That's right. My own little underdog novel that took me literally years to sell to a publisher now has 200 FIVE STAR reviews on Amazon. You can check out the lengthy Agent Rejection Pictorial here.
Big Pub 1 to Agent (11/5/10):
Thanks for the FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER material. The real-life background is horrific, of course, but I'm not that sold on the novel itself.
Good luck with it!
Some writers might think, "So what? Big whoop. I've got a bajillion of those." Other writers might think, "I'd give my right kidney for 2 reviews let alone 200!" You'll see both ends of that spectrum in this business. For me, it is very special because this book was so hard to get into the hands of readers. I don't bring it up to gloat. I mean it is pretty freaking amazing. I'm astounded and humbled and ecstatic, to say the least. The real reason I bring it up is two-fold. First, I want to say:
to all the readers who gave my book a chance. Even if you hated it, even if you left a scathing review, I'm still grateful to you. I'm grateful that you would spend your money and your precious time on something that I wrote. Thank you to ALL the people who left reviews, whether they were 5 stars or not. I'm happy and grateful for each and every review I get--yes, even the bad ones because bad reviews do lend your book some credibility. Not everyone is going to like it. As a reader, I am always suspicious of a book that has no bad reviews.
Second, I want to maybe offer hope to writers who feel like I did just a few years ago--like this dream was never going to happen. Ever. I had no reason to believe that this book was going to be published, even after I got my agent. It was tough. I'm not saying I had it tougher than anyone else. I'm just saying it was tough for me.Big Pub 2 to Agent (1/27/11):Thanks for sending Lisa Regan's sample chapters. We've both looked at the material and while the premise is very intriguing, the writing wasn't as strong as we'd hoped. But we wish you lots of luck finding a good home for this project.
Big Pub 3 to Agent (12/15/10):
[Name Redacted to Protect the Overworked] passed this submission along to me when she left the company, and I've just now had a chance to look at FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER by Lisa Regan. The concept for this story is quite strong and I was immediately drawn into the story. Unfortunately, however, I just didn't love the execution and thus I will be passing.
Even after Sapphire Star Publishing was awesome enough to take a chance on me, several people warned me not to expect too much. Small press authors don't sell books, I heard again and again. You'll be lucky if you sell 250 copies of your book lifetime. The message was clear--your dream may be coming true but you're in for some major disappointment.
Big Pub 4 to Agent (1/3/11):
With regret, I will not be offering on Lisa Regan's FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER, which doesn't seem right for the PUBLISHER NAME REDACTED list at this time.
The author generates a powerful and absorbing premise, bringing out the tension in the worst nightmare for any parent. In developing the characters of this novel, alas, it seemed that the human element never quite lived up to the more terror-inducing aspects, and without a strong sense of the people at the center of this novel, it would be difficult to position in our glutted marketplace.
Thank you for the opportunity to consider FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER. I wish you and Ms. Regan great success in finding the perfect publishing home for it.I'll admit that my first royalty check was quite the shock. It wasn't even how little money the book had made, it was how few copies had sold. But I was still happy. I was still living the dream and since my 6 year quest to have Finding Claire Fletcher published had involved so much work on my part, I wasn't about to give up after a month. I did what I could to promote it. I was extremely lucky because I had so many family members and friends to spread the word. And really, I was just plain lucky. Many of my friends and fellow authors whose books are far better than mine, who were doing all the same things I was doing, were not having the sales or exposure that my book got.
Big Pub 5 to Agent (1/13/11):
Thanks for sending Lisa Regan's proposal for FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER. I found it kind of intriguing, I have to say, but it just doesn't quite fit anywhere on the list. It's not the kind of suspense we do, certainly not the kind of women's fiction on our list.
I'm going to have to pass but good luck with it. Someone should do well with it.
This book that over 100 agents passed on, that every big publishing house turned down, that even most small presses turned down has now sold thousands of copies and it's still going. For someone who was told no consistently year after year and for someone who was told that, even after signing a contract, I wasn't going to sell many books that is pretty darn incredible. I know that there are far more talented authors than me out there who are lucky to sell one book in a month. I know that I am lucky and blessed and more grateful than I could ever express with words.
Big Pub 6 to Agent (11/9/10):
Thank you so much for sending FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER by Lisa Regan to [Name Redacted to Protect the Overworked], who then passed it on to me after my enthusiasm for the proposal. I must say, I really enjoyed this project. As I read the story, I felt as if I was there with every one of the characters. I thought the voice was good, the characters well developed, and the anticipation leading up to Connor's recovery of Claire kept me on edge the entire time. Despite all I like about this book, I feel that the plot is problematic. [I redacted this part because of spoilers but the gist is that it is not believable or plausible that a kidnap victim would stay with the kidnapper when there was ample opportunity to go home or go to the police.] So unfortunately, while I do think the writing shows potential, right now I think the problems with the plotting are fundamental enough to keep this story from working on our list.
I'm so sorry this project didn't work out for us, but I wish you the very best on placing this project with another publisher.
What I hope is that other writers out there who are working on their own Finding Claire Fletchers will not give up on their dreams. Not even necessarily dreams of finding an agent or a publisher but of finding READERS. Readers are where it's at. True story. When I started out, I didn't have the kind of self-publishing opportunities that are out there now. Now you can bypass the gatekeepers and go directly to the readers. Don't get me wrong, it takes a ton of work and luck to get those readers because you'll be doing your own marketing and promotion, but writers have options now. So whether you're going traditional or indie, I hope you won't give up on your writing dreams.
In sort of related news, my T-shirt fundraiser was a success! I sold 35 t-shirts which is 5 over the 30 I was hoping to sell. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who bought a Finding Claire Fletcher shirt! You guys are super-awesome! I'm waiting for Teespring to send me a check so that I can forward it to Operation Underground Railroad, which is the charity I chose for the fundraiser. You can check out their website here.