February 11, 2014

Made It Moment II: Judy Mollen Walters

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 12:21 pm

The Opposite of Normal

It’s not every day that I get to do two very special things. One, feature the Moment of a dear friend. And two, celebrate her release day right here on the blog! I met Judy Walters when we were both struggling to get published (Judy’s first Moment can be read here). Our dinners and lunches often included much head-scratching (and even hair-tearing) and yet they became some of the most pleasurable times for me along this writing road. In the end, or the beginning, as it may be more accurate to say, Judy and I wound up walking two very different paths. Yet our goals are the same. To tell stories that mean something to us, and that reach readers. I hope that you will become, as I am, a fan of Judy’s work. Her new book just out today should definitely set that in motion!

Judy Mollen Walters

This is going to sound strange, but my Made it Moment is the day I fired my agent, about seven months ago.

This is not going to be a post about hating on traditional publishing. I have lots of traditionally published friends, like Jenny. They’ve found their way in this big, bad world of publishing, and they’re happy.

This is about finding my own way.

I was with my agent for four years.  She was with one of the biggest, most well-known literary agencies in New York.  She had a solid name herself – had worked in publishing, and then in movies, for years.  She was friends with some of the biggest editors in the industry. A simple phone call put my manuscript in their hands.

Yet she couldn’t sell my first manuscript.

My second manuscript was a lot stronger. This time we’d used a developmental editor.  My agent tried to sell it, but this time…let’s say her enthusiasm waned earlier in the process.  She wanted me to e-book it with her agency, in a new program they’d started for writers like me. After a while, I agreed to this.  And six months later, my book came out.

During that time, I was writing another book. I’d titled it The Opposite of Normal.  Again, I used a developmental editor, and I was really proud of this book. Felt really good about it.

My agent and I had never communicated very well, and at long last, with this special book, I realized I would not get what I wanted from her.  She didn’t have the same vision for this book as I did, or frankly, for my publishing career in general.  I was tired of spinning my wheels with her. So after four years of trying to work together, I let her go.

I thought about going to another agent. There are so many reputable, wonderful, solid agents out there. But the book was ready. It was ready now.   And I had already given up so much to try to publish traditionally. I wanted the control back.

So for the last six months or so, I’ve been on this great journey of doing it all by myself. I’ve loved most minutes of it – from choosing the cover to doing my own PR and marketing, from writing my own jacket copy to choosing my own conversion company for the Kindle files. (It’s coming out in both paperback and on Kindle.)  There have been minutes of despair and frustration, too – like trying to get the Kindle files to work, setting up my Amazon site, and learning how many people don’t consider an independent book a book worthy of reading.  But the deep satisfaction I have – my “other” Moment – is doing it all myself and being proud of the work I’ve done.

Judy Mollen Walters is the author of Child of Mine (2013) and The Opposite of Normal (February 11, 2014). She is the Stay-at-home mother of two teenage daughters, and lives with her family in New Jersey, where she is at work on her next novel.


  1. Thank you, Jenny and Judy. This is very informative and refreshing. As an author who is contemplating various routes towards publication for my debut novel, I love reading posts like this. Best of luck to you, Judy, and I will check out your book. :)

    Comment by Cynthia Lott — February 11, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  2. Thank you, Cynthia! The nice thing is that there is no one right path…different authors need/want different things. And that’s okay. Would love to hear your thoughts on my book when you’re done with it. :)

    Comment by Judy Walters — February 11, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

  3. Loving what you do is what it’s all about. Hats off to you for having the courage to do it your way.

    Comment by Sara — February 11, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

  4. Hoorah for you, Judy. I hope it works out great. Judging from your cover, you’re doing just fine. As hard as the work is, and as challenging as indie publishing can be in terms of gaining traction, I think you’re right about the very real joy of being able to supervise the details yourself.

    Comment by Sandra Hutchison — February 11, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

  5. Thanks Sara and Sandra! Sandra, I am getting many compliments on the cover which I must pass along to my cover artist as that’s all him!

    Comment by Judy Walters — February 11, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

  6. Fantastic, Judy!

    Comment by Windy Lynn Harris — February 11, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

  7. Thanks, Windy!

    Comment by Judy Walters — February 11, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

  8. Good for you, and I wish all the success you deserve. I look forward to your book.

    Comment by Lil Gluckstern — February 13, 2014 @ 12:06 am

  9. There is a lot to be said for doing it yourself. As the manager of singer/songwriters and producers I spent my life trying to open doors for people and to get exposure for my artists. It is a 24/7 job and nearly killed me – most of my adult life spent pushing and making the right contacts and opportunities. Sometimes the artists were a dream and co-operative and other times they were just flipping difficult and didn’t want to help themselves, just wanted it all to ‘happen,’ and of course it never ‘happened’ fast enough or the way they wanted it to.

    If those with power were not interested and couldn’t be made to be interested, the blame stuck with me – it was never the artist. It was a frustrating business but the successes out-numbered the not so successful and again, the success was not through my doing but through the artist’s own hard work – even if I had helped with everything from song writing to image to how to use a knife and fork in polite company.

    Leading horses to water often came to mind. People wanted success too but couldn’t get off their own behinds to help themselves, relying on me to do it all sometimes.

    When I started writing I thought I’d have to get an agent and a big team behind me; that’s how it was in music, so I guessed that is how it must be for writers. You know something Judy, I am really starting to wonder about that. Is it really necessary? Can I, at my age, really hand my career over to someone else and relinquish control and a say in everything? I read your piece and I thought; probably not. I can see that it is hard work – I know all about that and what it entails – and I can really get what you are going through and why. But, you get to chose how you work, how you present yourself, how you are marketed and everything about your career. You are in control and only you can fail or succeed – that is motivation. I think sometimes when it is all done for you and you cannot see the trials and tribulations going on behind the scenes it is easy to blame others if things don’t go right, or the way you want. The success is yours. Failure is yours. I spent years working without any appreciation for the successes and all the blame for the failures – and from those who never got involved enough to find out how it all worked and why things happened the way they did. You have that chance and I wish you every success with your solo venture. There really can only be one captain of a ship. You are it.

    Comment by Jane Risdon — February 15, 2014 @ 10:00 am

  10. Thank you, Judy, for sharing your story. I’ve had a similar experience. And thank you, Jenny, for giving Judy a place to share it.

    Comment by C. C. Harrison — February 15, 2014 @ 11:45 am

  11. Thank you, Lil! And if you read my book, I’d love to hear your thoughts, positive or negative…

    Comment by Judy Walters — February 15, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

  12. Jane, so many of your comments resonate with me. For one thing, yes, when you publish with a group of people behind you, ie, traditional publishing, there are pros and cons, and it is always easy to push failure onto someone else and success onto yourself. Not all people in the process do that, of course, but I’ve seen authors blame their agents, editors, and other people in the process when a book doesn’t do well. Similarly, I’ve seen agents, editors, and publishers try to take the crdit when a book does beautifully. In indie publishing, you get all the credit and all the blame….yourself. :)

    It is VERY hard work but VERY rewarding when you make a sale or get a lovely reader email or even get a click on your author facebook page! :)

    Comment by Judy Walters — February 15, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

  13. Thanks for your comment CC!

    Comment by Judy Walters — February 15, 2014 @ 7:26 pm

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