Publishing is like Chicago’s summer weather. Just wait a second, and it’ll change. And I’m thinking that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s invigorating, exciting, keeps us guessing (and we can’t do anything about it so we might as well embrace it. That goes for the weather and the changes in this industry).
This is an exciting time for authors to be published. And I do mean be published, not self-publish (that’s fine too, just not what I’m addressing, so no hate-email, please). There are traditional publishers, small publishers, university presses, e-publishers, and publishers that are some crazy combination of all those and maybe something else. What this means, to me, is that there are opportunities more than there are not. I love the idea that editors are working. (Hello? I’m an editor.) So while one road was right for me, that same road might be right for you, or it may not. I think as writers the best thing we can do is encourage each other to do our very best and seek the very best for our stories.
Author Emelle Gamble has found that very best for her stories in different ways at different times, and she’s here today to tell that story. I hope you’ll share yours!
Please welcome Emelle Gamble to Women’s Fiction Writers!
M.L. Gamble’s Journey To Becoming Emelle Gamble
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night…”
In my first iteration as a professional writer, twenty years ago when I wrote romantic suspense novels for Harlequin Intrigue as M.L. Gamble, when I got a new idea for a book (always the ending first, then the title), I’d get a thrilling, chilling little ‘pop’ of excitement inside my head. Sharp inhale. I knew the creative process had begun.
Very soon after that I’d begin plotting, outlining, and note card noting. The evenings saw the first pages blooming on my computer screen, the next weeks would find me bundling those exciting ‘first three’ chapters off (surely they were perfect) to my critique group. This would be followed by hearing from my honest, supportive and encouraging critique group that the chapters were, in fact, not perfect. So I wrote and rewrote, suffered middle book malaise, last chapter loathing, and re-evaluation jitters, but completed the first draft. And the second draft. And the fifth draft.
A few days before the contract deadline (most of the time) I printed the whole thing out on paper. Addressed a big-ass envelope. Drove to the United States Post Office. Bought postage and insurance (“It’s a manuscript, I’m a writer.” This sentence was always worked into conversation with the postal worker). Watched the now impressed (surely) postal employee throw the package in a bin, giddy with the knowledge it was going to end up on my New York Editor’s desk in 48 hours.
Then, four to six months later, there would be a knock on the door and you’d get a box of books. Beautiful books. Your books. This was the reason for the long hours and hard work. (The reason you lived!)
Exhale. Delirium. My book will be read, my story will be shared. I was an author!
Now, a decade later, the creative process hasn’t much changed, except for the fact it’s done electronically instead of on paper. (And I miss that postal worker!) But everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING else has changed. As the quote from the great Betty Davis in All About Eve says above, it’s been one heck of a bumpy night!
I am still contracted with a publisher, albeit a smaller one, but in this new publishing environment I immediately discovered that there was much, much more I had to do to give my new book a chance of success. For many publishing houses now no longer support authors as they did in the Wizard of Oz Golden days when I was at Harlequin. Publishers expect you, as an author, especially a new author, to not only write a great book, but hunt down your prospective readers and introduce yourself.
On behalf of my new novel, I’ve personally contacted over twenty review sites with email pitches for review consideration. I’ve asked friends and fellow authors to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and consider posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, and have offered to spend the time required to read others’ books and return the favor.
I’ve spent many hours working with a pro to set up a website, without a pro to set up a Facebook Author page, a twitter account, a Goodreads Author account. And a blog. (Worth the ten hours it took figuring that out just to see the look on hubby’s face when I explained what a blog was. HA!)
I’ve designed storyboards to help create a book trailer and put it up on YouTube. I’ve talked to half a dozen local book sellers, three librarians, and two newspaper columnists about supporting my book. I’ve spent money on a website, book covers, copy editors, and a top notch review/ARC giveaway site, Netgalley. I’ve spent money on a Facebook ad campaigns and a Goodreads ad campaign and a publicity blog tour campaign. And then for good measure, I spent money on an ‘expert’ social media consultant who advised me to do everything I’d already done.
All told, I’m sure I’ve put in a couple of thousand hours working to promote my book, and spend two to three hours a day now on this part of being a professional writer. And frankly, I have no idea if any of this effort is going to result in my finding an audience for my book. Am I pessimistic about reaching women’s fiction readers in this new market reality?
No, though I am not optimistic about reaching enough readers to make any money above my expenses in the near future, I am however thrilled by a new aspect of writing in this new reality called ePublishing.
It’s called reader feedback. When I wrote for Harlequin, I got a few random fan letters, all lovely, a few complaining about a fact I got wrong (African parrots are not green and red), but now! Wow. I have been overwhelmed by the fact that the readers I have touched with this new book are giving me back tremendous feedback on their reading experience.
Daily I get emails, messages, tweets, book reviews, blog reviews, blog comments, a couple of personal letters, and a random phone call or three from old friends who saw something on FaceBook or my Website or Amazon and bought and read my book. And I’ve found that, while my novel deals with many emotion-charged topics about marital trust and personal friendships and loyalty, almost everyone has rushed to tell me it is almost impossible to put down, and that it really got to them. People have cried! Been upset! Got mad at me. And several say they won’t ever forget it!
This feedback, this connection with readers, has turned a somewhat solitary writing experience into one much more personal. And more fulfilling. Also a little bit shocking, in the sense that for the first time I am seeing the names and faces of people who are reading my book and talking about it with their friends.
More than once I’ve got a chill and understood how writers at past moments in history were face to face with their audience, seeing their reaction to their stories as they were told. This proximity to readers is exhilarating, and a little bit intimidating. Now I have people named Sue in Oregon, and VitaJax and Zee in Mauritius and Victoria in Australia and Anna from Michigan, all waiting for my next book, and I’m feeling the pressure not to let them down!
But I wouldn’t trade this writer’s life for the world.
Yes, everything I thought I knew has changed about marketing a book, and the writer’s place in the introduction of their work to their readers. As my journey as an author continues, I find it full of surprise and wonder, offering the yin and yang of the most necessary of all human activity, connecting with other people.
Emelle Gamble became a writer at an early age. At six years old she was bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection, and this itch to tell tales evolved into bad teen poetry and tortured short works that, thankfully, never saw the light of day, or an editor’s red pen. She took her first stab at writing a novel in an adult education class in Mobile, Alabama when her kids were in bed for the night. As ‘M.L. Gamble,’ she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin Intrigue.
Soul Mate Publishing has now contracted for two works of romantic women’s fiction, Secret Sister, in July of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, an early 2014 release.
Always intrigued by the words ‘what if’, Gamble’s books feature an ordinary woman confronted with an extraordinary situation. Emelle celebrates the adventurous spirit of readers, and hopes each will enjoy the exciting and surprising journeys her characters take.
Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her hero of thirty years, Philip, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. Like all good villains, the cats claim to have their reasons for misbehaving. Her children are happily launched on their own and are both contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish. Emelle welcomes any reader interested in emailing her at email@example.com and hopes they will visit her website, http://www.emellegamble.com or her Author Emelle Gamble FaceBook page.Website: www.EmelleGamble.com Email: EmelleGamble@aol.com
My Blog: emellegamble.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Emelle.Gamble Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmelleGamble Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7123746.Emelle_Gamble Blog Tour: http://reviewsbymolly.com/goddess-fish-blog-tour-review-secret-sister-by-emelle-gamble/ Secret Sister on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Sister-ebook/dp/B00DUL4LQA