Marilyn suggested I write about how I got published. It’s a great idea and may offer the unpublished writer some hope to be published!
I’ve been writing for years—since I could hold a pencil. About fifteen years ago, I got serious and decided to write a novel. It took several years but I completed Probable Cause which became By Force or Fear eventually.
Getting serious included joining a professional writing association-Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA but in those days it was known as Police Writers Association). One of the perks of membership is a free manuscript evaluation by a professional editor. I sent Probably Cause in and was encouraged to submit it as an unpublished manuscript in the PSWA annual writing contest. I tied for third place in the unpublished fiction novel category. Woohoo! This made me an award winning author!
During this time, I continuously submitted query letters to agents and publishers with nothing to show for it but a growing rejection pile. In fact, until I signed my publishing contract in January 2014, I kept this up. This was the path of traditional publishing and for a long time, this was the route I thought I should follow. In early 2013, I began to feel the clock ticking and decided to independently publish. It was a cumbersome effort but in June 2013, I published By Force or Feat on Amazon. I had moderate success.
By now, I had a second book in the final stages, Intent to Hold. Following in my first novel’s track, I decided to enter Intent in the PSWA contest. Again, I won third place for unpublished fiction novel.
Yay! Okay. So, I’m getting tired of searching for agents. I’ve won two book awards on two books so there must be some merit to my writing. As I had earlier changed directions of my plan, I decided to hold off on agent queries and concentrate on contests.
In 2013, PSWA put out their 2013 Anthology-Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides, in which a short story of mine was included. I found the publisher of the edition—Oak Tree Press—and looked up their website.
Ohhhh, Oak Tree Press was sponsoring a contest! And in my genres—mysteries and cop stories. The winner would get his/her manuscript published in print and e-copy, (To date, By Force or Fear was only published in e-format) and provide editing and covers, plus public relations opportunities. Winning this prize would achieve my goal—to have a book published. So I entered and months later, found out I won—first place!
The road to getting Intent to Hold was not easy street. Editing proved to be a problem as I was so excited that I let many boo-boos slip through the galleys. Working with Billie Johnson, the publisher, was best when I did my job. It took a few printings to get all the mistakes corrected, but I’ve learned my lesson. Billie does her job and I do mine.
The promised promotion opportunities have been consistently provided to venues I would not have found otherwise. I’m thankful to Jeana Lomprez of Oak Tree Press for her help. A huge part of what I consider my “success” is the marketing plan that OTP required up front. In doing research, I learned many places where I could market my book, plus organized my plan. OTP also published my first book, both debuting mid-July at the PSWA 2014 Conference in Las Vegas.
Fast forward to 2015: I’ve missed the PSWA contest deadline as With Malice Aforethought (my third Nick and Meredith Mystery) is not yet complete. When I do, I’ll be sending it to OTP’s Acquisitions Editor, Marilyn Olsen—the very person who recommended I submit my first story to PSWA.
At this writing, I do not have an agent, nor will I seek one.
Intent to Hold Blurb:
Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Reyes enlists the help of his partner, Meredith Ryan, to negotiate the ransom of a kidnapped family member. They fly to Mexico, where they are plunged into a morass of intrigue and betrayal which threaten the lives of the entire family. They battle nature, the Federales, a crime cartel, and even Nick’s wife to solve the crime.
Website: Thonie Hevron