The Riders welcome Fay Alter to the convertible today! Her first book, Second Chance Chanukah is available now. She lets us in on the ‘secret’ to writing romance, (and it’s a good one).
Back when I was working as a journalist I was asked to speak at a local high school about my job. One of the students in the audience asked me for the one quality that I thought a journalist must have and I responded “persistence.” My answer seemed to surprise the students (along with some of my fellow panelists) and it may surprise you as well. What may surprise you even more is that I believe persistence is also a key quality for romance authors. Sure writers must be able to put pen to paper and knowledge of grammar and sentence structure are necessary, and it definitely helps to plot and characters in mind, but it is persistence that will get you to your goal.
Whereas journalists must persist in hunting down leads, asking questions when it’s clear no one wants to answer them and finding contacts, a fiction writer must persist in the face of mounting odds. Consider the fact that many authors are writing without a contract. That means there is no one saying you must sit down and write. How easy is it to blow off your writing time to do other things?
Ever go to a writer’s conference and see the number of people waiting for their chance to pitch their story to an agent or editor? It can be daunting to stand in line (even if you have an appointment) knowing there are dozens or even hundreds of authors pitching their stories too.
Then there’s the shrinking book market. As New York publishers try to make sense of the ebook universe and just how the rapid growth in ebooks is changing the publishing paradigm, some companies are buying fewer titles or dropping their midlist authors or canceling series in midstream.
Despite all this, persistence in writing and pursuing your dreams does pay off. How many of us know authors who have been writing for years and years and have any number of completed (not to mention uncompleted manuscripts) before finally selling a story to a big house or signing with their dream agent? These people succeeded because they refused to give up. They persevered.
You too can be that person. But first you must persist. You must set your writing schedule and stick to you it. You must put yourself out there by submitting your stories to agents and editors, by entering contests and taking classes. You must keep going even after your first, second or tenth rejection. You must keep going even after you’ve gotten a bad review or two, or your publisher drops you or your muse seems to have suddenly vanished.
You must believe in yourself and your work and persist even when the odds seem stacked against you. It’s true for journalists and it’s true for romance authors and aspiring authors. I know because I tell myself the same thing every day. I started submitting stories to agents and editors, and keep writing even after getting rejections. I recently self-published a contemporary romance novella set during the Jewish holiday of Chanukah after having the story professionally edited, because I believed in the novella and the characters. Not all the readers agreed. Yet I go on and keep writing and revising and submitting because I love writing and believe I can succeed in time. I know you feel the same. So keep going. Persevere, and you will succeed.
Good luck! I’m rooting for you.
Fay Alter is the pseudonym for an award-winning journalist and magazine editor. She recently self-published her first contemporary romance novella, “Second Chance Chanukah” available now at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.