Ever since I heard Ballantine Bantam Dell’s Sue Grimshaw introduce the debut author of their newly relaunched Loveswept line at last year’s RWA, I’ve been eagerly anticipating today’s Visiting Professor. Jessica Scott’s debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU released last November and her second book will release this fall. Jessica’s going to talk about her journey from soldier to romance author and she’s generously giving away six digital copies of BECAUSE OF YOU to celebrate the six month mark of her debut release.
Jessica, welcome to RU!
How a Soldier Became a Romance Author…
Purely by freak accident.
So today’s blog for Romance University will be a few of Jess’s hard lessons learned in the journey to publication or how an army officer by day turned into a romance author at night.
So my bio pretty much says how I started writing in Officer Candidate School in 2007 when I was away from my kids the first time. The urban legend I like to tell is it went something like this “holy crap, I wrote the end. It will be an instant bestseller because I’m a soldier and it’s about soldiers.” to “what do you mean you don’t want to represent me”. Yes, it was a hard, sad wake up call for the newbie author in me. Nearly five years would go by before I finally had the call from an editor.
And now for the slightly longer version. First, I didn’t just start writing in 2007. Writing became important to me in 2007. I’ve always written. A few pages here or there. A paragraph here. A dream journal mostly empty there. But in 2007, I started writing for publication. What does that mean? I put butt in seat and started writing, seriously, every single day. I won’t lie to you and tell you I don’t have stubbornness issues, I do.
I made the exact same newbie mistakes that I cringe over now (querying too soon, querying and getting a partial request, then writing the agents and saying yeah, um, I’ve revised it, pulling back queries). Let’s just say that I am darn lucky not to be blacklisted by every single agent who represents romance and I may actually be blacklisted by a couple (for the record, I’m sorry for having been a pest).
Kit Frazier said at one of our Austin RWA meetings that the only difference between published and unpublished is that published didn’t quit. Now there are varying thoughts on this but the short version is that if you have the talent to put words on page AND the drive to keep at it until you get to where you want to be, you’ll be fine. I’m not talking all roses and doves fine because there will be wailing and crying and gnashing of the teeth aplenty even after you sell. But, determination goes a long way in this business.
Now what’s the difference between being a PITA and being determined? Well, let’s take another notecard from Jessie’s book of mistakes. Determined = writing the next book after pretty much all of the agents you queried passed on the first book. Determined also means keep it professional. No matter how much you might think that an agent just snarked on your particular query, DON’T and I mean DON’T get nasty about it. Agents know each other and they talk. So do other authors. So no matter how much you may want to rip throats out, don’t do it, at least not to anyone that is not one hundred percent trusted.
Being a PITA? Well for starters, not listening, then telling everyone you’re not listening and then getting angry when someone calls you on it. Listen, I get it. We all harbor that secret desire to be the next Big Deal. But being a jerk about your private fantasy? Not cool.
So how did I end up actually making a sale? Well, when I say it was a freak accident, I’m really not kidding. I was getting ready to take a break from writing. I’d left an agent, signed with another one, had no books out with editors and was basically stymied. I was tired of being upset with my lack of forward momentum all the time. I was frustrated. I figured I’d walk away for a little while and get some perspective back. Well, then Sue Grimshaw wrote a blog post about wanting a military romance that was not romantic suspense and well, I tweeted her.
Folks, DO NOT DO THIS. I cannot tell you how many agents and editors hate this story because it damn near guarantees that they’re going to get tweet queried (also bad, the query under the bathroom stall at RWA. Not an urban legend, this actually happened to a friend of mine). Unless they specifically say they want tweet queries, don’t do this. The ONLY reason I sent Sue a tweet was because we’d worked on a joint blog project while I was deployed so we’d had a small working relationship prior to. I asked her if she was interested and did she have an email address. That was it. If she’d said no, well the rest would have been history, as they say.
So I took the book I’d written and rewritten over the years and sent it to her. What’s the worst that could have happened? This simple sentence plays a big part in your make it or break it. Seriously. What’s the very worst that could happen?
That’s the short version of how I sold. Honestly, I still pinch myself because this book was so long in the writing. I still have no idea what I’m doing. Anyone who tells you they’ve got it all figured out once they sell is lying to you. We all have things we’re good at (I’m good at twitter) but no one knows all of it. We just share what we think we know and try to help someone else the way we were helped.
So on that note, I’d like to give away 6 digital copies of Because of You, to celebrate Because of You being on sale for 6 months. Will pick random winners from those who leave a comment!
Thanks for having me today at Romance University!
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Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story!
So, RU Readers, do you have any questions for Jessica? Maybe you’re curious how she juggles military life and the demands of being a published author? Have your ever been the fortunate recipient of a freak accident?
Please join us on Wednesday when the mysterious Jack Russell returns to turn the table on co-founder Tracey Devlyn in a candid interview.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house. No zhu zhu pets were harmed in the writing of this book. For more information on Jessica, please visit her website http://www.jessicascott.net.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for April 23-27, 2012 – Jessica Scott, Sherry Thomas, Jack Russell & Tracey Devlyn!
- The Great Agent Hunt
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The Real Lowdown on Selling with an Agent
- Query Writing 101
- A Debut Author’s Journey with Laurie London: Agent Hunting