Swoon Author Claire Kann: Publishing Confessional — Behind the Swoon (Please Don’t Sue Me VH1!)
You decide to try to be a writer and get published. You give this dream your all.
You forsake sleep and social engagements. You take writing courses and buy writing guides. You write and write and write until you develop carpal tunnel, lower back problems, and your vision begins to deteriorate. You study the industry, making list after list of potentially compatible agents and publishers. You hold fast to your dream, dedication is your new middle name, but years begin to pass. Along the way, you repeatedly consider giving up because it’s just never going to happen. You see your friends get agents, go on submission, and land book deals.
You're running out of new ideas.
You’re burned out.
You accept that your all is never going to be good enough.
And then, finally, you get the call.
Let’s Talk About: Being a Swoon Author
A fellow Swoon Author referred to me as a straight shooter. While I find that to be an oddly violent idiom, it’s just so true. I like to think through these blogs I’ve been honest and transparent about all the things. One of those things is how long I’ve been a part of the Swoon Community and that I submitted three manuscripts before being selected.
And then I came across a comment. “Claire’s just saying that to give writers false hope because Swoon wants people to keep using their site.” Well actually (hah!), no. I talk about my Swoon Story a lot mostly because I want to inspire others to keep going, but I also do it for me. I never want to forget how I got here. I'm selfish that way. :)
My road to becoming a Swoon Author was not all sunshine, Lisa Frank rainbow unicorns, and videos of adorable puppies who quite haven’t figured out how to go down the stairs yet. Yes, it was an overall excellent experience, but it was also hard. Ups and downs like a vomit-inducing roller coaster.
A lot of Swoon Authors knocked it out of the park on their first go round—the first manuscript they submitted got selected. It’s not uncommon at all, really, but more than a few of us had to stick it out a bit longer. These two were my firsts:
Was it hard to stay on the site season after season of not being selected? Yes. Definitely. 100%. I remember an obscene amount of manuscripts and authors that have long since left Swoon because they were too disappointed to stay. And that’s an entirely valid way to feel. This particular route/chance at publication is not for everyone because it’s an incredibly public process. You might have to advertise on social media! Possibly bug your friends and family to support you! Be proactive in reading other books on the site! Personally, I did all of those things…
And when you're not selected, all of your favorite people will know. They will ask about that book you put online and it will hurt every time you have to explain. Querying for a literary agent is a much quieter process—no one will know you’ve gotten 100 rejections unless you divulge that somewhere. And yet, Swoon Reads was for me. I kept striving to improve my craft, evolve my ideas, and submitting until I made it to the other side of the Swoon fence. The community said, "HEY LOOK AT THIS" and Swoon Staff not only listened, but agreed. I sobbed when I received my email from Swoon Reads. I also had a not-so-small panic attack, and my boss had to lead me through breathing exercises to calm me down as I sat on the floor, bewildered and astral projecting into the next realm. Good times.
I lived in the Swoon trenches and stayed there for years. Because of that, I have at least one story to tell about every single Swoon book that was selected before my season. So far, I’ve told L.E. DeLano and Kim Karalius theirs. I even have stories to tell about the books in my season. Vicky Skinner and Alex Evansley both know how much I loved their books and was honored to have my name beside theirs.
For some reason, I did not cry when I received my author copies of Let's Talk About Love in the mail, but I did cry when I saw it at Barnes & Noble. I, the Queen of Being Extra for LTAL, drove to five different stores and posted my adventure on Instagram.
Happy humany-wumany tears all day long.
I suppose the purpose of this blog can be summed up with the old saying, "show your work" or for us writers, "show don't tell" although I technically did show and tell because I'm a rule-breaker of the highest order. I can't speak for everyone, but for me, being a Swoon Author comes with a certain degree of responsibility. I want to be there for you. Yes, you with the shining, hopeful eyes, and you whose writing spirit has become tired and jaded. I've been in both of those places (and the floundering middle) repeatedly. I see you. I hear you.
Any knowledge about publishing, wisdom on how to stay motivated, and hard truths about the process that nobody wants to talk about that I am able to share is yours, Swooners. Because in the end, I absolutely believe in this process and it's been everything I dreamed it would be and more.
Until next time,