Success Story with Nikki Vogel
By Nikki Vogel
Sometimes you trip, stumble, and catch your balance, but sometimes you trip, flail about, and wind up doing a faceplant. The second one aptly describes my journey to publication, which is why I stand before you (sitting actually) to tell you never give up. Not after ten rejections, or one hundred, or one thousand.
If I hadn’t persevered through a short story collection and four previous novels—querying them, collecting rejections, revising them, querying again—to discover myself at the base of a Mount Everest-sized pile of rejections, my debut novel Silencing Rebecca would never have been published.
I had near misses. A small press in California offered me a contract for the first novel, a young adult fantasy. The contract amounted to nothing. The woman running the press was a flake and a fake, and I cancelled the contract. For my second novel, I signed with an agent. She had no luck finding it a home, and the longer we interacted, the more I realized we weren’t a good fit. We parted professionally and on good terms. I had one agent and an editor at a medium-sized Canadian press interested in Silencing Rebecca. They didn’t pan out, but they provided the encouragement and feedback I needed to keep trying.
Thick skin is a necessity in this business. I wish I could tell you that regular loofah scrubs or chemical peels will do the trick, but this is your metaphorical hide. Also, be sure to do whatever’s necessary to keep your bone-headed perseverance intact.
Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. It’s the only way to reach that breakthrough moment. Like any other skill, practice makes perfect. Silencing Rebecca was my fifth manuscript, and each before it taught me something about craft, plot, characterization, etc. If I hadn’t written and revised those first four novel length manuscripts, I would not have had the writing chops to pull it off. There were so many things I had to learn.
Silencing Rebecca is a cross-genre, literary horror novel in which I use present and past tense to tell the story of a seventeen-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who wakes up in the woods with no memory of how she got there. Shortly after she regains consciousness, she realizes she has transformed into a golem. See what I mean? If this had been my first novel, it never would have happened.
When Thistledown Press offered me a contract to publish Silencing Rebecca, I was—obviously—over the moon, sun, galaxy, alternate realities, etc. So far, the book has been well received, and I have experienced things that in the past had only been fantasies—holding a physical copy of my book, signing it for readers, seeing it on the shelves of bookstores and libraries, reading favorable reviews (and unfavorable ones). And to add to the check marks on my bucket list, I recently made a short list—the Diamond Foundation Prize for Children/Youth—in the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards.
A glutton for punishment, I am back in the querying trenches, hoping to attract an agent for a commercial young adult cross-genre blend of horror and fantasy that’s rocking a gothic vibe. Fingers crossed!
You can grab a copy of Silencing Rebecca here.
Nikki Vogel has had poetry published in Room Magazine, filling Station, and The Istanbul Review. Her short stories have appeared in Luna Station Quarterly, Infective Ink, Empty Sink Publications, and in One Throne Magazine. She has had a few stories anthologized, including in You Can’t Kill Me, I’m Already Dead and Behind the Yellow Wallpaper: New Tales of Madness. She was a runner up in the 2012 Little Bird Writing Contest and in 2015 had a story listed as Notable Science Fiction in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Silencing Rebecca is her first book publication. She lives in Edmonton.