As I’ve indicated in some prior entries, achieving success with a first novel when you don’t have a major publisher and/or you aren’t a celebrity is, to say the least, a challenge.  I’ve had more doors slammed in my face (figuratively) than a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. (Do they still exist? Does anyone sell anything door to door anymore?).  I always considered myself too sensitive for sales. I back down easily, and I take rejection personally. But I’m surprised at how resilient I’ve become. I don’t believe that’s entirely by my own doing. It’s at least in part to the various kinds of support I’ve received from friends, family, and – most of all – satisfied readers! And a few surprises.

Since I received no comments on my suggestion for an on-line peer review/critique process, I have to assume that either the folks who would be interested don’t read my blog, or that it’s just not a popular idea. That’s okay – I’m actually a little relieved, because it could have been a monumental responsibility to do it right.

So I moved on to focus on other activities. I’ve set up a few local events. I received a wonderful press release suggestion from my friend Carol Constantino, so I sent a new round out to area newspapers about a week ago. I received a couple of form responses requesting additional information, but no real action yet.  And a dear friend in Virginia has arranged for some face-to-face events in her area, which I’ll be doing in late February.

I continue to encounter obstacles and disappointments. My official book release date was last Friday, January 7th. That was the day my book was to be available on Amazon and through bookstores.  Imagine my angst when I signed on to Amazon that morning and searched my book, only to receive the message that there were no results for my search. I’ll never know whose error it was – the publisher says they submitted the right information and that Amazon made the mistake. But it was resubmitted and yet as of today, no listing. I had to pull back and revise all of the release day on-line activities I had ready to launch. I hardly slept all weekend, I felt so angry and powerless.

But most of this week I have received one message after another that has helped me look at things differently.

First, I had sent out a revised mass email (without the Amazon connection), and received so very many notes from people who had already read AUTUMN COLORS and loved it. And no, they weren’t all friends and family! Many friends and family had loaned their books to others, or raved about it enough to encourage their friends to buy it. And so many of the messages were from people whom I’ve never met. That urged me on. Surely if people love the book, and say they couldn’t put it down, it’s worth continuing to push, right?

And in the midst of my doldrums I received a note from a friend, coach and mentor, Judy Torel. She said: “My advice to you for helping yourself through frustration and impatience is to adopt the view that everything is temporary so no pain/frustration lasts forever…..and trust that when things don’t go the way you would ideally want them to that this is the universe’s way of helping you to get out of your own way…..and trusting that the opportunities that will come out of the way it is will be ones you would never have seen if it went ‘your’ way.  The way things are is always the way things should be….because that is how they are….it is the way we ‘think’ they should be that was wrong…..not vice versa.  Which is a completely different way of looking at the world ……but one that is totally less stressful and more joy filled and peaceful!” It took a few days for it to gel in my own non-eastern-thinking brain, but I think I’m almost there.

And then yesterday, as I was packing away returned “Advance Reading” copies of the book and muttering about the celebs who don’t even have the courtesy to reply to my requests for blurbs with a refusal, or the one that took money for a donation to a charity and never supplied the blurb, and my husband handed me the mail. It was yet another returned book – one that I had sent out last August – from Hayley Mills’ personal assistant. Yes, it was a refusal, but it was a personalized refusal:

“Hayley Mills thanks you for your letter requesting an article about AUTUMN COLORS. She has only just returned to London having been filming in South Africa for several months. Therefore there is not the time to write an article for the book. She wishes you luck with the book.”

No, that didn’t help my promotion, but it did help my mood. And my willingness to persevere.

And then today, along with some very kind and enthusiastic comments responding to a Facebook status update I placed early this morning, I received a note from my dear friend, Nancy Gaston, who has done much to help me identify opportunities for promotion, including linking me with book clubs in her area and providing me with contacts for media. She’s been aware of the challenges I’ve been facing, and she told me: “You have what it takes!  ….actors, musicians, etc, I believe have the same type  competition and experiences to get their foot in the doors.  Hence, this is why your publisher is not helping more with marketing of your 1st book.  They want the weak of mind to weed out themselves, so , like you said, when/if the 2nd book comes out they know who is serious about their book writing careers.”

Thank you, Nancy.

I couldn’t be more serious. I came to this commitment later in life. For whatever reason, I didn’t have the same level of drive and focus twenty years ago. I will continue doing whatever it takes to give AUTUMN COLORS a respectable run. And in the meantime I am finishing up book #2 (currently called SENTIMENTAL  JOURNEY) – only about 10,000 words away! And next weekend I will be at the 2011 Writers Digest Conference in New York City learning and practicing “pitch” for SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.

I’m always annoyed at the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” because it’s become so cliché. But the truth is, life really does throw you a lot of curves. You have choices in how you deal with them. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity when the curve balls hurt rather than help. But that gets you nowhere. You can keep letting life knock you down until you don’t get up anymore. Or you can reach inside yourself to keep coming back. Sort of like those weighted punching clowns that keep popping up no matter how hard they’re hit. I think I’m choosing to look beyond the obvious challenges for the outcomes that may be different from my original plans but, in the long run, better. (Thanks, Judy!)

About Dawn Essegian Lajeunesse

I, like so many others, am a novelist struggling for recognition. My last three novels, THE EYES HAVE IT, IN HER MOTHER'S SHOES and STAR CATCHING, are available in e-book format through Amazon and other formats by request here or on my website. AUTUMN COLORS was my first novel and is still available through Amazon and B&N in multiple formats. My early writings are women's fiction, one also suitable for YA. My work-in-progress is a historical fiction about the Armenians who settled in Troy, NY in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Come visit me at my website:
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