of course, I believe everything happens for a reason, so I believe there's a reason I signed before my sales went crazy.
It's been a very interesting ride with Cedar Fort. Geek Girl will actually be published under one of their subsidiaries, called Sweetwater Press. What a great name, huh? I've met some amazing people because of this venture. At Cedar Fort I've had the opportunity to work with some great editors, including Melissa Caldwell, my Book Editor, Bruce Mortimer, Mariah Overlock, and particularly Laura Jorgensen, my Marketing Editor who has worked her butt off for the success of Geek Girl.
We are now about a month away from the official release date as of this writing, and I'm excited to see what happens from here on. Stay tuned!