As author Jenny Gardiner mentions below, it seems like we’ve known each other forever, so it’s exciting for me to have Jenny here, sharing her story with all of you. She does it all, as you’ll see.
Please welcome Jenny to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Author Jenny Gardiner Talks About Her Publishing Journey and Writing Across Genres
Thanks so Amy much for having me visit today. It seems we’ve known each other from the writing world for such a long time! And certainly there has been a real sea change in publishing since we started out!
So you wanted me to talk a bit about my bad habit of writing across genres ;-). I say bad because nowadays I think it might not be the most beneficial career plan to spread myself so thin. Always my goal has been to “brand” myself, but I saw it as branding my voice, regardless of what type of book I was writing. However with digital publishing, it seems to be more incumbent than ever to build a loyal readership, which seems to work best when you stay in your genre, and better still if you’re writing series books in which you can keep your readers happy with more stories in that setting.
But the thing is I’m a writer as well as a storyteller, and I love to tell stories in whatever I write. Perhaps since I came up as a journalist, I’ve always just written, not considering that I needed to hone in on one thing. And maybe that’s been a good thing, it’s broadened my horizons and given me a wider readership in some ways than I’d have otherwise not had: the more the merrier, right? But the more I study and research what seems to work best for authors, the more I think that perhaps I need to work on continuity and doing so by sticking with one thing.
But darn it, I’m always coming up with ideas, and I hate to table them just to fit a mold, right?! So I suppose the reality is I’ll just keep on writing what I want to write, figuring that I’ll find readers or my readers will find me if I’m lucky!
But I’ll talk a little bit about where I came from and how I found myself where I am right now. As Amy knows my first novel was a finalist in the Dorchester Publishing/Romantic Times American Title III contest, and ultimately won. The prize was a publishing deal. That novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, was really more mainstream commercial women’s fiction, or maybe even chick lit, but ultimately because of the contest was shelved as romance. Part of that was the typical issue with bricks and mortar stores of where to shelve a book. As I was trying to sell other novels to New York houses, I kept pitching a memoir idea I had with my first agent. She never responded to me when I suggested we try to sell it. But my next agent thought it had potential, so she shopped it around. That book (which I originally titled Bite Me!) is Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me (sort of like Marley & Me with a deadly beak), which came out in hardback with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books a couple of years ago.
So after we got fabulous rejections from rejections from editors for Slim to None, my book seemed doomed to lurk in the deep recesses of my computer for the rest of eternity. But then digital publishing came along, and I decided it made sense to give it a go in what was going to prove to be a new world order. I’d been an early adapter to the Kindle and LOVED mine, so knew that these e-readers would be HUGE, eventually. Once the price came down. When I heard that Apple was planning to launch this new product called an iPad I knew that was going to radically change the world of publishing for good because that would cause a price war, reducing the price of the product, making it available for lots of people, which would be great for authors breaking away from the “old skool” way of publishing books. Plus it led Amazon to want to woo authors into their corner, which led to a whole lot of authors being able to earn an actual living as writers because they actually paid legitimate royalties. Fabulous. And so I then decided to take all of the books that I had in my computer that for whatever reason I wasn’t inclined to pitch to New York houses because they weren’t integral to my branding, and sell themselves direct to my readers. Because I figured my readers would be happy to find more fun books to read. Which brings me back to trying to decide what makes sense these days as an author. And I keep flipflopping. Because I want to write and publish all sorts of things. In fact my next book I’m putting out (hopefully in the next few weeks!) is an anthology of essays, titled Naked Man on Main Street. And I hope readers will seek it out. But I’m giving serious thought to writing some contemporary romance series because it would be fun to write and because it would help bring in a whole new world of readers. And maybe when I do that I’ll contemplate whether to direct the rest of my focus on commercial women’s fiction, or maybe a hint of romance, or humor, or…Stay tuned (would you, please?!)
SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER: What happens after the happily ever after, when protagonist Claire Doolittle discovers that her Mr. Right has turned into Mr. Always right…
SLIM TO NONE: New York’s premier food critic Abbie Jennings is outed in a picture on Page Six of the New York Post, meaning she can no longer do her job incognito. This is compounded by the fact that years of fine dining have added a little, shall we say, avoirdupois, which means she’s large enough she can’t go incognito. Her editor gives her six months to lose weight or she’s out of her dream job. All of a sudden Abbie learns she must stop eating in order to continue eating for a living.
ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE: Photographer Lucy McSweeney has given up on finding the right man and has turned to the turkey baster to give her the baby she’s always wanted. Sparks fly when she has a chance encounter with the man she doesn’t know is her sperm donor. And things get a little crazy when she’s hired to photograph is upcoming society wedding.
COMPROMISING POSITIONS: Mercedes Fortunato gets way more than she bargains for when she lands her dream job on Capitol Hill against the wishes of her boss Mike Garrity, forced to hire her by his boss, a horny US Senator who’s set his sights on Mercedes. Mike grudgingly agrees to work with Mercedes and protect her from the lecherous senator, and things heat up when they realize maybe they aren’t quite the enemies they thought they were. Throw in a little corruption, a protective Italian family, and the FBI and someone’s bound to end up in trouble.
ANYWHERE BUT HERE: Mary Kate Dupree has been spinning her wheels for too long. Trapped in an abusive marriage to an overbearing good ol’ boy, she finally decides to break the cycle when she heads out to pick up her husband’s dry cleaning and instead picks up a handsome hitchhiker. They impulsive set off on a road trip of self-discovery, peeling away layers of their dark pasts en route to Niagara Falls, but once there, will they tape the leap?
WHERE THE HEART IS: Reese Larkin had given up on her ever going home again, until she realizes that home is the only place she’ll ever be able to reclaim what’s most important to her. After a call from a long-lost friend, she decides to embark on a road trip to revisit her past and along the way comes to realize that home really is where the heart is.
WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO’S DETERMINED TO KILL ME: Think of it is Marley & Me, with a deadly beak 😉
I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP: I’m a contributor in this humorous dog anthology, featuring a top-tier list of authors, including a forward by Chelsea Handler’s dog Chunk. 50% of royalties go to the Humane Society of the US.
10 thoughts on “Author Jenny Gardiner Talks About Her Publishing Journey and Writing Across Genres”
What an amazing output and inspiring energy! I wish you every success but it sounds as though you are already up there!
Thanks so much CAtherine and thank you for stopping by!
Jenny, I love how you took your career into your own hands 🙂 You’re so inspiring!
Thanks Maria! You’re so sweet! And right back atcha 😉
Loved this post, Jenny. You were actually an inspiration to me to put my novel Blue Straggler (rejected a million times, but my agent believed in it) out as an ebook. And then it got picked up by an indie publisher. So thank you!
Hey Kathy–that’s great news–I’m SO happy for you! Huge congratulations!
I love this post! I just wrote a blog about how much I like writing a wide variety of things (I call it “Multiple Genre Obsession”) so I completely understand! And I loved reading about your digital publishing experiences; I’m moving in that direction with at least some of my writing, so I see you as a great inspiration. Thank you (and can’t wait to check out your books — they sound incredible!!).
thanks Julia! So glad you stopped by and good luck with the digital publishing 😉
Great interview! I love it when the “conventional wisdom” is questioned, poked with a stick, and then kicked to the curb. 🙂
I’m in the same “want to write a variety of genres but told I need to brand” boat – and it’s so tricky to know which way to go. I look at Georgette Heyer who successfully wrote mysteries, historical fiction, and romance – all under her own name and think that the hype around “branding” might be just that – hype. I think authors can carry several success “lines” under their own name as long as they understand they’ll have to built seperate audiences/fans for each line. Yeah, it’s more marketing work in the end, I guess, but it’s doable, and I totally hate to limit myself to writing just one genre or one type of book for the rest of myself.
I agree Terri. Nowadays it’s great we CAN do that, we aren’t beholden to “rules” with which we don’t particularly agree…