I’ve been writing novels with the intent to publish for eight years now. I spent the first half of that sending letters and manuscripts to literary agents, who consistently rejected my work. At the time, I was bitter about it. But now that I publish my novels independently, I look back at it and thank my lucky stars that it happened.
Back when I was a 23-year-old MFA student, I wrote a collection of short stories as my final project. I thought it was good enough (and my teacher agreed, that big old sweetheart) to submit to literary agents and find a publisher. One of my strategies was to get several of the stories published individually in literary journals. I had minor success there with a few publications, but mostly I gathered rejections, probably close to a hundred from literary journals and agents alike.
It was the beginning of what would become the greatest learning experience of my career—an education even more valuable than I received from the MFA program that cost me $40,000.