This week my husband and I are both hosting Ingrid Anders. Every writer has their story about when they first knew they were going to be a writer and how they made it happen. This Ingrid’s story.
Prophecy, Rejection, and Belligerence – How I Got Where I Am
by Ingrid Anders
It all started when my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Caramella, told me I was going to be a novelist someday. I’ll never forget when she taught us what poetry was; I wrote so many poems in her class she started calling me her “little poetess.” In middle school, I gained a reputation in English class for taking the new spelling words and stringing them together in a humerous narrative about an underwater jazz band called the Seabreaze Octet. I continued the story with each new batch of spelling words. Eventually, my teacher had me reading the segments out loud to the class … every week … for two years. In college, my creative writing teacher made another pesky command: “When you write your All-American novel, you let me know.” The prophets had spoken. The only problem was making it happen.
It wasn’t until after college that I even had a novel idea. It took me a year and a half to write the first draft of Earth to Kat Vespucci (ETKV) and four and a half years of rejection and revision before I finally got it to print. During that time, I received rejection notices from agents and publishers in every shape, length, and degree or personalization—post cards to legal-sized letters, one line dismissals to several page slams, and “Dear Author, We regret to inform you that …” to “Not sure what to make of it … would be funny to young people but not to grown-ups … this has no apparent direction … etc.” I even received rejection letters from Canada and Germany. But then, finally, a miracle occurred. I got picked up by an agent and everything looked up. She and I worked together for a year revising the draft. I’ll never forget the day she told me, “This book will be bigger than you ever imagined.” And then she dropped me. Mrs. Caramella, Why would you doom me to this fate?
Five and a half years after starting my novel, I gave up on the traditional publishing industry and self-published. I paid a hefty sum for a publishing package that included professional editing services. After editing and polishing it over the next six months, I finally had my book in my hands. Just before it went live, the publishing company informed me I had won their “Editor’s Choice” award. What? Really? Not long after that, I won their “Reader’s Choice” award.
There are many advantages to self-publishing, the biggest being maintaining all rights and creative control. One of the disadvantages is that you have to do your own marketing. While ETKV is selling well for a self-published book, I have to work for every sale. Every now and then, some help comes from the sky … a favorable review on Gadling.com, an interview on a local television station, or an invitation by James to contribute to his blog. Every bit of exposure counts.
The most rewarding part of this whole experience for me has been receiving photographs from fans around the world with the book. They’ve sent pictures from Kabul, Afghanistan to Quakertown, Pennsylvania. I post them on the Ingrid Anders Facebook page. Many people tell me, “I couldn’t put your book down. I read it in three days. It reminded me so much of my time abroad.” These interactions with readers validate my sanity. For the longest time, I was the only one who thought it was any good.
My dream is still to get picked up by a traditional publishing house. I’m working on my second novel now, Kat Vespucci and the Renegade Province, and when it is finished, I will strap my thick skin back on and pitch it to agents and publishers. This is all for you, Mrs. Caramella. I know you wouldn’t lie to me, so the only option is to make what you said come true.
Ingrid Anders has spent extended time in Germany, Taiwan, and China. She holds a B.A. in international politics from the Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Anders speaks fluent German and Mandarin Chinese. She resides in Washington, D.C.