The same question keeps surfacing. How did a relatively new writer like myself, manage to get a great publishing contract so quickly? I’m going to attempt to answer that question.
My writing always just came naturally. I wrote stories for my high school paper. In university, I found other writing opportunities. While in school, I studied English including composition, literature, and grammar. Forty years as an accountant and business manager, I wrote all manner of business correspondence from basic letters to involved contracts. In my spare time, I put together short stories and at one point wrote most of a book. Unfortunately, an unstable hard drive committed suicide and destroyed it. I was never able to recover that story.
In the summer of 2014, Samhain held opened submissions for a contest. They wanted novellas under 30,000 words about “Childhood Fears”. The four winning submissions won publication as individual e-books and then together as an Anthology. Winning the contest would mean a contract and publication. I don’t normally write horror and I didn’t have any story ideas that fit their criteria. I had nothing. About a month later, an idea hit me and I ran with it.
I followed a very scheduled plan since I didn’t have a lot of time to complete the work. I wrote the novella, had eight readers (friends and family) do an assessment, and on their advice, made major changes. I completed three full edits and used everything I had learned to polish the submission. The final product impressed my readers. I then constructed the required synopsis, a short blurb, and a standard query letter. I submitted with two days to spare.
Thanksgiving Day, after a huge dinner and lots of visiting family and friends, I finally got to my computer around 10:00 pm and checked my email. Thrilled with the offer to publish, I couldn’t function normally. I even asked my husband to read the email, just to make sure I understood it correctly. Over the next few weeks, I worked with my editor, signed the contract, submitted ideas for cover art and blurb, and generally got my bearings.
I consider it a privilege to be working with one of the premier editors in the horror genre. Don D’Auria has worked with a long list of the best horror writers of our time and over the years has built a very impressive reputation.
May 5, 2015, Samhain will release “Scarecrows”. The anthology will follow in the fall. My cover art is ready and very impressive. Some editing still remains, but everything looks good. A personal liaison helps me maneuver the various departments at Samhain. I’ve received amazing support and encouragement.
When I started my writing adventure, I did a business plan and started my online author platform. Over the following months, I fine-tuned the plan to reflect my own personal objectives. I wanted to build a resume of experience showing various published works appearing either in quality publications or as individual books. The plan appears to be working.
I’m busy with several writing projects in various stages of completion. I’m also still editing my novel. I’ve started a second novel and outlined a third. I also started writing another horror novella and two more short stories. I have submitted stories to two different contests in the hopes of gaining more publication. The overall goal is to build a very impressive resume and then query my novels to selected agents and publishers.
I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years about writing and that includes what works and what doesn’t work. My novel was the first serious project and is still very important. I need to apply some super editing to bring it up to my current standards and beyond.
Spending all those years helping business clients succeed, I knew I had to treat my writing like a business. Certain principles are the backbone of success – quality product, good business plan, strong ethics, and hard work. I’m already working as hard as I can to accomplish the other objectives.
I don’t know if I will ever be a best selling author, but if I don’t make it – it won’t be for lack of effort. Besides, even though I have too many projects on the go, and I put in long hours, this is the most fun I’ve ever had working. I love writing!