Or that famous one by the Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"?
Yeah, me, too.
But I wonder how many times, when you heard one or the other of them on the radio, you thought about something in your life and said to yourself, "No, no! I really do want that particular thing ___(fill in the blank with your heart's deep desire). I don't wanna just get what I need -- I'm telling you* what I need, and it's the same thing that I want!"
[*"You," in this case, typically refers to one of the following: God, Mother Nature, the Unseen Forces of the Universe and/or your Magic 8 Ball.]
Publishing seems to inspire such moments more frequently than, say, almost any other less crazy-making occupation. And I'm not telling you that only because I've had some rather heated discussions with my Magic 8 Ball. But, if I'm being totally honest, I'll admit that in the nearly 13 years that I've been a fiction writer, my perspective on what's an actual blessing -- vs. what's a blessing in disguise -- has changed.
This did not in any way stop me from desperately wanting a publishing contract with a NY house for that book. And Garth Brooks could croon on the radio all night long about how thankful he was for prayers that went unanswered, but I was convinced I was more perceptive than he was anyway and, seriously (!!), I knew what I wanted.
Turned out, I needed to dig a little deeper into that desire. Yes, I wanted to be a published author -- that part proved true -- but what I really wanted, more than almost anything at the time, was to have written a story that was a good solid piece of fiction. I kept wishing for a book contract for that first novel. But it was actually acquiring the novel-writing skills that would lead to a book contract that was my deep-down burning dream. (And I got the contract eventually, too, but only after I'd finished my fifth manuscript. No one, not even me, should ever have to suffer through that first one again... I remain ever grateful and relieved that it never got published.)
Many novelists put them away in a drawer or hid them on a flashdrive somewhere. They tried to forget about them, but there was always that lingering sense of disappointment.
And then digital publishing exploded onto the scene.
Authors who'd never found the right editor to embrace their work, suddenly had a platform to make thousands of sales, if they could reach their ideal audience. Books that didn't fit neatly into a publishing niche before, now had an honored place on the virtual bookshelves. I cannot begin to count the number of times I've heard in just the past twelve months, "Thank God my book didn't sell to ____ publisher!" Why? Because it gave the author the freedom to sell it to another house that did more for them marketing/distribution-wise or to publish it themselves and reap much greater royalties than they may have gotten under different circumstances.
In one instance, at least, that was true for me, too. I'd been very discouraged when Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match didn't sell to a traditional publisher several years ago. It had gotten so close! It made it as far as that final mystical roundtable of publishing people at a well-known house...and, at the last minute, they decided against buying it.
Honestly, though, that was the BEST thing that ever could have happened to that book! (And I'd hug Garth Brooks and Mick Jagger and sing their songs along with them both, if they were here, just to prove it.)
From a royalties standpoint, the story earned more in its first month after release than I would have made from that traditional publisher's small advance, plus, I got to keep all of my foreign/audio/etc. rights and I had complete control over selecting the cover design and choosing the release date. But, best of all, I got my deeper goal...which wasn't really to sell that novel to a NY house, but to connect that story with its right readership. I didn't have the online community network back then that I do now, and that's a large reason why I think I was able to help this book find its audience. Not selling this story too soon was, in fact, exactly what I needed...and, surprisingly, what I wanted as well. Even though I didn't know that until a few weeks ago. :)
What about you? Have you ever not gotten something that you thought you wanted, only to later discover that it was a blessing in disguise? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Marilyn Brant is the award-winning women's fiction author of According to Jane, Friday Mornings at Nine and A Summer in Europe, as well as a #1 Kindle bestseller who also writes digital romantic comedies. She likes to sing everything from pop-country to rock-n-roll (but only when she's alone in the house), and she's very attached to her Magic 8 Ball.