Books of Wonder — the perfect name for a children’s bookstore, isn’t it? Venture inside and you’ll find everything from beautiful vintage copies of The Golden Compass and The Wizard of Oz to shelves bursting with new YA novels. Actually, YA was on my mind when I popped into the store to hear a panel of six spirited female novelists talk about their romance novels and their writing journeys.
Hearing them talk was like attending a writing party: Not surprisingly, a big theme was Persistence with a capital P. The six writers on the panel have all created wildly different worlds for their characters to inhabit — from a glamorous Las Vegas hotel to Victorian Steampunk London. And they all took different paths to their writing careers; some write full time and some have day jobs. But they shared one thing in common: ups and downs on the road to publication.
Michelle Madow, author of The Secret Diamond Sisters, started her first novel as a junior in college, but it took her 5-1/2 years and three novels before she finally landed an agent at a Pitch Slam. At the Slam, 10 agents asked to see her work, 9 rejected it, and 1 finally took her on. Marie V. Snyder, author of Touch of Power and a New York Times bestselling novelist, submitted her work to 40 agents, all of whom rejected it, then sent it directly to 18 publishers before finally landing at Luna Books, a Harlequin imprint. A few helpful tips from the savvy six:
Write whenever and wherever you can: Some of the panelists write during the day, but most are night owls, several of whom work from 10:00 or 12:00 in the evening to 3 AM.
Do your homework: Once your draft is complete and polished, take time to do the research to find the best home for it. Look at books in your genre, investigate their publishers, and check Acknowledgments pages for the names of editors and agents.
Use very network you have: Cara Lynn Shultz was a complete newbie to the publishing world, so she reached out to a college advisor who happened to know an agent – and she was off and running. The friend of another author was describing her book on a Metro North train when an editor overheard her and asked for a copy. You never know who you know who knows someone who can help you. So reach out, talk about your book to everyone, and don’t take no for an answer. Write on!