UPDATE: The winner is…Anna!
The first book I ever typed ‘the end’ for is still sitting in the back of my closet. I’ve gone so far as to buy a cover for it and take a peek at the file. Then I close it, wallow in the knowledge of how much editing it requires, and I move on to another book.
The second book I typed ‘the end’ for wasn’t nearly such a disaster. Instead of an unwieldy 126k words, it sat at 85k – the perfect length for Harlequin Superromance. I devoured those books, with favorite authors such as Tara Taylor Quinn, Janice Kay Johnson, and Jean Brashear. After reading so many books, I understood the structure without having studied stuff like that. (I’ve since taken some great classes which have built from that inherent understanding…)
I named this book The Making of Marnie Jones. I printed it out and sent it to Harlequin – vaguely dreaming of contracts and seeing my book on shelves.
Quickly, I received an email from the editor I sent it to. She wanted a digital copy. I shot it off and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually, I gently poked, and she invited me to her office where we discussed the book in depth. She had tons of notes and invited me to do a R&R (revise and resubmit). I took a week off work and spent 12 hours a day for 9 days fixing that sucker. I sent it back, even more confident.
I’ve since learned that editors want you to take weeks, if not months. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem like you’ve done the work. Only I had – I completely rewrote the book. And was convinced the book was better for it.
I gently poked. She said she’d see me in New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. Now, I’m not a fan of big cities, strong smells, or noise. NYC was so NOT my jam. But I enjoyed the conference, met the editor, met my favorite narrator, and came home, believing I was *this* close.
Eventually, Harlequin held a Canadian Hero contest. Great! My hero’s Canadian. My whole book is set in Canada. After the contest ended, the editor reached out with a tentative yes. After two-and-a-half years, I wasn’t ready to party. Four months later I saw, in a tweet, that Superromance was being discontinued.
I never heard back from that editor – never got the rejection (or acceptance) I deserved.
When I tell this story to other writers, they question why I didn’t submit elsewhere. But if your number one pick expresses that much interest, why would you go elsewhere? Lesson learned. I submitted Marnie for contests. I pitched her to editors and agents. I got a few nibbles, but no bites. Three years ago, I decided I would go it alone. I hired a freelance editor. The next year, I secured a cover. Finally, I wrote a book to come before it – I just didn’t feel Marnie should be the first in the series.
One more thing I should share – best advice I ever got as a writer: write the next book. While Harlequin sat on my book, I wrote another 16 in that series. The first year I waited? I wrote a million words. I was convinced they’d take my book and then take the next stack. As you now know, that never happened. But I have (now up to) 20 books that need editing and are ready to publish.
I’ll always be protective of Marnie – I love the angsty story. I submitted her for a contest and the lovely Grace Burrowes was a judge. She tore the opening apart and made it a thousand times better. I kept her edits and dedicated the book to her – seemed the least I could do.
I believe in this book. I also warn readers that the subject matter is dark – but that’s often how I write. Now, I’m putting the book out into the world and am forever grateful I didn’t sell it to a publisher. I likely would’ve never found someone who’d take all 20 or so (with more to come). And because I knew this world so well, I’ve written several gay romances in the same world – just under a different penname. I’ve created a place I hope readers will return to again and again.
Okay, thanks for reading that. Thank you, Delilah, for letting me share my story. I hope other newbie writers can see that sometimes the long game is the best way to go.
I’d love to give away a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Tell me: what do you love about series? What makes you want to go beyond the first book? A random commenter will win the prize!
The Making of Marnie Jones
What’s better than love in the beautiful Cedar Valley in British Columbia, Canada? Find small town romances with a touch of angst, a bit of heat, and a lot of heart…
Each novel is a standalone, but they are best read in order:
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper (A small town interracial romance)
The Making of Marnie Jones (A small town enemies-to-lovers romance)
The Redemption of Remy St. Claire (A small town single-father fake-marriage romance)
Love without limits.
Librarian Marnie Jones has reinvented herself. After horrors that changed her forever, she’s built a new life and has found what she believes to be safety and quiet happiness. She hopes she’s outrun her past, but all that changes when a stranger comes to the small town of Mission City, British Columbia.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BVL11FBY
Add it to GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/123132378-the-making-of-marnie-jones
About the Author
Gabbi Powell has been a lover of romance since she first put pen to paper in the eighth grade to write her first romance. She writes her novels while living in Beautiful British Columbia with her trusty ChinPoo dog a as companion. She also writes gay romances as Gabbi Grey and contemporary dark erotic BDSM novels as Gabbi Black.
Newsletter sign-up: https://sendfox.com/gabbipowell
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/gabbi.powell.9/
For me it’s feeling a part of that world, the characters and the setting.
Once you read a first book (whether in a series or not), you have acquired a vested interest in the characters and their lives. That makes you want to read more. You feel sad when the book/s end and you have to wait for more. The worst is not knowing if the series will continue.
I read John Jakes ‘The Americans’ series: 8 books roughly 6400 pages. I was always sad that he left off in the early 1900s. I always hoped he would have written 1 more book the update the family. He never did and recently died.
The characters, their journey, their friends and family keep me coming back for more and of course really great writing!
For me it’s familiarity. You get to grow with the characters and I love that
I like to read the story of the supporting characters introduced in the first book ate up to in a book that features them as the primary character(s) and also find out what the featured characters from the earlier books are up to later.
only if standalone
Series are a chance to get world building and revisit characters from prior stories to see how they are doing. I will only read past book one if there’s a good hook in book one. For example, the author sets up a whole family and tells their individual stories while also weaving a family story that runs through all of the books.
I enjoy ones that capture me with the setting and the characters.
I want a series when I care enough about the characters and the setting that I want to go back. And for a good series, it’s like revisiting friends! I’m glad you turned your rejection into triumph, Gabbi!
I like the continuing story. Happy to read more about characters I like.
In a series I usually like the main character and want to see what he or she is going to do in the next book.