Making It In the Writing World

This past March, I celebrated the second anniversary of my first book being published. It’s not the first thing I had published, but it was my first full-length book and the ‘big deal’ that kicked off my career as a published writer. Of course, I use the word career in the literal sense, because I’m by no means making a living off it, which is an entirely different thing.

In those two-plus years, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned things I never thought about before I got published. I’m still learning, trust me. I don’t think there’s an end to this education, no matter how many books you publish or how long you’ve been around–that’s largely because the industry is always changing. Not even the biggest, most bestselling authors you’ve ever heard of can just sit back and dust their hands off because they’ve learned everything there is to know.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve learned, give you some advice, and no matter where you are on your publishing journey, maybe you can take some wisdom from it.

Here’s some of the things I’ve done/learned since I’ve gotten published:


My Siren Song series is published with Kensington Books’ Lyrical line, which is by far my biggest publisher, but it’s not my only publisher. Kensington isn’t one of the Big Five (which used to be the Big Six), but it’s the largest and oldest independent publishing house in the US and definitely considered a prestigious New York publishing house. I make more money off my books published with them than all my other publishers combined. This is, of course, because they are a big publishing house and therefore their publicity and promotion efforts are huge, they have a vast reader base built in, and they have high visibility. I should want to publish all my stuff with them, right?

Except, I decided early in my career that I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. I’m also published with five other, smaller publishing houses. Those being Tirgearr, Muse It UP, Siren-Bookstrand, House of Erotica, and most recently, Evernight Publishing. There’s three key reasons why I would diversify like this:

One is that it keeps my options open. If I write something and one publishing house rejects it, I have other publishers I can send it to. Also, I might want to write something that doesn’t fit in a certain publisher’s catalog. That’s all right. I have other options. Also, once you’re an in-house author it’s much easier to get other works accepted by them.

Two is that it increases my luck. I wrote a post about the role of luck in author success a few weeks ago, in which I discussed ways to get ‘closer’ to luck. One of those ways is to get yourself into as many circles as you can so luck has a higher chance of finding you. Being involved with different publishing houses expands my chances of running into the right person or big break that I need. Maybe I’ll catch the eye of a huge reviewer who likes to read things from one particular publishing house, or I’ll come across an industry professional who can promote my career. It’s always good to try to meet and mingle with as many opportunities as you can.

Three is for the simple fact that I want to test the waters. Not all publishing houses are created equal. Some have a huge base of readers who might love your book, some are very involved in your promotion and some aren’t, and they all treat you a little differently, give you different levels of editing and creative and practical support, and have a unique brand that appeals to different audiences. Myself, I want to try as many flavors as I can at the buffet and then decide which ones I like best. If a publisher doesn’t work out for me, I simply won’t submit anything to them in the future.


Make no doubt about it, at the end of the day, publishing is a business. That means if you want to be part of the publishing world, you have to treat it like a business. Be professional, follow the rules, and always put your best face forward. You might not agree with the processes you run into, but they’re in place for a reason and bucking the system won’t get you far.

I’m constantly dismayed at new writers who think they’re going to ignore guidelines, do want they want, and still be so awesome and special they get a publishing contract. I blame this on the fact that in all industries, we tend to focus on the ‘trail blazers’ and people who ‘didn’t follow the rules’ and still became successful. The thing is, once again, these people ran into some luck. They also aren’t telling you about all the times their deviant behavior didn’t work out for them or set them back. Also, even ‘innovators’ followed the rules to a certain extent, they just found new, unique, and more creative ways to do things that made sense.

There is a game you have to play in publishing, and that’s figuring out where and when you can jump in the mix and have it work out for you. I can’t fully explain it, but after you’ve done it for a while you’ll start to recognize it and you’ll develop a knack for it. You’ll start to see opportunities and know how to do the backflips and cartwheels that will land you in the right spot. You’ll figure out how to work things to your advantage, where you have the best shot at succeeding, and the right things to say to get the appropriate attention.

But remember, it’s still a business, and you need to be a business person.


No writer is an island, and you don’t want to get stranded on one, either. You have to make connections in the publishing world, even if only superficial and strictly business. This opens up doors you didn’t have the keys to previously.

Let’s be clear on this, though: you need to have realistic expectations about networking. Telling a publisher “I’m friends will Big Time Author,” will never get you a publishing contract on its own. Even if Big Time Author gives you a glowing recommendation, that’s not an automatic in. Publishers will judge your work based on the merits of your writing alone, and decide if they want you on their team. Even if JK Rowling descends from Heaven with your manuscript clutched to her breast and delivers it directly into the publisher’s hands, this will still not get you a publishing contract if your writing isn’t up to snuff.

However, Big Time Author might give you a guest spot on their blog, or a shoutout in their newsletter, or recommend your books to their readers. That’s something.

There ARE people who can help you get published though, people who have actually had their hands on your manuscript–an editor you worked with before, an agent who found your work appealing but couldn’t represent you for various reasons. These are the sort of people you want to get a rapport with too. Networking is part of playing the game.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned in the past two-ish years. There’s a lot more, of course. Maybe this advice will be helpful to you. Have you learned some things you’d like to share?

Some happy news!

Just a little announcement today!

Yesterday, I signed a contract with Siren BookStrand for my paranormal erotic romance It Takes a Thief. It’s tentatively scheduled to be released in August. I will talk more about it and have more information to share soon!

I’m really excited about working with Siren. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them from their authors and they’re one of the top publishers for erotic romance. They seem to be interested in cultivating the careers of authors too, so I’m hoping to publish more with them in the future.

I’m feeling quite positive about writing things right now. This marks my eighth publication (not counting short stories in anthologies) and it will be my second release this year (The Burning City comes out in July and I have a novella, Through the Darkness which will be released in fall/winter with Muse It HOT). My novel-length works are urban fantasy and romance, but I can’t help myself, I like to write smutty novellas, so my shorter works tend to be of the erotic variety. We all need hobbies, don’t we?

Anyway, that’s the good news! More info about it coming soon.

The bittersweet ending

Yesterday, I received the final, formatted files for The Burning City–that is, the book in its final form that will be for sale in July. My only job now is to look through them for any formatting errors.

It’s bittersweet, because on one hand I feel a great sense of accomplishment–I have three books now! A trilogy!  A series! On the other hand, it was the last book I had contracted with Lyrical/Kensington. So until that changes, I’m effectively done working with my awesome editor and the great team of people who brought my books to fruition. Do I intend to submit to them again? Of course! However, the next series I’m working on is under consideration with a couple agents, so until I get a yes or no, I’m in a holding pattern. And as for the fourth book in my Siren Song series, I’m not actually done writing it yet so I can’t submit it. My business relationship with the publisher is of course still in effect since they publish my books and the third one isn’t even out yet, but I’m already having withdrawals from ‘the process.’

It makes me anxious, but I know publishing is a slow and ponderous venture. Especially during the holidays, when most of the publishing world takes a hiatus until January. I want to yell at the agents reviewing my work “GOD DO YOU WANT IT OR NOT CAUSE IF NOT I’M JUST GONNA SEND IT TO MY PUBLISHER MYSELF.” But that’s what crazy people do and I actually do want an agent someday, so I don’t want them to back away slowly and then tell all their agent friends that I’m crazy.

I mean I’m crazy, but I try to keep it in my head.

Patience is a virtue when it comes to publishing books. It’s also the reason I will have no hair left on my head come January.

Things to look for in a publisher.

I’m published with several publishers, one large and a few small. I’ve spread my literary seed around, you could say. I didn’t plan this, it just sort of happened. I find personally working with more than one publisher gives me more options and I don’t have to restrict myself as far as genre and content are concerned. If something doesn’t fit with one publisher, I can submit to another. This has also given me insight into how different publishing houses work, certain things that are the same across the board no matter who publishes you, and things as an author I need to watch out for. An author can learn a great deal about the business by branching out to more than one, or even two, publishing houses.

And so, I’m going to share with you the top five things to look for and expect in a publisher, based on my experiences:

1. Mutual respect.  A publisher is taking on your work because presumably, they think it’s a good story and they believe that they (and you) can make money off it. But you are also the creator of the work and your opinions and thoughts on the process and the final product should be considered. A publisher should be communicative and open to any concerns you have. You should always be able to email someone with a question and get an answer. I do say mutual respect, however–which means you should also act in a professional and respectful manner when communicating and expressing your thoughts and concerns. Getting your book before the masses should never feel like a tug-of-war with the publisher. You’re working together, to mutually benefit from the end result.

2. Professionalism. This is one of my biggest sticking points. A huge red flag goes up for me whenever anyone from a publishing house behaves in a non-professional manner, either publicly or in private–be it on author loops, through emails, or other routes of communication where the reader isn’t present. Professionalism to me means behaving in a business-like manner, keeping conflicts one-on-one, and sticking to relevant discussion and using respectful language. I have, more than once, seen extremely unprofessional behavior within publishing houses–but because I consider myself a professional, I would never name names or talk about these incidents in public. The author needs to be a professional too. Try to solve your issues outside the public eye. You never know who’s watching.

3. Fairness. Read every contract entirely and carefully before you sign it. Do your research and get an idea of what constitutes fairness as far as length of contracts, royalties, rights, and payments are concerned. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something and don’t be afraid to ask for changes if something seems unfair. This seems like something you’d never want to do, but if you can’t come to an agreement on a contract, withdraw your work. It’s not career suicide–it’s just being business savvy. If it’s your first time signing a contract and everything seems crazy to you, talk to other authors and find out what’s fair and what the fine print means. Educate yourself and be wary of publishers that want too much and don’t want to budge on their terms.

4. Reputation. Absolute Write Water Cooler is one of the best places on the internet to research publishing houses. Go to the ‘Bewares, Recommendations, & Background Check’ forum and you’ll get first-hand information from people who have worked, or are working with various publishing houses. You can also look up what authors write for a publishing house and get in touch with them and ask how they feel about their experience. Many authors are willing to give their honest opinions and I’ve gotten a few of those emails. Google is also your friend: if a publishing house has a bad reputation, believe me, someone out there is talking about it. Writer Beware is another place to learn who’s trying to screw over their authors.

5. Attention to detail. Pick up some books the publisher has put out. Are they well put together? Do they have nice formatting? Are the covers appealing or do they look like they were slapped together in Photoshop in ten seconds? Is the editing sloppy? Do they pump out so many books a month they seem like an author mill? Observe the quality of what the publisher is putting out before you decide to go with them, or you might find yourself disappointed and a little embarrassed with the end result, and stuck in a contract you can’t do anything about.

How about you? What do you look for in a publisher, and what would make you turn and run the other way?

My happy news this week.

In case you don’t follow me on social media and haven’t already seen, my big announcement is that I’ve just signed a contract for One Night In Cleveland, a novella that will be part of Tirgearr Publishing’s City Nights series! I’m already part of the City Nights series with One Night In Chicago. The series is a lot of fun to write for and I’m very pleased to get another spot on the list.

If you’re interested in digging into the City Nights series, it’s important to note that all the books in the series are stand-alone, so you don’t have to start with any specific one. The characters and plots are different in each book–their only connection is that they all follow the common theme of taking place during a 24 hour period in a city. All the stories are contemporary erotic romance, too.

So what will One Night In Cleveland be about? Here’s the blurb:

Chef Matt Fattore lives a clean and lawful life—so he doesn’t expect to meet the woman of his wet dreams by being arrested by her. When Lieutenant Caylee Benton of the Cleveland PD mistakes him for a wanted burglar, Matt finds out fantasies sometimes land right in your lap—and frisk you.

Sparks fly despite the misunderstanding and Matt decides to take a chance and take her out—and maybe, take her to bed. But Caylee is more than just a beautiful woman with a badge and a gun. While Matt is falling in lust with her, she’ll become his hero, too.

Matt is about to spend the wildest 24 hours of his life in Cleveland, and if he’s lucky, be in handcuffs by the end of the night.

The release date will tentatively be toward the end of this year, but that’s no way set in stone yet. I’ll keep everyone posted! In the meantime, you can enjoy the other books in the series. Maybe start with Chicago? 😉

And yes, I do live in Cleveland! I thought it was time to write about my fair city by the lake and all the naughty shenanigans one might get up to here…

Cleveland Skyline

Where has the writer been?

I’ve been woefully absent from this blog lately. It’s like the A-Z Challenge didn’t teach me a thing! But for once I can actually say it’s not because I’m being lazy but because I’ve been doing SO much work writing-wise. Currently I’m:

– Trying to finish editing a book I have to turn in to my editor by July 1st. Only a few more chapters! I finished the intense editing/rewriting in April but I wanted to let it sit for a month so I could look at it with fresh eyes and comb through it again during June. I should finally be through it this weekend.

– Writing a book. A completely different book in a different series–yes, at the same time!

– Keeping up with promotional stuff for all the works I already have out.

On top of this, I actually have a day job (and I TRY to have a social life). I’m going to Las Vegas for my 40th birthday in July so I’m trying to be a good little worker bee until then–so I won’t feel guilty about doing nothing for an entire weekend.

But hard work does pay off. This morning I got an email offering me a contract for a novella! I’ll give more details as soon as the ink is on paper.

So that’s why I’m a neglectful blog writer. How is your writing life?


You spelled this word wrong. We’re gonna have to rewrite the whole thing.

Today is both #IWSG day and day six of #NaBloPoMo!

Let’s combine the blog hops today, shall we?

IWSG badgeThis post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the the May 6 posting of the IWSG will be Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!



During the month of May I’m doing the NaBloPoMo challenge–blogging every day of the month on the theme of photos.

Today’s prompt: How often are you in your photographs?
Photo: Your Love

I thought about how I could combine today’s posts. How often am I in my photographs? Constantly! I love having my picture taken and having pictures taken of what I’m doing. And from the writing perspective, how often am *I* in my photographs–that is, my books? How much of myself is in each one, and how would that make me insecure, exactly? Let me explain.

All of us have heard the phrase “write what you know.” Some people live by it and some people think it’s ridiculous. After all, how would any spy novels or murder mysteries get written if only spies and detectives wrote these novels? Or historicals, or sci-fi? Do you have to live on an alien planet or travel back in time to write these things? Of course not. You do research and use your imagination. I interpret ‘write what you know’ as ‘write what you’re enthusiastic about and can put the time and dedication into.’

But putting yourself into your work can make you feel insecure in two opposite ways:

– If you put too much of your passion and yourself into something, and people don’t like it, what then? Does that mean they don’t like you? Does it mean you should change genres? It’s scary to put your heart and soul into something and put it on display for other people.


– What if you branch out and research something you don’t ‘know’ and you don’t write it well enough, or correctly and honestly? Will people who have experienced the subject call you a phony? What if you get laughed at? What if they can tell you’re just an intruder in their sandbox?

Writing is a lot of nail biting and hoping that your work resonates with someone, or they at least don’t mock you. Putting yourself into your work–writing what you know–is even more nerve wracking. Just like taking a picture of yourself, you hope somebody hits that ‘like’ button.

My love is writing. This was my three book contract from Kensington--yes, I love being in the pictures I take!

My love is writing. This is my three book contract from Kensington–yes, I love being in the pictures I take!

I’ve got big news!

Now that the ink is on paper, I can let the cat out of the bag (how’s that for mixing metaphors?): I just signed a three book deal with Lyrical Press, an imprint of Kensington Books, for my urban fantasy trilogy Siren Song!

These books have been in the works for so many years and the plot has gone through so many mutations, it’s impossible to give you a timeline of changes. I don’t think I’ve written and rewritten another story more! The original story that became the books that will be published barely even exists anymore and most of the characters are different–and I’m sure by the time the editors get done with me, the books as they are today will be very different once again. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product and marveling at it, being the one person who actually knows how much the story changed over the years.

Lyrical Press is a prestigious New York publisher, an imprint of well-known publisher Kensington Books, and I’m looking forward to my future with them!

To learn more about the series, visit my current projects page.

I got that paper (contract)!

I got that paper (contract)!

Getting Inked Again

On the dotted line, that is–or in this case, digitally inked, since the contract was digital!

Today I signed the contract for my story ‘Her Darkest Secret’ with Muse It Up publishing (their erotica imprint, more specifically). It won’t be released until Spring 2015 but I’m still pretty excited! Check out my current projects page for more information about it.