CD Reiss: Nobody Was Going To Get Me To Quit

A 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 someone who is killing it at the moment: author CD Reiss.

This post is from 11 January 2016. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s definitely still worth reading and comments remain open.

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

The mysteries did okay, but CD Reiss couldn’t seem to take things to the next level. She reinvented herself in 2013 as a romance author and immediately 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 CD Reiss posted something great to her Facebook page a few days ago that I was dying to share. Something that should help you attack the new year with the right attitude. And she kindly permitted me to reprint it here:

Guest Post by Author CD Reiss

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.

Final Note From Dave:

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 that we could all learn from.

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.

The 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 on Amazon here, her website is here (where you will find links to non-Amazon retailers), and you can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook should you be so inclined.

Happy Monday! (It’s Monday, right?)

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.