Publishing is a wild frontier right now, with vague maps drawn by wayward explorers complete with warnings of “Here There Be Monsters” at the dark edges. No one knows what will get picked up, sell like hotcakes, or go viral. You can’t be in this space as an author and not wonder, what should I do?
The thing you keep hearing from veterans is that it’s about good books. Write good books. That is the only truth and the only thing you can control. But not all good books get discovered. Plenty of good books languish without ever getting into the hands of dear readers. You can try and hope, but it’s a wild, wild West out there and there are a lot of gamblers at the table.
I’m not making too much sense, am I? A bit dramatic with the metaphors? That happens when I get overly sentimental. 🙂
Not all of my readers are aware of the difference between category romances and single-titles. With online purchasing and ebooks, the lines are a bit more blurred as books can continue to be available online after they’re taken off the bookshelves. I think some readers do know that my books are only in bookstores for one month and that they go out of print rather quickly. A single-title release hopefully has a little longer shelf-life, wider distribution, and perhaps a slightly larger print run. The bottom line is: more books out there.
My agent and I have been trying to break into single-title for a long time now. I thought I’d have to get some spectacular, record-breaking sales numbers to counteract the “hard sell” stigma. Maybe I’d win some big awards or I’d propose some hot super high-concept premise that no one could resist. Then maybe someone would notice.
Well, none of that happened. What happened is I poured everything I had into every book and every story I wrote and kept on trying to get a little better with every word.
Then my agent called me one morning a couple weeks ago saying, “Are you sitting down?”
Apparently Harlequin noticed some recent positive reviews and started looking into whether I might fit into the HQN single title program. They were offering us a contract. I was ecstatic and a little light-headed.
“Umm….with no proposal?” I asked. I didn’t know exactly what we’d be signing for. We hadn’t really sent them anything.
“They want you to bring the same historical setting you’ve been writing to HQN,” she replied.
So I’m going to be writing Tang Dynasty historicals for Harlequin Historical and a two book series for HQN as well. I’m quite excited and a little bit scared and…well, I’m strutting a little. 🙂
I get to write more books and hopefully bring my stories to more readers. I’ve been offered this opportunity after doing what all my writing mentors and all the authors I respected told me all along:
Just write the best book you can.
It’s true that this is a business. It’s true that it’s all about sales — but sometimes, it’s also about writing good books.
I think back to that night after I announced my first sale after winning the Golden Heart. I had my sister on the phone and reflected how there was no other way anyone would take the risk of publishing my first book. No other way I would have ever been noticed.
“It happened the way it had to happen,” I told her.
“It happened exactly the way you wanted it to happen,” Sis said.
And once again, it did. It absolutely did.