Ten years ago today, I missed a phone call from an editor in London. I was putting my youngest to bed and reading him a story and just assumed that the ringing phone was a telemarketer. Oops! Turns out it wasn’t. There was a lot of scrambling about trying to find the international dialling number for the UK and then I was through to her voice mail. Apparently, my very pregnant editor had just ducked out to the loo.
Five excruiatingly long minutes later, the phone rang again with the news that Mills and Boon London was buying Outback Baby and releasing it 9 months later as Pregnant on Arrival 🙂 It had taken me ten years of elaspsed time and four manuscripts before I sold and I was over the moon.
Ten years ago, publishing was a totally different beast. The eBook was this talked of idea that really didn’t have a user-friendly dedicated reader and selfpublishing meant paying $$$$ to have a box of books printed with too-skinny margins. We lived for the infrequent sales to a big six publishing house. Wow, the publishing landscape has changed to be almost unrecognisable!
Over the last decade I’ve written 21 medical romances for Mills and Boon, 4 single title wedding themed books for Carina Press, 2 Medicine River cowboy/doctor novels for Berkley Penguin USA, self published a short story and written numerous articles. The full list of my published works is here.
It’s been a hell of a roller coaster ride puntucated by dizzying highs and some rather tough lows. Many days I think that being an author is actaully a very unhealthy job but I think I’m addicted to the buzz of finishing a book, selling a book, seeing it on shelf and hearing from readers that I changed their day in a good way 🙂
Highlights of the last decade have been:
*Seeing my debut novel being printed. (2006)
*My first book signing.
*Giving workshops at RWA conferences and Roadshows (2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015)
*Writing Boomerang Bride. This is also a very low point because it coincided with the massive change in publishing after the GFC in 2009.
*Boomerang Bride being nominated for a Rita and a RuBY and winning both. Being able to be at both award ceremonies was a definite high!
*Selling to Berkely Penguin USA.
*Receiving a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
*My 25th book pin from Harlequin.
What have I learned in a decade? That the persistence and perseverance I experienced in the ten years it took me to get published has been required ten times over in the following decade. Staying published is as hard as getting that first contract.
*We can only make decisions based on the information in front of us at the time. No one has a crystal ball. Sometimes you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and reinvent yourself.
*Surround yourself with people who are your champions. Walk away from people who want to pull you down. That energy is better spent on more positive endeveours.
Sometimes you have to take a break to regroup and reenergise.
You are the only person who cares the most about your career. Ask questions and seek information. Not every publishing deal is a good one.
Creatively, social media can be your worst friend. Resist being the victim of FOMO…fear of missing out. The important news will always find you and taking a digital-detox is healthy for your writing.
Resist comparing yourself to others; professional jealousy will do your head in and drain you of all creativity. There will always be gossip and most of it isn’t true.
You have no control over dumb luck. None. At. All.
Write the best book you can. Hone your craft even if you’ve written 30 novels…energy comes from learning or hearing the same information in a new way or just being reminded.
Don’t burn bridges. The publishing world is small.
Celebrate the milestones, because a lot of hard work went into getting there! I’m not great at doing this so this blog is a departure for me.
Today as I write this I’m working on my 28th novel, a mainstream women’s fiction about three sisters and their mother, which is an exciting departure for me and I’m loving stretching some new writing muscles. Ten years ago if you’d asked me if I’d be doing this I would have looked at you blankly. Back then, I couldn’t see past the second category romance Mills and Boon wanted me to write for them.
Do I have another ten years left in me? I’ll leave you with one other thing I’ve learned; never say never!