Well, friends, it’s been a heck of a first year. And I thought I’d share my journey of this year by visiting what led up to it.
Summer of 2009, I walked away from a sales and marketing career because I’d wasted entirely too much of my life. Yes, I’d had six-figure salary years, but I’d also missed weddings, funerals, and weekend jaunts away with the family. Happily, I’ll tell you I never missed a school play or football game, but often, I had to run right back to work instead of getting ice cream afterward. Work, in my mind, had become a four-letter word, and since I spent more than a third of my life there, I decided I needed to get back to a career that was fun, something I wanted to do, and something that I felt benefited others in the process.
So I asked myself a question: If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?
Well that’s a silly question, I said to myself. Read, of course. Okay…I then thought, What else? Remember all those short stories you wrote in high school? Remember that one in college? Remember how you wanted to be an author and literary agent, and your friends said if you didn’t live in New York you’d never make it?
Six months later…December 2009, (It took me that long to believe I had it in me, and I was enjoying not working for the first time in thirty years, relishing in the extra time with my twelve and seventeen-year-old sons) I sat down and started penning a story. Two months later, I had a 120k-word novel, which I shared with my best friend and cousin, swearing them to secrecy (Nope! Hubby didn’t know. In fact, hubby didn’t hear I wrote a novel until I had a contract almost two years later) My readers loved my story, but made some recommendations, and I searched high and low for suggestions on how to edit it, to make sure it was publishable. Yes, I was a reader, but I’d never dissected a novel. So that’s what I did; I read! With highlighters, paying attention to the mechanics of writing, not just the story. Now I had a novel, so the fun part would begin. Right…
Fall of 2010, I started querying my novel. Sigh! If you’ve never done this, let me tell you, you are in for a treat. Everything is fine until you meet the first agent willing to tell you the truth. Ignore the nice emails and sweet form letters, and pay attention to the honest one. Whether she’s right or wrong, she’s a reader, so be willing to listen.
So, back to the drawing board I went. Still, nothing, nothing, nothing.
And then, through my reading, studying, and stalking of agents on Twitter, I realized it wasn’t my novel; it was my query letter. Honestly, I don’t thing agents care who you are, where you come from, or what you’ve done. THEY ARE READERS! Remember that. They want you to “WOW” them. And if you “wow” them, you have a chance at getting a request for full.
Well, my final query letter must have done the trick because all of the sudden I had multiple requests from agents and publishers. But then I had a very good friend in the publishing business who helped me understand all that contract stuff. Turns out, I didn’t want to wait eighteen months for my novel to see the light of day. Oh, I forgot to mention…while I was querying, I wrote four more novels. So…I was ready, chomping at the bit, so to say.
While I was deciding which publishing route to take, I met an author on Twitter who was starting her own publishing company, and she requested to see my full manuscript, even though she wasn’t taking submissions at that time. She immediately offered me a contract in August 2011, agreeing to publish my first novel by Christmas 2011. And she did. She Belongs to Me hit the proverbial bookshelf 12/23/2011. Since then, she’s published three more of my novels and a short story. In its first year, 5 Prince Publishing has published 24 books. I’m proud to be on the ground floor with Bernadette Marie.
Since publishing with 5 Prince Publishing, exactly one year ago, She Belongs to Me has been on the bestseller list three times, right alongside such great authors as Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts. My second novel Land of the Noonday Sun also made it onto the romantic-suspense bestseller list. And novels three and four just released, so my hope is that they too will see the bestseller list.
Thank you, friends, for an awesome first year. It is because of all of your support that I was able to accomplish what I did in 2012. I have exciting things in the works, which I can’t wait to share with you, so please keep checking back.
Hopefully my journey will give aspiring authors some ideas and encouragement to continue, but here are just a few extra points. Though they may seem common, they’re worth repeating, I think.
Ø If you want to be an author, write. All the time! Keep a journal, never let a thought pass, and never be afraid to start over. But at the same time, never trash what you’ve written. That’s why we have files. Blogs are great, but you have to keep them up. Be prepared to post at least two to three times a month.
Ø Read! Read everything you can about writing. Read everything in your genre. Read everything about writing a query letter and synopsis, even if you plan to self-pub. A query hook is no different from a book blurb; its purpose is to hook the reader.
Ø And yes, you should always query, even if you have every intention on self-publishing. What better advice can you get than from an agent whose job is to find a buyer for your book? After all, your final goal is to sell your book, right?
Ø Never be afraid to listen to advice. That doesn’t mean you have to accept it, but be willing to listen with an open mind.
A little about what I write:
A writer of modern-day fairytales, my stories overflow with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a fairytale be without a tragic event setting the stage? All of my novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic and will make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.
My first two novels, She Belongs to Me and Land of the Noonday Sun, have reached bestseller status right alongside Nicholas Sparks, J.D. Robb, and other great authors. My new releases, Entangled Dreams and When Noonday Ends are now available.
My novels are all standalones; however, I do link each of my stories with a little surprise. If you read out of order, you'll never notice. But if you read in order, it's fun.
First release - December 2011:
After secrets and a mysterious background leave a wife’s life hanging by a thread, a husband must look for answers in the only place he knows—the past.
Second Release - May 2012
Book I of the Nantahala Series
When two strangers have nothing left but their dreams, they must forge a relationship in Nantahala, North Carolina, a small town known as Land of the Noonday Sun.
Third Release - September 2012
When Alexandra’s choices dissolve into Entangled Dreams, pushing her down a dark and dismal path, she must trust her instincts to escape danger, but be able to surrender all to find her happily ever after. Knowing how to decipher the difference, will be her toughest challenge.
Fourth Release – December 2012
When a new attorney accepts a case of a woman accused of attempted murder, he finds himself entwined in age-old secrets and a family that will stop at nothing to conceal them—even murder.
Series of Mini-Mysteries with a Paranormal Edge
First Short Story — October 2012
When what seems like a normal pit stop turns to more than just gas and food, a lost couple finds themselves searching for the truth of a twenty-year-old mystery that may cost them their life.
Second Short Story — January 2013
The Depot (When Life and Death Cross Tracks)
Find in print and eBook formats:
Until next time, happy reading, friends!
I love talking about all things books, so please connect with me via one of the links below.
Never give up the dream. When you stop dreaming, you stop living. Congratulations to you!!! Best wishes to you for another great year! ;o)ReplyDelete
She belongs to me is on my TBR list for 2013. ;o)
Very true, Suzan! And yay! I hope you enjoy reading "She Belongs to Me" as much as I did writing it. :)Delete
Way to rock it!ReplyDelete
Hey, Kelly! Thank you. I hope your 2013 is starting off fantastic!Delete
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Beautiful post & sage advice for aspiring authors. Best wishes in 2013.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Michelle. My email is at the top right if you ever have any questions. Best wishes to you in 2013 as well.Delete
Very nice and I'm so proud to have been a part of it! (and so funny...I remember you telling me on the phone, "my husband doesn't know I wrote a book.") I think you did him (and yourself and me) proud!ReplyDelete
Awww...thank you, Bernadette. We've come a long way in a year, huh? You especially.Delete
Yes, I didn't tell him until after I had the contract in my hands. And I did it at a coffee shop and teared up. I think he thought I was leaving him at first. Funny...same thing happened in "She Belongs to Me". LOL!
Good advice. I'm in the middle of rewriting my query for the fourth time. I've almost written my second book while doing the waiting game. It's almost daunting, but nice to know that almost everybody who does get published goes through this stuff.ReplyDelete
Congrats. I hope for more success for you in the future.
It is daunting, Chris. And believe me, I've talked many of my aspiring author friends off the proverbial ledge. I've gotten pretty good at query letters now. In fact, I write them for hundreds of authors. If you want to use the email at the top right and send me what you have, I'll be glad to take a peek. Sometimes it just need "oomph!"Delete
Hope your 2013 makes all your dreams come true.
Sorry...I forgot I moved email button (contact me) to the middle of the page, right next to Celebrating Authors tag.Delete
Wow, yeah...let me finish the tweaks, and I'll send it your way. It's not really in the same genre as what you write...well, I'll let you judge what you will...Delete