Sunday, January 29, 2017

If I Knew Then What I Know Mackenzie Crowne

As a new year begins, I find myself looking back and, with book 4 in my Players sports romance series releasing this past week, those early days as a published author are heavy on my mind. Releasing a book onto the world market is always exhilarating, but it's hard to explain the range of emotions slamming through you as you wait for that first book to hit the shelves. For me, excitement topped the list, but along with the holy cow thrill came a healthy dose of fear.
Seriously, in the days leading up to my first release, I kept waiting for the email to arrive from my publisher explaining they had made a horrible mistake and would I please tear up that contract I’d signed. Gah! I'd poured my heart into that story and, there I was on release day, shaking in my boots that readers would find the story and those characters I'd come to love lacking or worse – bad!

But, the die had been cast. There was nothing I could do but pull on my big girl panties and take what came. Thankfully, what came was much better than my last minute panic attack had predicted but, even still, I soon discovered I had a lot to learn. About publishing, and writing, and the dreaded P word…promotion. Since then, I have met some awesome authors, like the ladies here at the Roses of Prose, who have been very gracious in sharing their knowledge. Honestly, since joining the ranks as a published author, I have met some of the most kind and generous people imaginable.

With the release of To Win Her Back this week, I saw my twelfth title hit the shelves. You’d think I would know what I’m doing, especially with all the help my author friends have given me, but you’d be wrong. I still have much to learn and, with that in mind, I have a couple questions for all of you, both our readers and my fellow authors.

For our readers:

Question 1 – What is the top element in a romance that makes it a winner in your book?
Question 2 – What is the number one element in a book that makes you throw it at the wall in disgust?

For you authors:

Question 3 – If I knew then what I know now, I would have...
Question 4 – If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have...

And since I’m both a reader and an author, here is how I would answer my own questions.

1: Logic and humor. Yeah, I know that’s two elements but they go hand in hand in my book. I love a romance that pulls at my heartstrings and tickles my funny bone, but if the storyline isn’t logical, I’m throwing the book.

2: See answer 1. LOL

3: I would have jumped into the world of social media a lot sooner. There is so much to learn and gaining an education on a supersonic schedule gives me a headache.

4: I wouldn't have been so timid in my first experience with the professional editing of my work. I know the characters inside and out and had to learn to trust my inner voice when it balks.

When Mac isn’t trying to figure out the newest trend in book promotion, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like those in TO WIN HER BACK, her latest Players series release from KensingtonBooks 


Margo Hoornstra said...

Okay, my take. 1. Emotion and connection between the characters. 2. Lack thereof (see 1.) 3. Set my characters free sooner. Trusted my instincts. 4. Put so much effort into my social media presence and concentrated more on my books. There you have it IMHO. Best of luck on your latest release.

Brenda Whiteside said...

1. Good characterizations that let you see inside the character, walk in her/his shoes. 2. Poor writing and that means shallow characters and typos. 3. Not worried so much about the sprint. Releasing and then selling a book is a marathon not a sprint. Don't put so much into that first week's results. 4. Wouldn't have waited so long to start writing. I'd loved writing all my life but didn't take it seriously until later in life.

Rolynn Anderson said...

1. Winner: Characters I can care about; 2. Lack of fresh prose and unique plot lines; 3. I would have started writing while I was a teacher/principal 4. I wouldn't have spent so much time/thought over swag and useless promotion techniques

Mac, so glad you've hit #12! Congrats on your release!

Jannine Gallant said...

1) For me it's a plot that moves right along and keeps me turning the pages. 2) If I yawn, it's over. 3&4) I wish I had had a better grasp on the big picture of publishing. With those first books, my expectations were unreasonable and the disappointment (when it came to sales) huge. My learning curve was slow. In hindsight, I would have pushed out of my comfort zone sooner, but those years allowed me to develop my craft, so maybe they were necessary. Going forward, I'm not afraid to ask for more from my publisher. I hope I can continue to learn how to make the whole system work better for me.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Great answers, chickies. Reading your responses is like listening to the voices in my head. Bottom line, this publishing thing is nothing like I'd imagined when I first began. It is immensely more complicated and far less controllable than I assumed. Thank God it all obits around the writing - which I still love - or I would have thrown up my hands and walked away a long time ago. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Great post and questions, Mac!
1. A range of emotions that pull me in. If I'm reading a romance, I want to feel romance, but I want characters who have personality.
2. Childish or those too-stupid-to-live characters bug the heck out of me.
3. Like you, I'd start social media sooner and I'd learn about marketing, but...
4. I'd learn to balance the time spent on social media/promotions with the need to keep writing stories.

I agree about the wonderful support of other authors. I feel blessed to have met and made friends with so many. :-)

Diane Burton said...

#1: strong characters & humor.
#2: too stupid to live, unreasonable characters; typos, grammar errors; lack of editing
#3: I wish I'd started writing sooner
#4: I'd have had more faith in myself and my writing.

Great post, Mac. Quite thought-provoking. Best wishes on your new release.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

First off, yay you on the twelfth book!!! See, I knew you had it, kiddo!!!

#1 A storyline that pulls me in so deeply I hate turning off the Kindle and craftsmanship in description of both people and their emotions.
#2 Too stupid to live characters and more narration than action--make something happen!
#3 Educated myself on how the publishing industry works, what would be expected of me, and how hard it would be to excel.
#4 I'd never trust an editor's opinion or think they mean the best for me. Yeah, I am now a jaded author. Jade looks good on me, though.

Alicia Dean said...

Excellent post. Sorry I'm late. I totally understand your angst about publishing. Great questions! For me... 1) A story where something is actually happening, other than a relationship. I need more in my reads. 2) Boredom 3) Written more regularly and pushed harder. (Something I need to be doing now, as well) 4) Wasted so much time.