Shelli Johannes-Wells Talks About Redefining Her Dreams

I am so excited to be hosting a leg of Shelli Johannes-Wells' Blog Tour for Untraceable. I know you guys have already heard about the book, and where to get it, and even a little bit about we aren't doing all of that here today.

For this stop, I really wanted to get into Shelli's head a bit and see what led her to indie publish. And let me tell you, her post is heartfelt and inspirational. I have absolutely no doubt that many, if not all, of us have experienced some of these feelings - maybe even right now!

So, without further adieu - take it away Shelli:

Redefining your Dream - Christina

For the last several years – more like 8 years – I’ve been riding the publishing roller coaster ride.

Since I really got serious about writing in 2004. I’ve had 4 books go to acquisitions.  Two of those - a MG and Nonfiction book – went before I got an agent. After I signed with a top agent and a top NY agency, I had 2 more books go to acquisitions – a tween paranormal and this YA thriller – Untraceable.

Last spring, at some point early in the submission process of Untraceable, after only a few rejections, my agent felt I should shelf my book after the first round. Most books get about 3 rounds and I was determined not to give up on Untraceable. After some back and forths - we decided to part ways so I could get a fresh perspective on my writing and the Book. I believed in this book that much.

Over the next couple of months, I queried a handful of my top agents to see if they would pick up Untraceable for a couple more rounds. Unfortunately, since the book had already been seen a handful of editors – even thought it had gone to acquisitions at one house– no one wanted to touch the book. They were all more interested in my WIP that was still in its first draft and at least 6 months away from being complete.

I must admit, during this 6 months period from about April until Aug, I went into a deep depression. I’d been working so hard to get published for 8 years, gotten so close so many times with four different books. Through all that _ I had worked hard to stay positive. But this time, it was different. This time I could not pull myself up by the bootstraps and push forward.

What was I doing wrong? Why am I the only one that’s not selling? What is wrong with me? Do I suck? Am I on the wrong path?

My anxiety level over the last 2 years had magnified. The pressure to sell was overwhelming. The pressure to succeed was debilitating. And the constant failures left me raw and broken hearted. I was finally broken.

Unable to write. Unable to be happy for anyone else who was moving toward his or her dream of publishing. Unable to see past my defeats.

I dropped off line for several months. I could not see any success. I could not hear of any deals. I could not talk to most of my writing friends.

During that time, I began to see where my anxiety was really coming from. It wasn’t about who was selling or for how much; it was because I was tired of someone else being in charge of my own destiny and my own dreams. My gut was telling me to try another way. Even self-pubbing.  But for months I was stubborn- maybe even a little snobby – and my ego held me back those 6 months. I felt traditional publishing was the ONLY way to go. I didn’t want to settle.

Over time, I started to think more seriously about indie publishing. My writer friends encouraged me to put my book out there. They felt it was good enough. I still wasn’t sure. I paid for editing and when the editor told me it was ready, there was only one thing still holding me back. My ego. I even thought about using an alias b/c I was embarrassed to put my stuff out under my name. I have a lot of friends in this industry – including agents and editors – and I didn’t want them to think I was indie publishing because I secretly sucked.

It wasn’t until a friend encouraged me to do it under my own name and blog about it – that I came out of my funk. You see, if I blogged about my fears and dreams and the process. About my marketing. About everything. Then I was putting my heart out into the universe the authentic way.

In September, I decided to jump in and take the risk. What did I have to lose? Who cares what people think? I decided to look at it as a fun experiment – to test out all my marketing skills and see what I could do. The underdog in a cat dominated world. I let go of my ego – which was really the thing holding me back for so long – and knew it was time to go for it. But if I did it – I would do it the right way.

These last few months have been the best months of my last 8 years in writing. There has been no anxiety, no frustrations, no beating myself up.

Sure, at times, I think I’m fooling myself. I wonder if I’ve made a huge mistake but I just keep pushing forward. I’m not in writing for the money. Oh sure – it’s be great to make a living – but really - I just want my book to be the best it can be – best cover, best story, best marketing.

I am proud of Untraceable that I did not compromise my story at the suggestion of others, that I stuck by Grace, and that I have created a great book. It is everything I ever wanted or imagined in my mind and I would not change a thing.

I have no idea if Untraceable will be successful but somehow it doesn’t matter –

Because I did my book - my way.

See - inspirational! THANK YOU Shelli for stopping by and I am so excited to jump into UNTRACEABLE. I will be reviewing it soon, so be on the look out for that.

You can find UNTRACEABLE at the usual haunts, including BN, Amazon, and iTunes. Get your copy today!

What are you reading?


  1. Thanks for Shelli. So glad you figured out what you needed to do so writing is a positive experience for you. Because that's what it's all about.

    So excited for your debut.

  2. I have to say, this explanation is probably one of the best and honest self-pubbed explanations I've read in a while. So many people felt the same way before choosing the indie route. I'm glad this was gotten over so the rest of us would get a chance to devour - oops, I mean - read this book :-)

  3. Thx Christine. I was sick fri and will update links and cross post tomorrow

    Luv yah!!

  4. And yes, this is truly what it's all about. Redefining dreams. Great post.

  5. I love this post! I had a much shorter "writing journey" that led me to try self-pubbing (2 years instead of 8) but the creative anxiety and deep depressions have really really lessed up after making the decision I did. Reading this made me happy. There are lots of paths to success! Now I'm off to check out Untraceable.

  6. WOW! Can I relate? Yes, ma'am! After more than a year on submission, and with the urging of my agent, I self-published my first story, A Place In This Life. It was a freeing experience. A release, actually, because it was out there and people started reading it.

    There is something out there beyond traditional publishing, and this is it. I might take my other two books of sub eventually and bring them to my readers. Why wait!? Great post! You inspire me.

    - Julie

  7. there are other options. Self pubbing is def the harder route to go - more work for less money but if you are up for the challenge and long haul and spending alot of time promoting - it is fun

    goodluck to julie and katie :)


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