We all know that the Internet has enhanced the romance community in a fabulous way. When I first started to write, I knew absolutely nothing about anything. I’d even stopped reading romances. So I gingerly clicked for advice, finding Jenna Peterson’s Passionate Pen, which is a great, generous place for aspiring writers. In the intervening years I’ve had online and e-mail contact with some of the best names in the business. It never ceases to amaze me that Eloisa James wrote back to me about flawed heroes or that Karen Hawkins complimented me on a snippet I wrote or that Christine Merrill appreciated a comment I left about her. She’s even sent me her latest, Miss Winthorpe’s Elopement. A couple of the things she said really resonated:
So if you’ve got an agent to love you, don’t worry too much on what’s ahead. Really, I think that editor rejections are much easier to take than criticism from the unpublished, who can be unmerciful. Editors tend to break things down into “will make money” or “won’t make money”. Good or bad doesn’t enter into it as often as it should. And nothing works for everyone, so don’t worry on that account. The stronger your voice, the more likely you are to get off the wall criticism. So the out of left field, sand-bagging can be written off as ‘not your reader’.
In another e-mail she writes:
In my experience, you are in the worst stage of the writing/publishing process. The spot right before you sell is a lot harder than anything, IMHO. And it feels like it goes on forever, while everyone around you gets a call.
There’s the learning curve, where you have to figure out how to write, and you suck but don’t know it, and get a bunch of rejections.
And there’s all the stuff that published people whine about, like reviews and sales numbers.
But in between there’s the point where you reach a level of competence sufficient to write a good saleable book, but the rejections are still coming. It’s not like your craft won’t continue to improve as long as you write. But I think the style can mature years before the market is ready to buy. Or maybe it all happens over night. There’s really no telling. And it’s hard because you won’t be able to make the changes that some of the editors will be looking for, because they either won’t serve you story, or they will be just plain crazy. If you have an agent who gets your work, that is half the battle.
But welcome to limbo. When it feels crazy, remember, it’s not your fault.
Word to live by! I knew I was innocent, LOL! In my ivory tower, AKA writing room, I’m apt to forget writing is a business as well as an art.(*snort*…forgive my hubris…I know I’m not Jane Austen) In this iffy economy, there might not be an HEA for every writer. But I’m willing to keep trying and typing until “The End.”
Here’s hoping there’s an HEA for Vauxhall Vixen Tiffany Chalmers, who just signed with the Cornerstone Literary Agency! Yay, Tiff! Welcome to limbo!
And here’s a chance to give kudos to your real-life writer heroines who inspire you. What have you read lately that you love? Go read Christine Merrill’s books right this instant! I can’t wait to dive into Miss Winthorpe’s Elopement. But first—I am finally reading Outlander. I know, where have I been? Only 410 pages to go….