The Ascension Legacy - Book 1: The Shamed Ranger was my first published work of fiction. When I finished writing the full series I decided to get serious about trying to find a publisher. I tried looking for literary agents and making submissions to more traditional publishing houses. As a first-time writer and submission novice my attempts were not met with much success. Was the quality of my work that warranted rejection? Was there something I was doing wrong in the process that hurt my chances? Was there something more that I was needing to do that I was not aware of?
Every submission attempt was met with rejection, usually via a very simple email saying that my submission was not accepted. It seems that the industry standard is to NEVER provide feedback to aspiring authors regarding why their work was rejected. For me, this lack of feedback made it all feel almost like an insurmountable challenge to get published.
How can I improve my body of work to be more attractive to publishers unless I know what is wrong? How can I improve the quality of my writing unless someone with more experience in that area than me provides quality feedback? How can I learn to better navigate the submission process without feedback of what I did wrong or what else could/should have been done?
Now, there are several websites out there that offer a variety of editing services to help authors improve their work but those services can be costly, sometimes very costly. They tend to charge on a per word basis ranging anywhere from .01 to .08 a word depending on the level of editing services requested. And these services are outside of any publishing services and only include editing. For many people wanting to get their works published this added expense that can range into the several thousands of dollars per manuscript can often be considered unaffordable.
For example, let's take the average editing cost of .04 cents per word and the average manuscript word count of 80,000 words. 80000 x .04 = $3,200.00.
For people looking to get started writing, this could be a figure that keeps them from pursuing their dreams because, let's face it, life is not cheap and not everybody has an extra three grand laying around to have someone critique your work and make you feel like you did in high school when the English teacher handed you back your term paper with a less than stellar grade and covered in red markings.
The idea of shelling out what many may consider a decent sum of money to have someone tell them that their work sucked is an intimidating concept. I know, I know, you have to spend money to make money and these services are there to help writers improve their work. I'm not here to knock those services, simply to say that as an amateur starting out, that it was not a cost I was expecting to have nor was I prepared to spend that kind of money for that service. People who want to write, write. They don't always think to investigate what they need to do after they've created their masterpiece until they've either finished their work or have completed a large majority of it at which point such an extra cost as this might be a bit of a shock or viewed as an obstacle that keeps them from pursuing their dream of getting published.
I did not get discouraged by but rather let my ego and determined nature compel me to forge ahead.
I leveraged what tools I could find to help refine and edit my work while I continued to submit the manuscript for book 1 over and over again. Eventually, my efforts seemed to pay off. I got a phone call from Newman Springs Publishing out of NJ who wanted to discuss my work with me more. I was excited to have someone call me back and they were obviously excited to hear that I had finished writing every book in the series and that this was not 1 finished book and the rest of the series pending.
Several phone calls and emails later and I chose to move forward with a self-publishing agreement between me and them. Self-publishing comes with a cost to the author that traditional publishing agreements don't but sometimes you have to start small before you can potentially attract the attention of bigger fish. And compared to some of the prices I had seen listed on the websites of other self-publishing services, the rates to partner with Newman Springs for a self-publishing project were very reasonable.
The NSP team seemed easy to work with and they had an established process for going from rough draft to published book. I rolled the dice and opted to move forward. There were some hiccups in working out the financials of the project and some early issues with communication but we eventually got everything sorted out and roughly 12 months from starting the project I had a published work available for sale on websites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, exactly as promised by the NSP team. They delivered exactly what they said they would.
The only discrepancy was that the project from start to publication took longer than initially expected. Part of that was due to issues on my end that we didn't realize were causing delays until well into the project but once resolved never interfered again. Another part of the delay was again on me for wanting to make changes at the last minute that required us to backtrack a few steps in the process and start over. The delays were not necessarily delays caused by NSP as some sort of deception on their part but were merely delays dictated by the process and my personal choices.
That said, I will say that the NSP team was not without fault. Their editors, while catching a lot of my errors, were not perfect either. We went through several rounds of line editing to correct spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and various formatting corrections based on their publishing standards. While they submitted many changes for my approval, I would often find mistakes that they missed that needed to be added to the list of corrections. Some of the errors were found late in the process which required us to delay the launch until they were corrected so while it was my choice to delay for corrections to be made, many of those corrections could have (and frankly should have) been caught by their editors well before that point in the process.
Now, nobody is perfect and I don't exactly demand perfection but when I'm paying someone for a service that includes professional line editing, I would prefer for them to find my mistakes, not me find theirs. But I do have to give props to the NSP team for acknowledging the mistakes when found and making the changes without complaint or anything else. I just wish more of the issues could have been caught sooner by the professionals being paid to catch them during the editing phase where such things were expected to be flushed out.
Editing issues aside, the book was released. The cover art was exactly what I wanted. The book is available as I was told it would be. The quarterly sales reports are posted as expected. Everything they told me they would do, they've done and then some.
I had a pleasant enough experience with Newman Springs Publishing, and my publishing director Sadie, that I selected to use the NSP team again for the publishing of Book 2 in the series. On top of that, now that Book 2's release is imminent, I will go back to Newman Springs to publish Book 3, that's how good my experience was the second time around having applied my lessons learned from book 1 to make the process for book 2 that much easier and better.
Unless a big publisher comes knocking on my door with some deal too good to pass by then I will continue to use Newman Springs to publish all 6 books in The Ascension Legacy series as well as the other books in my library of manuscripts waiting to go to print. You may very well see a book a year released by me through Newman Springs over the next decade.
Self-publishing isn't for everyone and every self-publisher is different with different services on offer. Newman Springs Publishing worked for me and for most amateur authors like myself, I think Newman Springs would be a good fit for anyone looking to have their work published (for a fee).
Regardless of what others may post or try to sell, I have yet to find a fool-proof way to get a big publisher to sign a new author on their first submission. I'm not saying its impossible either, only that it is probably unlikely for most who may have to look into alternative publishing options, such as self-publishing.
Disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been an employee of Newman Springs Publishing. I have not been compensated in any way to express the opinions in this article. I am simply an amateur author who worked with Newman Springs Publishing to successfully bring 2 of my books to market to date.
I opted to write this post to highlight my positive experiences with Newman Springs Publishing in case anyone else out there was considering using their services but was unsure. The Internet is full of negativity and I just wanted to do my small part in adding something positive about someone who helped me in my journey.