Nothing Any Motherf*cker Said Was Going To Get Me To Quit – Guest Post by CD Reiss

Shuttergirl4CMYK-pinkA new year is the traditional time for making all sorts of promises that we probably won’t keep. But there is something noble in the effort alone, right? And in that vein, I have a great motivational guest post from an author who is killing it at the moment: CD Reiss.

I’ve been friends with Christine for a while, probably since around the time I started self-publishing back in 2011. Then, she was a writer of mysteries.

They did okay, but she couldn’t seem to take things to the next level. So she reinvented herself in 2013 as an erotic romance author and started kicking all kinds of ass.

But as with any “overnight success” story, there is a lot more to it.

I think one of the hardest things for newbies to nail down is the right mentality. It’s part of the weird dichotomy that is our lot. We have to have incredible self-belief to write something and show it to other people in the first place, but we also have to have enough overarching self-doubt to hone our craft and polish our stories until they are ready for prime time.

That sounds tricky to balance, and it is! But Christine posted something great to her Facebook page a few days ago that I was dying to share. Something that should help you attack the year with the right attitude. And she kindly permitted me to reprint it here:

* * *

This is my anniversary post, but it’s not just related to the three years I’ve been CD Reiss. It’s those three plus the seventeen before.

Two decades as a writer. That’ll give you the impression that I’ve been writing for a living for two decades and I’m super experienced and knowledgeable about everything in publishing.

Well…no.

Before December, 2013, I made a living as a sweater technician. I know how sweaters are made, how to fix them, and how to make flat panels fit around a three dimensional person. I made decent money, didn’t hate my job that much, and did my very best to be the best technical designer I could be.

But every morning I got up at 5am, sat in a coffee shop and wrote until I had to go to work (this routine changed over the course of 20 years, but that was what I did between 2004 when my son was born and 2013 when I quit). I wrote screenplays and books. Most will never be published or produced because they suck or they’re irrelevant now. I couldn’t get an agent. I couldn’t get a meeting. I couldn’t get a publisher to send a rejection in an SASE. I couldn’t get anyone to read even a few chapters.

But still, I plowed on. I tried to quit, but I’m stubborn like that.

I’m not mad about the years I spent trying to shake the literary tree. I’m pretty happy about them (in hindsight). We all come into this business armed with something. Rich spouse, years blogging, great contacts, a sharp eye for trends – whatever it is, we all have tools we can lean on.

I came armed with so much rejection that nothing any motherfucker said was going to get me to quit. I came with so much practice that I knew my process. I knew my strengths and my weaknesses inside and out.

Without those years of struggle, I probably would have quit publishing in 2012 when my mysteries started tanking. Instead, I reinvented myself again.

So, this is my anniversary post.

BEG was published three years ago today, and it changed my life. I found out what it was like to have readers “get me.” I discovered the opposite of rejection. Acceptance. Excitement. God, those first weeks… when a fan emailed me and asked why I didn’t have a Facebook page or Goodreads profile… were surreal.

Thank you so much for making that struggle worthwhile. I want to hug you all… and pin your sweaters.

* * *

Me again. This is the part where I usually write the guest poster’s bio, often at the last minute because I’m so good at planning things, but today I’m totally stealing Christine’s bio from Amazon because (a) it’s hilarious and (b) it’s a brilliant example of how to write one.

CD Reiss is a USA Today and Amazon bestseller. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up, she’s at the well, hauling buckets.

Born in New York City, she moved to Hollywood, California to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere, but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

Critics have dubbed the books “poetic,” “literary,” and “hauntingly atmospheric,” which is flattering enough for her to put it in a bio, but embarrassing enough for her not to tell her husband, or he might think she’s some sort of braggart who’s too good to chop a cord of wood.

I’ve spoken before about how bestsellers (Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy would be two particularly good examples) often seem to have a certain something in their presentation which sets them apart from the crowd, and I think that certain something is a hard-to-pin-down coherence in the overall package. I think CD Reiss has that too and it’s worth taking a closer look at how she presents her work to readers.

forbiddenThe cover on the right is a personal favorite, a wonderful example of how choosing the right font and letter placement can take a cover to the next level. (I believe Christine does her own covers, so if you are looking to hit up her designer you are fresh out of luck!)

You can check out all the books from CD Reiss here, her website is here (where you will find links to alternative retailers), and you can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Finally, she’s launching a box set this week. You can pick up the entire Complete Corruption set for just 99c.

It’s a pre-order, but the cool thing is that the book actually drops tomorrow, so you won’t have to wait too long either. Happy Monday! (It’s Monday, right?)

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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20 Responses to Nothing Any Motherf*cker Said Was Going To Get Me To Quit – Guest Post by CD Reiss

  1. Loved reading her story! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. irshgannon says:

    I’m all about that title. Glad to hear after so much investment in her career she found success. Thanks for the new year’s inspirational story.

  3. Gina Drayer says:

    Thanks for sharing her story. It’s funny to read about all these “overnight” successes that have been working at publishing for years. That’s one long ass night.

    Reiss is a spectacular storyteller.

  4. Sara says:

    A mere 20 years to make it? Rejection after rejection, silence piled upon silence, echoes in the empty mailbox? Oh, now I don’t feel so bad. I’ve been at it since before I was born.
    I think you have to promise yourself to write whatever the frelling frak makes you happy, but just be sure it’s so damned good that even if you have only two chapters done, someone asks you, ‘Well, where’s the rest of it?’ You see, there really is hope.
    Thanks for sharing that story. Enjoyed it.

  5. Thanks for sharing her story of persistence. And her ability — guts, really — to change when she didn’t find mysteries were working well. This is inspirational to the rest of us writers working hard and hoping to find readers who enjoy our stories.

    • This is it exactly. She was doing all the right things with her mysteries – good covers, blurbs, price, writing in a series, pricing competitively, making the entry book cheap and/or free, running regular promos, building her list, etc. etc. But sometimes you can do all the right things and a book/series just won’t take off – and that often has nothing to do with the quality of the book, sometimes it’s simply bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or whatever.

      This is why (I think) Joe Konrath talks about luck and persistence so much. You can do all the right things and still not break out. But you have to have the persistence to keep plugging away until the cards turn, and be ready to pounce when opportunity knocks.

      • Very well said. The secret sauce to success is just that, secret. Not all writers can be as successful as Andy Weir. But with keeping at it, we’ll hopefully find some readers who like our stories.

  6. Reblogged this on August MacGregor and commented:
    Inspiration from a writer that switched from writing mysteries to erotic romance and found better success … a reminder of the power of persistence and guts to take on new challenges.

  7. Maggie says:

    That cover … hands graspng body parts you can’t identify at first glance. I will pass, thank you.

    • I’m puzzled as to what you are referring to. The cover at the top has hands on shoulders and a hand on someone’s back. The second cover is one person not grasping anything but air. But… horses for courses, I guess, and it reinforces one of my points: a cover should target the right readers AND give a clear signal to those who wouldn’t like to read it to stay away. So, yes, even here, this is a great example of a cover doing its job and targeting its audience well.

  8. Thanks for sharing David!

  9. Reblogged this on AliceOrrBooks and commented:
    “…bestsellers (Bella Andre and Barbara Freethy would be two particularly good examples) often seem to have a certain something in their presentation which sets them apart from the crowd, and I think that certain something is a hard-to-pin-down coherence in the overall package.” David Gaughran.

  10. Pingback: Writer Wednesday | creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

  11. Vicki Lesage says:

    Looks like her launch is off to a great start — #165 in all of Kindle! Sounds like she deserves it after all her hard work. I run a daily ebook deals email (BookStar Daily) and we are including her deal today, so I hope it gives her an extra boost! I imagine a box set like that won’t stay at $.99 for long, but it looks like it’s been a great launch strategy for her. Love that!

  12. Ann G. Luna says:

    Just the perfect thing to read when you’re feeling like crap and you’re supposed to be writing. Thanks for the inspiration, Christine and David!

  13. Pingback: Sunday Surprise | creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

  14. Pingback: Sunday Surprise | creative barbwire (or the many lives of a creator)

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