Posted On July 17, 2013 by Print This Post

Becoming a Career Novelist with Tracey Devlyn

Welcome back RU Founder Tracey Devlyn! Today she’s going to tell us what’s been happening in her life – some amazing changes for sure!

Tracey Devlyn_088HighCloseCropHey there, Romance University! It’s so good to be back on campus.

Today, I thought I’d follow-up my April post with an update, reflect on a post from 2010, and discuss what my future holds.

As I noted in April, what I’m about to share with RU is for educational purposes only. It’s not to gripe or gossip. It’s to educate and to bring awareness.

Back in April, I mentioned that I didn’t have a new contract. Still don’t. I sent out both proposals by mid-May (a new series to Sourcebooks and a new series sent to multiple editors). Sourcebooks made an offer on the one proposal, which was really exciting and we’re in negotiations. Yep, I’m an internal author (aka already have one contract with the publisher) and it still takes time to work out the deal. Welcome to publishing!

As for the other series, my agent sent several editors her pitch and almost all of them requested the proposal. One of the “no thank you” editors moved to the opposite side of the U.S., another editor moved to a different publisher (already had proposal in hand), and the third editor no longer acquires historical.

Do you see a common thread with both proposals? Waiting. Yes, lots of waiting when it comes to print publishing.

A bit of good news—one of the editors reviewing the second proposal asked to meet with me at the RWA confeTracey Devlynrence this week. I’m excited and nervous and worried I won’t make a good impression. But I have to set all that aside and go into the meeting armed with good questions. Questions that many debut authors probably wouldn’t know to ask. Questions only the School of Hard Knocks can teach a person. On Friday, keep your fingers crossed for me. Pretty please!

What am I up to while enduring all this waiting? I’m working on a super-secret indie project. Yeah, I hate cryptic messages, too. LOL Believe me, if I could share it with you now I would, but I gotta wait until this fall. So stay tuned.

Mention of the project leads me to the main topic of this post—Becoming a Career Novelist…in 2013. For those of you who have been with RU for a while, you might recall the awesome post agent Paige Wheeler did for us back in 2010.

Much of Paige’s post is still true and quite valuable to authors. However, there’s one very important bullet missing—Serve your readership. How does an author do this? The answer in 2013 is going to look quite different than the answer would have in 2010.

Quick confession: I’m slow to jump on the “this is the greatest thing” bandwagon. The more I hear about something, the more I push it away. I read one of the Harry Potter books only because my mother-in-law handed to me. I’ll probably never read 50 Shades. Took me three years to buy a pair of bootleg/bell bottom jeans and then the skinnies came back. As Adrienne Giordano says, “Kill me now!”

So, when indie publishing emerged, I paid little attention. Mostly, because I knew I couldn’t do every aspect of the publishing process—developmental edits, copy edits, cover design, ARCs to reviewers, blog tour set up, promo, attend conferencLadyRevenge_CVR.inddes/events, etc., etc. With a full-time day job, there’s simply not enough time to write and do all the above. Not to mention my lack of expertise in some of those areas.

But then things started changing over the past year, especially in the last 5-6 months (for me). The realization that I no longer had to do the laundry list above by myself was empowering. Professional—and accessible—cover design artists, freelance editors, publicists and marketing experts abound these days. With a small investment upfront, authors can hire these folks to help them produce a viable/saleable product. As Mel Gibson exclaimed in Braveheart, “Freedom!”

Why am I boring you with all this detail? Because I never saw myself stepping into the indie world. Never. I’m an author who wants a publisher and an agent. That’s me—might not be you. BUT, it needs to be the right publisher and the right agent. I want business partners and advocates. I want productive relationships. I want folks who are invested in my career.

God willing, I’m gonna do both indie and trad now. Why? The missing bullet—To serve my readership.

Over the past 3 years, I’ve done a lot of waiting. Waiting I could have used to produce more product. Why didn’t I? I feared starting in one direction and then being reined in to go in another. Another form of waste, in my opinion—at least, that’s what I thought back then. Not so much now. Now, I can take those words and create more stories for my readers—outside my publishing contract.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons commented in a recent interview that she hates the “versus” in “indie versus traditional.” She said it’s more about YOU and how you serve your readership. (Shortcut: go to the 29-minute mark, though I recommend listening to the whole interview. CJ’s fabulous.)

What an epiphany for me. I know others might have reached this level of understanding months ago, but my eyes were only recently opened to the multitude of possibilities that await authors. Having a diverse portfolio works for investors, why not authors?

In my humble opinion, having an indie and traditional publishing strategy in your career business plan is a smart and savvy way to reach the greatest number of readers. Cause that’s what it’s all about, right? The readers? Oh, and the money. We are businesswomen, after all. 😉

A Lady's Secret Weapon -300 - Jan 2013Fun giveaways:

Goodreads – 2 signed advance reading copies of A Lady’s Secret Weapon (Ends 7/23)

Website – July contest – RWA bag of swag (Ends 7/31)

Newsletter – Sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win $25 Amazon or B&N gift card (Ends 9/30)

RWA – Attending the RWA conference? Grab one of my swag bags from the general goody room, Librarians’ goody room, or from my literacy book signing table. Directions on how to enter my special RWA contest are attached! (Ends 7/31)

Love Ur Shoes Too! (#LUST13)- Kelsey Browning, Nancy Naigle, Adrienne Giordano, Cherry Adair and I are at the RWA conference and we’re in the midst of a SHOE SMACKDOWN! Vote and/or post your cutest pair of shoes for a chance to win great prizes. #LUST13 #RWA13 (Ends 7/20)


What steps have you taken to become a career novelist?

Join us on Friday for an excellent post on emotions by Angela Ackerman



Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey Toward the heroine’s happy ending). She’s a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance, and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, Chicagoland’s exciting new reading salon devoted to romantic fiction.

An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website.  |   Dangerous Darlings Street Team  |  Newsletter  |   |

“Devlyn’s seamless writing will entice readers and keep them eager for the next installment.”  Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

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23 Responses to “Becoming a Career Novelist with Tracey Devlyn”

  1. Hi All,

    I’m in Atlanta today at the Romance Writers of America conference. Had a great brainstorming evening with Kelsey Browning and Adrienne Giodano last night.

    Busy day today. I’ll check periodically to answer your questions.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | July 17, 2013, 5:23 am
  2. Hi, Tracey. I love these posts about your publishing journey. Thank you for sharing so the rest of us can learn!

    I think it’s a great time to be an author right now because of all the options out there for us. I have no doubt your amazing stories will find a home!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | July 17, 2013, 7:40 am
  3. Hi Tracey,

    Patience is not my strong point and waiting is even lower on the list. There are no guarantees in publishing. Once you’re in doesn’t mean you’re set. Good luck at RWA! Looking forward to your October release!

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | July 17, 2013, 8:11 am
  4. Thanks for the post and sharing your experience, Tracey!

    I agree that in 2013 it isn’t an either/or situation. My debut releases next week with an e-first publisher. However, I plan to be a hybrid author. An indie project is churning in my head right now which I plan to release within the next year or so. I also haven’t ruled out the possibility of working with a traditional print publisher in the future.

    Posted by Reese Ryan | July 17, 2013, 8:17 am
  5. Yup, as an author in this day and age, you have to be willing to try everything and treat your writing like a business. Last year, I went indie for the first time with a few books. It’s great to be in total control. This year about half of my output is indie. I have a few publishers I still work with too for various reasons, but you have to set aside the fears and just do it 🙂

    Posted by Sandra Sookoo | July 17, 2013, 8:41 am
  6. Morning Tracey!

    Hope you’re having fun in Atlanta. =)

    I can’t say I’ve taken any steps to become a career novelist, in fact I think I’ve really backslid this year! But – I do plan to try for a publishing house/agent combo and still do the indie route.

    Great video!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | July 17, 2013, 8:46 am
  7. Thanks for the great video link, Trace. Good news is when you’re in it for the long haul, you can weather these types of ups and downs!


    Posted by Kelsey Browning | July 17, 2013, 11:06 am
  8. Awesome interview with CJ Lyons! She’s great, and the info was really helpful.

    Posted by Jessica Flory | July 17, 2013, 12:01 pm
  9. I love your honesty and bravery in writing this post. I think it is definitely where publishing is heading and the idea that an author can have a diverse portfolio IS (and will be ) an epiphany for many. Thank you so much.

    Posted by Tracy Krauss | July 17, 2013, 12:14 pm
  10. Tracey,
    you keep your heroines struggling against so many odds, and the heroes have to fight to win against the villains and help save their lady loves, and now you are teasing us and making us wait till the fall!!
    No fair teasing us!
    I can’t wait to see what is coming, I know it will be another winner. Enjoy the conference and hope you are able to keep cool down there!

    Posted by Sherry Weddle | July 17, 2013, 4:04 pm
  11. I’m encouraged by traditionally published authors trying out the Indie world. I can see why you would want to take a hybrid approach. Without a doubt, authors like you are going to raise the bar for Indie publishing and that can only be a good thing for readers.

    Posted by Maria | July 17, 2013, 7:16 pm
  12. Tracey – I love hearing your news, even when it is a little scary. (I stupidly assumed that authors who were already published would get priority treatment from their publishers, but I’ve heard from many authors that this isn’t necessarily the case.)

    I’m glad you’re considering how to serve your readers. As an avid reader, I’m always eager to read the next book every time a finish a book by an author I like. It’s frustrating to realize these authors might have another book completed, but their publisher hasn’t snapped it up yet.

    Luckily, there are options now, and I’m eager to learn more about your super secret surprise. (Which is possibly not so much of a “surprise” at this point!)

    Thanks for sharing CJ Lyons’ video – she’s amazing!

    Good luck at RWA National – although I’m sure you don’t need it. You’ll make an awesome impression, I have no doubt! I wish I could go (I’ve only been to National once) but can’t make it this year. I’m hoping I’ll get there next year. And maybe one of these days I’ll get to one of your Salons!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 17, 2013, 11:01 pm
  13. Tracey,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and insight with us. I see more traditionally published authors exploring indie publishing, and it’s a good thing because readers really benefit!

    I’ve read your first book, and you are an AMAZING writer. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you on Friday. Have a great time in Atlanta.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | July 18, 2013, 12:04 am
  14. Hi Tracey–timely post! I’ve been thinking about doing a combo career as well.

    “I feared starting in one direction and then being reined in to go in another.” This is totally it for me in a nutshell. It’s a lot of angst over whether you’re hitting the right tone to catch an editor’s interest.

    Good luck and I’ll be crossing my fingers for your success!

    Posted by Kat Cantrell | July 18, 2013, 10:32 am

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