Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For Writers: My Journey of sales to inspire you.

I started out writing short fiction before tackling an entire manuscript. I had published several short stories in small press SF/F publications, honing my writing skills in shorter fiction and establishing publication credits. I had a fantastic experience with SF/F editors, who were all so willing and helpful in providing feedback on my stories. When I made my first ‘pro’ sale, to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress series, I felt that perhaps I was now ready to write an entire book. I do recall that MZB accepted that first story (a romantic fantasy titled Spirit Quest—you can read all about it in the Short Stories page on my website) by sending me a letter and contract through the mail. I also recall that my knees gave out and the couch was (fortunately) beneath me at the time.

I then wrote my first manuscript, Beneath the Thirteen Moons, a combination of SF/F and romance, all the things that I love. And I had a devil of a time selling it. There was no umbrella of Paranormal Romance at the time, so no one knew how to market it. I received rejections from SF/F houses that said “too much romance”, and rejections from Romance houses that said “too much fantasy”. I finally found Five Star, a small press house, whose editor at that time, Russell Davis, was actually looking for the type of story I had written. He called--my knees only wobbled this time--and Beneath the Thirteen Moons was released in hardcover. I was very na├»ve at the time, and Russell gave me the best piece of advice: join RWA. I then spent the next year or so learning about the ‘selling’ of books, creating a website, exploring marketing opportunities, etc. And the best part, meeting other writers.

Because of my difficulty in selling my first manuscript, I then wrote a historical romance titled My Unfair Lady, and I did manage to interest an agent with that manuscript. But the entire time I was writing it, I kept thinking: “What if?”

What if the titles of the nobility were based on magical talent? What if Merlin actually had magic in his blood, and passed it down to his descendants? And despite the market, I wrote the book of my heart, combining the research I did for my historical romance novel along with the fantasy that I just couldn’t resist weaving into my stories.

I shelved My Unfair Lady, pursuing (what turned out to be) the first book in my magical new series, The Relics of Merlin. I sold book one, Enchanting the Lady, to my first mainstream publishing house. Now by this time, ‘paranormal’ romance had become a good seller, and although my books are fantasy romances, publishers knew how to market them. And that they would have an audience. I wrote two more books in the series when I was approached by another publisher.

I’m going to circle back to that historical romance manuscript, My Unfair Lady. Besides launching into a new series, The Elven Lords, another magical variation on historical England, my new publisher wanted to look at everything I had written.

My Unfair Lady was published in December of last year, and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a Library Journal editor’s pick. My first book, Beneath the Thirteen Moons, is re-releasing December of this year in mm paperback. Remember, these are two books that were rejected by just about every publisher under the sun, once long ago. So based on my publishing experience I can offer this advice: nothing you write is ever a ‘waste’, writing is subject to personal opinion and the whims of the market, continue to write the book of your heart regardless of the market, cause this business is always changing.

And for me, I feel as if I’ve had more than one ‘first sale’. I’ve had many of them, sometimes circling back on one another. And although my knees don’t give out anymore, each time I see my book hit the shelves I experience that same thrill.

I hope my publishing journey inspired you in some way, and if I can offer any advice or support, please feel free to leave me a comment.

My Magical Best,


  1. Kathryne, thanks for sharing your story. It really does give a lot of hope, since there are so many great books that can't quite squeeze into the current genres -- but it's because the genres need to expand a little!

    I've explored different sub-genres with my writing, partly because it was a story that intrigued me, but also because a sub-genre I loved was waning in popularity, so it made sense to try something else until the tides changed again. :)

    Donna Cummings

  2. So great to hear from you, Donna! And good to know my post inspired you. Best, best wishes with your writing!