Getting Published

July 28, 2008

 
PLEASURING THE PIRATE, my 5th book, will be in stores tomorrow! I’m thrilled. And grateful. And feeling like this is an opportunity to look back a bit over the last few years since my debut in May 2006.
When one of my MySpace friends asked about how to get published, I thought there might be others who’d like to know as well. Everyone’s journey is different, but if others will be helped by my experience, I’m willing to share. So, here’s a brief stroll down my path to publication.
I’m not like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who scribbled a proposal and sold her first book before it was even written. I had to learn my craft. I started in 2001 with the naive notion that since I was a reader, I could be a writer. That’s right. It took me 5 years to publish. You may take less time. Or more. It’s the journey that’s important, not how long it takes.
I wrote 2 complete manuscripts that will forever gather dustbunnies under the bed. They were my teachers. I learned about story arcs and POV and dialogue. And generally how not to write a romance novel. Even so, the 2nd one (a sad little western) started to win a few writing contests. It was enough encouragement to keep me going.
Then we moved to Seattle and I joined Eastside RWA. Finally I wasn’t on my own, trying to reinvent the wheel. I had help in learning how to write. And at one of the chapter meetings during a writing exercise, my heroine Rika from my debut novel MAIDENSONG was born.
I was just typing THE END on MAIDENSONG when my husband lost his job in a corporate downsizing. We moved to Missouri to lower our expenses. I took a position as a banker to help make ends meet, while he looked for work. While I struggled to learn a new job, I also struggled to learn to write in the evenings and on weekends, when I was tired, whether I felt like writing or not. I wasn’t playing with this. It was not a hobby. There was far too much of my blood on the pages for that. I was determined to be a real writer.
I sent queries (I’ll talk about query letters in my next post) to agents, since I knew I didn’t have time or the expertise to submit MAIDENSONG on my own. Thanks to a faithful e-critiqueing friend, during this time I finished ERINSONG, and wonder of wonders, I finally was offered agent representation in 2004.
I continued writing. Each time I finished one story, I didn’t wait to see if it would sell. I started on the next one. In June 2005, I got THE CALL. Leah Hultenschmidt from Leisure Books had found MAIDENSONG languishing on her desk and loved it. (Bear in mind, MAIDENSONG had been there for a year. Most of the time, publishing grinds with glacial slowness.) MAIDENSONG came out in May 2006 and I wept when I first saw the cover.
Now, I have 5 books in print, another due out next March and a contract for one after that. I’m writing full-time now (Thank you , God and my dear husband!). I have been extremely blessed and I feel I must share that there is an element of luck in who gets published and who doesn’t. It’s a matter of the right manuscript on the right desk at the right time.
But it’s also a matter of perseverance. The clinical definition of that word is “continueing an activity past the time when it makes sense. To persist in an idea, purpose or task, despite obstacles.” I used to think ‘perseverance’ meant going to grad school, but it fits trying to be published to a T.
Persevere. Keep writing. Once you start down the path, don’t give up on the journey. You’ll find places in yourself and others you never knew existed. Good luck!
* * *
“I simply couldn’t put this one down!” ~ Reviewer Top Pick, NightOwl Romance on PLEASURING THE PIRATE
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