Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NO LONGER A SUPPLICANT…

Multi published author, Libby Malin, is visiting us again here at Over Coffee.


It's not that traditional publishers are trying to turn out cookie cutter books, they're not, but their focus is on making money. They look at trends and go with popular depictions of heroes, heroines, and plots. They're a hesitant to take on a story too different or one that doesn't fit a clear genre mold. 


Libby has been published with traditional publishers, been nominated for prestigious awards, but having contracts don't always equate to a steady income. But, I'll let Libby tell you of her writing journey.




Only the luckiest authors achieve publishing success without some rejection. In fact, it’s not unusual for lots of rejection to precede “The Call” from agent or editor offering a contract.

My story is no different. After writing for several years, having manuscripts rejected right and left, I finally reached publishing’s happy ending – first, a contract for young adult mysteries from Bancroft Press, and then a contract for a “chick lit” novel from Harlequin. After that, other contracts followed, from Dorchester (for paperback rights to my first two YAs), Sourcebooks (more chick lit – or romantic comedy), Five Star/Cengage (my first hardcover!), and even a film option deal.

Each step of the way, I thought to myself: This is it. I’ve made it. I can make a steady income from what I love to do best – writing fiction.

And every time I thought that goal had been achieved, I faced disappointment. An Edgar nomination for my first YA didn’t make sales soar, nor did it ensure future publication of other works with other houses. It did get query emails answered more quickly, though!

Some excellent reviews had the same effect—that is, they didn’t jack up sales noticeably but did help me get my manuscripts read by other editors. Even a film option deal, in the works before the print rights had sold, didn't guarantee that a publishing house would take on a project!

I also learned the hard way that when a publisher doesn’t get your book reviewed by the main trade journals, it can have a deleterious effect on your sales. A couple times this happened to me, each time for a book that was near and dear to my heart. While it’s impossible to tell precisely what reviews from the Big Journals (Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal and the like) would have done for these particular books, I can’t help thinking that the lack of such reviews meant booksellers and librarians wouldn’t be paying much attention.

Nonetheless, like all writers committed to their chosen field, I struggled on. I snagged online reviews when none were appearing in print. I did book signings, virtual book tours, and paid for one full-page ad in a romance magazine.

And I kept writing, often finding, unfortunately, that my manuscripts were like “square pegs” that didn’t quite fit in the “round holes” of various imprints. Some of my rejection letters read like back cover blurbs.

Then something wonderful happened. The Kindle was released and vigorously promoted by Amazon. Other e-readers followed—the Nook, the iPad, and new life for the Sony E-reader.

Authors everywhere started to discover they no longer needed to be supplicants of the “Big Six” publishing houses in New York in order to reach readers. Self-publishing quickly and surely began to lose its negative connotation. It no longer implied vanity publishing, an ego-driven exercise by failed novelists (and isn’t seeking publishing by the Big Six an ego-driven exercise anyway?).

Now there is no such thing as a round hole into which your square peg of a novel won’t fit. Authors can publish their slightly-off-the-beaten-track novels on their own, and many are doing so.

Count me in with that crowd. I now have five novels e-published through my family’s e-publishing house, Istoria Books. One of them, an inspirational romance that had been rejected by editors in New York and beyond, is now regularly among the top 100 bestsellers in historical romance – in both print and e-books.

And my latest offering, a romantic comedy (Aefle and Gisela by Libby Malin), allowed me to explore satire – satire of academe, no less! Who in the traditional publishing world would have taken that on?

That’s the real happy ending of this story. E-publishing has given me the freedom to write the kinds of stories I want to write, without that pesky shadow editor on my shoulder saying things like: “But remember how that agent told you this kind of plot doesn’t sell or that one said the heroine has to be this way or another one suggested you try for this kind of hero…” Those voices have been silenced.

Now I can let my own voice sing.
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AEFLE AND GISELA BY LIBBY MALIN

Stopping a wedding -- what could go wrong? 

History Prof Thomas Charlemagne takes a dare and stops a wedding in an attempt to put his "Timid Tommy" reputation to rest at long last....Only problem? It's the wrong wedding.

Legal problems ensue that could wreck his career as the world's leading expert on a poetry-writing medieval monk, Aefle, and his secret love, Gisela, both of whom provide a template for Thomas’s own struggles with life and love.

A heady mix of outlandish comedy, sharp wit and biting satire, Aefle & Gisela is the perfect summer beach read. EXCERPT


 Booklist -- Malin creates a world of wit and chaos that is …smart and insightfully written (My Own Personal Soap Opera).

Buy the book for Kindle here. Buy the book for Nook hereBuy the book for other e-readers here.

Hurry—it’s on sale for only 99 cents as part of a book launch promotion!
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Libby Malin is the award-winning author of romance, literary, mystery and young adult fiction. In an attempt to thoroughly confuse her reader fans, she writes comedy under the name Libby Malin and serious fiction under the name Libby Sternberg. Her first young adult mystery, Uncovering Sadie’s Secrets, was an Edgar nominee, and her first romantic comedy, Fire Me, was optioned for film. She lives in Pennsylvania, has three children and one husband, and confesses to watching “Real Housewives” shows despite enormous amounts of culture-guilt.

Visit the author’s website at: http://www.LibbyMalin.com
Visit the Istoria Books blog to read an interview with the author by her alter ego: http://istoriabooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/libby-interviews-libby-about-aefle.html

Some praise for Libby Malin's other comedic novels:
Booklist -- Malin creates a world of wit and chaos that is …smart and insightfully written (My Own Personal Soap Opera).
Publishers Weekly --  A whimsical look at the vagaries of dating... an intriguing side plot adds punch and pathos to the story...(Loves Me, Loves Me Not) 



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9 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

Libby, I love the fact that you didn't give up and found a way to get 'your' stories out, not what the editors wanted. Your style of writing is delightful and should never be silenced. Wishing you much success.

Sia, thanks for a great interview.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress
Freelance Editing By Mason

Beth said...

I love hearing how writers find success in unusual or non-traditional ways. Congratulations, Libby, on succeeding while writing what you want to write. I hope you publish all the squared-pegged stories you care to write.

Libby Sternberg said...

Mason, Beth,

It's hard to describe the sense of freedom that e-publishing gives me. It's not that I've given up on print entirely -- sure, it would be terrific to have some traditional houses offer me a contract. But I now know I don't need to pin all my hopes on that or wait for it to happen in order to reach readers who might like my books and my voice.

Kat Sheridan said...

Congratulations on ALL your novels, Libby! What a wonoderful journey you've had. And this book sounds like lots of fun (and I'm due to get my first Kindle on Friday, so I'll be downloading it for sure!) I love your line about letting your own voice sing!

Tonya Kappes said...

Congrats, Libby! I think your story is one that will be hearing a lot of! Of course mine is similiar and I've had great success with my novels by self publishing them b/c my genres cross line and the editor had no idea how to market them. I did! And two of them made Amazon's Movers and Shakers lists, all three are on bestsellers lists, and my last one made it to #150 in the paid Kindle store. In the past three months I've sold over 5,000 ebooks. Obviously there is an audience out there for cross genre. Much success to you!!

Libby Sternberg said...

Tonya, you make a good point about writing across genres. Some agents strongly discourage this, and I rue the days I wasted listening to that advice. I like telling different kinds of stories and don't want to be limited to one genre. Evelyn Waugh, after all, wrote hilarious satire (read SCOOP for a great take on the news business) and transcendent literary fiction (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED). Not that I'm a Waugh, but it goes to show that you shouldn't place limitations on yourself.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Been gone most of the day, Libby. Thought I'd pop in and say hi. I'm so glad you're visiting again.

Your journey is informative. So many aspiring authors and even readers have no idea what writers go through to get there wonderful stories out there for us to read.

I like how you didn't give up and you showed true business savvy in keeping your options open. I've enjoyed the books of yours I've read. You do comedy and romance well--with a fun touch of quirky. Never boring. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mason, I aim to please and I have so many wonderful authors and stories here!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tonya, I like books that cross genre. The point should be to write an interesting and fun story; not what pigeon hole it fits into. The best stories have a touch of several genres. It's what makes them fun to read.Gives them richness, in my opinion.

I've enjoyed your books, too. Your characters and sense of humor are fun to read. I'm so proud of how well you're doing!