Nancy Joie Wilkie ~
Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones. I’m not sure I will ever know. But my first work of fiction — a collection of seven short stories (Seven Sides of Self) was just published by She Writes Press. The stories are finally out in the world for all to see — after 25 years of rejections. So, how did it happen? The story goes something like this.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I was down the street visiting with one of my neighbors. She is a 40-something-year-old mother of three — always running her kids to or from swim team practice or soccer practice or some other kid-oriented activity. We were standing in her kitchen talking when I noticed a book on the counter — and the book had her name on it. She was a published author!
“How in the world did you get a book published?” I asked in amazement. “I’ve been trying to get something published for years!”
She looked at me with a big pride-filled smile on her face and replied, “Have you ever heard of the Maryland Writers’ Association?’
I responded that I hadn’t.
She continued, “When you get home, go onto their website and check it out. It doesn’t cost much for an annual membership — and they have monthly meetings with some really great speakers. You just never know who you might meet there or what connections you might make.”
I went home, found their website, and joined immediately. Six months later, there was a panel of five or six different female authors at a meeting. Each one spoke about how they got their first book published. There were stories ranging from connecting with agents who got the author’s book in front of someone at one of the big five publishing houses to authors who opted for self-publishing. But the one author who told about her experience with a hybrid publisher caught my attention.
For those not familiar with hybrid publishers, they have all of the bells and whistles of the big publishing companies. The only catch? The author bears all of the financial responsibility. While this approach is not for one with limited financial resources, it does allow for the author to retain all rights to their work and avoid the stigma of being self-published.
My next step? I contacted a friend from high school who is a professional editor and had her help me do some grammatical cleaning up. I then picked two hybrid publishers that accepted short story collections and science-fiction. I sent one of my stories to one publisher and a second story to a second publisher. Two weeks later I heard back from the first publisher. They were not interested. Bummer — yet another rejection. After another week of waiting, late at night, just as I was finishing up some work in my studio, I checked my email one last time for the day.
There was a note from the second publisher congratulating me! They had accepted my work and had given it a Track One rating, meaning they weren’t requiring any further development or copyediting. Needless to say, I found it very hard to go to sleep that night!
My book found its home with She Writes Press, a press created for women writers, where they can legitimately compete with their traditional counterparts. The publisher is Brooke Warner — a truly wonderful tour de force in the world of independent presses.
The seven short stories in Seven Sides of Self illustrate various sides of one’s personality — the storyteller, the skeptic, the survivor, the saint (or the sinner), the scholar, the seeker, the savior — and capture the conflicts that these personalities face as part of the human condition. Through the lives of the central characters, themes of battling strong emotions, the lengths we might go to for self-preservation and self-sacrifice, the inability to accept things different, and taking responsibility for what we create are explored. Many of the stories might be considered science fiction; some might be labeled what I call “spiritual fiction.”
But who knows where my stories would be now if I hadn’t joined that writers’ association and heard about hybrid publishing?
— Nancy Joie Wilkie
Nancy Joie Wilkie is a member of the Montgomery Chapter of Maryland Writers’ Association. She worked for over 30 years in both the biotechnology industry and as a part of the federal government’s biodefense effort. Now retired, she spends much of her time composing music and writing. She recently released her third CD of original music — Venus In The Trees (Mindsongs Musique, April 2019) and her first publication of fiction — a collection of short stories titled Seven Sides of Self (She Writes Press, November 2019). More about Nancy and her work can be found at www.mindsights.net.