The Not-So-Fairytale Road to Publication

Ahhh, the road to publication. This is always a difficult topic for me. I actually have two versions: the short version, which makes me look like a genius, and the long version, aka the truth, which I must always prep myself to discuss. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks doing just that, so here’s the long of it.Frog with crownLong ago, in a land far, far away (Louisiana, which is one state over, but that one state is Texas, hence the “far away”), a young lady was participating in her favorite pastime, perusing the bookstore shelves. You remember bookstores, right?

She found a slender book by Yvonne MacManus entitled You Can Write a Romance and Get It Published. Thanks to her parents, who in the best revised fairytale tradition taught her she could do anything she set her mind to, she thought to herself, “You know, I bet I could.”

She bought that thin tome, read it, joined Romance Writers of America (mentioned in said tome), purchased a stack of yellow legal pads (Am I dating myself?) and began to write a novel…on those yellow legal pads. (That most certainly dates me!)

Over the years, she wrote when the muse struck, which wasn’t that often. She progressed from legal pads to dot matrix printers to laser printers. She had children. She tried writing more seriously. She began to find her voice and win contests. She even found an agent, but a publishing contract eluded her.

During this time her middle daughter was born with health problems, and it became increasingly difficult to write. Sooo she decided to put the writing away until she was more comfortable with her daughter’s health. Six months later, her daughter died.

The wannabe writer lost her heart, not only for writing but for reading. It was all she could do to get out of bed every morning and take care of her family.

Time passed. Her son went off to college and her youngest daughter started high school, and the woman just about lost her ever-lovin’ mind. She knew if she didn’t find something to occupy her days, she definitely would lose her ever-lovin’ mind. So she tried to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. She read want ads, talked to friends and family, considered various options, including writing, and discarded them all for one reason or another. But she kept coming back to writing.

She knew the demands on authors. They’d changed since she first started writing. One book a year was no longer good enough. If a writer wanted to make a living, she needed to publish at least two a year. And there were websites and Facebook and Twitter. Oh my!

Magic WandWarning!!! This is where the short version begins.

She finally made a decision. She’d take a year, see if she could write two books. If she could, she’d start shooting them off to publishers and agents.

Six months later, she completed her “first” manuscript. She was too insecure to show it to anyone she knew for a critique. At a friend’s suggestion, she entered it in a contest for feedback. Anonymity accomplished, she began working on the next manuscript. The first manuscript finaled in the contest. She plugged away on the next manuscript. She won the contest. Angela James at Carina Press, the editor who judged it, asked to see the entire manuscript. Wannabe writer emailed it to her. (Praise the Lord and Hallelujah, the days of snail mailing 400 page manuscripts were over!) Her only expectation was a rejection email in three to six months’ time.

Two weeks later she got an email from another Carina editor, Rhonda Helms. Would wannabe writer be willing to make changes to the manuscript if Carina acquired it? Well, duh. No brainer.

A month later, thirteen months after beginning that first manuscript, she got the call. Eleven months later her first novel, Sharing Hailey, was published. It won awards and landed on the USA Today Bestseller List.

See? Genius!I wish I could tell you she lived happily ever after, that she published two books a year and is living off her earnings. She isn’t. Yet. But stay tuned for the sequel because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And sometimes, not even then.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

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