Path to Publishing by Audra North:
When I started writing, my goal wasn’t to get published. All I wanted to do back then was to see if I could take an idea I’d had swimming in my head for a while and turn it into a story. It took eighteen months of stealing snippets of time from my work and home life, but I did it. I finished my first manuscript—a 60,000-word literary novel—at the end of 2010.
By then, I had quit my demanding job in cloud computer software to stay at home with my second child, and I started to ask myself, “What’s next?” I didn’t want to go back to work in the field I’d come from because it required long hours and a lot of crazy travel (I once had 36 hours’ notice that I had to get on a plane and fly to Germany.) But for some reason, I still didn’t consider writing to be a viable career option.
They say hindsight is 20/20. The way I see it now, I keep thinking that it should have been crystal clear, even back then! I wrote while I was nursing, or during my son’s naptime, early in the morning before my husband left for work, and late into the evening, even when I knew I’d be exhausted the next day. I had even started querying on my literary novel while not believing it would really go anywhere.
In the meantime, I started designing and sewing wedding gowns. I know. This seems completely out of left field. But I’d grown up sewing and enjoyed the creative side of fashion design. I sold the gowns in bridal shops and went to trade shows and found fabric suppliers and generally added stress and busy work to my life until one day my husband asked me, “So how’s your querying going?”
I’d gotten requests for fulls, but ultimately had been rejected, by four agents. I was still jotting down ideas and writing little snippets of prose here and there, but I wasn’t working toward anything in particular.
When my third child was born, keeping up the operations of a one-woman retail business became impossible. I sold off a lot of my wedding gown stock and accepted that now was not the time. But you know what I went back to? That I had never really abandoned?
The first time around, I think a part of my problem was that I had too many unanswered questions about my life. I didn’t consider writing as a career because I wanted to explore so many other options. Two years after I started writing, though, I finally felt like I’d gotten the chance to find out what I was capable of and what those other options might look like—at least to a point where I felt I had enough information to make the decision to move on.
This time, I approached it with much more serious intention. I took time to really think about what I liked to read and the kind of existing works I knew well. I’d already proven to myself that I could write a full book, and I’d learned a lot about the world of publishing with my literary novel.
In late 2011, I wrote my first romance, a 95,000-word Regency that was—if I’m allowed to say this myself—passably good. I had full requests from six agents. Even though five of them eventually rejected the manuscript and one issued an R&R, that small bit of encouragement had lit something in me that hadn’t been there the first time around.
I wrote. And wrote. And submitted. And wrote some more. In the end, I wrote 240,000 words across three novels in a year. It was painful and sometimes discouraging and definitely crazy, but I learned a great deal from my local RWA chapter and from feedback from agents and contests.
In the end, though, I never gave up. All three of those novels were ultimately rejected, but I knew I was getting better, and that was enough to keep me going. And if there’s one piece of advice that I would offer to any aspiring writer, it would be to keep writing. Learn, yes—that’s incredibly important. But to get better, you have to keep writing to apply the lessons you’ve learned. You have to be okay with looking at rejected works as writing lesson gold mines, and consider that it might take you more than one shelved manuscript to get to where you want to go.
This time, I knew—I wanted to get to publication. And with my fourth manuscript, which was a response to a call for submissions put out by Entangled Publishing, I got there. ONE NIGHT IN SANTIAGO was accepted last June and was published on December 30, 2013.
Now that I’m armed with more knowledge about writing and publishing, the scope of my goals has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve met incredibly talented, wonderful romance writers who have given me so much support that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express just how grateful I am for that. It’s an amazing community here in Romancelandia.
So what’s next? What are those big-scope goals? Well, first and foremost, to keep writing romances! They’re fun to write and I learn more about myself with every manuscript. Additionally, using what I’ve been given to help others is important to me, so at the moment I’m working on a charity anthology of romance novelettes with several other fantastic romance authors and a smart, savvy editor. All author proceeds from this anthology will go to benefit RAINN, a great organization that provides support to survivors of rape, abuse, and incest. Finally, I want to continue contributing to and fostering discussion around gender, race, and socioeconomic issues in writing, and specifically in romance. I believe that the more awareness we have of how and what we read, the more tolerance we will have in life off the page.
I continue to write, and write, and write. And learn, and learn, and learn. My journey started off down a long and winding road, but I still ended up at my destination. And now, as I look down the path ahead of me, I can already tell it’s not always going to be straight and smooth. This phase of the journey has already had plenty of bumps in the road, in fact! But I’m okay with taking it one step at a time and trusting that I’ll get to where I need to go.
P.S. I know I couldn’t possibly have covered everything in this post, so I invite y’all to ask me questions in the comments. I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge!
Title: ONE NIGHT IN SANTIAGO
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Published: December 30, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 21,000
Lily Stanton's vacation goes from bad to worse when a storm strands her in a foreign country, arguing with an arrogant—and very sexy—stranger over the last available hotel room.
Successful CEO Bruno Komarov wasn't expecting the gorgeous woman checking in at the reception desk to challenge him over a room. Even more surprising, he actually enjoys their exchange.
But when Lily proposes a compromise—she'll take the bed and he can sleep on the couch—Bruno pushes his attraction aside and assures himself that this can remain strictly business. After all, they're both adults capable of keeping their hands to themselves. They'll share the room, get a good night's sleep, and be off to their respective destinations in the morning.
What could possibly happen in just one night?
“All yours.” His voice jerked her out of her naughty fantasy so fast that she jumped and yelped in guilty surprise.She whipped around and yelped again, but this time at the real deal.He was wearing only a towel.She froze, unable to tear her gaze away from his body. His shoulders were smooth and broad, his biceps just the right size for a woman to clutch as he drove into her. His chest was lightly sprinkled with dark hair over his olive skin, which ran in a faint line down the middle of his stomach, bisecting the muscles that looked like they were cut into his skin, so well-defined were they. He held the towel in place with one large hand, his long, powerful fingers clutching it so tightly that his knuckles were going white, and just beneath that, the terry cloth was poking up and out, jutting toward her—She clapped a hand to her mouth as her eyes flew to his.He chuckled apologetically. “It happens when I get a thorough inspection like that,” he said casually, but the tension in his shoulders belied the indifference in his voice.Rather belatedly, Lily whirled back around and faced her luggage.“I-I’m so sorry,” she stammered, directing her apology to the clothes packed in neat rolls.He chuckled again and she heard his feet padding softly on the carpet, walking toward the door. “Don’t mention it. Really. The shower is all yours. I left my clothes hanging on the hook, but they shouldn’t be in your way. I’ll get them later.”Her cheeks burned and she couldn’t look at him, could only nod, as he walked past her into the living room, pulling the door softly shut behind him.
Available for purchase:
Audra North fell in love with romance at age thirteen and spent the next twenty years reading as many romance novels as she could. Even now, after having read over one thousand of them, Audra still can’t resist the lure of a happily ever after, and her collection continues to grow. She lives near Boston with her husband, three young children, and a lot of books. Audra is the author of FALLING FOR THE CEO and ONE NIGHT IN SANTIAGO, both available now from Entangled Publishing. Visit her website at audranorth.com or find her (way too frequently) on Twitter @AudraNorth.