It’s that time of year when I start to turn to holiday themed romance novels to help put me in a cheerful holiday spirit. Today ALBTALBS friend <3 Sophie Barnes is joining us to share how her new Christmas novel almost wasn’t and what she did to make sure this story got into the hands of her readers. And I for one am thrilled that Christmas at Thorncliff Manor is out today!
My road to becoming a published romance author began in 2009 when I made my first attempt at writing a novel. Once finished, I submitted it to every publisher I could find and received more than fifty rejection letters in return. It wasn’t easy being told my story wasn’t good enough, but being the determined sort, I wasn’t about to give up either. So I put that story aside – re-reading it now I’m glad it never saw the light of day – and went to work on a new one, the one that would turn me into an established author.
After finishing How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back in 2010 and doing a bit more research on where to submit, I got it through the door at Avon and proceeded to wait with bated breath for their response. Almost a year passed by before I received an answer to my query which thankfully included an offer to publish under their new Impulse line as e-book first with print on demand.
I was thrilled! The door had been opened and since I’d continued writing while waiting to hear from them I was soon ready with the Summersby series as well. All of these books went on sale in 2012, leading to a new offer – a print offer – for At The Kingsborough Ball. This was initially proposed as a novella, but my wonderful editor at the time, Esi Sogah, turned it into a dream come true. My books would now be available in brick and mortar stores, which was something of an incredible feeling.
Fast forward to the end of 2016. At this point I’d published eleven historical romance novels. I’d found my stride and secured a solid group of loyal readers who are in my thoughts whenever I sit down to write. So when my Secrets At Thorncliff Manor series was dropped because of low sales and I began receiving emails from unhappy readers who loved the series, I decided to propose one final Impulse conclusion to Avon. Unfortunately things didn’t pan out with them for this story, which was when I decided that it would have to make its way out into the world by some other means. Clearly, I was going to have to self-publish.
This was an extremely nerve-wrecking decision. For the past five years I’d had the security and backing of a large publishing house and now I was setting out alone. With zero knowledge on how to self-publish, this would mean learning how to do it as I went along, but I figured that with so many other people doing it successfully, why shouldn’t I be able to manage it as well?
My biggest concern was ensuring that quality wouldn’t be compromised and that my readers would not find this book inferior to the rest. So once I’d finished writing it, I started looking around for a good editor and actually found one who was part of a company capable of helping me with almost everything I needed. The Killion Group produced the cover, provided a great editor and helped format the book while offering advice when necessary. Having them by my side made everything so much easier and allowed me to work on my writing without having to worry too much about technicalities.
As soon as it was ready, I uploaded Christmas At Thorncliff Manor to Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes via Draft2Digital and used KDP and Createspace for Amazon. I also put a novella series, The Honorable Scoundrels, up for sale simply because I wanted to see how this would do by comparison and because I wanted these stories I’d written while waiting for my next contract with Avon to be available as affordable examples of my work. But again, I didn’t want quality to be compromised, so just as with Christmas At Thorncliff Manor, I had them professionally edited by the Killion Group.
All in all, I’d say my self-publishing journey went rather smoothly even though I did have to order four print proofs from Amazon because of some errors I kept overlooking. As for my concerns about giving my readers a wonderful story they would come to love, RT Book reviews gave it 4 stars and said, “The fourth installment in the Secrets at Thorncliff Manor series is the perfect complement of adventure and romance . . . Barnes’ clever style perfectly balances predictability and spontaneity, providing satisfying historical components mixed with refreshing new twists.”
What better response could I ask for than that?
Sophie’s solution to self publish her fourth Thorncliff Manor novel is a win-win for her and those readers who weren’t ready to leave that series behind. What about you? Do you love trilogies or series? What are some your favorites? And what about that series that is dropped by the publisher? Do you let the author now how much you love those stories? Do you read many authors who self publish after years with a publisher?
Annnnnnd [HI!] everyone remember to wish Sophie a very happy release day! Whee! 😀