Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: The things you see… The things you saw… The things you miss…

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies is one of my most popular blog threads. Two weeks away in NY, both at RWA Nationals and Thrillerfest, and everywhere I turned writers asked me to post more. So, first day back, what am I prattling about–What is New York publishing looking like/for?

Snoopy strip

Interestingly enough, I’m not sure anyone at either conference had a definitive answer.

There was lots of talk about new digital offerings, for example from Harlequin (Carina Press) and Harper Collins/Avon (Impulse). The major houses are very aware that the digital future of publishing is now, even though they’re still not ready to pay authors an advance for dipping their toes into “traditional” experiments into the medium.

At the Avon spotlight,the editors were talking about quick turn around and prolific authors and getting excited about how quickly they could get your content up on their websites. Lots of assurances that you’d get great editing and covers and face time on a publisher site they say has heavy traffic, plus the books will be out there on Amazon, etc. But with so many titles going out the door, and the covers they were raving about honestly looked like something my teen could photoshop on his laptop, and talk of fast writing and editorial and revisions that sounds pretty close to flash fiction at times, you have to wonder how anything but their lead authors’ books will get enough attention to sell well.

They do have a great plan for using the digital publishing of novellas and such to promo mass market paperback releases of the star authors. Those ebooks should get promoted out the ying yang, and it should help both the digital and print sales of the corresponding mass market releases. But the rest of the books, it seems, will pretty much be on their own.

Let me do the math for you, if this is the case. No advance. No heavy online promotion. No digital sales to speak of. No money. In other words, if you choose this path for your book release, be prepared to do all the heavy lifting yourself and be prepared to sell the same number of books you’d sell on your own, only if you did it on your own (on Amazon at least), you’d be making 75% per book in royalties, instead of what the digital publishers who hold your copyrights offer. Food for thought.

There were still lots of vampires and night creatures and dark and stormy stuff coming out from all the houses, but across the board what my agent was hearing the romance editors want now is…wait for it…contemporary romance. In fact, exactly the kind of romance I wrote six years ago at the beginning of my career that I couldn’t get arrested for outside my home and family Harlequin line, because everyone wanted dark and stormy then. Interesting. And I’m not sure the pendulum has swung all the way in the other direction, but there’s definitely a call for something different than what’s currently being put on the market.

Note that I’ve written heavy suspense in that same home and family line for years, as well as two mainstream novels where I’ve wallowed in psychic dream fantasies much more thriller in nature than anything I’d have gotten to write for Harlequin at this stage of my career. That was kind of the point, actually. I needed to write those stories,  and I’m grateful to have had the chance. I’m happily working on a three-book proposal to continue my fantasy world, delving even more heavily into the metaphysics and parapsychology and psychic phenomenon than before.

But…now that we’re on the subject, I’d already decided to take a gentler approach to my new “Legacy” characters. My life’s been moving into a lighter place of late, thank Dog. I wanted that energy and momentum to play out on the page. Not that you won’t be scared out of your seat from time to time, and I hope struck with the cool mystery of the contemporary worlds I’ll paint. But enough with the dark and tragic for a while. I’ve been doing it a long time, and my agent and I decided months ago that maybe it had been long enough. I’ve missed what I started out writing, and I’m dying to see what those ideas can bring to my stories now. Seems that NY publishing might agree.

Which makes the four contemporary romance novels/proposals in varying degrees of completeness I’ve been toying with for years a lovely thing to have on the “Ideas” shelf behind my desk.I’ll have to share a picture of that bookcase one day. It houses research books and binders with WIPS in it and pictures and other items that inspire me and my “keeper” shelf of top-dog authors whose voices transport me. I’m a happy girl, every time I peak around my monitor to see shelves full of ideas and inspiration, and now “publishable” novel ideas I’m dying to dive back into and rewrite until they shine.

No, publishing isn’t for sissies, because no one knows anything for sure and there’s so much change on a good day, and on days like the ones most authors are having this year, we all seem to know even less.

But…and this time it’s a big BUT…the writer remains in control, as always.

writer in typewriter

It’s all about what she wants to do with her business now, and how lovingly she stores away her ideas until it’s the right time to take them out for a spin, and how hard she works every day to stay in that creative stream that I surround myself with inspiring images and research to maintain.

That’s the overwhelming energy I brought back with me from both RWA Nationals and Thrillerfest (and have no fear, now that this stream of consciousness overview’s out of the way, I’ll be posting more details daily until I run out of notes from both weeks). It’s a great time to be a writer.If you can’t find a traditional publishing home for what you want to write, you can still write it well and publish it yourself. If you want to work you way up from the very bottom of a major house, there’s more opportunity than ever out there, thanks to the new digital arms many publishers are starting up. If your natural voice refuses to write dark and stormy and you’ve been waiting for your chance to sell our lighter stories, your day has arrived in a big way. And the list goes on…

I’ll say it again, my friends. Write what you love and what you know and what you want to know and what you feel. Find your heart and soul in your work and share it with the world in ways readers can’t look away from. Believe your words will find their homes in the hearts of those who love to experience them. Never give up, never surrender…

And check back here tomorrow. I’m recharged and raring to go.Who knows, there might be some shoes and teenager snarkiness and writing craft and crazy things I heard in NY to share, too. You never knew what I’ll come up with, after two weeks of fun and friends and sea (went to the beach in between conferences) and museums and absorbing NY’s energy!

It’s great to be back ;o)

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10 Responses to “Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: The things you see… The things you saw… The things you miss…”

  1. Hello Anna! GREAT post! So glad I found this on Twitter. I also wanted to say a late Happy Birthday.

    So happy to hear that Contemporary Romance is what they might be looking for. I’m working on my second one now…just polishing it up. And I have a third one waiting in the wings. I love having a lovely shelf of ideas right there in reach.

    Wishing you lots of success with your writing.

  2. Elaine says:

    Great and wonderful post Anna! Sorry we never had the chance to meet up at Nationals – hope to see you sometime soon though!


  3. Kristen Lamb says:

    Excellent post and thanks for keeping us in the loop on all the developments in NY.

  4. Fantastic and encouraging words, Anna. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the market. Since I write light, family, fun books, this is very lovely to hear.

  5. I sincerely believe there will always be a market for Anna Destefano contemporary romances! ♥

  6. Jenny Hansen says:


    I agree with Cheryl! :-)

    I think it is a tremendous time to be a writer. So, while I’m not happy to have dragged my keister to this point without selling, I am delighted to know that when my books DO come out, I’ll be in charge of that process in a way that was previously unheard of.

    Hear, hear for the author. And thank you for keeping us “in the know” because I didn’t get to go to New York this year.

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