A Gift From Charles Dickens

In the Doghouse by Teri Case
Buddy, my canine beta reader of In the Doghouse.
photo by Kate McKenzie

Vitality Stories

A Gift From Charles Dickens

Dear Friends,

During the holidays, I watched The Man Who Invented Christmas. It’s the story about Charles Dickens and how he wrote and published A Christmas Carol.

A Christmas Carol is my all time favorite holiday book and movie, but last night it was extra special because it was validating to learn how the story came about. Now, let me pause and preface the below with I am not by any means comparing my writing to that of Charles Dickens’.

After his success with Oliver Twist but failure with two follow-on books, the publishers refused to publish Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol! So what did he do? He published the story himself and with great flourish and within six weeks–just in time for Christmas. Then and there, Charles Dickens’ became an indie publisher.

I’m an indie publisher!

Why is Charles Dickens’ publishing choice validating? Because even though I self-published Tiger Drive with great results, I’ve decided to try the traditional publishing route for my second novel, In the Doghouse. Some agents have passed, a few are currently reading it. They will either want to move forward or they will pass on my second novel. An agent might pass for a variety of reasons:

  • She/He already representing another book with a similar plot or storyline.
  • She is not looking for another book in that genre.
  • The topic does not interest her.
  • She doesn’t like the voice.
  • The manuscript is not well-written.
  • The story would be hard to sell.

Keep in mind, agents get rejected too. When an agent represents your book, she has to go out to editors and pitch your book. She has to be excited about the book to pitch it. And even with her professionalism, network, and excitement, an editor or publisher can reject her pitch and your book. She has to tell her client that an editor rejected the pitch. It’s not an easy job. Agents work hard to help authors’ dreams come true. Even if an agent and an editor fall in love with your book at first sight, it will most likely be over a year before the book is published. Over a year. We’re talking 2020, people, for best case scenario.

While watching and learning about Charles Dickens’ journey, a calm settled over me. I can self-publish In the Doghouse if I want to. I know how to indie publish. I’ve done it already. I don’t have to wait for an agent to want or be excited about my new novel (and in turn, wait for an editor and publisher to want and be excited about my novel). Just as Charles wanted his novel out in six weeks in time for Christmas, I can have In the Doghouse published by early Spring 2019 if I do it myself.

Charles Dickens knew he had momentum and didn’t want to lose it. I have momentum and don’t want to lose it. Choices. I love having choices. I will share my decision with you after the holidays.

If you watch or read The Man Who Invented Christmas, let me know what you think. In the meantime, wishing you and yours, authors, agents, and editors a very happy, healthy, and successful new year.

Thanks for being you.


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