Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Totally Get It

“You like me. You really like me.”

It’s been almost thirty years since Sally Field uttered these much ridiculed words during her Oscar acceptance speech for her role in the film Places in the Heart.  This oft parodied phrase has stood an impressive test of time and managed to become firmly ensconced in pop culture. Last week, something happened to me (three times actually) that reminded me of this phrase and gave me inkling as to how Field felt that night if she spoke them in earnest.

I’ve been a writer for quite some time now.  I’ve published articles and short stories in magazines. I’ve entered contests and received modest recognition. I’ve self-published a few novels and spent far more money than I made in doing so. My greatest success by far came when I joined an online writing community known as Wattpad and began to upload my stories to their site.

Since joining Wattpad nearly two years ago, I’ve uploaded several completed novels and gained a large following. One of my most popular stories was Like You Mean It, which told the story of a blossoming romance between a teenage left arm amputee who was once the most popular boy in school and the girl who was the most forgettable ever to walk the halls of their high school. The story struck a chord with fans and made it into the top ten of both the romance and teen fiction categories of most read stories. Encouraged by its success, I shopped it to publishers. When I found an interested publisher, I had to remove the story from the site. Though I made sure to tell readers why it was removed, I received a lot of concerned messages asking what happened to it and why I would take it down and when I would put it back.

In reading past blog posts, you know that publishing deal didn’t come to pass. Rather than put it back on Wattpad when that happened, I decided to self-publish it as an e-book via Smashwords. I’ll still be offering it free of charge, but I want to be able to reach a broader audience. Readers following my Wattpad and Twitter accounts have been kept updated as to my progress in this area. Those who don’t follow one or the other don’t always know what’s going on with Like You Mean It as I found out last week when I received a message from a Wattpad reader asking why I’d removed the book that meant so much to her. When I told her my plans, she was overjoyed and regularly checks my profile page for updates. In fact, she sent me a message just today to ask if I’d post the cover because she’s so excited to see it.

Last week, I also received a private message from another Wattpad reader telling me she’d read several of my novels and loved all of them. She went on to say that she read the series so quickly because she just couldn’t put it down and she looked forward to my next work coming out because she planned on reading it while curled up under the duvet with her e-reader.

As if these two flattering messages weren’t enough, I received an email from a young Wattpad reader last week who told me that Like You Mean It was the first teen romance she read on the site. According to this young lady, she felt a real connection to the novel and the work was so good that she often recommended it others. She wanted to know why I’d taken it down and if I would ever consider putting it back up. Of course, I sent her a reply to let her know of my plans for the story and how to keep updated on its progress.

With each of these messages, two things came to mind. First, I thought of that famous phrase from Sally Field’s Oscar speech. Second, I thought, you know, this could work. Meaning, since there seems to be continued interest, it could turn out to be on a most downloaded list again. Wouldn’t that be nice? Whether that happens or not, I can say one thing for sure; after what happened last week, I totally get it, Sally Field!

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