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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!