As always, I’m very happy today to welcome Heather Lin back to the blog! In her last visit, she told us about Westridge and the inspirations that led her to tell that story. Now, she’s introducing Rosa’s Story, another side of the Westridge universe, and giving us a little insight into her on-going publishing journey.
Why I Chose Self-Publishing
I always love being a part of Spivey’s blog because she promotes writing. She doesn’t genre bash or claim to have the golden ticket to breaking into the writing biz. She’s a writer who is looking to be a permanent part of the writing industry while helping others do the same.
For that reason, instead of talking about my inspiration for Rosa’s Story or what sets it apart from other small town contemporary romances (tattooed hero, steamy sex, and a focus on female friendship—if you were wondering 😉 ), I’d like to talk a bit about my experiences so far in the industry and why exactly I’m choosing to self-publish this trilogy.
I will never advise you to self-publish because quite honestly most writing advice is bogus. No author can say “This worked for me; it will work for you, too!” they can only ever say what’s worked for them. You have to find your own way through the muddled mess of agents, large press publishers, small press publishers, e-publishers, submission requirements, etc. Take basic, common sense suggestions (Don’t slip your manuscript under the stall door while an editor is using the bathroom in the hopes to make an impression, for example. You will, and it won’t be a good one.) and then follow your instincts.
My personal journey began with a contest. I won $100, so of course I felt encouraged and wrote more short stories and submitted to contests and anthologies. I had some success. I submitted a 10,000 word short story to an e-publisher who accepted my work and released it as a standalone story. I made about $50 and I was ecstatic to have my own work with its own cover art available to readers. I submitted another story, and it was accepted. However, the company’s cover art was a bit amateur, and I was never allowed involvement in the editing process. I knew I wanted something more.
My ultimate goal was to be published by a big-name New York publisher. I wanted Jodi Reamer or Jessica Faust as an agent. I submitted a novella (Westridge) to some agents, but it was too short for them to consider. So I submitted it to Silver Publishing, a romance publisher with great covers and a great royalty rate. It was just under the word count required to be published in print, but I loved the cover and the editors I worked with. Then they surprised me and put it into print anyway! I was so excited to have a book on my shelf with my name on it! I had plans at that point for a sequel, but I already had The System written, so I submitted that to them first.
Then royalty payments started falling behind. Rumors about the publisher taking money from the authors’ royalty holding accounts started. I found this fun clause in the contract that required a certified letter to be mailed detailing any breach in contract. The publisher had three months to remedy the breach, giving him just enough time to get behind on the next quarter’s royalties before dealing with the first. Then I’d have to send another letter, etc, etc, which meant he would never actually have to be updated on royalty payments.
I managed to get my rights back to Westridge and The System before shit really hit the fan. If you want to know the whole story of what happened, just google Silver Publishing. Long story short, it went under, and I felt discouraged.
I put Westridge and The System and the sequels I’d planned for both on a back shelf and started a new project. I sent my first full-length romance novel to several publishing houses and about forty agents without ever getting accepted. I wasn’t submitting to small presses, though. I was going after exactly what I wanted—until I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore.
Writing was never a chore, but there was always so much riding on it. “This is it. This will be the one that sets my career in motion.” I started losing sight of myself as an author. I worried more about making myself marketable. I put a fantasy novel and several paranormal ideas on hold because I was marketing myself as a contemporary romance author. I would experience crippling jealousy whenever I saw an interview with Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James or anyone else who magically became an overnight success. Why them and not me? And I say crippling because my own negativity caused the majority of my blocks.
Then, last November, I attended a writing workshop with Judith E. French and her daughter, who are both very successful romance authors and have been for decades. I was excited to learn from them, and I even met another local romance/erotica author, Shari Slade (co-author of Three Nights with a Rockstar, which is very good).
And I did learn. I learned that breaking into the writing industry is very different now than it was back in the 1980s or the 1990s. Whether we like it or not, e-books are where most of the money is these days, and quite simply there is not much an e-publisher can do for us that we can’t do for ourselves. We can find great editors (like Spivey), great cover artists (I’m partial to Cheryl Ramirez at CCR Book Cover Design or James at Go On Write), and we can promote/network ourselves. In fact, with small press and e-publishers, you often have to do your own promotion, anyway.
Shari pointed out that having your book published by a New York publisher and having a print book on the shelf is great if that’s all you want, but if you’re looking for a career, self-publish e-books. I gave her advice a try by self-publishing Scandal and Other Erotic Tales, and I actually loved the entire experience. I loved picking out my own cover art and putting all of this work into a manuscript while knowing that it would be released into the world. No queries, no waiting, no pressure to impress the publishing gods.
It was simple, fun, and freeing.
Shari also pointed out that, especially in the romance industry, there is room for everyone. Readers of romance love romance, and they always want more. It’s addictive. We can work with one another rather than against each other.
So far, I am not making a million bucks. I would not say that I have a writing career. But I would say that I’m a writer. I would say I’m making progress. And, most importantly, I would say I’ve fallen in love with writing again. I’m doing it for the right reasons.
I republished Westridge last June, and this month I’m finally releasing Rosa’s Story, which I’ve had planned for three years now. The final novella in the trilogy (Caitlin’s Story) will be released in early November. As for The System, you can expect to see that and its sequel in early 2015.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to stop by Amazon to grab not only Rosa’s Story, but also Westridge (if you haven’t already). It’s free on Kindle this week only!
Rosa has a beautiful daughter and a great relationship with her ex-husband, Jason. But when his childhood sweetheart returns to the small town of Westridge, she begins feeling left out and insecure. She just can’t get used to the idea of sharing her daughter with another woman, and their picture perfect love story makes her lack of a love life feel like a glaring failure.
In the midst of her emotional upheaval, she meets Dylan, a burly, tattooed construction worker who soothes her wounded pride and aching heart. They enter into a fast-paced, passionate affair, and Rosa finds herself falling for him in just a matter of weeks.
Against his better judgement, Dylan falls for Rosa, too. But he’s in no position to be in a relationship. He doesn’t have a car, he doesn’t have a place of his own, and he has the kind of past that matches his rough appearance. He’s made mistakes Rosa couldn’t possibly forgive, and he may never get up the courage to admit to them.
The result? A ticking time bomb of a romance that’s sure to rock both their worlds and leave neither unscathed.