So, Diana Peterfreund did this on her blog , and I just loved the idea of showcasing the road to publication. Decided I’d do the same thing.
We often only talk about our successes, and sometimes it looks so easy. It isn’t. Well maybe for some people it is. But for many of us, the road to publication is fraught with wrong turns, stops and starts and big-ass bumps. *g*
So here’s my long road…
Early Summer 2001 – I had just moved in with Charlie and during the process of really getting to know each other, I had told him I used to dabble in writing romantic fiction. After much discussion of all the reasons I put it aside (kids, career, non-supportive now-ex-husband, etc), he suggested I start writing again. So I did. I took out a pad of paper and a pen and plotted out Magnolia Summer, a contemporary romance. I joined eharlequin and formed an online critique group. I finished the book in 4 months and decided to target Silhouette Desire. Sent off my query with my heart in my throat, and jumped for joy when they requested a full!
The very first book I ever finished had been requested by a major NY publisher! I was soaring! I immediately started another book, certain they were going to buy this book and would ask for another. I started a ranch story called Rescue Me.
6 months later I received a form rejection letter for Magnolia Summer. A-form-rejection-letter.
Nearly a year after pouring my heart and soul into this book, and they rejected it. With no explanation why. Just…this didn’t work for us.
I was crushed. I love Magnolia Summer. Charlie loved this book. He edited every word of it for me. I had my hopes pinned on publishing this book. How could they not love it like I did? (Clearly everyone in publishing is stupid and don’t recognize a bestseller when they see one. *snicker*)
Nevertheless, I scooped my heart up off my shoe and shoved it back in my chest, continued to work on Rescue Me and finished it.
Winter 2002 – Queried Rescue Me to Silhouette. A month later received a request for a full! Woo hooo, the journey of anxiety begins again! I sent it off, and waited. Waited. Waited. Started another book, Nothing Personal, this one a marriage of convenience story. After 6 months and no word, I contacted the editor, who called me back and wanted me to revise Rescue Me, shorten it for the Desire line. Wooo hooo! She liked the story! There was a chance they’d buy it! So I worked diligently, revising my heart out, and resent the book.
Fall, 2002 – Talked to the editor at Silhouette – Well no, Rescue Me isn’t really going to work for Desire. Sighhhhhhhh, once again, heart broken. But she wants to see more from me. Okay, so I send along Nothing Personal and a proposal for another book I’m currently working on.
In the meantime, I decided to query agents. Don’t ask me why since I was targeting category, but query I did. Got lots of rejections on my queries. LOTS of rejections. A few requests to see Rescue Me’s partial. A few requests to see the full. Very cool. Agents want to see my work. Things were happening.
Then more rejections on those partials and fulls from those agents. Sigh. I was really beginning to hate rejection letters, especially since I was amassing quite a nice pile of them. Okay, so decided at that point that I didn’t need an agent. *g*
Spring 2003 – No word from Silhouette. By now I have almost two years invested and nothing to show for it. I’ve entered contests, joined RWA, won a couple contests, my work is being recognized, but why am I not selling? I feel like I”m SO close, but I’m so discouraged. And the wait is interminable. I can’t stand this! Argh! Then I find out about this new publishing company called Ellora’s Cave. It’s epublishing, and it’s erotic romance. The hot stuff.
Okay, so I tend to write hot sex scenes and have had to tone them down for the Silhouette stuff. I buy some Ellora’s Cave books. Whoa. Those ARE hot. But fun. I sit down and write a very hot book called Paradise Awakening, and send it in to Ellora’s Cave. 8 days later they email me and say they’re buying my book.
I’m a published author! Woo hooo! I’m ecstatic! Of course it’s epublishing. So not everyone will see it as a huge success, but I’m still thrilled. I will have a book published. And I love writing for EC. In the meantime, I still want that NY contract. (Hey, it’s my dream, dammit!)
Summer 2005 – I’ve been writing for Ellora’s Cave for two years. Have nearly 25 ebooks out and about 12 of those in print. Now some of my peers and friends in epublishing are selling to NY print publishers. tap tap tap. I haven’t sold to NY print publishers yet, dammit. And despite the fact I LOVE writing for Ellora’s Cave, I still have that dream.
Well, it’s time to do something about it. But what? Ya know, sometimes things just happen at the right time for a reason. It just so happens this very cool agent named Deidre Knight has started a blog, and I just so happened to run into her on her blog and started posting. We started talking. I queried her about some of my work. She liked my work. She signed me. I wrote a proposal, then another, then another.
One of those proposals was Surviving Demon Island, which I frankly thought was total crap (I blogged about the whole ‘crap’ thing back in August 2005). Deidre made me send it to her anyway. It sold at auction to Bantam Dell about 4 days after Deidre got it.
Last week she sold me to Berkley.
The road to publication does have some big-ass bumps. Sometimes boulders. If you’d asked me in 2001 if I ever thought I’d get this far when I took out that pad of paper, I’d have laughed hysterically. No freakin way. But I did. I worked hard. Damn hard. I studied, I learned, I listened and I continued to read. I joined RWA and met some amazing writers, both published and unpublishied. I made so many mistakes and wrote some horrible books (though I did rewrite and sell Magnolia Summer to Ellora’s Cave and it ended up with a Top Pick from Romantic Times *g*).
But I never gave up, despite countless rejections from publishers and agents. Actually, my current agent rejected me several times a few years ago. I never even made it past the query stage with her. Of course, back then, I really WAS sending her crap *g*
Sometimes it pays not to give up.