Falling in love is easy compared to finding a publisher. I had written my first novel, Magical Man List, based on the true story of how I found my soul mate. After years of dating, I had finally put together my own Man List with all of the traits and attributes I wanted in the perfect man. Then I created a ceremony to launch the list into the universe and waited for my man to show up, and show up he did.
He satisfied 63 out of 65 items, so I had to marry him. We would be at a party or meet new people and the question would always come up… “How did you two meet?” So then we’d launch into the telling of our story (see yesterday’s post for details) my husband telling his version, me telling my version. Think of the scenes in the movie, “When Harry Met Sally” where the old couples are sitting on a couch telling their story. It was like that. When we were finished, the women would be wiping tears from their eyes and telling me I should write a novel. What a great story. This should be a movie. I decided they were right. So I wrote my first novel. While writing a novel is no easy task, getting said novel published makes writing the book seem like a lark.
I’d always heard that you needed an agent to get published, so the first step was finding an agent. I found a great one who loved the book and started sending it out. We both discussed movie rights, and foreign rights and book signings around the world. We were so hopeful. When one rejection after another can in, our pretty red balloon of optimism slowly deflated until she let me go as a client, saying there was nothing more she could do for me.
Determined to be published, one way or another, I turned to self-publishing. My husband is a graphic artist and together we designed the cover. We found a company online called, iUniverse and for an investment of $600 they published my novel as a trade paperback. When it became available online at Amazon.com, I really felt like a published author. We had book signings in my small town; I e-mailed everyone and their brother and eventually sold enough books to pay back our investment and then some.
I joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA) ready to join the ranks of the finally published only to find out that being self-published didn’t count. I could still join, of course, but until I had a “real” publisher I couldn’t count Magical Man List as a “first sale” because after all, I hadn’t sold it to a publisher.
In the meantime, I had begun work on my second novel, The Write Man for Her, a novel with the male protagonist in a wheelchair. Man, you should have heard the objections to that one: a guy in a wheelchair is not sexy; what do you know about being in a wheelchair; women won’t like that kind of love story. These were all the objections before editors had even read the first three chapters. But I loved my characters and their story and I pushed on. I interviewed guys who were confined to a life in a wheelchair, talked with doctors about what they could and couldn’t do in bed, and talked to the women who loved them.
I decided to attend a writer’s conference where I could have an appointment with an agent to pitch my new book. I brought along a copy of my first, self-published novel along with the first three chapters and a synopsis of this new book. My appointment with the agent was lukewarm at best. She seemed to be of the opinion that I had tackled a subject over my head. My question was…how did she know what was or wasn’t over my head? She had never read anything I’d written. A bit discouraged, I was sitting in the lobby area licking my wounds when the woman in charge of the appointments announced that there was a last-minute opening for a publisher appointment. I jumped up, like a mouse had run across my feet, and was the first one to the counter. The appointment was with Raelene Gorlinsky publisher for Ellora’s Cave.
I broke every rule for going to an appointment…I didn’t know the publisher, I didn’t know what types of books they published, at the time, I’d never even heard of Ellora’s Cave and erotic novels were not on my radar. Great. But I decided that five minutes with a publisher, any publisher, was one step closer to being published.
As soon as we sat down, I told Raelene that her original appointment had canceled on her and that I was a last minute replacement. I then asked her to tell me a bit about her company and the kind of books she published. She was a bit taken aback at first, but then she jumped right in, letting me know that Ellora’s Cave’s bread and butter was erotica!
My book was NOT erotica, but I asked her if I could tell her about it anyway. She agreed. So I gave my pitch about a love story with the main character is in a wheel chair and she was intrigued. INTRIGUED!!! She then told me about another line they had called Cerridwen Press that published non-erotica romance and invited me to send in my book. To say I was walking on air when I left that meeting would be a huge understatement. Six months later, my first novel, published by someone other than myself, came out as an e-book, and a year later as a trade paperback. I’d finally arrived or had I?
Christie Walker Bos lives in Big Bear Lake, California, with her husband Robbie, her very own Magical Man. She has four published novels: Magical Man List, The Write Man for Her, and Getting Back to Delaney. And writing as Susan Ashworthy, she has the first novel in the Hot PurSuits series of erotica, Stealing Hearts. She has two Web sites: www.ChristieWalkerBos.com and www.SusanAshworthy.com