I met Andrea Wilder when I wandered into my first Lake Country Romance Writers meeting. From the beginning she treated me with respect and humor, welcoming me into the fold, holding back laughter when I spouted on about how I love mixed POV's and head-hopping. She's never been afraid to work with me, laugh with me or cry with me. Smart, hard-working and intuitive, Andrea's a great gal whose inspiring story is well worth noting. We're grateful to have her stop by Seekerville, grab a Tim Horton's coffee, and chat with us. Fearless, the delightful love story of an Irish chieftain (I called him Scottish yesterday, sorry gals, a pox upon me from my very Irish, very Celt heritage) is a wonderful read, light, warm, humorous and inspiring. Do they still make men like that?????
What Andrea didn't mention below is that this sale also garnered her an agent. Andrea's now working with Elaine Spencer of the Knight Agency. Andrea, welcome back to Seekerville!
It’s great to be back here in Seekerville. I know some of you (hi, Ruth and Tina!), and some of you may have met me. For those of you who haven’t, the main reason I’m guest blogging is that I’m a contest success story. The thing is, it wasn’t pure, blind luck. It was targeting.
My first novel, Fearless, started as a wild idea that blossomed into a dream come true. After a year of writing and polishing, it was time to start querying agents and editors. I’d run the gauntlet the year before with another historical, which was a long, frustrating process that ended in failure. Now, I’m not afraid of failing, but if it’s going to happen I want it to come quickly so I can gobble down some Godiva and get on with my life. With this book, I decided to try something new. In addition to the usual blind submissions, I targeted that year’s contests, focusing on one publisher.
Fearless is a medieval romance with paranormal elements, so I decided it was a Dorchester book. I checked out the contests listing one of their editors as the final round judge. I picked three, and I entered either historical or paranormal, whichever category was being judged by Dorchester.
In two of them, I didn’t make it to the final round, but in the 2005 Marlene, I hit pay dirt. I entered the historical category, and my very open-minded first-round judges pushed me into the final round. Alicia Condon liked the story well enough to place it first and ask for the full. In 2007, Dorchester released it as my first novel.
I never entered a contest to win. My goal was to make it to the final round and be one of the few manuscripts landing on that editor’s desk, rather than being stacked on the ever-growing pile of unsolicited submissions. I wanted a chance to show the pros what I can do. And I wanted a deadline so I’d have my answer in a few weeks instead of months. Contests are the only way I know of for an unpublished, unagented writer to get that kind of response.
We know all about targeting our markets. We research the publishers, and many of us know the individual editors well enough to be familiar with their personal tastes. If you target contests the way you do ordinary submissions, you just might break through. It worked for me.
Best of luck to everyone in this bright new year. And thanks again for having me!
Fearless, Dorchester Love Spell