Author Wendy Soliman shares a look back at the route she took to get published. She points out some of the pitfalls along the way and how she overcame obstacles to jump-start a successful e-book career.
I can't remember a time when I didn't invent stories in my head, making the world behave precisely as I thought it should. Seemed to me like a perfectly natural thing to do. But dreaming's one thing, committing those dreams to paper is entirely another, as I discovered when I picked up my pen eight years ago and got serious about it.
Even then, before e-publishing had really taken off and nobody had heard the dreaded words "credit crunch", everyone told me it was almost impossible to get an agent or publisher to look beyond the first page of a manuscript. But I was convinced I'd be the exception that proved the rule. I no longer had to bash my thoughts out on a typewriter and had the added bonus of the internet at my fingertips to help with research. It didn't occur to me that the same rules applied to all the other would-be writers out there, producing a glut of material that enabled the publishing houses to be even more selective.
My accidental discovery of the English Romantic Novelists' Association played a vital role in my road to publication. I can't speak highly enough of their generosity and spirit of camaraderie. They have a scheme whereby unpublished authors can submit a manuscript for professional critique. My first Regency romance went through that process and was published by Robert Hale in London the following year. I was on my way and four more Regencies followed in quick succession.
But then what? I had a track record but it didn't seem to cut much ice with the gatekeepers for the bigger publishers. Unless you had an agent, they weren't prepared to offer you the time of day, especially since the credit crunch was now in full swing and they were becoming even more paranoid about giving new "voices" a hearing. So what about this e-publishing business that was starting to get attention? Surely it wasn't something to be taken seriously? No one would want to read novels on computers or those gadgety e-reader thingamajigs, would they? Still, what was to lose by giving them a bash? I mean, who'd have thought that we'd store photos on-line instead of keeping piles of albums gathering dust at the back of a cupboard? Times are a-changing and writers need to change with them.
And so I dipped my toe cautiously into this unreal world with A Reason to Rebel, published by Samhain as an e-book and in print. But I still hankered after that big break into "proper" publishing. I submitted to a new publisher a year ago and after an agonizing six-month wait was rejected at the final hurdle. Although I assured the publisher I was only a couple of hours away by plane, I suspect my geographical location counted against me. If it was between me and another author living in England, from the publisher's perspective it had to be a no-brainer.
That decided it for me and I now fully endorse the e-publishing phenomenon. My nomadic lifestyle is no impediment since I can do on-line promotion from wherever I happen to be. What's more, it's not an eighteen month wait for see one's "baby" come to life but more like six. That has to count for something. And attitudes are changing. The other day I overheard (okay, I was eavesdropping!) a lady well into her sixties extolling the virtues of her Kindle to a group of her friends. Equally, a woman in her twenties asked me if she would be able to buy my books for her Sony reader.
I was able to tell her that I have two Regencies coming out with Carina Press this year. The first, Of Dukes and Deceptions, was released in March and Scandalous Propositions is due for publication in September. I also have the first of my Hale books, Lady Hartley's Inheritance being re-released as an e-book by Aurora Regency in August. Add to that my contemporary novel, Topspin, about a disparate group of individuals drawn together by their membership of a country club on the Isle of Wight due to be published by Aspen Mountain Press next year and the first of what I hope will be a series of marine crime mysteries, Unfinished Business, contracted to Carina and...well, I guess you can say that I have my hands full.
And I'm loving every minute of it!
- Wendy Soliman
Visit Wendy's website at http://www.wendysoliman.com for more information about her and her books. Or follow her on Twitter where she can be found as @wendyswriter.