Today on Romance University we are going somewhere that we’ve only gone a couple of times. It’s dirty little secret time, gang and we’re talking about professional jealousy.
Have you ever experienced that moment every writer dreams of? That moment when “the call” from a publisher comes because they want to buy your book?
Only, the call is not for you. It’s for your critique partner. Suddenly, the moment you dreamed of is happening for someone else and, as thrilled as you are for your friend, there’s a bit of a pity party going on inside you. Tracey, Kelsey and I thought it was time to share our own experiences with professional jealousy.
Kelsey: I won’t BS you. Being the last of your group of critique partners to be offered a contract is hard. As many of you know, I still haven’t been offered a contract, but in all honestly, I haven’t submitted much over the past couple of years. Life and relocation have interfered some. However, rightly or not, I take pride in the role I’ve played in Adrienne’s and Tracey’s success. I’m sure they’d still be published without me, but I love that I’ve been along for the journey. There’s nothing better than sharing in the success of someone who truly deserves it!
I’ve also learned a ton by watching my two buddies ride the often choppy waves of edits, reviews, and publicity. Who do you think I’ll run to for advice when I’m facing the same issues? You got it: the gals in the know.
I’ve also had to come to the realization that no two writers walk the same path to publication. It’s a unique journey for each person and only s/he can determine the map to use. I’m still trying to unfold mine (you know maps never fold up neatly again either), but I know when I get it wrangled into shape, Tracey and Adrienne will be right there helping me navigate my way!
Tracey: On the flip side, being the first to sign a contract was both exhilarating and heart-breaking. Never in a million years did I think I would be first–and I’m not just saying that. The difficult part was knowing how my good news affected Kelsey and Adrienne. I knew they were genuinely happy for me, but I also understood they would be struggling with the news as well. I knew this, because I would have fought all the same emotions had our roles been reversed.
But being the clever girls that we are, we had also prepared ourselves for “The Call” moment. We knew it was only a matter of time before one of us sold. It would be awesome, but it would hurt. So how did we handle the moment we were all dreading and anticipating? We had a conference call. LOL Yes, that’s how we always work through our issues, whatever they may be. We turned this exhilarating/heart-breaking moment into an RU-style lecture, a private educational session just for the three of us. With all the awareness provided by RU, I still experienced many surprises through the process. I shared these with my CPs. We gasped, we oooh’d, we chuckled. And most importantly, we learned.
Will I share that level of detail with them after signing my next contract? Probably not, unless I believe my experience can help either Kelsey or Adrienne with something they’re going through. But this time it felt right. It was in keeping with our strong belief in educating writers–at all levels–about writing craft and the business of publishing.
Interestingly enough, the first to contract did not mean the first to publish. Two years ago, I had the great pleasure of sharing my successes and challenges with Adrienne and Kelsey. Today, I’m picking Adrienne’s brain (first to publish) about reviews, marketing, book tours, etc.
So take heart, if you’re not the first to sell. You never know what your first will be. Contract? Published novel? New York Times bestseller? RITA winner? Next Nora?
Adrienne: I think it’s natural to feel a bit of envy when a critique partner experiences a measure of success that hasn’t yet come our way. The day I got the call from Tracey telling me that she’d sold I was sitting on a baseball field watching my son’s team get crushed. We cried together (in this moment there was indeed crying in baseball! ) and I had a feeling of exhilaration for her that overwhelmed me. She’d done it! She’d sold. That fact told me that, yes, it could happen. It gave me hope that hard work paid off in publishing.
Over the next few hours, I experienced a range of emotions that quite literally knocked me on my butt. I was thrilled for Tracey. My heart soared because she had worked so incredibly hard, but at the same time I began to wonder what I’d done wrong that the rejections kept coming in for me. I felt like a horrible person. She was my friend and I adored her. How could I be feeling this way?
And then my husband convinced me it was okay to feel great for her and feel like crap for myself. I thought long and hard about it. I realized the jealousy really had nothing to do with Tracey. It was about me and what I hadn’t achieved. I decided the best way for me to deal with it was to recognize the envy, give it a voice for a brief period of time and then use all that emotion to motivate myself. Which is exactly what I did.
I did not tell Tracey about it until a few months later. I didn’t think it would be fair to her. It was a life changing moment for her and I didn’t want to make it about me. I’m actually grateful for the experience (as horrible as I felt about it) because I think my friendships with Tracey and Kelsey became stronger. We now know how to talk about these things without it being something that will destroy our relationships.
So now that you know the good, bad and ugly about our critique relationship, feel free to ask us questions!
What challenges have you faced with being offered a contract or representation at different times from your critique partners? How did you cope?
Join us Wednesday when Damon Suede returns to discuss how the dark moment in a romance can make the HEA even sweeter!
Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense, contemporary romance and women’s fiction.
She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog, is a member of Romance Writers of America, Windy City RWA, Kiss of Death, and RWA’s Women’s Fiction chapter.
Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Women’s Fiction, Beau Monde and Windy City Romance Writers of America chapters.
Tracey accepted a three-book deal from editor Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks, Inc. in April 2010. Her first release, A Lady’s Revenge, will hit the bookstores in April 2012. Tracey is represented by Donald Maass of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
Tracey lives in the Midwest with her once-in-a-lifetime husband.
Kelsey Browning writes contemporary and paranormal romance with a hint of southern sizzle. In her former life, she worked at one of the ten largest universities in the U.S., raising money and teaching students how to land their dream jobs. These days she pursues her dream job of freelance and fiction writing, which provides excellent benefits such as unlimited coffee and an office dress code that permits flip flops.
Originally from Texas and after four years in the Middle East, she now lives in Southern California with her IT-savvy husband, baseball-obsessed son and seriously spoiled dog. She’s currently at work on a paranormal novella.
- 10 Turning Points to Publication
- Can I Get A Moment?
- Beta Readers: Saints or Sinners?
- To Be or Not To Be…Agented, That Is
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Aug 30 – Sept 3, 2010: Simone Elkeles, Amy Alessio, Tracey Devlyn & Ruth Kaufman