Monday, January 5, 2009

Publishing Dreams

I’m really excited to be here at the birth of our new blog. It’s especially fun to be able to embark on this journey with friends.

For our first blog we decided to introduce ourselves. My name is Jana Richards and I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. I’ve been writing for a long time, probably more than fifteen years, but I’ve only been published since 2007. I chased after print publication with Harlequin and other big name publishers for many years and accumulated a drawer full of rejection slips. But I really hit a wall after attending a writing conference in 2004. Nothing about that conference went as I’d hoped. I’d entered a writing contest in conjunction with the conference and didn’t make the finals. Both my editor and agent appointments were disappointments. Even some of my encounters with fellow writers were letdowns. I’d placed way too many expectations on this conference and every one of them was dashed.

I came home feeling miserable and tired and wondering what direction I should take.
Writing wasn’t fun anymore and to be honest, I was getting depressed. I thought seriously about quitting writing completely. After all, life would be far easier if I didn’t write. I could work full time and actually make some money for a change. I’d taken a hiatus from paid work to concentrate on my writing, but more than three years had passed and I didn’t seem any closer to publication than before. My husband didn’t say anything but I knew he wanted me to contribute to the family income.

But I couldn't not write.

So I compromised. I got a part-time job in early 2005. It was only a couple of days a week so it still allowed me time to write. I didn’t make much money but at least when someone asked me what I did, I didn’t have to say I was a romance writer, which inevitably led to the question, “Where can I buy your books?” to which the answer was “Nowhere”. It was too depressing to face that question.

I hadn’t really thought about epublishing. A friend who was epublished was very enthusiastic about her publishers and suggested I go that route. I had several finished manuscripts languishing on my hard drive, and the big name publishers didn’t seem to want them. Aside from a few moments of my time, it didn’t cost anything to email one of the manuscripts to my friend’s editor. What did I have to lose?

Expecting another rejection, I was totally surprised when the editor contacted me by email a few days later and said she wanted to offer me a contract. She said really nice things about my manuscript, Her Best Man, and told me I was a talented writer. No one, other than members of my writing group, had ever told me that. I don’t think I really believed my friends when they’d told me I was a good writer. It was only when I heard the words from an editor that they become true for me.

I’ve gained such confidence by being epublished, by having editors believe in me and by having reviewers say positive things about my work. I’ve learned a lot about setting up a website, and on-line publicity, and now blogging. Epublishing was definitely the right decision for me. I’m not sure I could have coped with many more rejections. My renewed confidence has allowed me to continue to write and hopefully to grow as a writer.

I have some concerns, however. I wonder whether being epublished will help or hurt my chances of being published in print in the future. And the truth is that the money in publishing is still with the print books and the big publishers. Will I eventually be able to make at least a part-time living from my writing?

Deciding where to publish is a choice every writer has to make for herself. Is epublishing the right decision for you? Or will your dreams of publishing only be satisfied by seeing your book printed on paper?

9 comments:

Ironeyes said...

Good morning, good newsletter. Interesting contest ploy!

Happy New Year to you

Anonymous said...

Never read any of your books yet but saw the contest in the newsletter. Happy New Year! ruthing73 at hotmail dot com

Jana Richards said...

Hi Ironeyes,
You win a CD copy of my book "Her Best Man" as the first person sending a comment. Congratulations! Please send me an email to jana.richards at hotmail dot com with your snail mail address and I'll send it out to you right away.

Anonymous, thank you so much for entering my contest. Please watch for future newsletters and other opportunities to win prizes. Happy New Year to you too!

I have to apologize for my lack of technical savvy. I published my first post under "Prairie Chicks" instead of my own identity. If you'd like to visit my website please go to www.janarichards.net and if you'd like to get my newsletter which I send out about 4 times a years, please email me at jana.richards@hotmail.com

I have to admit I am not good with technology, but it is one more thing writers have to master in this technological age. I promise I'll be better next time!

Jana Richards

Karen said...

Jana, great post. I'm still working on creating something to publish but my dreams still look toward seeing my name in print, on a shelf, in a book store. Times and trends change though and it pays to keep up with different avenues. Wireless reading devices have come a long way and are a big hit right now thanks to people like Oprah. So who knows, I guess when the time comes I take what I can get.

Happy to be blogging with you.

Karen

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karen,
Thanks for dropping by.

I'm getting really excited about where epublishing is going. With some of the big players, like Amazon and Sony now interested, the momentum for ebooks is building. Did you know that Harlequin now makes all their titles available in ebook format right after they are released in paperback?

I read an interesting article in the New York Times that actually claims ebooks may overtake print books in the near future. There is also interesting information about ereaders. The link is:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/technology/24kindle.html?

Jana Richards

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Jana, thanks for the post. You show a publishing world I've wondered about still being pre-pubbed and all.

For over 35 years (yikes) I've wanted to be a Harlequin author - since I picked up my first one for 60 cents at the corner drugstore while waiting for the bus.

I'm still pursuing that dream. I've had 2 rejections from Steeple Hill so far but I'm getting better. I know that because my first query resulted in a form letter.

However, my second query pkg which included a partial this time resulted in a personal letter with suggestions and insights as well as an invitation to submit something else to Steeple Hill.

So, I just have to buckle down and get back to writing which I was going to do today except the school buses are cancelled and my kids are running around, happy for another day off.

Janet said...

Talk about technical problems - I just typed a comment and then lost it. ACK! It was good, too.

Hey, Jana - I've heard your publishing story before, but never tire of it. I think all new writers benefit from hearing how determination and persistance pays off (even though your original goal was print, you are still published - an accomplishment you should be proud of). When it gets depressing and disheartening, stories like that give me hope.

I'm aiming for print, but with the success and happiness you've found with e-publishing, I'm seriously reconsidering.

Do you still consider print? Now that you have writing credentials and an Eppie nomination, do you plan on sending out queries to agents?

Suse said...

Hey Jana,

Great publishing-through-perseverance success story. I think it comes down to that saying that sometimes we look so long at the closed door, we miss the open window. I know I don't quite have that correct, but you get the drift.

I have always been a big fan of your writing, so I knew that you would be published one day.

With all the reading I've been doing lately about the publishing industry and the recession, I believe there will be a lot more epublishing going on. And lucky for you, you're already in on it.

Keep writing those great stories!

Suse

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
It sounds like you are getting close to publication. Nothing like getting a "good" rejection letter. If print publishing is what will make your publishing dreams come true, then by all means pursue it. You have to do what makes sense to you.

If you've been writing for 35 years you must have been a very young child when you began! Have fun with your kids at home today. It's brutal cold here as well.

Hey Janet,
If there's a way to screw something up, I'll find it. I am this close to being a Luddite. If I didn't have you and the other Chicks to guide me through this blog business I'd be in even worse trouble. But enough of my troubles with technology...

Like I told Anita I think you should pursue whatever publishing dream makes you happiest. Epublishing worked for me, but maybe you wouldn't be satisfied with it. Am I still pursuing print publication? Not actively at the moment, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of submitting to print publishers again. Sure, I'd love to be published with Harlequin. They are, after all, the biggest game in town. But I have to admit to being gun-shy after so many rejections.

Hi Suse,
Thank you for your kind words. I think you got the door and window thing just right!

All the best,
Jana