FEAR is a four-letter word.

Me, scared by book two's daily word count goal...
Me, scared by book two’s daily word count goal…

Like Amy, I can think of plenty of HARD moments along the way from writing that first word of that first book to where I am right now, but truly scary moments? Luckily there haven’t been many and as I think more about it, I realize they were directly tied to these words from my agent:

“They’re taking your book to acquisitions.” Heart stopping words, I tell you.

Me, when I heard we were going to acquisitions.

But of those moments, the one that is like that kid in public school who snaps repeatedly to get the teacher’s attention, is the time I turned down an agent’s offer AND a small publishing contract — in the same week. Also known as the WHAT WAS I THINKING? week, or perhaps the DO THE THING THAT SCARES YOU MOST week, to put a more positive spin on it.

To make a long story (which I’ve already written about here) short-ish, I finished book two, queried book two, entered an online contest and a Twitter pitch contest, got requests from both, and then waited.

Within a few days I had an offer from a small press and an agent offer to consider, and I had no idea what to do. For one thing, I suddenly wasn’t sure what I wanted, or what would be the best route for me and my book. I had always imagined I would find an agent, then (fingers crossed) get a traditional publishing deal. But here was this offer in front of me that meant my book would be in people’s hands (or on their screens, because it was e-first) by the end of the year. I was on vacation with my family at the time, and kept scurrying to the island’s little café — the only place with wifi — to deal with the flood of emails in my inbox and the decisions I had to make.

Ultimately I chose neither -– the best explanation I can give is that while there was nothing wrong with the offers, they just weren’t the right choices for me. I had a different vision for my career, and I had a feeling if I waited – and worked my a** off to fix up my manuscript and make it even stronger – that I would end up exactly where I wanted to be. So I said, “No, but thank you so much!” and went back to the beach.

In the months that followed I had (many) moments when I was revising where I wondered if I had made the right choice…but I pushed those fears way down, because I’m a big believer in trusting your gut. And I’m glad I did. I ended up taking another crack at querying the book after a couple of months of revision, which led to multiple agent offers. And then with Carolyn on my side, we sold two books to MIRA, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Take that, FEAR.



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Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.

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