We’re happy to welcome Author Sophie Barnes to the RU campus. Sophie talks about her progression from digital to print publishing and her path to publication.
Great to have you here, Sophie!
Back in 2010, when I submitted How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back to Avon, I was clueless about the romance writing industry – so much so that when I saw the acronym WIP for the first time, I had to Google it to figure out what it meant!
Here’s the thing: I’d been living in Africa with my husband and kids for several years and had begun craving a project of some sort—something that I could challenge myself with when I wasn’t changing diapers. Like so many people, I’d always dreamt of eventually writing a book and getting it published, but doing the actual writing was something I’d put off, partly because I didn’t think it was something I could ever do for a living and partly because there was always something else to be done instead.
Isn’t there always?
But, I have one trait working in my favor, and that’s stubborn determination. Once I set my mind to something, I see it through to the end—ask my husband how he ended up at the altar with me three times in a row if you have any doubts!
So, stuck in Africa, I made a decision. I was going to write a book and it was going to be fabulous! My first attempt was probably anything but.
But at least I discovered two important things from that manuscript: first, writing is a constant learning experience in which there is always room for growth and second, just because you receive over fifty rejection letters doesn’t mean you ought to stop trying. After all, I now knew that I could complete a manuscript, so all I needed was a better idea—something to catch an agent’s or editor’s interest.
The idea for How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back began to take shape and I gradually started writing, making time for a couple of pages here and there when my kids were napping. I sold that book to Avon in September 2011 and when it went on sale in January 2012, it did better than I would ever have expected. Clearly I was doing something right. Of course, this was my debut so I’d also done plenty of things wrong. POV’s (yes, I also figured out what that meant) went back and forth like a tennis match. This was because I was writing as if I was putting the movie in my head directly onto paper and I wanted everyone to know what the different characters were thinking, all at the same time—okay, not quite, but you get the picture.
I’ve since read other books with POV issues and have (with the wonderful help and unquestionable patience from my editor) ironed out my own problems, but once that was done, I hit other bumps in the road: anachronisms, correct form of address (since I write Regency), too many clichés to count…you name the mistake and I’ve probably made it. The best you can do is learn from these mistakes, listen to all the advice you receive along the way, filter it, and allow yourself the opportunity for growth.
Now, I must admit that when Avon offered me that first book deal and I discovered it was for digital and not print, I did feel a moment of brief disappointment, but I quickly shrugged that off and happily accepted their offer. After all, I was going to be published by my publishing house of choice—Avon. I felt as if I’d achieved a remarkable goal and as I began working with my editor, receiving copy edits, brainstorming titles, the excitement only grew. It was true that my books wouldn’t be in physical stores, but they would exist online, not only as e-books but as print on demand paperbacks. Receiving that first paperback copy from my publisher was the best reward ever. It was the most beautiful book I’d ever laid eyes upon and it made everything real. I was finally a published author. My acquiring editor has since left Avon but I did have the pleasure of working with her on the first round of edits for The Trouble With Being A Duke. Had she stayed on however, she would still be my editor today, but since her move happened to coincide with my own, I now have a lovely new editor who’s absolutely amazing and so attentive to my work.
The main difference for me now is that my books will be available in stores, although I have experienced the elation of finding my book readily available on a store shelf after Avon sold a special edition of How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back to Target. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished, but I also wouldn’t have gotten this far without a lot of hard work. Thankfully, Avon consists of an incredible team of people who are all ready to help in any way they can. However, in order to succeed, you must believe in your ability to do so, no matter what others might say, and then you must have the determination and patience required to write not only one manuscript, but many. For me, writing is a joy— a world to which I can escape. I don’t think I could do it if I felt differently about it.
On a final note, if you haven’t done so already, make a website and a Facebook page for yourself, create a Twitter account, join Goodreads—work on your brand. There’s no denying that we live in a digital age and that the majority of advertising is happening online. By setting all this up now and creating a following, you’ll be giving yourself a much easier job once you do get published.
Whatever you decide however, don’t stop writing or submitting, and once you do receive an offer, whether for digital or print, my advice to you would be to take it, because you never know what other wonderful things it might lead to.
Okay, RU Crew, have you ever taken a leap of faith with your writing career? Share your experiences with us!
Here’s a blurb on Sophie’s latest release, THE TROUBLE WITH BEING A DUKE. (Avon Books)
Sometimes happily ever after . . .
Anthony Hurst, Duke of Kingsborough, knows the time has come for him to produce an heir. But first he must find a bride. When he meets the most exquisite woman at his masquerade ball, he thinks his search is over . . . until the breathtaking beauty runs off. With few clues other than her figure, her scent, and the memory of her kiss, Anthony must find his mystery lady.
. . . needs a little bit of help.
Isabella Chilcott can scarcely believe it: she is finally at the Kingsborough Ball. As a child, she dreamed of dancing a waltz here, and now, thanks to a gorgeous gown she’s found in the attic, Isabella is living her fairytale fantasy. And she’s waltzing with the Duke of Kingsborough himself! But she must escape before he discovers her secrets . . . for she is not who she pretends to be, and falling in love with Prince Charming is the last thing she can allow herself to do.
Adam Firestone, RU’s resident weapons expert, joins us on Wednesday, August 28th.
Bio: Born in Denmark, SOPHIE BARNES spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times – in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast
- Editor Lucia Macro Presents: Avon Mythbusters
- Weekly Lecture Schedule August 26-30
- Digital Publisher Survey
- The Internet and You: Digital Publicity for Genre-Authors with HarperCollins Publicist Caroline Perny
- From Caterpillar to Butterfly: My Evolution as a Writer by Codi Gary