One Writer’s Journey to Becoming a Bestselling Author
Like most writers, getting published was a long process and a bit of a struggle, and I could have given up any time. But I had a dream—a huge one—and it wouldn’t let go of me. As a teen I yearned to be the next Stephen King or Dean Koontz or James Patterson or Heather Graham.
I queried traditional publishers and received what most authors do—rejection letters. One after the other. I have so many I could probably wallpaper my office twice. After a while, this becomes very discouraging. So I set aside my big dreams for quite a few years. Almost twenty years ago I tried again, this time with a children’s picture book. It went nowhere.
In 2003, I heard about Print On Demand publishing companies. They were similar to the old-style vanity presses but cheaper because they only printed books as readers or authors ordered them. I decided that I wanted to self-publish, and that’s the route I chose. Borrowing money from my mother, I delved into publishing my first novel, WHALE SONG. And I embraced self-publishing fully, even though many warned me it would destroy my chances and career. I set out to prove them wrong.
I published DIVINE INTERVENTION in 2004, hoping it would really take off so I could pursue writing a series. In 2005 I published THE RIVER, a techno-thriller that takes place in an area of Canada’s north that’s nicknamed the Bermuda Triangle of Canada. By this time, I had learned how to have successful book signings and how to capture the attention of the media.
In 2006 my first novel, WHALE SONG, was picked up by a small and new traditional company. It was re-released in 2007. Two years later the company went into bankruptcy after mismanaging funds. Fortunately for me, I didn’t let this stop me. In this time I managed to interest a literary agent from New York named Scovil Galen Ghosh at the time. It has since been renamed.
In 2010, Amazon’s publishing platform, now known as KDP, opened to Canadian writers, and I jumped on the bandwagon. Since then, I have successfully republished all of my works and released an average of three books a year. Around this time, I decided to separate from my agent, thinking I would simply pursue self-publishing. 2011 brought me two Chinese translation deals for WHALE SONG and CHILDREN OF THE FOG.
Then 2012 came along, and Amazon introduced KDP Select, a method for independent authors and small publishers to offer works for free for a limited time in order to gain a strong readership and possible after-sales. And it worked! One of my titles, CHILDREN OF THE FOG, was #4 on Amazon’s overall bestseller list, out of over two million ebooks. That was the year I earned 60% more than my husband did, and he had a six-figure income. It was also the year that a Turkish translation of THE RIVER came out; it was featured prominently at the Istanbul Book Fair that year.
2012 was also the year that Amazon came knocking, along with an editor from a major publishing house and a literary agent from a well-respected New York agency. Amazon offered me a couple of special promotions that were by invitation only. The publisher was interested in CHILDREN OF THE FOG but I chose not to relinquish my rights. Never would I have ever guessed, back in 2003 or earlier, that I would turn down an offer from one of the Big 5! Next, I signed with Trident Literary Agency—my second agent.
2013 was also another stellar income year. It brought me two audiobook deals.
2014 saw the release of the German CHILDREN OF THE FOG, DES NEBELS KINDER, and it immediately made multiple bestseller lists on Amazon in June. This year also brought me a 4-book German deal for THE RIVER and my Divine Trilogy, the last of which (DIVINE SANCTUARY) was originally published in English on June 18th. And there’s a big possibility that by the time this blog post comes out, I’ll have a German deal for my psychological thriller, SUBMERGED. And by the way, remember that children’s book I tried to get published almost 20 years ago? It was published this year.
So how do I feel when I look back over the past 10+ years? I have been on a wondrous journey, with exciting twists and turns, a virtual rollercoaster ride that sometimes made me wince in fear or doubt but also made me shriek with delight. I am truly blessed to be doing what I love, what I’ve dreamt about since I was a teen. I’m not the next Stephen King or Dean Koontz or James Patterson or Heather Graham, like I had hoped to be. I’m Cheryl Kaye Tardif, and I’ve learned that that is the best dream to have—to be uniquely me. J
Cheryl Kaye Tardif is an award-winning, international bestselling Canadian suspense author represented by Trident Media Group in New York. Her novels include Divine Sanctuary, Submerged, Divine Justice, Children of the Fog, The River, Divine Intervention, Lancelot’s Lady (written under the pen name of Cherish D’Angelo) and Whale Song, which New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice calls "a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart...a beautiful, haunting novel." Cheryl also has three Stephen King-inspired works: Dream House (short story), Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories and Remote Control (novelette). Cheryl is also the owner/publisher of Imajin Books, a hybrid publishing company.
Booklist raves, "Tardif, already a big hit in Canada…a name to reckon with south of the border."
Cheryl's website: www.cherylktardif.com
Official blog: www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com
Imajin Books: www.imajinbooks.com