I finished FIRE ON THE ISLAND at the end of October (fitting, once you read the story), and begun editing. Once I had made the all the changes I was going to, I began shopping my manuscript to all of the publishers I could find that would accept unsolicited work.
The results were mixed. Many rejections, as was to be expected. But I did have a few who got back to me and said they liked my story and my writing, but would want me to change this or that to be able to consider it. I decided I wanted to exhaust all other options before I made any significant changes to the story. At that point, I began querying literary agents, and did a lot of research on mastering the art of query letters and synopses—the notsofun parts of writing. Again, a mixed bag of reviews. Many rejections again, plus more positive feedback but still no takers. What I took from that? My story wasn’t a total bomb.
I started following agents, publishers, and editors on twitter, and actually developed quite a nice little twitter community. I was followed by Katie Henson of a brand new small press publishing house called Sapphire Star. I followed her back and learned that they were having a romance writing contest. I emailed Katie and asked her if the entry could be a full length finished manuscript, and she wrote back personally to say of course! I sent in FIRE ON THE ISLAND, marked the end of the contest on my calendar, and went back to furiously querying.
I was between jobs at the time, and sleep has never come easy to me even when I was working all day. I was up late cruising twitter one night, at 3 am to be exact, when I received an email from Amy Lichtenhan, the co-owner of Sapphire Star Publishing. They loved my manuscript, and it had won the contest in which the prize was a publishing contract. What? So I ran into the bedroom and woke my poor husband up to tell him.
Done deal, right? Not exactly. I got a great feeling about SSP from my interactions so far, but I was so new at the writing game, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I consulted other writers, including Larissa, to see what they thought. Going with a brand new press could possibly be a risk but, like I said, I had a good feeling. I meticulously went over the contract, making sure my rights were protected. My father-in-law is also a writer (textbooks), and he’d had some bad experiences in the past so I wanted to be careful. The contract was written very plainly and easily understood. After having my attorney look over it, I decided that it could work.
I emailed Amy and Katie and told them I’d be happy to accept the contract. From there, it’s been a whirlwind of setting up websites and social media, trying to get the word out. My first book is being published! I’m nearly done with the sequel and then I’ll begin the third book in the series, and I have at least three more ideas floating around in there somewhere. This thing is really happening! Everyone at Sapphire Star is so much fun and so supportive of each other, I can’t imagine it being anything other than a complete success.
FIRE ON THE ISLAND is queued up for editing, and I should be seeing some cover ideas within a month. And we’re set to release August 2nd! Funny thing is, I just turned thirty this year and I’m just now figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. 🙂 Well, that’s my saga. If you made it to the end, you rock! As Jeremiah would say, ‘preciate ya! Until next time!