Friday, August 17, 2007

The Goal Not Sought, But Stumbled Upon

Maven Jacqueline BarbourI didn't set out to be epubbed. To be truthful, when I started writing seriously (as opposed to dabbling in it like I'd done for decades) in February of 2005, I didn't even know that ebooks and epublishers existed. I'd never heard of Ellora's Cave, let alone Samhain or LooseId or any of the other epublishers out there (and there are a lot of them). And Cobblestone, which is releasing Carnally Ever After today, hadn't even been founded (they started up in June of 2006).

So, writing a story with the goal of submitting it to epublishers was definitely not on my radar. And when I did first start hearing about ebooks, I admit to thinking, "Ah, that's not really a book. A book is paper and ink and binding, not words on a computer screen." Which, I'm sure, is how a lot of people still feel about ebooks, though in point of fact, the epublishing revolution is in such full swing that most (if not all) of the New York houses now sell all of their titles in both print and ebook formats.

What got me started on the road to being epublished was actually a challenge from Ann Aguirre/Annie Dean, who mentioned on her blog back in January of this year that she was writing a story for an Ellora's Cave call for submissions and asked if anyone wanted to join her in the endeavor. I was at a kind of a lull at that point in my writing, having finished the first draft of what was then called Living in Sin and not really ready to dive into the next book, Lady Libertine. So, I thought, what the heck? It might be fun. And you never know--maybe it'll get picked up.

I wrote Carnally Ever After, which clocks in at just under 15,000 words, in about two weeks. The Mavens and Lady Leigh provided me with invaluable crit support and I feverishly finished up the edits and submitted the story to Ellora's Cave just before the February 1 deadline. And then waited anxiously to find out whether my story would make the cut or not.

The answer was not. I received a very polite emailed rejection letter a few days after I knew the final decisions had been made. Now, I knew there were plenty of reasons they might have rejected the story other than that they thought it wasn't any good, but I was pretty down in the mouth about it because, hey, I thought it was a darned good story. If they didn't like it, maybe nobody would.

And their rejection left me with a dilemma: Here I was with a story all my CPs vowed to adore that I'd written specifically for one epublisher, and that publisher had turned it down. What was I going to do with it now? I toyed with stretching the story to perhaps double its original length to make it appealing to print anthology publishers like Red Sage, but ultimately decided that I'd only be padding and not improving the book in the process.

I hemmed and hawed for a month or so before reaching a conclusion you'll probably think is totally obvious: I had a story I wanted people to read, and no one was going to be reading it while it was taking up space on my hard drive. I wrote a book for epublication and now that I had it, I'd be a fool not to pursue the goal of getting it published.

The rest, as they say, is history. There aren't a lot of epublishers who accept novellas quite as short as Carnally Ever After, which is more of a long short story than a novella, which narrowed the list of options considerably. I started with Harlequin Spice Briefs because, hey, they're Harlequin, but after waiting for several months with no response, I sent it off to Cobblestone Press. I chose Cobblestone not only because their Tryst line is exactly the right length, but because I know several authors who have published with them from FanLit (Sara Dennis and Ericka Scott) and so I had good feelings about the quality of their product.

I clicked send on my email submission and sat back to wait 4-6 weeks to hear back. I got my response in a little under eight hours. To say I was floored would be an understatement. From the time I dotted the i's and crossed the t's on my contract to today, the entire process took a little over two months.

So, how does this post fit into the theme of goals? It probably doesn't, actually. (It was just an excuse to post something on the Mavens blog with a link to buy my book :->.) But maybe it does fit in thematically in one sense. Whatever your attainable, measurable, and achievable writing goals may be, the reason you have them in the first place is because you want what you write to be read.

Maven Jacqueline BarbourNone of us writes to get rich and famous. It's more that getting rich and famous as a writer is a byproduct of getting read. By lots and lots of people who pay your publisher, and by extension you, for the privilege. But in the end, it's all about the being read, isn't it?

And so, it is with great pleasure that I offer you the opportunity to fulfill my dream and read my first published work, Carnally Ever After.

Update: The link, she is live!


Bill Clark said...

Happy Pub Day!!

*Bill hoists a beer in salute from the local watering hole*

Great story about the connection with Cobblestone. Eight hours?! Must set some kind of a world's record!

Terri Osburn said...

Congratulations! I figure getting pub'd is getting pub'd and it all counts. And I do believe Cobblestone is one of the better ones out there.

I've been throwing around a shorter story idea to send to epubs. It's nice to hear someone else's success story to make me even more motivated.

lacey kaye said...


Darcy Burke said...

Huge congrats. That cover is still incredible.

Isabel said...

Congratulations, Jacquie!

Beverley Kendall said...

Happy pub day Jacqueline!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your new release. I absolutely love the cover. It's stunning. Cobblestone have some beautiful covers. I fell into epublishing, too, because the stories I wanted to write were a bit different. I love the freedom of writing whatever strikes my fancy. Congrats again!

Carrie Ryan said...

what a great story and what an AMAZING cover! Congrats!!

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Jacqueline! I just got my download!! Now I'm going to find a quiet place to enjoy your book!! That was really exciting to say. We are all so happy for you.

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens