The Luck of Getting Published
Friday, June 13, 2014
Friday The 13th by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
Friday The 13th
By Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
Friday the 13th. Ah, that dreaded unlucky day when everyone treads carefully, avoiding ladders and black cats. All I can say about the day is that so far in my life I've been lucky-- nothing bad has ever happened to me on a Friday the 13th (knock on wood). Neither has anything good. So today should be like any other day. What does this have to do with writing? you ask. Well, sometimes in order to find the right publisher, a great deal of luck is involved.
I took a few writing courses and began my published, writing career (as opposed to my unpublished writing career) with a short story titled A Hawk's Reluctant Flight, in a small magazine called Western People. With that as my resume, I had travel and historical articles accepted by other magazines, one of which didn't pay anything to the author. Then I took another writing course and one of the speakers was Grant Kennedy owner of Lone Pine Publishing in Edmonton, Alberta.
At the time Alberta was divided into tourist zones and I had been thinking about doing a book on what there was to see and do in each zone. I sent a query letter to Lone Pine Publishing and the senior editor responded with a phone call. We set up a time for me to go to the city and meet with her and Grant Kennedy.
I outlined my idea and Grant said yes it was a good one but he thought that the books should be more on the people and culture of each zone. He liked his idea and I liked mine so we decided we couldn't work together. As I stood to leave I said. "Well, at least as I research the zones I will see all the backroads of Alberta." He replied. "I've always want to do a book on the backroads of Alberta." I sat back down and that was how I began my backroads series. Over the next ten years I travelled through and wrote two books on Alberta, four books on British Columbia, and one on the Yukon and Alaska.
My favourite books to read have always been mystery novels and after much thought I decided to write one. Since one of the mantras of writing is to write what you know I made my main character a travel writer. She was headed to southern Alberta to do research for a magazine and was drawn into the mystery of a skeleton found in a septic tank. When I was finished I sent it out to a few publishers. One wrote back that they liked it but my travel background was coming out and I had too much travel information in it. I was asked to remove some. So I did and resent my manuscript. Again, I was asked to cut back on the travel info. Again I did. The third time I was told that this was a mystery and I should stick with the mystery and leave out the travel stuff. I wrote back and said that the main character is a travel writer and is working on an article. She is not going to drop that and concentrate on solving the murder. So needless to say we parted ways.
I sent out the manuscript again and another publisher said they were interested in publishing it. They had one stipulation and that was that I should add in more travel information.
I sent the second novel of what I was calling my Travelling Detective Series to the same publisher. After about a five month wait I received a letter that told me the publishing house had been bought out by another one and that my manuscript and all my information had been sent to them. I waited a few months the emailed the new publisher to find out what was happening. A couple of days later I received an email stating that they had no record of my manuscript. My heart sunk. But a few days after that I received an email from another editor at the publishing house stating that they had found my manuscript and they wanted to publish it.
However, in the time between that email and the publishing date for my novel, the publishing house was sold again. The new owner was going to honour my contracts, but in the future wasn't going to publish mysteries. I knew there was no use sending my third manuscript to that publisher and after checking around I sent it to Books We Love. They immediately accepted it and e-published it. After two years of talking with my old publisher I was able to get the rights to my first two novels of the series and now all three are published with Books We Love Ltd.
So on Friday the 13th that is my post of the luck that has brought me to where I am today in my writing and publishing career. And being an optimist, I am off to buy a lottery ticket on Lotto Max which is worth $10,000,000. Wish me luck.
Books of The Travelling Detective Series:
The Only shadow In The House