S.A. Garcia writes unique stories of M/M romance which span setting so a post-nuclear-apocolyptic world, fantasy realms of elven worlds and the life-after-death-experience. Today she is talking with us about what she has learned from navigating the waters of the newly-published.
All You Need Are Words, Right? Wrong!
Taking the Writing Plunge at Age 49 Without Hitting Bottom
When I was a teen, I dreamed about seeing my name on a book cover. What fantasy. As the years advanced, publishing my fiction became a beacon growing dimmer as ambition’s clarity succumbed to reality’s thick mist. My full time design career and life kept me busy. I wrote marketing materials and newsletter articles. Didn’t that count for something?
I hated admitting it, but a serious mental roadblock halted me from publishing my fiction. Writing fiction rescued me when I needed catharsis from real life. I loved my fictional words too much to chance sending them to suffer ugly rejection. Silly but true.
A lay off at age forty-nine provided me a punch in the jaw and a swift kick in the ass. Artistic fulfillment sat me down, handed me a stiff drink and asked did I want to jump back into the corporate hamster wheel? No. I did not.
What did I want to do?
I wanted to see my fiction published during my fiftieth year. Time to celebrate my fiction, not marketing blather about branding real estate. My gay male romance mixed with fantasy and dark comedy, which one publisher accurately called a niche within a niche within a niche, demanded release. The idea sounded insane.
Tough. I needed to publish. I needed a place to start.
I immediately stumbled into the beginning writers, “I’ll write short stories and get noticed,” trap. Only speed demons adept at producing short stories reap the rewards here. Being a slow demon, it took me four weeks to produce a short story that might gain me $50. Not a smart decision.
I tentatively shoved a few novels at agents until one informed me that my romantic heroes weren’t “likable” or “heroic” enough. Ouch. Chasing down an agent felt like climbing up from the Grand Canyon’s bottom carrying the mule I had rode down on. Even if an agent did accept me, I feared I wouldn’t have a book published before my social security kicked in.
After much research, a bright bolt sizzled down in grand wisdom. Why not check out e-book publishers? Some of these publishers specialized in gay male romance. Perfect. Fact checking and author opinion led me to trust a select few.
Now what? Before my feet grew new ice cubes, I took the plunge.
Novellas seemed like a grand place to begin. Novels with training wheels offered less stress on the mind. 30,000 words sounded less intimidating than 70,000 words. I wanted to offer something new, not a novel that I had worked on for years. I still shielded my “special” words.
After only one rejection, Dreamspinner Press picked up my first novella Canes and Scales. Time from receiving the contract to publishing: under six months. The contract arrived on October of 2010, which meant I wasn’t published at age fifty, but at least I had unlocked the door. Novella number two, To Save A Shining Soul, followed in May. Divine Devine’s Love Song arrived in November. Silver Publishing released my first novel Temptation of the Incubus in October 2011. I finally allowed one of my protected species to wander free and surprise, the novel survived.
Three novellas, a few short stories and one novel published in my fifty-first year of life. Not bad.
The first mistake I made was throwing out too many different subjects. The three novellas fell under the gay male romance genre, but a fantasy featuring a prince and Elven bed slave, a dark comedy about a divinity student and a demon in Hell and a cyberpunk thriller did not create consistency. My novel was a supernatural dark comedy about a lovesick demon. At least I threw another demon into the mix. Still, readers appreciate consistency from a new voice. I needed to settle down and stop running amok like a happy puppy trailing the toilet paper around the house.
Which leads directly into mistake number two: many romance readers relish series. They want to see the characters that they have invested time in return for fresh adventures. I am planning a sequel to Canes and Scales. Readers indicated that they wanted to see more from the characters. I do too because I love all my characters, but I needed to plan the sequel before I grabbed the toilet paper.
My publisher at Dreamspinner warned me about my tendencies. Yep, someone should have listened to good advice.
Another serious error? Not planning my promotion in advance. I discovered that perceptive writers start promoting their book the minute they signed a contract. They whipped up such interest that when the book emerged, they watched the word of mouth sales spread. My book sprang free, panicked and almost disappeared until I caught up with the promotion, promotion, promotion whirl. Once I had signed my contract, I should have established a blog, a website, something as a touchstone for potential readers. I learned to attend author chats, start a Twitter account and to promote on Facebook. Promotion is endless but necessary.
I worked in marketing in my previous career, but marketing yourself is painful. I fled from performing the deed. After plenty of panic, I now own a game plan. 2012 will be the year that I emerge from impending blipdom because the need to feed the writing beast is a never-ending perverse joy. A little self-confidence is essential. It sounds cliché, but if I don’t believe in me, no one else will either.
Eventually I’ll learn to regard rejection as a mere word and not a monster with teeth.
That is another lesson.
Published authors – what mistakes did you make that you wish you could do over? Unpublished – any questions for S.A?
Sarah M. Anderson tackles the subject of Authorial New Year’s Resolutions.
Reading Gordon Merrick at age nineteen sounded a wake-up call. Ten years of running B-Side, an indie music magazine, provided me wild characters and fictional situations. While traveling to interview bands, writing gay romantic fiction percolated in the background. Thirty years of gay romance lurks in notebooks and the computer. My stories now enter the free air.
When not obsessing over ways to describe romantic encounters, I enjoy cooking, gardening, traveling, arguing politics and teaching my house bunnies tricks. Unfortunately, the furry furies refuse to answer e-mails or blog posts.
Two anthologies, Greg Herren’s Blood Sacraments and Neil Placky’s The Handsome Prince, contain my short stories.
In 2011 Dreamspinner Press released Canes and Scales, To Save A Shining Soul, Baron’s Last Hunt and Divine Devine’s Love Song.
Silver Publishing unleashed Temptation of the Incubus in October 2011.
About all I am a slave to words. I hope my words connect to my readers.