"No is the saddest experience you'll ever know."
-- Harry Nilsson
If you are familiar with one of Three Dog Night's biggest hits, ONE, you know that line.
No is the saddest experience, and anyone in the arts (think actors, writers, dancers--anyone who has to audition, and writers do audition when they query an agent or editor) is far too familiar with that kind of rejection.
That's why I love to hear success stories. And I've got a (very) little one.
When I was writing confession stories, hoping to beef up my professional credentials, I belonged to the local Romance Writers of America chapter. My critique group decided to try our hands selling to the "confession" market. Turns out, I was the big winner (which caused hard feelings and jealousy among some of the other members, but we won't go there) with six sales in less than a year. And then it just stopped. My favorite story was rejected three times. Someone must have liked it, they asked for three revisions; but that third time I decided the time expenditure was just too much and abandoned it.
Years later, I had a chapbook made out of that story and handed it out at my book talks. People love getting a "parting gift" at the end of a talk.
I wish I could say that story had a happy ending, but it was actually another confession story that has found true success as a Kindle download.
Confession mags LOVE lurid titles, and my title was: Daddy was a Bully, and Mama Paid with her Life! I hated that title, and I'm not even sure if I even submitted that story for publication. We're talking 15-16 years ago. When I upgraded from (formerly) floppy disks to CD storage, I took that little story along, and I'm not even sure why.
Fast forward to April 2010: I decided to try my hand at putting some of my old stuff up on Kindle. I couldn't put up the confessions I'd sold--the publisher got all the rights to those (and one of them was a real beaut). But I did have three unsold stories, one of which I give away free on my web site. It was time for Daddy to find an audience.
The most fun was choosing stock photography to go with the stories. I'm particularly pleased with What I Did For Love, but it was the photo of the crying girl that actually gave me the new title for "Daddy." Abused: A Daughter's story.
And it just so happens that this story has turned out to be my most successful Kindle download. I don't know if it's the title or the picture, or just that people like to read about triumph over hardship (well, it sure has been successful for the books on Oprah's Bookclub). This little story seems to have touched people's hearts, and has been chugging along just fine.
Who knows if it'll last, but I'm kind of proud of that story. Maybe you'll give it a read. (On Kindle or on Smashwords.)