Posted On May 2, 2016 by Print This Post

Keep on Riding the Roller Coaster! (Or, why all those years of trying to sell are worth it.) by Anna Sugden

Good morning! To start off your week, one of RU’s favorite Visiting Professors, Anna Sugden, offers words of encouragement for fellow scribblers. 

We all know the publishing game is not easy or fast. It is a roller coaster ride of hurry up and wait. Of highs and lows. Of near misses and ‘almost there’ moments. Most authors, from debut up to Nora, will tell you that they rode that roller coaster for a long time before they were published and they keep on riding it even after they’ve had that magical call.

In an ideal world, we’d breeze through writing our first manuscript, which family and select friends would love. We’d be accepted by our dream agent and editor and the masterpiece would debut to glowing reviews, bumper sales, prestigious awards and another contract with a six-figure advance.

If only!

 Reality for the majority of us is very different. Even with all of the options available to us now, thanks to the explosion of self-publishing and a range of quality digital publishing houses, getting your book to readers can still be that torturous roller-coaster ride. As a veteran rider — it took 9 years, 8 full manuscripts, 4 partial-plus-synopsis proposals, 3 Golden Heart finals, numerous other contest wins and placements and about a billion rejections, revisions, rejections with revision requests etc etc before I sold — I speak with experience!

And after having published four books and an anthology of short stories, with more on the way, I can tell you it doesn’t get any easier. The problems just change.

Those of you still waiting for The Call will probably roll your eyes at me — much as I used to when I heard similar stories from published authors — and say you wish you had my problems. I wish you did too. But I’m also going to tell you that the journey you’re going through now is invaluable for the future, when you too are a published author. (And you will be – if you don’t get out of the car!) This crazy ride will make you stronger and better able to cope with the new problems you’ll face.


Let’s start with the simplest one — rejections. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but they don’t stop. For all kinds of reasons, authors’ proposals and manuscripts will be rejected. Lines change, publishers merge, editors change, genres become harder sells, sales aren’t where they should be … to name but a few. Or you may decide to branch out into a new genre. Trust me, the publishing world is just as fickle on this side of the wall. And we won’t even mention the pain of poor reviews! Being able to roll with the punches is a huge asset. Don’t get me wrong, it still hurts, but all that experience helps you cope and move on.

So, see each rejection as another layer of toughness to your armour. Each coping strategy and get-on-with-it tactic you develop now, will help you again and again down the line.

What about the endless revisions? They don’t stop either. What’s more, because you’re often on publication deadlines, you won’t Anna Sugden BoxedAnthologyhave the luxury of months to make those changes. Use the experience of interpreting revision requests, contest feedback and working with critique partners to develop techniques for adapting and improving your work. Use it also to understand what works for you and what doesn’t. What you’re prepared to fight against and what to accept. Remind yourself that you’re continuing to learn and improve, to become a better writer and also how to become a professional author.

By now, you won’t need me to explain how the ‘hurry up and wait’, ‘almost there’ and other craziness we go through on that roller coaster ride will help. You’ve guessed it … that doesn’t change either. In some ways, it can be worse, because you’ll be working on different books, which are at different points in the publications process, each with different deadlines and turnarounds. Like when you’re struggling to finish a book (no, that doesn’t get any easier either!) that is due next week, then you get revision notes on your already submitted book on the same day as your copy edits for another book, have forty-eight hours to get them both in and you’re going to a family event over the weekend! Figuring out your writing process, how you work most efficiently and effectively, how you balance the demands of writing/publication versus family and your personal life before you sell will help you survive the stress later on.

Do I wish the journey was simpler and less onerous? Definitely. Do I believe it will get better/easier? I’m afraid not. No matter how the game changes, it will always be tough to play. Do I believe the roller coaster ride is really worth it? Absolutely. Don’t forget that for all the moments of pain, frustration and upset, there are also those highs — like the readers who love your books, the five star reviews, the awards and the top sales ranks.

And the minute you hold that book in your hands — the one with your name on the cover — you’ll know that it was all worth it too. So, hold on tight and keep on riding!

Tell me where you are on the roller coaster ride? Do you need high fives or a hug?


A Perfect Compromise Cover

A PERFECT COMPROMISE – Harlequin Superromance 2016

Theirs is a game of give-and-take…
Schoolteacher Issy Brandine has a plan to build a stable, secure future for herself. No settling for second-best. Anything more than a sultry Caribbean fling with hotshot hockey star Jean Baptiste Larocque isn’t part of the plan. A New Jersey Ice Cat with the ultimate hockey trophy in his sights won’t fit into her low-key lifestyle. Except a surprise pregnancy changes everything.

Issy knows her child deserves more than a part-time dad. With JB’s eyes on the championship that will redeem his career, compromise is out of the question. But love—and the baby between them—might prove that nothing is impossible.


Bio: A former marketing executive and primary school teacher, award-winning author, Anna Sugden, loves reading and writing happy endings as much as hockey (where she prefers a happy ending for her team)! When she’s not researching hockey players (for her books, of course), she makes craft projects and collects penguins, autographs and memorabilia, and great shoes.

Anna lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two bossy black cats. Learn more about Anna, her books and her shoes at

You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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11 Responses to “Keep on Riding the Roller Coaster! (Or, why all those years of trying to sell are worth it.) by Anna Sugden”

  1. I LOVE this post! I’ve ordered A PERFECT COMPROMISE – I can hardly wait to read it!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | May 2, 2016, 11:08 pm
  2. Hi Anna,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Now that you’re published, is it what you thought it would be like? Is your approach to writing different than before?

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | May 3, 2016, 1:52 am
    • Hi Jen! Thanks for having me here today. I LOVE RU.

      Being published is a lot different from what I’d imagined – in good ways and bad. On the plus side, being a published author lends credibility to my ‘writing hobby’! I also don’t tend to get the snarky comments about romance as much. And, of course, I’m blessed with readers who love my books – which is always a surprise! On the downside, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be – hence the article above.

      Posted by Anna Sugden | May 3, 2016, 4:22 am
  3. Oh, forgot the second part – I have to be much more organised about writing now. Writing to deadlines means you have to be more stringent with your process – which keeps evolving – and make sure you deliver the pages you need, on time. I treat writing as my job, so have strict working hours and try not to wander too much off track. That doesn’t get any easier either LOL

    Posted by Anna Sugden | May 3, 2016, 4:24 am
  4. Hi Anna! This couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve been waiting months to hear back on two different projects. I know the journey is worth it, but the hurry up and wait part of it is killer. This is just what I needed to hear, which is weird because what you’re saying is it doesn’t get any easier. Thanks for the inside look!

    Posted by Helen Jones | May 3, 2016, 9:13 am
    • Hi Helen! High five for the submissions, but hugs on the waiting.I hear you! Proudly wearing that t-shirt.

      I try to console myself with the thought that Nora and *insert name of your favourite author* go through this too. Everyone has to hurry up and wait. Everyone gets rejections. Everyone deals with the crappiness of it all.

      Also that a number of authors give up because they can’t handle it – they’re often the ones who made the quick breakthrough and so didn’t suffer along the way!

      Fingers crossed your wait will be worth it!

      Posted by Anna Sugden | May 3, 2016, 9:46 am
  5. Thanks Anna! Looking forward to reading A Perfect Compromise

    Posted by Helen Jones | May 3, 2016, 11:03 am


  1. […] Keep on Riding the Roller Coaster! (Or, why all those years of trying to sell are worth it.) From Romance University. By Anna Sugden. Read more… […]

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