The (Still Unfinished) Story of The Sought Six

Where to begin? I got the idea for The Sought Six when I was 10 years old. I was sitting in Math class, daydreaming. I was looking around the room and I happened to notice my twin sister and four of our friends. Then, suddenly, the idea just came out of nowhere. I could vividly imagine six characters based loosely on myself, my twin sister, and our four friends, who were quickly dubbed "The Sought Six". Then, for the rest of Math class, I  was dreaming up a bunch of stories where these six kids would be exploring an enchanted forest, going on adventures, and saving the day. As I got the very first drafts written down with pencil and paper, I asked my teacher if I could read them to the class. She agreed, and everyone cheered (seriously, they actually cheered) and clapped for me when I was finished. The rest is, as they say, history.

I stuck with that story for years after that day. I just couldn't let it go. During those years, I managed to accumulate a huge amount of written material (a lot of which still comes in handy to this day), and eventually I decided to try submitting the final draft to literary agents and publishers. Now, every author has dozens and dozens of rejection stories to tell - it's like a rite of passage. I am no different. I got a lot of rejections and even more no-replies. Nobody was listening. Nobody was taking me seriously. The thing is, I knew I had something special with The Sought Six. I knew it was something kids were really going to like. Of course, every author says that. Still, I had this pounding in my gut that I couldn't ignore.

So, at that point, my train of thought could have gone one of two ways: I could have taken the rejections and no-replies to heart and resigned the book, or I could listen to my gut.  Through Twitter, I found a POD (print-on-demand) company that would publish the first instalment of The Sought Six series: The Sterling Cone. Then, all I had to do was convince people to buy it/read it. Easier said than done, let me tell you! Marketing and promotion without any help is a 24-7 hustle that I was perhaps naive not to expect. It was a wee bit of a setback. But I had come this far already. I wasn't going to let a few social media crash courses slow me down.

Aside from online promotion, I am fortunate to have some friends with kids aged 8-14, as well as having a few friends who are teachers who bought my book for their children/students. After that, other people and teachers whom I did not know heard about the book through word of mouth. And do you know what? All the kids who were reading the book were really loving it, sending me fan mail, asking me to come talk to their classes at school, etc. As it turned out, my gut feeling was right after all.  After about a year or so of all this, we entered the pandemic.  Everything slowed down and/or stopped, as we all know, and the literary world was no exception.

 

Another setback.

 

But now I had a physical product (the book) and all these great reviews from the kids, so I decided to try contacting agents and publishers again. Surely, now that they could see the book had some great traction and would likely keep on going if it could be re-released by a bigger publisher, they'd be more inclined to take a look at it. Right? Wrong. Apparently, most agents and publishers balk at "previously published books". This thing I had done to help me and make the whole process a little bit easier, had ultimately only made it harder.

 

Yet another setback.

Still, through a friend of a friend, I managed to attract the attention of a literary agent in Toronto. (You know how people say, it's not what you know, it's who you know? Couldn't be more true in this business.) Anyway, her niche was nonfiction, not children's fiction, which I suppose should have given me pause right away, but she was excited about my book and loved the premise. In fact, she was the one who dubbed it, "as Canadian as Harry Potter is British". She really wanted to see what she could do with it. And frankly, I was so ecstatic that a real literary agent was paying attention to me that I was on board for anything. So, we began work on the pitch package and she submitted the book to a few big name publishers (which, as far as I'm aware, still have the book in their submissions piles... but I digress). After a year of waiting and hoping, she unfortunately came to the conclusion that her connections simply weren't in deep enough with the children's fiction industry, and that she wasn't the best agent for me or my book. I've always heard that no agent is better than the wrong agent, but that was a really low point for me. I understood the logic behind her decision, but I was absolutely gutted. In order to gain the kind of success The Sought Six deserves, I need an agent. I had one, and then in one fell swoop, I didn't have one. I felt sad, angry, confused, scared, but mostly embarrassed. I was finally on my way, or so I thought, and I was allowing myself to feel the kind of hope and excitement I had only ever dreamed of. Then, in the blink of an eye, I was back at square one.

This was, say it with me: another setback. And perhaps the hardest-hitting one to date.

Here we are now, my friends. This is where I pick up and keep on hustling. I am tirelessly working away at the sequels to The Sought Six: The Sterling Cone, as well as other children's novels that I'm excited about. I am trying to find a new literary agent to represent me and my work, but so far I am still at zero. Although, my efforts to promote The Sought Six are at an all-time high. I am gaining a following on TikTok (welcome to 2022, right?) and I am contacting various media outlets to hopefully widen my reach. The story of me and The Sought Six has become one of dreams, perseverance, and trudging through a subjective world as an underdog. I will be listened to, and I will be taken seriously. This book will soar if someone just gives it a chance, I know it. Take a look around the pages of this website to see just how well it has been received thus far. If you're feeling extra generous, share my website, the book, its reviews, or this little BTS story to your social media accounts.

 

Thanks for listening, and I appreciate any and all efforts to help me in my journey to spread the word about The Sought Six! The story behind the story most definitely isn't over yet, so stay tuned for further updates! :)

- Catherine