Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Save the School of Gallantry


I want to welcome my guest today, Delilah Marvelle. She's the author of Mistress of Pleasure and the soon to be released, Lord of Pleasure.

***


When I was in high school, I had a dream. I was going to be the next Stephen King. Heh. Yeah. Stay with me. Please. I knew my ideas were fabulous and I knew all it would take is for an editor to look at it and they would offer me up the moon and the stars and best of all, a contract. I had my girlfriends read everything I wrote. And they kept telling me, “This is fabulous! It's SO funny! Hilarious!” Seeing it really wasn't supposed to BE funny, I immediately changed course realizing I actually had a better handle on being funny than scary. I also figured adding a romance into it would even make it better since that is what I loved to read.

I then entered college as an English major. I was going to be teacher and write during the summers. Even then I was a smart girl who knew I wasn't going to make jack and that I needed a job to support the “creative” one. Throughout all of college I wrote historical romances. One right after another. And kept submitting. And submitting. And submitting. And kept getting rejected and rejected and rejected. In the meantime, I got married. I had two kids. I joined RWA. I got critique partners. I did honed and honed and honed the crap out of my writing. And kept writing and getting rejected. I eventually racked up over 200 rejections and had written over 40 books in those 11 years of trying to get published.

When I finally sold my first historical romance, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, and my second book, LORD OF PLEASURE, I was beside myself. It didn't feel real. To FINALLY arrive at a destination I had been traveling toward for 11 long years seemed like a mirage. Which fortunately, I quickly snapped out of. Because after all, most of my friends are all published and unpublished writers and the stories they all have told me throughout the years made me realize I had to fight with fists up for myself every step of the way. I knew publishers did little to no promotion for their authors, so I spearheaded my own promo, ready to be more than just an author. And even though I was budgeting very well and spending countless hours networking and promoting on websites and blogs, doing tons for free, I still ended up spending $7,000 on my first book. Which was way more than my advance. But hey, every business starts in the red. Right?

Then the reviews started coming in about my series set in 1830 London England about a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction. People loved it! Wow. It got nominated for awards. Wow. Readers are e-mailing me raving. Wow. Readers from France, Austria, Poland, South Africa and from all over the U.S and the world.. Wow. It just kept getting better and better. I was beginning to feel as if every penny I spent was all worth it (even though my family and I weren't going on any vacations and were eating out of cans). Because all that mattered was that my publisher loved me and my readers loved my series.

Come contract time, I'm ready for whatever they wanna throw at me. Or so I thought. Mistress of Pleasure, though completely sold out and unavailable anywhere (unless it's a used copy, some going for a ridiculous amount of $40.00), hadn't done as well as my publisher had hoped. So without waiting for the second book to come out to see if the series was even worth saving, I get a rejection from my own editor citing lack of sales.

I have to say this rejection felt more personal than any of the other two hundred and some rejections I'd received. Because it was no longer “Your book isn't good enough” it became “Your sales aren't good enough.” Since when is an author supposed to be a market guru AND a fabulous writer? Eck.

I love this series. The men in it make me laugh and it broke my heart to think that my readers will never get a chance to read about Lord Brayton, my glorious male virgin. The only alpha virgin I've ever written about. Then I realized something, why I am letting a publisher decide what is worth holding on to? Shouldn't that be a reader's job?

Ah. Herein lies the purpose of my post. I am challenging everyone, be they readers or writers to help me do something that's never been done before. Save a series from a death sentence given by a publisher. Can it be done? Who knows. But I eat challenges for breakfast and I hope you do to. Please join me in saving my series. Come August 4th, tell everyone you know (yes, even your 72 year old grandfather) to buy the book, Lord of Pleasure. In doing so, you'll have a chance to win one of three $50 Visa Gift Cards. How? Check out my website for details at http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/

That said, thank you for all the support and love everyone has already shown me by allowing me to blog about this. Feel free to post and repost this to everyone under the moon and the stars. To all you readers out there, thank you for supporting us writers. To all you writers out there, don't ever give up on your writing. The moment you do, you give up on yourself. Which is why I'm not giving up on my series.

Cheers and much love,
Delilah Marvelle

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I already pre-ordered my copy of your August 4th release and plan to spread the word. That said I think you need to find a new publisher, one with wider distribution to help grow the sales for your award winning series! Perhaps your work would be a great fit for HQ's list or perhaps Grand Central? This could be a great opportunity for you!!

    Best,
    Sarah Tormey
    www.sarahtormey.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Delilah, I just love the way your going after this! Don't let it get you down!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My dearest Sarah,
    Thank you for your support!!! And I agree with you, I am already in the process of submitting to other publishers. I believe everything happens for a reason and I'm taking up this baton and running with it.

    My dearest Keri,
    Thank you. I was born with my two fists up, LOL. Ask anyone in my family. Grin.

    My dearest Francesca,
    Thank you for posting my blog and for your support!!! You freakin' rock!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Delilah,
    Funny, I was an English major too, only I didn't know I wanted to write romances. I always liked poetry more for some reason. Anyway, based on your super talent and determination, you will have many more readers for the rest of your series. I can't wait to read book #3! Kit Donner

    ReplyDelete
  5. My dearest Kit,
    Yay for us English majors! Poetry I loved to read but never to write. The closest I'll ever to get poetry is what you see in the opening of each chapter. All those poetical quotes *I* made up, LOL. Thank you for your support!!! I can't wait to read your book!!! We come out the same month. Grin.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fabulous story!!! I am all over this! I would hate to see the series die, I loved MOP so much and I am totally looking forward to LOP!!! I'll tell everyone I know :) And I will post this on History Undressed also :)

    Hugs!
    Eliza

    ReplyDelete
  7. I totally admire your determination, Delilah!! Best of luck, and you know you can count on me for support.

    -Evangeline

    ReplyDelete
  8. Keep the faith Delilah. Thanks for sharing your story on my blog!

    Francesca

    ReplyDelete
  9. I found this response to a publisher's rejection very interesting. My heart goes out to you, Delilah, and every other author who's been dropped, whether in the middle of a series or not (and believe me, there are many, particularly at your publisher).

    I have to ask, though, would you really want to stay with that editor and publisher? Suppose your campaign works, your new book flies off the shelf, the editor calls you up and says, 'actually we'll take another book from you after all...' Would you really want that? Their lack of support has been made crystal clear, imho. They already find your sales numbers lacking (for whatever reason), so it's hard to believe they will put in more effort on your next book--and just as hard to believe they will pay you a decent amount for your work. Do you really want such a disinterested publisher?

    The best revenge, my dear, is always to selling to someone else for better distribution, better marketing, and more money. Best of luck to you.

    -an author who's been there, done that

    ReplyDelete
  10. My dearest Eliza, Evangeline and Francesca,
    I thank you all for your amazing support!!! It's more than a gal could ever ask for from such a fabulous group of women.

    My dearest author who has been there and done that (and yet still prefers to stay anonymous),
    Perhaps I should start this conversation by calling myself Tweetie and calling you Sylvester, LOL. For as Tweetie often said about Sylvester the cat, "He don't know me very well, do he?" Grin. Indeed, a little yellow bird chriping may be quite deceptive to those not listening closely to what is being chirped. I am not doing this to "avenge" myself or astonish my publisher. Heaven forbid. My days in high school are far behind me. I am doing this for one of many reasons. One, I wish to educate my unpublished writing sisters about the harsh reality which many writers do not discuss. I wish SOMEONE would have educated me more about these sort of experiences with publishers before I got my contract. Sadly, many of these authors choose to crawl into a hole and suck their thumb. Or altogether stay anonymous. 2.) Let us say this campaign does work (wouldn't that be lovely!) and lo and behold, yes, books fly off the shelf. If you have been there and done that, as you claim, then you know full well without solid sales, I won't even be able to *get* another contract. Yet another thing this industry doesn't discuss. This isn't about revenge. This is about fighting for the name and career that I have spent 13 years building. And if that seems pointless to you or others, then I suppose I have much more passion within me for my writing than I ought to have, but for it I will not apologize. I will take the one thing you offer me -- luck -- and squeeze it against my heart and wish for the best. I thank you for posting.
    Cheers and much love,
    Delilah Marvelle

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dear Tweetie (if you prefer that!)

    Perhaps revenge was the wrong word (although, trust me, it does feel very nice to sign a contract for more money than one would EVER have gotten from the first, disinterested, publisher). I do think there are lots of stories out there about authors who get dropped; they don't often trumpet it, for obvious reasons, and thus they tend to get overlooked, especially by authors who are full of excitement and pride at their fledgling careers--and rightly so, I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade. But those stories have always been out there. Anyone who said that selling your first book was the hard part, is a damned liar; selling the second can be even harder.

    And secondly, yes, you can get another contract without fantastic sales. You can get another contract even if your sales stink. It happens all the time. The reason is because each publisher thinks they do it better than the others. If the editor loves your proposal, a poor sales history doesn't need to stand in her way; she can explain to marketing that the previous publisher didn't do the right things (and with a publisher like yours, everyone just accepts this as true--because that publisher is known for not doing much for most authors), or that your new book is JUST the thing for her new line, or even that they'll just have you write under a new name, and voila! they can re-launch you as a debut author. But according to you, your first book did decently, and you're working hard to promote the second. Your sales might look just fine to another publisher. One truth about publishing: there are no absolutes.

    I'm not saying your effort is pointless. I'm never telling anyone to give up on her dream, especially after just one blow. I'm just saying...you're not desperate. There are other fish in the sea. Don't be like the girl who begs the guy to take her back even after he said he's done with her and wished her a happy life. Honey, you're too good for that publisher, even if they would take you back. Find another one who will promote you, give you good covers, pay you decently, and give your books a chance with better distribution. You're fighting hard for a good cause, but you've got your eyes on a Pyrrhic victory.

    ~Sylvester

    ReplyDelete
  12. My dearest Sylvester,
    I do believe I like you. And you're absolutely right. I am not desperate (nor was I ever...ask anyone who knows me). Might I also point out, however, that I never said I would go back to the boyfriend who called me ugly, LOL. That boyfriend, however, did make me a far better kisser to impress THE ONE that is meant for me. That said, knowing what I have learned through this experience, I will be far more prepared to make the sort of decisions that will better benefit noy only my writing, but my career. Which is where my eyes are and have been all along. I thank you for the encouragment and for sharing that there is hope and a rainbow for some of those authors who don't have stellar sales.
    Yours truly,
    Tweetie

    ReplyDelete