Out of respect for those of you who have been inquiring, this question warrants more than a cute Facebook post. And for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is: In 2014 I started writing (and blabbing about) “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter” (my adventures and “misadventures” on the frontline of songwriting), because I needed an outlet to express my feelings about the changing music industry.
I had never written a book before and I knew nothing about the process…or the business. Much like the day I decided to become a professional songwriter, it was one foot in front of the other. You stumble you fall, You get back up and keep walking. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. That's a little easier to do when you’re younger, but I found that when I entered this uncharted territory, I felt young again. There’s something to be said for trying something new.
I learned that in the literary world if I wanted to find an agent to represent my manuscript (a necessary lifeline to a publisher), I would have to create a book “proposal.” This is like a thesis about your book which discusses its genre, storyline, audience, platform, comparative material and…your number of Twitter followers. (What? I wasn’t even on Twitter.) Writing the proposal was more challenging for me than writing the entire book. But with the help of my more literary-minded husband it got done. I also signed up for Twitter. And started growing a beak.
I submitted that book proposal to about fifty agents. One wrote back: if I could get Christina Aguilera (for whom I wrote two #1 hits) to write the foreword there'd be a publishing deal in place "tomorrow." Really? But you haven’t even read the book. It didn’t matter. Another said that when I had 400,000 Twitter followers, we could revisit. Umm, at that point I had about nine.
Then I had a conversation with two successful first time authors who self-published their books—books that later rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. Both encouraged me to DIY. Their feeling was...you keep control. You make more money. Sure, it’s a lot of work. But you’re going to do most of the work anyway.
This sounded familiar—like how it is with music publishers. Plus, “Fifty Shades of Grey” (initially, self-published by the way), didn’t turn out so badly. Hmm.
After much pondering, I closed my eyes and asked myself “What Feels Right, Shelly?” This is my process of choice for assessing any situation in life. I decided I would go for it. I was used to doing hard work. I fastened my seatbelt.
Off I went down the rabbit hole. I made friends on Facebook. I learned as much from my Facebook community as they said they learned from me. Huffington Post invited me to blog for them. Everything was falling into place!
I reached out to the publicists of recording artists for photo clearances, tracked down photographers who took my picture twenty-five years ago. I hired my own legal council, trademark attorney, editor and formatter. I sought out a PR team and a social media consultant for the book launch. I gathered beta readers—one of many new concepts in my literary orbit—to scan for typos. My learning curve felt more like a hairpin turn When they said it would be a lot of work, I had no idea just how much work it would be. Still, I was invigorated. So very young again. All the while, writing, re-writing, tweeting!
My plan was to release “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter” via Amazon shortly after my daughter goes to college this September. It would be a symbolic and therapeutic way to fill my empty nest. As of a few weeks ago it was all systems GO!
And then an interesting thing happened: I was offered a book publishing deal. What? Really? This made me so happy. But after the initial high, I thought…wait a minute...I’ve already done all the work. Why would I sign off now?
Well, maybe because even though Amazon is one of the largest booksellers around, a publisher can put my story in front of the eyes of those who might not be so online friendly. They can stock shelves in book stores (yes, they still exist), libraries, airports and classrooms. They often get involved in marketing. They can have soft covers waiting at every destination on a cross country book tour as opposed to an author having to schlepp inventory back and forth from post office to post office. I paused and considered these advantages.
So late in the game. Where were they last year? Silly question. All things happen for a reason…and in their own time.
There is a concern though: publisher said they’d need a few months to get all their ducks in order. (Apparently, they have a lot more ducks than I.) And all those ducks mean that they can’t ‘soft’ launch until the Namm Show in January. Can I really wait until January? On the other hand, I keep hearing a voice in my head that says this:
I’m tired. All the multitasking has been daunting. I’m not complaining. I’m just…tired. I’ve written maybe three songs in the past six months which is ironic for someone who is writing a book about being a songwriter, don’t you think? I miss my friends. I haven’t binge watched a TV show in two years or spent a whole day in my kitchen.
I am not a machine. I am a writer. I want to write.
January is around the corner. It will be here in a heartbeat as is always the case with the future.
In the meantime, I can get my daughter settled in at Georgetown, linger in D.C. for a week, take a meeting on Capitol Hill on behalf of music creators and try to convince a few Congress people to #RespectMusic and #GetTheRateRight. I can take a “vaca” (somewhere anywhere) with my hubby, go on a much needed mindful meditation retreat, celebrate Thanksgiving, lavish in Christmas and before I know it…voila. It will be January. Ready for blast off.
This publisher feels like a good fit. Nobody has requested a foreword by Christina or asked about my current Twitter followers. They seem authentically enthusiastic about my story.
The more I think about it…the better it sounds.
So my inquiring friends, Ronny Schiff, my editor-turned-agent, is ‘having discussions.’ And I, at this very moment, am on a plane headed for New York to meet with the company. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe they'll change their mind. Who knows. But I do know one thing: I need to get in the room with them. I need to close my eyes and ask myself “What Feels Right, Shelly?”
I’ll keep you posted.
Please follow me on my Amazon Author Page so when the book drops, they will let you know!