Push On To Publishing

Push On To Publishing

Guest Post: Push On To Publishing by Diana Rubino

To all published and aspiring authors, my story (and learned experiences) will inspire you to push on to publishing if nothing else will. It’s unique because I’m probably the longest aspiring author to be published—18 years.

As every grade school kid, I wrote short stories growing up in Jersey City, and became the editor of my college (St. Peter’s) newspaper. My journalism professor Jim Conniff always believed in me, and when I began writing short stories to submit to magazines, he encouraged me to write a novel, which to me was daunting. He sent me titles of several how-to books, most from Writers Digest, so I read them and embarked on my first novel.

As most first novels it was highly autobiographical and never sold.

Because of my love of history, I began writing historical fiction in 1990 but didn’t get my first publishing contract until 1999. I always tell aspiring authors never to give up because I’m living proof it can happen.

Because I’m a huge history buff, I decided to write a historical, which became The Jewels of Warwick, set around Henry VIII and a fictional mistress.

Jewels took 2 years to research and write, with no internet. It came very close to publication with several romance houses but missed the mark for containing too little romance. When I finished Jewels, I scoured the history books for another legendary figure to write about. While I browsed the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Library stacks, a book snagged my eye. Lying, not standing, on the wrong shelf was Crown of Roses by Valerie Anand. It drew me like a magnet. Richard III is a central character in the story, and the author thanks’ the Richard III Society’ for helping her. Who’s this Richard III Society? I wondered.

Already hooked on Richard, his tragic death at 32 and his reputation as a usurper and a murderer of his little nephews, I joined this Richard III Society. So, I joined up (again through snail mail, no internet.) I’d found the subject of my next novel! And it tied in perfectly as a prequel to The Jewels of Warwick. Titled Thy Name is Love, it made the same rounds of publishers, remaining homeless after several rewrites and seven years.

But the miracle of the internet came to all of us. My first online experience was CompuServe’s Romance Forum in 1993. This led to meeting many authors who shared leads and their own writing journeys. In 1999, Lisa Hamilton, an author I’d met on CompuServe, sent me a list of E-publishers, since E-publishing was new and quickly catching on. One of those publishers was Domhan Books, a British publisher who also did print.

When I heard back from them, I figured it was another rejection, but it was an offer to publish my books. They also published print books, so I lived the moment I’d dreamed about seeing my first book in print. This was 18 years after that first novel went out into the world.

You must work on promotion as well as writing. I’ve read many differing opinions on this, but I do believe you should promote as much as time allows, without taking away writing time. I belong to a few dozen Facebook book promo groups, and post about one book every day. I also promote on Twitter “X” and do blog exchanges with other authors. I’ve done book signings and appeared at writers’ conferences. I’ve taken out ads in magazines, but that doesn’t seem to be a great return on investment. Giveaways seem to be a great way to market your books. I started out giving away bookmarks, pens, and the other usual trinkets, but one author said, ‘your book is your best giveaway.’ Contact your local newspapers and cable channels for interviews.

Also, join a critique group of writers who are also your potential audience, so they have a handle on your genre. You weigh their suggestions and critiques and use what you agree with; no writer ever agrees with everything their critique partners have to offer.

I always tell aspiring authors to make sure the opening is a grabber, make sure the reader will care about the characters, make sure the stakes are high enough so they’re in life-or-death situations that it seems they can’t possibly get out of, make sure the secondary characters aren’t mere cardboard, and humor always helps.

One huge technical rule: show, don’t tell.

It’s especially important to convey emotion. Make the reader FEEL what these characters are feeling. Lorraine Heath has a unique talent for this.

I’d like to tell any aspiring authors who are frustrated that it’s taken them 3, 4, 5 or more years to get that first contract, remember, I wrote for 18 years before getting ‘the call’ so never give up! Keep believing and keep the faith! Keep writing because you’ll only get better. And NEVER give up on your dream.

Diana Rubino is a published historical author who lives in her favorite place on Earth, Cape Cod.

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