Friday, January 24, 2014

Deep & Dark Secrets on How Shawna Romkey Published Her First Book

The long version is here:

The short version is that I didn’t give up. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old and went to the school library with my class for the first time. I majored in English, took a creative writing emphasis, wrote stories and poems all through school, but didn’t really know what to do beyond that.

I continued on to get a teaching degree and then a Masters in literature. I wrote a novel for my thesis, to mixed reviews of my faculty chairs. And I kept writing and didn’t know what to do with anything I finished.

This was all happening back in the day before the Interwebs. Yes, there was a time they didn’t exist. Yes, I’m old enough to have suffered through those dark ages. There was no Preditors & Editors website  to check out publishers and agents. There was just the Writers Market book that came out every year, and I’d blindly send to various people in there. Back then, the book just listed everyone, but didn't say whether they were credible or efficient. I'm not sure if it does now or not, but then it just listed everyone.


Unfortunately I came across a con agent who took me for $400 and never sold my book. Now I can see him all tidily written up on Preditors & Editors.

"Mark Maine: Not recommended. An agent last known associated with Author's Adventure Assistance Literary Agency."
Yeah, it was the old triple A agency that screwed me.

Anyway, I was crushed and stopped writing for several years that I’ll never get back.

Eventually I was laid off and decided, if I don’t do this writing thing, I never would. I had all the time in the world being off work. I joined my local RWA chapter and learned lots of great stuff. My kid had started school, so I was undisturbed for a good six hour a day. No excuses. I wrote the book in my head.


I got some advice from my RWA chapter on what to do with it once it was done. Got some beta readers. Sent it off, and after a few weeks of submitting, I had an offer. An offer that was twenty years in the making. I thought I was dreaming.

My debut novel, Speak of the Devil, came out last spring.

The second in the series is due out later this year. At my book launch, I brought my manila folder of rejection letters I’d collected in the twenty years of submitting my work. Some people might burn theirs in effigy. Some might tear them up or throw them in the trash. But I kept them, because to me they were badges of honor. Yes, they were rejections, but they were signs that I had completed something and had sent it off to be considered by professionals in the industry. At least I was trying to get in the game.

So if there’s a secret I’d say it’s to write. Write until you finish something. If there’s another secret I’d say that it’s to submit your work. No one can buy it if it’s in a box under your bed collecting dust.Never give up!

And don't forget to do your research before submitting to agents and editors. :)

To learn more about Shawn and her books, click here

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