I’m so honored you’d share more of your journey, Jeanne! And so grateful too!
Those RWA contests could be so brutal. When I started to run contests for a few RWA chapters, I was the only contest chair who vetted judges both before the contest and what they judged. There was one judge who jumped through all the hoops of my vetting only to judge every contest participant in such vicious, personal terms that I still am gobsmacked when I think of her. I threw out everything she had done because her “judging” was purely subjective as well as petty and just plain mean. So, yes, I soooo understand what you were saying about the contests.
And I’m so glad you know your worth as a writer and realized that that publisher was asking for WAY too much and you could do a better job on your own. Last week on Twitter, many writers were talking about predatory agents. It’s so important to know your worth as a writer so you can avoid the well-meaning publisher who wants far too many of your rights or the predatory agent. Yay, you, Jeanne!
I took a few years to learn marketing, but this was before Kindle Unlimited, so I definitely need to learn new tricks! Ha! So I’ll be hunting for some great marketing workshops myself! 🙂