I reconsidered titling this blog post, “When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers,” when I heard the conceit and self-indulgence in it. I am celebrating the official publication tomorrow of Tropical Depression, the third mystery in the Sabrina Salter series, and don’t want to sour the joy with even a note of negativity.
I was thrilled when No Virgin Island and Permanent Sunset, the first two in the series were published after I had tried to have books I had written earlier published. I had and still have no regrets sharing that I got my first publishing contract in the same month I received my Medicare card. I am proud to be a writer of a certain age and will never apologize for trying to share my stories with readers. To me, my reciprocation with readers is the way I thank the thousands of writers who have entertained me since I was a child.
I admit I was surprised when my publisher didn’t want to publish the third installment in the Sabrina Salter series, but I was determined that I would write and publish it anyway. When my efforts and those of my agent were unsuccessful, I continued to write what ultimately became Tropical Depression. After a category 5-plus hurricane nearly demolished St. John, the island where the series is set, I decided to rewrite the story I had been working on to include the experiences of the island inhabitants who had met the force of nature with courage that couldn’t be ignored.
I still couldn’t publish Tropical Depression for a variety of reasons given to me by publishers, traditional and hybrid. Meanwhile, I kept getting emails and messages on social media from readers wanting to know where was the next Sabrina Salter mystery? They were an insistent bunch of readers, who wouldn’t let me give up on Sabrina or myself.
I have lamented with other writers facing the harsh reality of the publishing world. Publication seems so random. We claim books not as good as ours get published, sometimes by major houses, and are received with critical praise and commercial success. Agents, editors, and publishers hold magic wands with which they can determine the fate of the writer. Facing constant random rejection (“Love the characters, not so much the story” from one editor. “Great plot but I didn’t fall in love with the characters “from another.), I found it difficult to hold onto my commitment to be a writer.
Until one day during a conversation with a colleague, I decided it wasn’t the fate of the writer that was at stake. It’s the choice of the reader that stands to fall. In the five years since Permanent Sunset was traditionally published, I have written Tropical Depression and four standalones. Are my books never to be shared with readers? Do readers have no say in what ends up on their bookshelves? Do they only get to read what is curated by others? In that moment, I knew the new motto for my writing career would be, “Let the Reader Decide.”
And so Tropical Depression will be available on Amazon in hardcover, ebook, and paperback tomorrow and in other places, including bookstores, soon. The other books I have been working on are under consideration but in the end, it will be the reader decide if they are worthy of their time and money. I have learned to trust readers and myself.
Say hello to Tropical Depression tomorrow on its official book birthday.
And while you’re at it, congratulate KAREN MASLOWSI for winning the September giveaway, signed copies of No Virgin Island and Permanent Sunset.