I am delighted to bring you a guest post from romance author Kim Findlay. I am so glad my blog has enabled me to connect with Kim. She’s not only following her dream by writing romance books for Harlequin but she also spends her time writing and….sailing around the Caribbean. I am sure if things were different in the world Kim would have invited us all out onto her boat and whilst gazing out across turquoise waters, sipping cocktails, stretching out our tanned legs, she would have talked to us about the subject of her guest post.
Sadly we can’t all go visit Kim in the Carribean, but we can still enjoy her great guest post here on my blog.
Please give a warm welcome to Kim Findlay!
When we as writers think of being published, there are two obvious routes to follow.
One is to get an agent and be published traditionally. The problem with this option is that so much of the process is out of our hands: querying to find an agent who likes our work, waiting for a submission to be selected, publishing date, etc.
The other is to self-publish. For this you have to learn to format, do cover art and blurbs, and all your own marketing. Most of us writers tend to be introverts who have imposter syndrome on a regular basis, so promoting ourselves is really difficult. And if you’re like me, your technical skills are…limited.
As of the end of 2021, I will have eight books traditionally published, and I don’t have an agent. That’s a third option you might not have considered, so I’ll share my path, to date. Full disclosure: I am still seeking an agent, and considering self publishing some things I’ve written.
My biggest writing problem is having too many ideas and not enough time to write them all. I get part way through one book, and then along comes another shiny idea and I pursue that. But I knew someone who wrote for Harlequin, and she would post writing opportunities: not full manuscripts in the slush pile, but other types of openings.
The one that led to my two-book contract for Heartwarming titles published in 2018 was a blitz. To be honest, I’m not sure if they’re still doing those, but I think they had a couple in 2020. If you submit a synopsis and the first chapter, they promise a response within a set time frame, perhaps thirty days.
After submitting, I got an email indicating that the editor would like to see a full manuscript of this story. It was one I hadn’t completed, because, duh, I hadn’t completed any, but it got me to finish this one. I got an R&R back on it, but changed what was needed, and then, a few months later, an email saying, oh, we don’t have your phone number.
If you didn’t know, they never ask to call to tell you you’re a terrible writer and never bother them again.
That led to a two-book contract. Then, I had a bit of a dry spell, when they weren’t interested in more hockey books, and the rejection of another idea, but in September of 2019 I sent in a proposal that led to a three-book contract in January 2020. The first book in that Heartwarming series comes out February 1, 2021. (A Valentine’s Proposal – I’m learning to self-promote)
Thanks to the connection I had with my Heartwarming editor, I almost accidentally got a contract to write a Love Inspired Suspense story for a limited Cold Case series they were doing – that’s out in July 2021. That nugget of an idea came from a writing prompt on the Write for Harlequin website. And because of that I sent in a mostly completed LIS manuscript and they liked that enough to offer another contract. (Heavy revisions. I’m still confused that they offered a contract when I had to do so much to the book!)
I signed one other contract in 2020, for a kind of hybrid self/small traditional publisher. A successful indie author (1 million book sold, NYT bestseller) decided to publish books set in the world she’d created. I sent in a synopsis and got a contract, and I know it was the fact that I was published that made that work. Being published indicates that I know how to complete a project, meet deadlines, handle editing (without throwing a public hissy fit) and can write to a certain level.
No one path is right for everyone. But if you’re struggling with getting an agent, or overwhelmed by the idea of self publishing, this path I’m on might work for you. Harlequin isn’t the only publisher that accepts unagented submissions.
It’s important to read (and follow) the requirements, have someone read over your work to get outside eyeballs on it and behave like a professional. But at the end, you might find yourself with your opus magnus out in public, available for strangers to buy, and get paid for it too.
If you have any questions, I’m at KimFindlayAuthor on FB, @missheyer74 on Twitter, authorkimfindlay on Instagram, and my website is http://www.kimfindlay.ca. In case you wondered, some marketing is necessary, even with traditional publishing.