Learning the Hard Way

Nov 14 RWRI received my issue of the latest Romance Writers Report yesterday (the November issue), and was thrilled to find inside its hallowed covers not only an article featuring our very own Kerri Carpenter, but a mention of the Waterworld Mermaids blog as well…WOOHOO!

The article, by Laura Kaye, is called “Getting the Call, Despite Ourselves.” Kerri, along with other seasoned romance authors such as Mindy Klasky and Jill Shalvis, volunteer some of the mistakes they made on their road to publication.

It is never easy, this thing that we do…even when it seems like we’re getting cake, we know that we’ll be running marathons to work those calories off somewhere down the line. Some of us get lucky on that first break, but even those of us who did still pay our dues at some point.

Kerri explains in the article that her path to publication took seven manuscripts and thirteen years…and that she wished she had known more about the writing community and what it could offer her before she tried doing it all on her own.

But that’s not every writer’s tale. Your mileage WILL vary.

My first publication was a Cinderella story–the manuscript that someone else submitted for me on my behalf, without me really knowing, the call I almost didn’t get because I had included zero contact information on the document. Thanks to years of being Teacher’s Pet in school I had at least been intelligent enough to put my name in a byline.

But it’s been an uphill battle ever since, one that includes economic collapse, government shutdowns, lost orders, unrenewed contracts, publisher bankruptcy, and Maurice Sendak dying on the day my first novel was released.

Oh, yeah…and then there was that time I accidentally responded to a forwarded email instead of the person who *sent* the email, and I accidentally told an editor exactly what I thought of her editing style. (It was not kind. It was, thankfully, brief, and fences were carefully mended after an overseas delivery of very expensive chocolates.)


Writers, if you haven’t screwed up yet in publishing…don’t worry. You will. One of the most poignant–and to me, the most meaningful–quotes I took away from the RWA conference this year in San Antonio was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ comment: “You WILL embarrass yourself at least once, at every conference.”

And WOW is that so true. I’m here to tell you that right now. Nobody is perfect. It’s what you do after the gaffe that defines who you are.

Like all the other mistakes, you just have to own it, embrace it, forgive the person you may have injured in the process…and above all, forgive yourself. Then move on, because if we don’t keep moving, we die. Like sharks. It’s just the Way of the Lagoon.

So, I’d love to hear if you’d like to share…what are some of the publishing mistakes YOU’VE made?

Kerri Carpenter, RWR Nov. 2014

Congrats, Kerri!


12 thoughts on “Learning the Hard Way

  1. I’m so excited about this!!! Thanks for pimping me out, Alethea-Mermaid! Especially because I still haven’t received the RWR and probably won’t for a week or two. The mail gods hate me sometimes. 😉

    1. I have no idea what good fairies brought this to my doorstep so quickly…maybe because my name starts with A?
      But it was super lovely to surprise you! xox

  2. Kerri! I had no idea about this because I also have not received my copy yet but now I’ll be stalking the mailbox daily! I love how you summed up those 13 years. That’s why you’re MY hero. 😉

    Alethea, you are grace, my friend. And beauty. 🙂

    1. HA! What I am is a vulgar picture book writer with a taste for very expensive chocolate. (Do you know in England they come in “hampers”?)
      Grace is my cousin. 🙂

  3. Years ago, I was hosting a room party at a writing conference, and Betsy Mitchell stopped by. We were having a lovely chat, and I was so excited, because I had a manuscript that was ready to go. And yes, you’ve probably guessed…I forced my first three chapters on her at the party.

    She was an absolute lady about it – she took the packet, and a few weeks after the conference, she sent me a very kind rejection. By then, I’d realized what I’d done, and I’ve been so embarrassed ever since. If I ever have the chance to speak with her again, I’m determined to buy her an apology drink. 😀

    1. OH MY GOSH. It’s like you read the “how not to” playbook! Only…you should have slid it under the bathroom stall at her. 😉
      Love you, Misty!!!

      1. Haha – I was going to say the same thing about the bathroom stall, Alethea!

        No worries, Misty – I’m sure she would have a good laugh now if you ever get to buy her that drink. At least, I hope… 😉

  4. My first editor was Kate Duffy. Not to speak ill of the dead, but she was not an easy person to get along with. I only made things worse by arguing with her on at least two instances in the publication of my first Regencies. I was not surprised when she turned down my next book after my first two contracts were completed. She kindly ignored me every time we met. 🙂

  5. This is so cool! Thanks for this post, Lee, and yay, Kerri! I immediately ran to look for my RWR but it hasn’t come in yet. I can’t wait to read the article!

Comments are closed.