November 5, 2012

Made It Moment: Margaret Tanner

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:00 pm

Savage Possession

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.

Margaret Tanner

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.


  1. Hi Jenny,
    Thank you for having me here, I enjoyed my visit.



    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 5, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  2. Margaret, it’s so nice to see you here on Jenny’s site. Congratulations to you for being sincere and conscientious about writing fiction with fact-based history. It’s writers like you that not only entertain, but educate. Good luck and see you at the Wheel.

    Comment by Doctor Barbara — November 5, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

  3. Hi Doctor Barbara,
    Thank you so much. Lovely of you to take the time to drop by, I appreciate it.



    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 5, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  4. Hi Margaret

    Thank you for sharing your journey to success.
    Wonderful to know that your perserverence paid off and your lovely stories are now out there and in print.

    I can totally understand sleeping with your newly published book under your pillow. I have no doubts that I’ll be exactly the same! Can’t wait till I can.


    Comment by Michelle Somers — November 6, 2012 @ 1:59 am

  5. What a wonderful story, Margaret. So funny about the Christmas-wrapped gift, although I can see how it wouldn’t have been funny at the time!

    Comment by Cheryl Wright — November 6, 2012 @ 2:37 am

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    Pingback by Guest Blogger | Romance Authors — November 6, 2012 @ 2:42 am

  7. Hello, Margaret,

    Thanks for sharing the tale of your trials and tribulations. Most of us can identify – especially with the silly fantasies about big royalties and star-studded launch parties LOL.

    Writing is a far quieter – and more effortful – business than most people realize.

    Comment by Lisabet Sarai — November 6, 2012 @ 3:24 am

  8. Hi Margaret,
    Great blog. You have worked hard and reaped the benefits—multiple contracts! I like that your books are always historically correct and you go to a lot of trouble to make sure they are!

    Thanks for having Margaret as your guest blogger, Jenny.

    Comment by Serena Tatti — November 6, 2012 @ 5:54 am

  9. What a great ‘moment’ Margaret! I had to laugh at how certain you were that a publisher would snap up your book immediately. I guess all authors have that same dream. So glad you persevered and finally made it.

    Comment by mountainmama — November 6, 2012 @ 6:24 am

  10. Hi mm,
    Thank you so much for dropping by, I appreciate it. I was a babe in the woods when it came to getting published in those days.



    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 6, 2012 @ 6:36 am

  11. Thanks Margaret for sharing your exciting journey, it was inspiring.


    Comment by Margaret Midwood — November 6, 2012 @ 6:49 am

  12. Oh Margaret, how I identified with almost everything you said. Not the gift wrapped present though…I didn’t think of that one, otherwise I’d have probably done the same! I’m glad you kept on persevering though.

    Comment by Sheila Claydon — November 6, 2012 @ 8:21 am

  13. Like many here, I can relate to much of what you say, Margaret. Very inspiring. continued success!


    Comment by Joan Hall Hovey — November 6, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  14. Hi Margaret,

    Your road to success illustrates one thing. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And perseverance pays. Well, that’s two things. But we’re so glad you stuck with it. I think belief in yourself is the key. And by the way, I thought that Christmas present was a super idea. Too bad it didn’t work. But in the scheme of things, it wasn’t supposed to. Whiskey Creek, Wild Rose and Books We Love were your destiny. See you at the Wheel.

    Comment by Nancy Morse — November 6, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  15. Well done Margaret, you deserve all the success possible for holding out against the odds, I know just how you feel. I hope the future brings you everything you wish for along with the happiness you deserve. Sell a million.

    Comment by Roy E Stolworthy — November 6, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

  16. Hi Margaret,

    It’s a long and frustrating journey, one many of us have taken. It takes an enormous belief in one’s work (and oneself), as well as thick skin, to keep the dream and goals intact. Congratulations and continued success.

    Comment by Kathy Fischer-Brown — November 6, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  17. Hi Michelle, Serena, Cheryl and Margaret,
    Thank you so much ladies for dropping by and leaving comments, I appreciate it.
    Yay to the MRWG.



    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 6, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

  18. Hi Sheila, Joan and Kathy,
    Thanks for dropping in for a visit, I appreciate it and all that Books We Love have done for me.



    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 6, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  19. Hi Roy and Nancy,
    Thanks so much. It was lovely of you to take the time and trouble to comment.
    I did think the Christmas gift was a fabulous idea at the time, but on reflection, not the brightest thing I have ever done.



    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 6, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

  20. Dear Margaret, what a fantastic story! I loved all of it and am pleased and proud to know you. To be accepted by traditional publishers is a great honor, and most certainly well earned. Keep well and keep writing too!
    Cheers to you!

    Comment by Jo — November 6, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

  21. Hi Jo,
    Hope this finds you well. I sincerely thank you for dropping by and leaving such a lovely comment.

    Best wishes


    Comment by Margaret Tanner — November 7, 2012 @ 7:39 am

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