So I’ve known this was going to happen for a few weeks now, but…I have an agent! I signed with Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary last week! She is immediately representing the two books I’m working on now (the Minor biography and a historical fiction I’m not ready to talk about yet). Here’s the official announcement.
I’ve known Amy for a few years. We first met when she presented on marketing to the Saturday Writers chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. We really hit it off during the presentation (I’m Hermionie Granger, so teachers and presenters usually love me because they know I am engaged) and through conversation at lunch afterwards. We stayed in touch online and I saw her present again maybe a year or two later at the St. Louis Publisher’s Association. Amy also hosted a lot of online workshops that I attended so were were in contact that way as well as on social media, and became friends.
I knew she was a huge fan and champion of my books, but what I didn’t know was that she was also an international rights agent. When she became a full U.S. agent earlier this month, she called me and asked if I was considering traditional publishing and if I would think about becoming her client. Why, yes, I was! We talked, I asked questions, and sent her what I have been working on. She loved it and needless to say, I said yes! (Never underestimate the power of networking…not that I could have ever predicted this.)
I really, really like Amy and she has a great reputation in the industry and in marketing, so I’m really looking forward to working with her. We’re a great personality fit and what she represents is right in my wheelhouse, so I am predicting a long and fruitful relationship with many, many book sales!
I’m going to go pop some champagne and enjoy being on Cloud 9 for a while!
I’ve been pushing myself really hard since 2016, the year I started publishing and somehow put out four books in seven months.
Each year I told myself I wouldn’t work so hard, but I kept on and sometimes added even more.
And now, almost four years later, my characters won’t talk to me. That’s a big problem because I can’t write without them.
So I think I may be reaching the burnout point. Luckily, I’m not fully there, but I think I’m getting close.
Looking back on my year, it’s not surprising:
Suffrage Movement Book:
Researched two sample chapters.
Wrote sample chapters (17,315 words)
Queried agents with co-author.
Virginia and Francis Minor biography:
Researched 105,557 words of notes.
Took research trip to University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Wrote proposal and sample chapter.
Project on hold.
Historical fiction book:
9,041 words of notes (not complete)
Project on hold due to project below.
Researched 21,634 words
Developed detailed 7 page outline, with becomes 40 pages with notes.
Did this in three weeks.
Wrote 6,218 words.
Now the book is refusing to cooperate.
Wrote a short story for an anthology – 10,000 words
Researching book chapter: The Ethics of Writing Guinevere for the Modern Age.
So far at 15,410 words of notes.
Have four articles and two books to go.
Wrote three articles for NINC newsletter.
Reported on 11 sessions from the NINC Conference.
That’s a total of 185,175 words written (not counting the articles and reporting), even if most were notes.
Attended four conferences, speaking at two.
Spoke at five other events.
Conducted a successful USA Today bestseller list campaign.
Read 86 books (not including research) to date. Will likely hit 100 by end of year.
Oh and I have a full-time job.
But yet I hesitate to let myself have a break.
I’m not sure I know how. I don’t know how to person without writering.
I worry someone else will get to this latest book before I do.
I feel like I always need to be doing something.
I worry that taking a break will harm my career.
Yet, I know I have to slow down/stop for a while. The only thing I can muster energy and interest in right now is playing Covet Fashion on my Kindle. That is not a good thing because it costs money, rather than making me money. And it takes up time I could be using for writing. But at least it is a creative outlet, I guess. (And I am a damn good stylist!)
I know how I got myself here; now I just have to figure out how to get out of it.
I cannot thank everyone enough for all of your help promoting The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy last week. It paid off! We made the USA Today bestseller list at #148 and as one of only six sci-fi/fantasy books on this week’s list.
More details on how the book fared during the campaign are below, but first the mushy stuff. It may seem odd for me to say “we” but it is totally accurate. I may have written the book and did part of the promotion, but you are the reason my book is on this list. I could not have done this without my friends and fans. And for that there are not enough words in all of the languages on the planet for me to express my gratitude. Your outpouring of love and support online truly overwhelmed me; when I saw all the sharing on Facebook and Twitter and felt you genuinely rooting for me, it changed me for the better. I’ve always known theoretically that supporting others is good, but I’m an only child, and thus, rather self-absorbed (yes, even at nearly 40). By your example, you taught me just how powerful it is to support others, especially fellow writers. Beyond that, I have no doubt that without your purchases, shares, and well-wishes, this dream of mine would not have come true. This honor is as much yours as it is mine.
I want to say a special thank you to Nancy Bilyeau, Susanna Kearsley and Amy Collins for being willing to share my promotion with your fans. And also to James Conroyd Martin, Pat Whaler, Shauna Granger, Liv Raincourt, Courtney Marquez, Jeanne Felfe, my entire street team and a million other people for constantly sharing the graphics and links online. (If I didn’t list you by name, please don’t be offended. These are just the top people who came to mind. I’m going to try to compile a more complete list of people who shared when I go back to do my post-campaign measurement.) This accomplishment is truly a testament to the power of networking. When I met all of you, I never thought I would have something like this ask and I value our friendship first and foremost, but thank you for being willing to champion this book. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank BookBub for giving me the featured deal that made all of this possible.
As you may know, this is my first time on any bestseller list and is my first time “earning my letters,” as they say. (I have my USA and now only need my NYT. Someday!) It is particularly important to me that it was this book that got on the bestseller list. You see, when I first started imagining what was then called Guinevere’s Tale (hence the name of the series) way back in September 1999, I imagined it like this – one gigantic book to rival The Mists of Avalon. It was only in early 2008, when I began to realize what I was writing might actually be publishable that I learned I would likely have to break it up into several books for the publishing industry to even consider it from a debut author. I certainly don’t mind it being a trilogy, but in my mind it will always be one long story.
In case you weren’t following the flurry of photos on social media (and by God was it fun to watch the rankings rise), here’s a rundown of how The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy did from Monday, July 8 through Monday, July 15:
Sales and Category Rankings
#1 in fantasy at Barnes and Noble
Held for 2.5 days
In top 15 for 4 days
Bestseller status for 5 days
#11 in ALL Nook ebooks
In Top 100 for 3 days
#1 in three subcategories on Amazon
Held for 2.5 days
#4 in Fantasy on Amazon
Held for 2 days
#5 in Sci-fi and Fantasy on Amazon
Held for 2 days
#40 in ALL Kindle ebooks
In Top 100 for 2.5 days
#8 in Sci-fi and Fantasy on iBooks (I only thought to look at this on Sunday, so I’m not sure if it was any higher. It likely was at least on Thursday.)
Outsold both George R. R. Martin (2 books) and Nora Roberts at certain points.
Amazon Author Rankings
In Top 100 authors for 4 days.
Nearly a Canadian bestseller.
I also thought it was interesting that it ranked in both book and ebook categories on Amazon even though only the ebook was on sale.
All this to say, wow, what a whirlwind. As Kate Quinn noted, I can now and forever more say I am a USA Today Bestselling author and no one can take that away from me. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if there is ever any way I can repay you, all you have to do is ask.
For those who want to know the nitty-gritty of how all this happened, look out for another blog post on Thursday, August 1, in which I dissect every detail of the campaign, numbers and all. After all, if I did it, so can you!
What this means is they now have the right to shop it around Hollywood or anywhere else they may have connections. There is no deal for a movie/TV show yet. But they will try their hardest to make one happen. So cross your fingers, eyes and toes, light some candles or say some prayers…whatever works for you…and wish us all well. Given that Victoria’s story is so relevant right now, I have no doubt that they will make magic happen!
Today is a momentous day for me. Not only does it mark the publication of my sixth book, Mistress of Legend (Guinevere’s Tale Book 3), and a single-volume compendium of The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy, it is also the end of an era.
You see, 19 years ago Saturday is when I first heard Guinevere speak in my head. (Yeah, I’m one of those authors – wouldn’t have it any other way.) I tell the whole story in the Author’s Notes to Daughter of Destiny, the first book in the series, but for now suffice it to say she told me she wanted me to tell her story and that it would be unlike any written to date. I’ve always loved Arthurian legend, and Guinevere in particular, so I thought, “why not?”
That afternoon when I got home from school (I was a sophomore in college at the time), I sat down at the computer in my dad’s bedroom and began to type the words Guinevere was saying in my head:
I am Guinevere.I was once a queen, a lover, a wife, a mother, a priestess, and a friend. But all those roles are lost to me now; to history, I am simply a seductress, a misbegotten woman set astray by the evils of lust.This is the image painted of me by subsequent generations, a story retold thousands of times. Yet, not one of those stories is correct. They were not there; they did not see through my eyes or feel my pain. My laughter was lost to them in the pages of history….
It goes on for a bit longer, but you get the idea. That prologue is mostly intact in the published version of Daughter of Destiny (though it was shortened a bit). I can’t tell you how many times I rewrote the first few chapters of the book (it was in the double digits for sure) as I learned to find my own voice as an author and developed a plot and style that was doing more than simply aping The Mists of Avalon (which was the book that inspired it). But somehow, Guinevere’s words remained.
(Some of you know this story, so feel free to skip down if you have heard it before.)
I never thought I would become a published author. For the next 10 years I played around with the book when I had free time from college, then grad school and my first two grownup jobs. But it was just a hobby.
Then in 2008 I started taking my writing seriously. The catalyst? Twilight. (Shut up.) By that time I was about halfway through what would become Daughter of Destinyand realized I had something worth reading on my hands. At this point, I still thought the book would be one doorstop of a volume (which is why I’m publishing the compendium). Upon researching the publishing industry, I realized it would have to be trilogy.
Fast forward another 10 years – past an agent, countless rejections (okay, I counted, it was like 40), three damn-near book deals with Big 5 publishers, self-publishing and three Book of the Year awards – and here we are, on the precipice of the final book being published. And I have to say I am very, very proud. It may have taken me two years to finish this book (much longer than I know my readers wanted to wait), but I think it was worth it.
I set out to give Guinevere back her voice and give her the fair shake I never thought she had from other authors (at least the ones I had read). In my mind, she was a full-fledged woman with hopes, dreams and desires, not the one-dimensional adulteress we usually see. In order to show that I set out to tell her whole life story, not just the part that involves Arthur. That meant dreaming up a youth for her in Daughter and imagining her heading into old age in Mistress of Legend. I feel like I’ve told the best possible story I could and did as much as possible to redeem her from the stain of sin past literature has laid upon her.
Apparently others think so as well. I sent an ARC of Mistressto my friend and fellow author Tyler Tichelaar so he could review it on his website. He liked it so much, I ended up using the opening of the review as a blurb on the cover. But the part that brought tears to my eyes was this line: “She has given back to Guinevere, an often overlooked and derided figure, her dignity and endowed her with a true personality.” Mission accomplished.
Completing a trilogy is no small feat. There were years upon years where I wondered if I could do it and feared I could not. I remember burning with jealousy the day one of my friends completed her first series. But now all I feel is tremendous accomplishment and pride. I want to jump up and down and yell “I did it! I did it! I did it! I did it!”
More than that, I feel like each book on the series got better as I grew as a writer. One of my biggest fears was that my story would end up like so many other trilogies and peter out or go totally off track in the last book. (Breaking Dawn, anyone?) In fact, I feel like this is the strongest book in the series, and early reviews are indicating the same.
Now I face for the first time in nearly two decades a future without Guinevere. (Well, not totally. She’ll be one of the point of view characters in Isolde’s story whenever I get around to writing that.) I will be forever grateful for all she as done for me. She was meant to get me started in my career, and I know she will gracefully cede the stage to the characters who come next. I just hope this trilogy is repayment enough.
PS – If you want to catch up, Daughter of Destiny and Camelot’s Queen are only $0.99 for a limited time…
PPS – For those who know of my obsession with the band Kill Hannah, the reference in the title of this blog to “a wild dream achieved” comes from their song “Believer.”
I am giving this short speech today at the St. Louis County and St. Louis City libraries as part of Indie Author Day. I wanted all of you who couldn’t join us to be able to read it as well. I hope you enjoy it. Learn more about my speaking engagements.
When I was invited to be part of Indie Author Day, I was honored and humbled. I’m very proud to be an independent author and to be part of the first ever national day celebrating our work and our achievements. Our community has grown tremendously in the last five years, and now the books we produce rival – and in some cases outsell – those released through traditional means.
I want to be clear that I have nothing against the traditional publishing industry. I may even still join it in the future, but it isn’t what is right for me as an artist at this moment in my career. And that’s what being an indie is all about: taking control of your writing, your career, and the myriad decisions that go into it. We are no longer the ugly step-children who couldn’t make it traditionally; we are the entrepreneurs who chose to go our own way.
In her novel The Light of Paris, Eleanor Brown writes that the surrealist artists of post-WWI Paris were “making space for themselves without waiting for someone to give them permission.” That is exactly what we are doing as indie authors. We may cross traditional genre boundaries, write about subjects or in time periods that aren’t considered marketable, or simply want to do things on our own schedule. Whatever our reasons, we are producing our art without so much as a by your leave. We have something to say and aren’t waiting for anyone to give us a stage; we are building our own.
Now, being an indie author isn’t without its challenges. In declaring ourselves free of traditional constraints, we also take on the burden of being our own patrons, financing our cover art, editing, production and marketing. We take the financial risk that our work may not find an audience – or at least not enough of one to recover what we’ve invested. But such is the curse of every small business owner, from freelancers and flower shops to barbers and bakeries. We take a leap of faith that with enough hard work and a bit of luck, we will somehow make it.
We also face the seemingly impossible task of making ourselves known in a world where a new book is published every five minutes on Amazon, which is already home to 3.4 million books. But somehow, we still manage to find our audience – no matter how large or small. Whether we use Facebook ads, make book trailers or go the route of hand-selling and attending conferences or speaking engagements – we get out there and let people know we are here and why they should be interested in what we have to say.
Really, that is a challenge for every author, whether indie or traditional. But as indies, we have to do it ourselves, or if we’re lucky, with the help of a publicist. Without the endorsement of a big publishing house, we rely on the help of our tribe, other authors and readers whose loyalty we’ve gained, to provide endorsements of our work. They are our support system, our lifeline in times of crisis and uncertainty, and they can be a connection to new readers.
As indies, we may be perceived as being in this alone, but that is far from the truth. We have a vibrant, supportive community that is more generous than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. I’ve found genuine well-wishes even from people who have written about the exact same subject as I have. In the corporate world, we’d be considered competitors, but I’m coming to realize that here we are really allies. Whether we share resources, write guest posts together or just silently cheer one another on, it is that support that buoys us and keeps us going in and ever-changing industry that doesn’t really know what to do with us.
We’ve broken the traditional paradigm and that scares a lot of people. I say let them be scared; we aren’t. You know who else wasn’t afraid to try something new? Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Ben Franklin. Madame Curie. Thomas Edison. Henry Ford. The Wright Brothers. And we can’t forget the Founding Fathers of our country. Without them we wouldn’t have iPhones, PCs, eyeglasses, X-rays, light bulbs, cars, airplanes or an independent nation – things we now take for granted. While few of us are on that grand of a scale, without us, the publishing world would be lacking in richness, diversity and, our readers would be still be searching for our stories.
It is the independent spirit of the publishing entrepreneur we gather to celebrate today. In the last five years, we’ve gone from being tentative explorers of the brave new world of ebooks to producing top quality work that makes the bestseller lists. Some of members of our community have even become breakout stars – such as Courtney Milan, Colleen Hoover, Bella Andre, Hugh Howey, and many others – authors who regularly outsell those who are traditionally published. We’ve done this through discipline and professionalism, by writing outstanding books, and applying business acumen to our work – for this is no mere hobby; this is our job, regardless of whether we have another that pays the bills.
With the rapid advancement of technology and gradual acceptance of our legitimacy as real authors, in another five years – even in one year – who knows where we can be. We may well be the new norm. How we get there is up to you and me, the indie authors of America. I, for one, am proud to celebrate us and our accomplishments – past, present and future – today.
Publication days are strange animals. They are exciting and weird and nerve-wracking and busy, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Today’s is especially special for a few reasons:
Madame Presidentess being available to the world is a fulfillment of part of my personal mission; as soon as I heard about Victoria, I wanted to do what I could to get her name back into the history books. By educating (and hopefully entertaining as well) through this book, I’m making a small effort in that direction.
Today will be my first television appearance! If you live in St. Louis, tune into Fox 2 for their 11 a.m. news. They will have me on at least once, perhaps twice, promoting Madame Presidentess.
Those of you who have been with me a while know this is also the last book of my four-book blitz that began in January when I released Daughter of Destiny. That means that soon I will be able to get back to a semi-normal life, and more importantly, to writing new material!
Okay, enough of that. On to the important stuff: where you can buy the book. Amazon does this odd thing where they don’t combine the print and ebooks onto one page for a few days. No idea why and it is very annoying. So you may need separate links, depending on which version you wish to purchase.
Barnes and Noble is being slow to list the paperback. I’m sorry about that. I’ve done everything I can. Now it’s up to them. 🙁
I hope all of you like the book. It has been a true labor of love and I’m so blessed to have found such an amazing historical figure with such a crazy life to be able to work with. If you do read it, please leave a review, even one sentence, on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews mean the world to authors and help us with marketing. And thank you all again for all of your support! If it wasn’t for you, there would be no reason for me to write.
And one final note: today’s publication date is not an accident. Today is the first day of the Democratic National Convention, at which Hillary Clinton will become America’s first woman to be nominated for President on a major party ticket. Victoria was the first woman to run for President at all; she did so on the ticket of the Equal Rights Party, a party she founded. I chose this date so be able to tie in past female accomplishments with present (and possibly future) groundbreaking events. Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope you see the beauty in that.
One of these days, I will get back to historical posts, I promise. But right now there’s so much exciting stuff going on that I feel like it’s more interesting to talk about that, especially as we’re getting closer and closer to January 1, when Daughter of Destiny comes out.
If you follow me on social media, you may have already heard, but last week I signed a three book deal with Serena Scott Thomas through ACX to narrate and produce all the books in Guinevere’s Tale. I am super excited! Serena is a seasoned actress – you may have seen her in the Oscar-nominated movie Inherent Vice, in the Bond film The World is Not Enough, or on Nash Bridges, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Nip/Tuck, just to name a few.
But I didn’t know any of that (other than she’s an actress) when I auditioned Serena – I only knew her voice seemed just right for Guinevere. Let me tell you, she nailed her audition! We signed the contract and I have listened to the first 15 minutes of production (which is the first step in the approval process). I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect Guinevere! She is sooooo talented. I love how she manages to emphasize just the right words and give a special spark to even small, secondary characters. Anyway, I’m sending a few notes back to her today, and then she will record the rest of the book, which I’ll get to hear around the first of December. That means the audio book will be ready to go on sale January 1 with the print and non-Kindle ebook formats! (Plus, Serena is super nice to work with!)
Amazon Crossing (the foreign translation division of Amazon’s publishing arm) has opened its submissions to indie authors. This is a major coup because foreign rights are one of the hardest for an indie author to sell. Yes, a lot of the world speaks English, but who wouldn’t want to read a book in their native language? (It’s got to be easier.) So, I submitted Daughter of Destiny today for consideration. I have no idea if they will accept it or not (partly because it hasn’t even been published in English yet, but then again, some traditionally published authors have gotten foreign deals before their US/UK versions came out). But I feel I made a compelling case as to why Arthurian legend is appealing to a worldwide audience (thank you Tyler T. for your post on King Arthur in Turkey, which helped me make my argument) and why this book in particular would do well around the world. I’m supposed to hear back in 5-8 weeks, so cross your fingers!
My cover artist, Jenny Q., begins work on the cover for Daughter of Destiny on Monday. Hopefully I’ll see something by the end of the month and you’ll see the official cover in early November.
While all this is going on, I’ve been editing Camelot’s Queen, the second book in Guinevere’s Tale. It’s not due to my editor until the beginning of December, but I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, so it and Been Searching for You need to be pretty much ready to submit by the end of the October so I can make the December editing deadlines.
My NaNoNovel is going to be the other side of the coin to Guinevere’s story – it will tell Morgan’s story. Once you read the first two Guinevere books, you’ll see why that is important. Because my books are all first person POV, you only see Morgan through Guinevere’s judgmental filter. There is so much that you don’t see because Guinevere was either wrong (but sometimes she was right) or she wasn’t there and so didn’t know how certain things went down. I will release this one only after the last Guinevere book is out because it gives away the plot twists in the three Guinevere books. I would advise that you read it only after reading the Guinevere books for that reason, as well.
Why didn’t I choose to work on Guinevere Book 3 during NaNoWriMo? Well, for one, that one is mostly drafted and doesn’t have another 50,000 words in it (which is the goal of NaNoWriMo), and also Morgan is demanding I tell her story. Once I’ve got her story at least drafted, she’ll be quieter, which means I’ll only have Isolde and a historical woman fighting in my head over whose book is next. Plus, if I get the residency I applied for, I’ll be working on Guinevere 3 at Hedgebrook next year.
If all this wasn’t enough, I’m currently taking a Margie Lawson class on being an independent author. Next week, I am one of 8 authors who will pilot an online mystery writing course through Hedgebrook taught by legendary author Elizabeth George. (Fun fact: 5 out of 8 of the pilot authors were in my Hedgebrook class with Deborah Harkness!) “But, Nicole,” I hear you say, “you don’t write mysteries. Why are you taking this class?” Ah, good question. Besides the fact that it’s an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the best, there is a mystery in Isolde’s story, so I want to learn how to do it right. And you know, I’m crazy and have to fill up my-non day job hours with as much as possible!
So, enough about me. What are all of you up to? Any thoughts/questions on the above? We’re getting closer and closer to publication, and 2016 has many exciting things in store, so I can’t wait to share it all with you. And thank you all again for all of your support!
As you can imagine things are progressing fast and furious on the publishing front. I’ve filed papers for my imprint and hired a cover artist, as well as a map illustrator. The map should be ready in a few weeks. I should see a first cover design for Daughter of Destiny at the end of October. That means a cover reveal will probably happen in early- to mid-November. I should be able to put the book up for pre-sale around the beginning of November as well.
I’m also delighted to announce that Been Searching For You (formerly He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not), won the Golden Rose contest in the Contemporary Single Title category (sponsored by the Portland chapter of RWA).
It is also a finalist in the Molly contest (sponsored by the Heart of Denver chapter of RWA) in the Contemporary Single Title category. Placement will be announced in October.
In case you’re interested, I also have two new articles up: