Truthfully, I had given up on ever being published. What I like to write, and what I like to read aren't generally the kinds of books being published in today's climate. (why I read mostly classics) I just got lucky with Farm Girl.. And since then, I've been looking really hard to find other unlikely books that snuck through the cracks to somehow see the light of publication. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of them. What an amazing surprise hit that was! Who would have thought that a book written by a depressed divorcee heading off to find spiritual healing through eating pasta and washing floors at an ashram would become a bestseller?
At first, I didn't intend Farm Girl to be published. I planned on putting together a little printed booklet of my mom's stories to surprise her on her 90th birthday, and to pass out to family members. Until it came together and I saw the possibilities. That's when I submitted it to several small and regional presses, thinking they might be interested. No dice. But then, through a series of (fortunate) events, an investor saw it and wanted to launch a publishing company with this unlikely little book as the first release. And since my family members had been involved in the editing and design, he wanted them on board as editors and as the typesetting/design
Now I'd love to tell a rags to riches story here about how Farm Girl went from being the book nobody wanted to publish to the book that everybody wanted to read. Hahahahahhahahahhaha *laughing hysterically* That's not what happened. Although I always hold out hope lol!! And there were people who read it who said, "You can sell a million copies of this book!" (What were they smoking? Nothing, they were little old ladies who read it and loved it. Not a huge book-buying demographic. Oh, and one 12 year-old fantasy-loving girl who couldn't believe she liked it so much.)
Farm Girl sold well beyond 1000 copies and still sells. It has something that appeals to readers of all ages. It touches the heart. But it would never have gotten an agent or a publisher through traditional means. It still wouldn't snag an agent, if that's what I wanted, because sales aren't remarkable. But the publisher wasn't expecting a bestseller. He wanted it as a first release and as learning
No, Farm Girl isn't the big seller an author dreams of, but I felt vindicated after all those initial rejections when the first review came out in the Omaha Reader, saying "It concerns real life, relatively ordinary activities, drawn with the precision of a Norman Rockwell painting." And I feel rewarded every time someone who reads it contacts me and tells me what it meant to them.
Moral of this
(I'm fascinated by other writers' paths to publication, especially when it falls outside the box. If you have a story you want to share, contact me because I'm thinking of doing a series of feature interviews on writers who have gotten published by luck or chance or through nontraditional channels.)