Margaret Tanner’s Made It Moment proves two things. One, a good writer knows how to laugh at herself. Not because we’re so smart. Just because by the time you actually make it to the point of being a good writer, enough crazy, deflating, is-heartbreaking-too-strong-a-word stuff has happened that we’d better be able to laugh. Read on for some of what happened to this historical romance writer from Down Under.
But first, I promised to tell you the other thing this Moment proves, and that’s that the Amazon reader and discussion forums are fonts of some of the best community on the web. I want to give a shout out for The Spinning Wheel, which introduced me to Margaret, and other authors who have shared their Moments, and many, many more whom I hope will do the same.
I shook from head to shoulder as I read the e-mail. The one that I had strived for years to receive. An offer of publication. The Call as we romance writers say. It was the icing on my road to publication cake. Months later, when I actually held a print copy of my first ever novel in my hot little hand, I knew I had made it. I caressed the cover like a lover, inhaled its perfume and slept with the book under my pillow for days.
I started out when e-publishing was in its infancy and most publishers still wanted a paper version of your manuscript. The following is part of a talk I gave at my local writing group about my road to the Made It Moment.
You have written a fabulous novel, your mother loved it and your girlfriend said it was the best story she had ever read.
Now, who is the lucky publisher? You know everyone will want it. The dollar sign lights up in your eyes. Six figure advance? Well, maybe you would take five for starters. You are already debating what you will wear to your first book launch.
Who will play the lead role when your masterpiece is made into a movie?
These are the questions you ask yourself.
I have had so many near misses, I could write a book about it. A publisher accepted my book, then was taken over by another publisher who didn’t want my work. I got myself an agent who unfortunately died. I finally got published and my book was out for a couple of months…then the company went out of business.
What do you do? Lie in a corner in the foetal position. Kick, scream, etc.
NO, throw yourself a pity party if you like, have a few chockies/drinks and get on with it.
I have sent manuscripts to the large category romance publishers. The bigger the better, I thought and I received rejection letters, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
My blood was up; the bit was between my teeth. I had to get my story out of the “slush” pile and on to the Senior Editors desk. But how?
A few weeks before Christmas a friend of ours, who was a sales representative, proposed a daring plan that couldn’t fail. He said. “Wrap the manuscript up in Christmas paper, put a fancy ribbon on it and send it to the senior editor. No junior editor would dare open the boss’ Christmas present.” What a master stroke, I thought, the man was a genius.
Well, a couple of months later, said present winged its way back to me, pretty ribbons intact, sticky tape untouched by human hand. The brief note said: Thank you for the gift, but we don’t accept presents. Merry Christmas etc. etc. I felt like the world had ended.
Then I got smart.
I joined a local writers group, attended conferences, and honed my skill, researched the markets and it paid off without the devious manoeuvres. I am now published with Whiskey Creek Press, The Wild Rose Press and Books We Love.
So, exactly what did I do to get my first acceptance?
Firstly, I researched the market trying to find out which publisher would publish the kind of stories I wrote. No point sending a hot steamy romance to a publisher of sweet and tender romance, or erotica to a Christian publisher, because no matter how wonderful your story is, they will never publish them. I had by this time figured out that I didn’t write category/formula romance. (i.e. the hero and heroine must meet on page one, share their first kiss on page eight, can only go as far as the bedroom door and so on). In fact, I discovered my stories were more along the lines of historical fiction with romantic elements.
I found two publishers, Whiskey Creek Press and Lovestruck Press. Being the desperate character that I was, and it was a definite no-no in those days, but I still sent full manuscripts to both publishers at the same time–two different stories at least. Whiskey Press sent me an email saying they wanted my story. Yay! I was on my way. Two days later, Lovestruck contacted me saying they wanted the other one. So that is how I started.
Sadly, tragedy struck the Lovestruck owners and they had to close down. I received my copyright back, but by this time I realized no author should have all their eggs in the one basket, so I queried The Wild Rose Press and they took me on board. Recently, I was invited to submit some of my out of copyright novels to Books We Love. And I now have several novels published with them.
Perseverance, knowing your market, confidence in the quality of your work combined with a dash of luck, and you will obtain your Made It Moment.
Margaret Tanner is a multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically accurate. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty, or cemetery too overgrown. Many of her novels have been inspired by the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia.