What I’ve Learned from a Decade in Publishing

My First Sale

My First Sale

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 PregnantOnArrival2again with the news that Mills and Boon London was buying Outback Baby and releasing it 9 months later as Pregnant on Arrival ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

1888723_10152229075152090_31418059_nOver the last decade I’ve written 21 medical romances for Mills and Boon, 4 single titleย 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 isย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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)

*My first RuBY nomination for my third book (2007). Subsequent nominations have been mefaveexciting too; it never gets old ๐Ÿ™‚

*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 ย 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.

*Reader mail.

*My 25th book pin from Harlequin.

Fiona Lowe ARRA adWhat have I learned in a decade? That the persistence and perseverance I experienced ย 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 willย 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!

Happy Anniversary to me!IMG_20150401_092526


45 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from a Decade in Publishing

  1. Congratulations Fiona! Loved reading this very honest account of your journey. You are an inspiration and the awards you have won are well deserved. Here’s to the next ten years and then the ten after that and all the joy your writing brings to others! xxx

  2. Dear Fiona,
    You are a wise and talented woman, and I am so thankful that our paths have crossed over the last decade. I love your books, you know that, and wish you all the best success. Now I’m really intrigued by your women’s fiction novel. Go for it.

  3. Happy Anniversary, Fiona! Congratulations on a successful writing career. Your hard work and perseverance has definitely paid off. I look forward to seeing many more wonderful books from you ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Congratulations, Fiona! A great recap of the last ten years and some very sage advice. Those high spots like winning RITAs and RUBYs are memorable but it’s the getting up every day and writing that’s the true achievement. Well done!

  5. Go you, Fiona. You are amazing. Ten years is awesome, and all the best for the next decade. I know you’ll be doing it.

  6. This is a FABULOUS post with so many thought-provoking points. And yes, no matter which career road you take – be it a winding lane or a massive highway, the cornerstone is to write the very best book you can. Every time. Congratulations on your milestone, Fiona.

  7. Congratulations, Fiona! The story of your journey is an inspiring one. Thanks for the great tips. They come as a timely reminder to keep writing and keep trying no matter how difficult the journey might be. Looking forward to seeing you celebrate many, many more books over the years.

  8. Congratulations Fiona! And thank you for all the good sense that you share so generously. There is one secret you haven’t let us in on yet though, and it’s a piece of knowledge I feel I could benefit mightily from. How come you don’t look a day older in your new photos, than the one taken ten years ago???

  9. Congratulations on ten years. There is some great advice there. Thank you for sharing it. I’m going to do a social media course next week to find out how to control it rather than allow it to control me. You’re totally right. It can ruin you creatively. I watched it happen to another writer, so I know you’re speaking the truth. Thanks again for putting together the blog post.

  10. Many, many congratulations on such a wonderful milestone Fiona. You are such a wonderful encourager and mentor for those of use who are just starting on the journey.

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