We’re sharing our journeys to publication with you this month in the hopes of giving you the inspiration to not give up. I’m taking a slightly twist – my theme is not just keep plugging away and/or it is difficult for everyone. No, I’m going to tell you to be proactive. To not wait for a door to open, but to go out and search for every version of a battering ram for that door.
You see, I’d published three books with small-ish presses. Yes, I was published. But….barely. No real distribution, marketing, or frankly, awareness. I wanted to make the leap to a bigger publisher. Obviously, I wrote a better book, yada, yada, yada. Still hard to get noticed out of the slush pile.
Meanwhile, the speaker at our monthly chapter meeting was my friend Eliza Knight, who spent an hour and a half explaining why we should join Twitter. Why it was a fabulous and important tool for romance authors. She didn’t just explain – she wheedled, cajoled, and badgered. At one point, after the meeting when I still whined about how I didn’t get it and didn’t want to bother with the time suck, things got physical – I’m pretty sure I remember her whacking me in the arm. So I rolled over. Eliza’s pretty feisty. I joined Twitter the next day.
Was I an instant convert? To my great shame, I must admit that I was not. (Twitter, I love you madly now – please don’t pout!) Despite Eliza telling me to jump in with both feet, I was intimated. Who was I to respond with a funny comment to Victoria Dahl? Why would anyone care about the 27 flavors of chocolate truffles I was researching? Two months later, I saw a one time, casual tweet from Angela James stating that she wished someone would send her a contemporary romance trilogy.
I didn’t have one. I did, however, have a manuscript I was querying everywhere, with the semi-hazy fantasy of turning it into a two or three book series if it ever sold. So I sent her my query letter, with the addition of a single, ephemeral sentence on these imaginary books two and three. Since this is a teaching moment, I’m going to show you what I added at the end of my awesome blurb for book one.
Please note I am responding to the specific call for contemporary romance trilogy submissions from your blog post of December 15, 2011. PLANNING FOR LOVE is the first book in my Aisle Bound trilogy which centers around a Chicago wedding-planning company. I plan for book two, A FINE ROMANCE, to focus on a sexy male chocolatier fighting his attraction to a romance store manager who hates chocolate. Book three, LOVE IN BLOOM, will wrap up the trilogy as a florist struggles with revealing her longtime lust for a hotel manager lothario who’s about to be shipped back to England.
Exactly one month and one day later (I remember, because it was my wedding anniversary, so we already had a big celebratory dinner in place!), Angela called and offered me a four book contract. It took about five minutes before sheer panic set in about these imaginary books with no real plots that I’d suddenly have to write, but that is for a different blog post. And it wasn’t just those four books. I’ve got a total of eleven books under contract with Carina, and one through them with Harlequin. I’ve been in anthologies with New York Times bestselling authors. Had my cover on an elevator door at RWA. People are sending me photos of my books in stores across the country. So many amazing opportunities have come my way.
And it all happened because I joined Twitter. Where I’ve now tweeted more than 27,000 times and am hopelessly, joyfully addicted. Come visit me there – @christi_barth.