Firstly, a little information about Christine if you haven't already had the pleasure of meeting her:
Christine Bell is one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn’ t like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold ‘ Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate…or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing steamy romance stories under her own name and also under her pen name, Chloe Cole. One day she hopes to publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with a rusty spoon. Christine loves to hear from readers, so please contact her through her website, www.christine-bell.com
Over to Christine.
The most important thing I want you to know is that just six months ago, I was in the same place a lot of you are right now. Writing my ass off and biding my time, just waiting for a response that wasn’t a rejection. After the first three or four, you start to recognize them and just skim the first sentence for key words to put you out of your misery. If you’re an aspiring author who hasn’t submitted yet, I will share that list of words with you now, in no particular order, so that you will recognize the signs when you see them (and you will see them. I only personally know one author who sold to her first targeted publisher on her first try. I did the math and you have a better chance of seeing a unicorn. Granted, my math skills are dicey, but trust me on this: you will get rejected and if that’s something you want to avoid, find
Okay, without further ado, list of words that tip you off to a rejection email/letter:
4. Whilst (then you know it's a rejection from across the pond)
Just to keep things even steven (cuz I am all about even steven) here is a list of words that tip you off to a contract:
SO, back to my original point. The one thing I want you to take with you from this is that I had gotten a pile of the former and none of the latter as of six months ago. Then, everything changed. To date, I have nine contracts with four publishers (Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id, Carina Press and Cobblestone Press). The only reason I don’t have more than nine is because I have sold everything I've written so far.
And you can do the same thing. You just have to figure out what needs to change, focus on your goal, and don’t quit. *Denise points to her motto at the top of her blog*. I don’t know what needs to change for you. I just know what worked for me.
The first turning point for me was when I got into a fab crit group. I realized that my writing was not where it needed to be. There was a kernel of something good in there, a knack for story telling maybe, and a voice, but I had a LOT of work to do on the craft. I’ll never forget opening my first crit and seeing all the red, highlights and comments, then emailing the most anal (in the best way) member of my crit group, who misses NOTHING (wave hello to all the nice people, Lisa!) and saying something like, “Wow. This is unbelievably on point. I don’t know how I missed all of this.” It was a total light-bulb moment for me.
Another game changer was an online workshop I took called Before You Hit Send by Angela James. It was really helpful and again, a turning point. I took all the stuff I learned from her and my CPs and applied it to my mss. Surprisingly, it worked and all the “meh” mss I had been churning out suddenly sparkled. Lucky for me, I had only shopped a few of them, and even those only to one publisher, so I still had a world of options opened to me.
I always knew I wanted to e-pub, mainly because I have no patience and the idea of waiting two+ years from query to shelf makes me break out in hives.
I targeted what I consider to be the best e-publishers. I read websites like Brenda Hyatt’s Show Me the Money, and Emily Veinglory’s EREC site, which are two of the few places you can get some actual info on royalties. I asked around to author friends I met on various sites, and then started submitting.
On July 5th I got my first offer, and they just kept coming. And one of the nicest things I’ve discovered so far is that, for me at least, the first one was the hardest. Once you get into the groove, understanding what they want, go through the editing process once (which is unbelievable, changes you as a writer), the writing gets easier. Also, once you can add that writing credit to your query, are invited to submit directly to an editor, or maybe contract on proposal, it becomes a much less arduous process.
SO, go forth, get thee a crit group, or at least a GOOD crit partner, take some workshops, get some books on craft. And above all, don’t quit. You might quit the day before you were about to submit the one ms that was going to crack the whole thing wide open for you, and wouldn’t that be the saddest thing ever…
Success continues for Christine. Today, January 12th, her latest book Naughty Godmother is released. Check it out here and here.
TODAY and for the next five days, everyone who comments and leaves their email address will be in the draw to win EITHER:
- an e-book of your choice by Christine Bell
- a first ten-pages critique by Christine. As Christine says: '...a good crit is worth its weight in gold and can often be a life changing moment for an aspiring author where all kinds of lightbulbs go off and you learn so much that you can apply to other works...'
So before you head out the door, please do the following:
- leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's prizes or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting today)
- tell us what you'd like to win today - e-book or critique
- tell us if we can published Christine's critique here at a later date
- ask Christine a question
- something further - why not look out for each other and say if you'd like to find a Crit Partner. I know I'd like one. So contact like-minded souls and we may be able to help each other in this way too...
Don't forget, next Wednesday 19 January we have author and blogger extraordinare Clarissa Draper coming to our party. Don't miss what she has to say! I'm intrigued by this mysterious mystery author!