A first! A writer actually came to me to be included in these inspirational posts. Gail Eastwood’s call for her regency romance came ten years ago, and now she has stuck her foot back in the door and taken up her pen again with ebooks. I'm sure time doesn't dull down the tremendous feeling of getting that first call. Your cover art is beautiful, Gail.
Authors often get asked “What have been the best and worst moments in your career so far?” In my case, those moments happened all at the same time, when I got The Call. But let me lead you up to that moment. In the process of getting there, I had taken a lot of baby-steps, and had even received an “almost” call from an editor.
You need to know that I am not a “fast” writer, one who easily dashes off two or three or even more books in a year. When I set off on my journey to publication, I planned not to send out my first book until it was finished, so I could get a head-start on the next one while that first manuscript was making the rounds. Great plan, right? Well, I had joined a writers group, learned of some contests, and decided to enter a couple, just to get feedback. I had a few chapters. I struggled to write the synopsis, but I did it.
No one could have been more surprised than I was when my submissions won both contests I’d entered! The winning submissions were being sent to editors, so you may understand why I was also a little panicked. By the time I heard from those editors, I had –gulp—FIVE chapters finished.
One editor said sadly that she would have been interested, but her line was shutting down. The other editor was very excited about my book! Was it completed? If not, how soon could I get it done? She had an open slot in her schedule and wanted to buy it, but she could not buy on a partial from a new, unpublished author.
As a new, unpublished author, I had no idea how fast I could complete the book, but I was pretty sure not fast enough. I despaired, thinking I’d blown it. My door of opportunity had opened, but I wasn’t ready when it did.
The smart thing I did was get an agent at this time. The contest wins and the editorial interest gave me a step up in attracting some positive attention, and through my writers group I heard of an agent who, after gaining experience assisting an established agent, was starting her own “stable” of authors. I sent her my work, which she loved, and then met with her at a conference in NYC. We hit it off so well (talked in the lounge for two hours straight), we agreed to work together.
That was the final step that really led to my getting the “real” call. When my agent got a call from NAL/Signet looking for manuscripts, she sent over what she had of my book – NINE chapters by then –not quite half the book. “They want to buy it, but you’ve got to finish it first,” she told me. So much for my great plan!
I worked my tail off to finish A PERILOUS JOURNEY (nothing like an agent breathing down your neck to help with that!). Then I waited, wondering if it really would sell. Finally, editor Hilary Ross, the grand dame of editors in my genre at that time, was on the phone. “I love it, I want to buy it,” she said. Euphoria!! The Call!! “But you’ll need to cut 100 pages.”
One hundred pages. That was ¼ of the manuscript! Yikes! I knew I could say no. But really, who does that? Say “no” to The Call? Here’s what went through my head that day:
1. Signet is my #1 choice of publisher, the one at the top of my list, the one I never really expected to sell to.
2. Hilary Ross is one of the most respected editors in the business and she has been doing this a long time.
3. If HR thinks my book can lose 100 pages and be better, she must be right.
4. This is my “trial by fire.” If I am going to be a professional author, I should be able to do this.
So, I said yes.
Days later, after my friends talked me out of my panic-induced total paralysis, I set to work on the book, and taught myself some of the best lessons in editing (and pacing) ever! But that’s a story for another day/blog. Thanks, Michelle, for letting me share my tale. There are a few lessons in it that I hope may be helpful for other writers! I’ll be happy to chat if anyone wants to know what I think those are!
Find Gail and more information about her books on her website (www.gaileastwoodauthor.com), which includes her blog “Musings on the Journey”, and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/gaileastwoodauthor).Her first book, A PERILOUS JOURNEY, is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes, to be followed in July by AN UNLIKELY HERO, a related story, and more to come.
Gail Eastwood has come back to the fold after ten years of being out of the writing game. Originally published by Penguin/NAL as an author of Signet Regencies, she feels like a new author all over again now as her backlist begins to be reissued as ebooks, and she works on a new one! She writes what she calls “Regency romance with a twist of suspense” although her award-winning first book, now available for Kindle etc., is more of an “adventure romance”. She was hailed for expanding the boundaries of her sub-genre, pushing for more complex plots and deeper emotions.