Slogging -The Long Road Continues

Best question asked when I whined about 31 rejections on my first novel: “What’s your second book about?”

The second one didn’t sell either. Nor did the third, or the fourth, or….

Publish America was a brand new publisher in 1999 when they offered to publish my eighth manuscript. I had written the first in 1982, and was working on No. 12 when they contacted me. I was ecstatic. They assigned me a great editor, paid a $1 token advance, and produced a nice book, even paid royalties as due.

They paid a $100 advance on the second book, actually my ninth. The first editor had left, but the second turned out to be even better than the first. Publisher Wilhem Meiners sent me a bouquet for contributing to A PUBLISHED AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO PROMOTION. And they paid nice advances for books 3 and 4, before the company’s reputation tanked.

My initial experience with publishing, was good. Of course, after 17 years and a dozen manuscripts, I was pretty well softened up.

Five Star/Cengage was the next publisher to offer. Husband Bill and I went to Waterville, Maine for Author Appreciation Day where we were treated like royalty and hung out with other wonderful Five Star authors. Five Star did three books in a series for and with me, provided excellent editing, great covers, promotional help, etc., plus $2,000.00 advances. Again, the experience was great. I was disappointed when they dropped the romantic suspense line.

Unable to find an agent that suited me or I, her/him, and refusing to self publish, I continued to submit to small and medium sized publishers. A former newspaper reporter, I know how vital a good editor is for me. Critique groups help, but no one eagle eyes copy like an experienced editor.

Happily I found small publishers that provided great editors, paid small advances, and sent royalties as agreed. AWOC produced CHIK-LIT FOR FOXY HENS, an anthology with novellas from four authors, including me, and AFTERMATH, a stand-alone.

NIGHTINGALE, my only historical romance sold to Adams Media, a medium-sized house with a good reputation. Again, I found myself in the hands of a marvelous editor. There is nothing more important for me. Kindle chose NIGHTINGALE for a special offering. The publisher and I split $2,500.

Other publishers stepped up. Oak Tree Press produced JINGO STREET, before the publisher herself had a series of strokes. The company went down, at least temporarily. I requested and got my rights back.

The Wild Rose Press assigned me yet another terrific editor on two more manuscripts. MEMORY came out in March (2017) and JACK SPRAT COULD, in August. Also, this editor liked JINGO STREET, so The Wild Rose Press produced a new edition of that one, also.

Then a big surprise. Adams Media sold to Simon & Schuster. I had scored a New York publisher without an agent and with no effort on my part. Amazing. S&S asked to run a 99¢ special on NIGHTINGALE from June 26 to July 9. They expected to sell between 1,300 and 2,300 copies and we’d split the proceeds. Again, this happened without any effort from me. The editor emailed on July 9. NIGHTINGALE had surprised everyone. It had sold 6,600 copies.

Meanwhile, another small press, Intrigue, contracted for DO YOU LOVE ME. It will be out next spring (2018). They provided another able editor. It will be my fourteenth published novel. All are In print and ebooks. Some also are audios.

I am working on manuscripts 25 and 26. There are no guarantees more will sell, but my writing is improving. I still have no agent. The editor who moved from Adams Media to S&S has agreed to read what I believe is the best book I’ve written. We’ll see. With a history of books now, other publishers are more receptive.

My advice to writers who threaten to quit, “if I don’t sell this one” is: If you CAN quit, do. For those who cannot, try for a good editor, believe in yourself, and keep on keeping on, doing what you love. Many raindrops make a pond; many keystrokes, a book. What have you got to do that you enjoy more?

Good luck,

Sharon Ervin

This post is contributed as Guest post by Sharon Ervin.

A former newspaper reporter, Sharon (Thetford) Ervin has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, is married, has four grown children, works half-days in her husband and older son’s law office, has 14 published novels, dozens of articles and short stories, and is working on Novel No. 28. She lives in McAlester OK.

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