A blog about writing should occasionally contains something to do with writing. Here’s a rundown on what I’m accomplishing as a writer during these hard times. Since the first of the year I’ve finished two books, a paranormal and a western historical romance. The paranormal was requested by a small press. The romance has a partial submitted and I’m polishing the manuscript for when the editor requests it. That’s called optimism, isn’t it? In today’s market, a lot of optimism is required.
After parting company with my last agent, I decided that since the big houses weren’t buying much from mid-list writers, I’d do without an agent and see how I could get by submitting to smaller publishers who are willing to look at my work without it going through an agent. In my writing life I’ve had several agents. The first was acquired before I’d ever sold anything. Back in the early Nineties that was easier than it is today. As it turned out, I sold my first books myself by speaking with an editor at a conference. However, I have to say my agent was able to get a better advance than was initially offered.
The conference was the Western Writers of America, and after a few months, I had my first big sale, a two book contract with Penguin to be published as a western historical romance with Topaz. A funny story about that. I wrote what I thought was a western, and it won first place in a contest at a conference. When some members of our critique group volunteered to help Dusty Richards host Western Writers of America in Springdale, Arkansas, we were told we could attend the conference, which meant we could sign up to speak to an editor. I pitched my western.
Western to a Romance
It turned out that what I thought was a western, finally made its way to the desk of Hilary Ross at Topaz, and I was informed that a western with a woman protagonist was a romance, whether I liked it or not. Which was fine by me. I always tell everyone I added a little kissy face and had a romance. Of course, it took a bit more than that. A friend and fellow member of our group, Lisa Wingate, gave me some pointers as her romances were then published with Kensington.
The first book I ever sold was a nonfiction, what today is called creative nonfiction, and I sold it at a conference, too. W.C. Jameson stood up and said he had started a small publishing company, Seven Oaks, and needed manuscripts about the Ozarks. That was easy for me since I’d been writing a column for several years about folks who lived, worked, worshiped and played in the Ozarks. I put something together and sent it to him. My first publication. Wandering In The Shadows of Time, came out in April of 1994.
The western historical romance, Goldspun Promises by Elizabeth Gregg came out that October, 1994, and I was off and running. By the time Moonspun Dreams came out the following year I’d signed another two-book contract with Topaz. Brightspun Destiny came out in another year and Trail To Forever the next. Romantic Times gave them all good reviews, mostly 4s and one 3. Then the bottom fell out. Budgets were cut, it was safer for editors to take on new writers at lower advances than to pay me for my next book. At the time I had my second agent, and though I would’ve taken a smaller advance, he went to other publishers. Said accepting lower advances from Penguin wasn’t good for my career. As it turned out I took much less for the next too books, Images In Scarlet and Angel’s Gold, both under the name of Samantha Lee, a new pseudonym, which I objected to as well.
Do It Myself
After those experiences, I backed off and began to work on some books I’d always wanted to write. I finished two women’s fiction, again obtained an agent who thought one of my books was what New York called a “BIG” book. She worked hard submitting it all over New York. Again, I was at the mercy of what an agent wanted as opposed to what I wanted. When the book didn’t sell to the publishers she submitted to, rather than her stepping back and submitting to some places where I’d wanted to sell it, we parted company. Those two books remain on the shelf, but I learned valuable lessons during that down time. Fight for what you want, with your agent and/or editor and don’t take just anything to stay in the game. I also learned that networking is actually the best way to get published.
The way things are going today, I feel better off marketing my own books, even if that means I can’t get them on the desk of the bigger publishers. When my first book went out of print, I republished it myself with Author House. It continues to be available. Last year I published a biography, Fly With The Mourning Dove, with Publish America. This spring I re-published one of my western historical romances, Images In Scarlet, with iUniverse through the Authors Guild BackInPrint program.
At the present time, I have three books with smaller publishers who are willing to look at my work, and am currently getting ready to submit one to an E book publishers. It seems important today to get involved with E book publishing. I believe that’s the wave of the future. While books as we know them will never disappear, E books are going to be bigger and better sellers with young people who are accustomed to obtaining all their information and entertainment on a small screen.
I’m also working on a memoir of the nine years I spent as a reporter/editor with a rural newspaper. When I look back at some of the intriguing adventures I had during those nine years, I ‘m convinced others would enjoy experiencing them with me. The tentative title is Tigers and Snakes and Flying Machines, which gives only a hint of some of my hair-raising adventures.
In the next few weeks, my virtual book tour will promote my current books. Watch for the schedule here.