Though I wrote personal journals as a young girl, and lots of papers for my English classes in high school and college, it wasn't until I visited my sister's house one day that I formed the idea of actually writing a novel for publication. My sister had purchased a paperback romance novel, and enjoyed it very much. After reading a portion of it myself, my thought was ... I could write one of these! I had always enjoyed books and been fascinated by authors, but knew the chances of becoming one probably wasn't very realistic. Still, I wanted to try.
Writing a novel and submitting it to the big publishers without any credentials at all didn't seem like a good plan, so I set my sights on writing something, anything, and getting it published. I bought a copy of "Writer's Digest" magazine at the bookstore and followed their advice, purchasing a copy of Writer's Market. I also decided to document each magazine I queried in a ledger, date submitted and any responses received. It took seven months of submitting, receiving only form letters and rarely a note scribbled on the page, before I received the call.... "Skiing Magazine" wanted to purchase my article. And they would pay me two hundred and fifty dollars for it!
That did it. Next, I would write my novel.
I joined writing groups, and attended conferences, all the while getting feedback as I worked toward finishing my book. I was learning more and more about the business aspects of writing, and the successes of others. It was all very exciting!
I wrote a contemporary romance, gave it to friends to read and comment on. First, I queried publishers, waiting months for the usual disappointing form letter, then tried agents. Somehow, I got lucky here. The third agent I tried, a top New York agent, wanted me to send the entire novel. The first and second agents, also top agents, wanted me to send fifty pages and a synopsis. After just two weeks, I again got the call. The third agent wanted to represent my novel! I signed a two year contract after letting a lawyer recommended by a friend look it over. I thought I had it made... Dell and New American Library were interested. Pocket showed signs of interest too. A deal was in the making.
And then, the deal fell through... No real explantion... I was crushed beyond words.
Once my contract was up, I queried other agents, wrote more books, kept trying. It was very difficult to remain enthusiastic. I did get some good responses, but failed to follow up on them. I think I was just plain burnt out.
I stopped writing, tried to forget about the whole thing. So what, so I wouldn't be a published novelist. Big deal... But it stayed in the back of my mind for years.
I don't know exactly what reignited the spark, maybe all the talk of self-published authors bypassing the traditional route to publication, and making a success of it. This appealed me, no more waiting for the gatekeepers to let me enter. I decided to form my own publishing company, make all my own decisions. With the help of my daughter, a graphic designer, I put my latest book together, then hired an editor to advise me, set up distribution through Baker and Taylor, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I contacted reviewers, set up book signings, put up a website and wrote a blog. I continue to do everything I can to get the word out. This book and all my books will never go out of print as long as I'm alive, and hopefully my daughter and her heirs will keep it going long after I am gone.
I released the Kindle edition of my novel, Her Last Letter, just a few days ago, and I'm hoping for good results there as well. I'm selling this version for a low $1.99, as I hope to gain new readers and sales through this medium worldwide. I'll keep you posted...
All the Best, Nancy ... April 24, 2010
....Thought you would like an update as to what's happening with my ebook! It is doing very well, and has stayed atop Amazon's Kindle Bestseller List for Romantic Suspense for the past six months, always somewhere in the top hundred books for that category. Right now it is #5! My overall ranking is also great, #234 as of this writing. Considering that Amazon sells over 700,000 ebooks and the lower the ranking the better, Her Last Letter is really holding her own!
I've also dropped the ebook price for the holidays to $.99 for those who would like to try it. The paperback is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble online for $11.07. You can also order it at most bookstores.
I'm doing a big promotion in November, the week of Thankgiving. This should give Her Last Letter a nice push. And for those of you who have already purchased my book, thanks again!
I'm hoping for big things in 2011, crossing my fingers. I've recently signed with Trident Media Group, a major New York Literary Agency. My new agent, Erica Silverman, will be working hard to bring Her Last Letter to readers around the world.
I also have a sequel in the works. As I said before, I'll keep you posted.... Wish me luck!
All the best, Nancy
Nancy C. Johnson
November 4, 2010