Hi, Everyone! It’s wonderful to be here and heartfelt thanks to Lisabet Sarai for giving me this opportunity to share a little of my experience as I take my first, stumbling steps into the wonderful, yet slightly overwhelming world of writing for publication. It’s truly amazing to be able to share my thoughts with you all. Why amazing? Well, because at the beginning of the year I was a mother of five, working part-time, with a passion for reading and an intermittent craving to write down the stories that clamored about in my head. Now, nine months later (and isn’t that just poetic!) my first book, `What To Do With Lore’, is being released through Total-E-Bound, and I have another four more titles coming out between now and December 6th.
It’s been an incredible journey and there are so many people to thank. So I thought I might get right to it, while at the same time sharing a little insight into what, at least for me, was an unknown world pre-contract.
I could ramble on and on with tales of my own personal journey into publishing. It’s a very fresh and exciting period in my life and I’ve learnt so much. But that’s likely to get boring pretty quick, so here are the highlights and the most important things I have learnt so far.
Lesson One: If you want to write professionally you have to treat your writing as a profession. I will never be able to thank enough the friend I met online that forced me to write each day so that I had something to exchange with her in our informal critiquing sessions. This was THE turning point in my writing. The light-bulb moment when I realized that if I wanted to write professionally I had to invest time into my writing every day. Essentially, it meant giving up some of my reading time and saying no to a few things I would normally have taken on. Without that friend encouraging and supporting me, I would never have completed my first manuscript. I would have just played and potted for the rest of my days, which would have been fine, because from here on out the lessons came thick and fast.
Lesson Two: Once the process of actually writing the story I wanted to tell was complete, I had to get up the courage to actually send it away. Again, my friend helped with this immensely. But who to send it to? Where to physically send it? And what exactly are submission guidelines? Fortunately, years of being an avid reader in my chosen genre stood me in good stead to make a short list of publishers based on who I liked as a reader in terms of quality finished product and submission guidelines where easily found on the publisher’s website. So I sent a partial manuscript away, accompanied by a neat little cover email, synopsis and a whole truck load of hope pinned to it. Fortunately, my friend was also there to help pick up the pieces when that first submission failed. And so begins…
Lesson Three: Rejection is a…well I’m sure you can fill in the blank, but persistence is the key. The first rejection letter I ever got was like a knife to the heart. I’d worked so hard on my manuscript. It was my baby. I loved my characters. Again, thank heavens for my critiquing friend that supported me when I just wanted to throw in the towel. But in the end, despite all her support, I had to do the next bit on my own. I had to keep writing. And being brave enough to send in two more manuscripts to two separate publishers…well it probably wasn’t brave, but it was hard and I wasn’t anywhere near as hopeful. My writing definitely faltered. Then I got my first nibble.
Lesson Four: This is the hardest of the lessons I learned to write about, but here goes. Sometimes, even when you are nearly at the point of getting a contract, when you can smell the sweet scent of success, things can happen that make publishing with that particular publisher not possible. Don’t be a prima donna about it, but don’t compromise yourself just to see your work in print. It REALLY isn’t worth it. And at the end of the day, the only person who is truly going to look after your interests and the integrity of your story is you. Be careful, read contracts and ask yourself if requested revisions are the right thing for you and YOUR story. Not all resubmissions are going to take and not every publishing house is going to be right for your work.
Lesson Five: After two failed attempts, I’m embarrassed to say I thought it was over. I know there are some very successful writers that suffered years of knock backs before they got their big break. I wasn’t likely to be one of them. I just didn’t want to get another knock back. Then I got a second nibble, technically a rejection but with an offer to resubmit and with very specific revisions outlined. I worked hard, completed the changes in a timely fashion, sent the revised manuscript back and, I’m ashamed to say, stopped writing. It was in the hands of the gods, I told myself. What would be would be.
And apparently I was meant to be published, because manuscript three was accepted with Total-E-Bound and on Monday was available for download. I’d done it. `What To Do With Lore’ was being published! Streamers and party balloons. Yay! You did it…what do you mean I’m only about half way there? But I wrote a book. It’s being published. I have an editor who says she loves me, even though my punctuation and grammar are appalling. Promotion…what promotion? …blogging?! …author’s email addresses!…websites!!…(*gasp*) social networking!!!!
Apparently, writing a book is just the tip of the iceberg. Some suggest the percentages are about 60/40. I’ve never been game enough to ask which one is the writing and which is the getting yourself out there component. I fear I’m still finding my feet on both counts. What saved me in the end? Well that would be the next lesson.
Lesson Six: Someone said to me recently that they had never met a more caring, supportive group than romance writers and readers. And I’d have to agree. Since joining their ranks I have met so many wonderful men and women, all of whom have not only welcomed me warmly and sincerely, but who have actively supported and encouraged me, helping me as I fumbled along.
It all started with my editor, a wonderful, brave (no really, my punctuation was that bad) woman who began by sending me some resources to tackle my manuscript issues, then pointed me in the direction of a number of fabulous blogs, suggesting that I read and learn. Best. Advice. Ever. So many wonderful, experienced authors blog about what makes and breaks, what works and what doesn’t, what you can and what you can’t expect.
I read and I talked to people via email and in chat rooms. I learnt about blogging and yahoo groups and how to build a website. I asked for opinions and got some wonderful, astute advice to tweak my promotional ideas. My website was born and revised until it is now something I’m proud of and serves well as a showcase for my work. Please visit when you have the time:
It was then time to tackle social networking. It’s not much use having a book published if no one knows it’s available. I met people willing to have me post as a guest like the wonderful Lisabet Sarai and I then tried out various groups and forums.
Somewhere along the line, I managed to read another wonderful piece of advice. Reader follow the faithful. And I have found it to be very true. I have devoted myself to just one or two forums, rather than spread myself out thinly over many. One group in particularly I’d like to mention is the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads. They have become my rock, my friends and have offered so much support I can’t even begin to thank them enough. Friends I met on Goodreads have agreed to host competitions to win free copies of my books. Others have offered podcast time and peer reviews. The group let me start my own little corner for promotions, which is a lovely way to share.
If you’re ever in the mood to stop by, I’m often there now. A Goodreads profile is necessary and our fabulous Moderator Lori has to check your age before accepting you into the group, but once you’re in it’s a truly amazing place. Here’s a link if you want to stop by:
Anyway, around this time, first edits came back for `What To Do With Lore’. And strangely enough, I’ve found I loved the editing process. Edit one and edit two went smoothly, mainly because of my wonderful editor using an equal amount of carrot with her stick to whip my writing into shape. Then it was off to the proofreader, who helped me to add the final few tweaks that were needed before it was sent on for artwork and then…publication!
Are my books going to change the world? Probably not. Am I proud of them? Damn straight I am. These books represent a lifelong dream that I never thought would come to fruition. But more than that, publishing these books, and hopefully more in the future, has opened my life to some wonderful, talented, astounding generous people who have made every lesson a joy to learn.
And so Jade Archer was born in 2010, after a prolonged pregnancy and labour of over 34 years! I’ve decided she’s about 24, enjoys long walks in the country because she doesn’t have five kids and a husband to care for, eats as much chocolate as she wants because she never has to worry about putting on weight (must be all those long walks!) and can often be found planning her next whirlwind world tour or endlessly typing away (without any interruptions) on another hot and steamy erotic romance. It might be space pirates; it might be shifters or a lonely vampire with a hunger for the girl next door, one thing’s for sure, she loves variety and can’t wait to meet the next characters destined to fall in love.