Thursday, February 13, 2014

Your First Love

Today's post was prompted by an email from a Villager asking how common or uncommon it is to make a first sale with your first romance manuscript.

An anonymous survey was sent out to traditionally published authors and I chatted virtually with Seekervillians and Seekers. Here are the results and comments.

That's 21.15% of respondents sold their first manuscript and 78.85 % did not.

 How many manuscripts did the respondents write before they sold?  Most had completed 2 and many had completed 5. Pie chart should be read in a clockwise manner with 0-1 at the top.

So what happened to that first love??

30 respondents stated that they abandoned their first love. Here are some of the anonymous comments:

"It was written on a typewriter, is horrible, and still hidden under my bed. But it was the first and gave me the incentive to write another one...that was years ago, before I ever found RWA, a critique partner, or had any idea what on earth I was doing. I love that story because it gave me the gift to know I could write a complete book. It was the price I paid to keep going and learn the craft. For this reason, I love that first book. But it'll never see the light of day."

"My first manuscript is hidden in the deep dark recesses of my hard drive, never to see the light of day. I love that story and those characters, but oh, does that manuscript ever showcase the fact that I was a newbie writer with LOTS to learn. "

"It's reposing in a dark, spiderwebby corner of my filing cabinet."

"SHREDDED at ceremonial burning party, then used to start the fire.

And from those who chatted with me online....

 Seeker Glynna Kaye: 

"I’d written short stories since grade school, but my first true attempt at a full-length novel was an inspirational historical romance. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a market for inspirational fiction. No personal computers or internet. No place to learn HOW to write commercial fiction. So for dozens of stories I never got much beyond opening chapters or muddled middles. I then shifted to writing romantic mysteries (which won a number of unpublished contests). But it wasn’t until I wrote a small-town inspirational romance that I was finally published in 2009—and no, it was NOT my first completed book!  Book # 7 (Pine Country Cowboy, Love Inspired) comes out in April 2014, with #8 in November.  But…there’s still a special place in my heart for the characters and setting of that first historical romance. I still have my drafts and research notes…so who knows? Maybe someday I’ll write it!"

Love Inspired author Brenda Minton (The Cowboy's Reunited Family, Cooper Creek series, Love Inspired): 

"My very first manuscript was written over twenty years ago, after my son Joshua was born. It was his story, a story of how God cared enough to put us where we needed to be, in the right job, in the right country even (Germany) and with the right doctor. It was a story of God's plan, of prayer and of faith. The greatest lesson of the book is something I will never forget. The night before Joshua was born I asked a friend, "How is a 1 pound baby going to live." A few months later when I brought him home she said, "Now you see how a 1 pound baby lives." 

The book wasn't published. I don't think it was ever even submitted. I listened to too many voices, put it away and moved on to something else. But the love for the story is definitely still in my heart and maybe someday it will be a book. I think my first sale was the 7th completed and it was the third time submitting it to Love Inspired.

Julie Lessman (Dare to Love Again, Revell Books):
"Ah, my first love … would be A Passion Most Pure, the first manuscript I ever wrote, my first sale, and for me — literally -- a love letter to God. I started writing it at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind, but didn’t finish it until over 40 years later, long after I’d finally given my heart to Christ. One of the reasons this book is so special to me is that the heroine, Faith O’Connor, is my spiritual self, so this story was a way for me to express that intimate relationship I had with my Savior. Secondly, I feel God set me free with this book to be who He has called me to be. You see I was what you might call a literary snob, meaning I looked down on romance novels and wouldn’t be caught dead reading one to save my soul. But after I read a Newsweek cover article in 2001 about how Christian music, movies and books were on the threshold of exploding, something in my spirit said, “now’s the time to finish your book.” In one single thud of my heart, I knew what God was calling me to do — to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him."

Melanie Dickerson (The Captive Maiden, Zondervan):

 "When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea I would ever write a romance. Like Julie Lessman has said, I was a snob when it came to romance novels. I didn’t read them and I didn’t imagine I would write them. But when I started getting the idea for my second novel, to my horror, I realized it was a romance. And I LOVED it! It didn’t take long for me to realize that romance was my genre, and I’d probably never write anything else ever again.

That first romance turned out to be The Healer’s Apprentice, my first published novel. How I loved that story, how I loved the characters, and how I loved the romance! I finished the first draft in about five months, and then I worked on revising that story, off and on while I wrote two more books, for three years before it found a publisher. Then my editor took me through at least three more rounds of edits. I knew that story inside and out, and I never got tired of it. For me it was pure romance magic, and I haven’t written anything but romance since. I’m just a romantic and I’m only half alive when I’m not writing romance. It’s best not to deny it. Something that powerful is bound to have serious repercussions if you try to suppress it."

Myra Johnson, (When the Clouds Roll By, Till We Meet Again Series Abingdon Press):
"The real very first romance manuscript I ever wrote would take me back to high school, and I can promise you it will never see the light of day! I'm not sure anymore which manuscript counts as the first romance I actually wrote with the hope of publication, but One Imperfect Christmas and Autumn Rains were definitely two of the earliest attempts. Both underwent several critiques and rewrites, only to be met with numerous rejections. Then Autumn Rains won the 2005 RWA Golden Heart, and in 2008 One Imperfect Christmas won the Winter Rose. Shortly afterward, One Imperfect Christmas sold to Abingdon Press. One month later, Heartsong Presents bought Autumn Rains, which was nominated for a Carol Award the year after publication. So obviously all the effort that went into critiques, edits, and revision paid off! "

Marin Thomas, (Her Secret Cowboy, The Cash Brothers Series, Harlequin American):

"Chance of a Lifetime was my first completed manuscript.  The contemporary romance took place in rural America—the heroine was a pig farmer, the hero a big-city mechanic and the book was full of quirky secondary characters.  I submitted the manuscript to several New York publishers and most of the rejection letters stated that readers wouldn’t be able to relate to a heroine who was a pig farmer.  Not long after that small-press publishers began popping up and I was able to sell the book to Amber Quill Press.  I moved on to writing my second manuscript and that was rejected by all the major publishers, too.  I finally sold my third manuscript, The Cowboy and the Bride, to the Harlequin American Romance line in 2004.  It wasn’t until years later that I convinced my editor to take a chance on that second book I had written.  After major revisions Rodeo Daddy (Rodeo Rebels series) was published in 2011."  

Sandra Leesmith (Love's Refuge):

 "My first book ever written was actually the third one I sold.  And the first book I sold was actually the third one I had written.  I started writing one summer while camping in our motor home. I was assigned to write by my professor from ASU who was working with the teachers in my district on teaching writing skills to students. He told us if we were going to teach it, we should try it.  When we asked what should we write, he said "Write what you love to read."  At the time I was reading all of Janet Dailey's Harlequins she was writing set in each state as she traveled in her RV.  So I thought, "I can do that."  We were in Utah on the Navajo Reservation and that inspired me to write what became Dream Song, published by Warner.  I plan on self-publishing that book this year as I have the rights back."

Ruth Logan Herne (The Lawman's Holiday Wish, Love Inspired):

"My first romance was when I was sixteen years old and wrote a very tragic tale of an unwed teen and the decisions she faced. It was melodramatic, filled with angst and woe and it got an A+ and a note from my teacher, who said: "Keep on writing because you CAN!" Those words meant the world to me! I'd already had a freshman composition accepted into an anthology while attending a different school, but having this teacher praise my overly dramatic, only-a-teen can ooze this much drama kind of story, kept me nurturing the dream of being a writer for decades before it became a reality. I've always wondered if teachers know what a wonderful, residual affect they can have on a student's life.

My first sale was book number 9, although it gathered dust for nearly 3 years....

What have you concluded from our data?  My conclusion is that everyone's journey is different, so don't stop writing!

Thank you, to all the traditionally published authors (52) who took my anonymous survey on their first love, and a big thank you to the authors who emailed me their responses. There were so many nice authors who took the survey that I picked four winners from the hat: Terri Reed, Val Hansen, Jane Myers Perrine & Kathleen Y’Barbo-Turner. Drop an email to our address to claim your Godiva chocolate prize!

Seekervillians! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic! What ever happened to that first romance manuscript? Your first love. Readers, tell us about the first romance book you ever read.

Today I'm giving away a book bag from The Glendale Chocolate Affaire, filled with books, to one Seekerville commenter! Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. The first one I wrote has been through several rewrites and is currently out on submission.

    My first sale was for the 12th and two sequels.

    I've been at it a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-g time.

    Coffee is brewing.

  2. Well, I told you not to use me because with TWENTY finished books before I got published, I screw up the charts. :(

    My THIRD book eventually did get published. It was Clueless Cowboy. But mostly of those twenty books 12 are now in print and I think most of my early attempts remain unpublished. I was writing sweet contemporary romances, not unlike Clueless Cowboy, and when the Historical Cowboys hit there just wasn't much of a home for those contemporary romances. :(

  3. YAY HELEN. I suppose it's wrote to be HAPPY you didn't get published until your twelfth book but is just makes me feel LESS LONELY!!!!!

  4. the first romance I ever read No idea. I do know my first Christian romance it was When calls the Heart by Janette Oke and its the book that rekindled my love for reading.
    I got the dvd for Christmas but haven't watched it yet.

  5. I sold my first story but bombed on numbers two and three. So as great as that first-story-sale feeling was/is, I feel like I'm trying to find my sea legs during a hurricane figuring out this whole crazy writing business. :-) Thankfully, Seekerville keeps me encouraged and learning.

  6. Mary, I've completed another new manuscript since those three sold, but I'm on deadline right now with edits and am moving at a very slow snail's pace on the second one in the new series. So, anyhow, it's number 16 that's in beginning stages.

  7. First, I want to say that I don't like blogger any more than blogger likes me. Humph!

    Mary, you crack me up.

    Tina, I love this idea. Very interesting info for us to peruse.

    I believe that my first love will be published - just because. (It's a hope and faith thing).

    I didn't read many romances until 2008. Before that I concentrated on history and biographies. I know so much weird trivia that I've threatened to hire myself out as a 'party conversation starter.' I try to incorporate those tidbits into my writing and someday I believe it will hit an editor's funny bone - or make her pause long enough to say, "What's her number?"

  8. My first manuscript was wonderfully rejected by two traditional publishers with glowing comments, ending with "this is a non-traditional romance and we don't print those." I found a non-traditional e-book publisher and the book has been available for the last 18 years (yep, since 1996). It's now available in both e-book and print format.It's still earning me royalties. I'm not prolific like Mary. I've been fortunate to find a publisher who likes my work and accepts it on my schedule.

  9. Interesting results! So true about everyone's journey being different. :) I actually just self-published my "first love" (the first novel-ish-length romance manuscript I wrote that reached "The End"): Forget Me Not.

    I had to set it aside for a time, and I actually ended up publishing the sequel first - but I think the story needed that "rest" time, and I was able to go back and revise/rewrite it with less pain and new eyes after nearly three years of separation. :) I wrote a guest post on the journey for Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog during my blog tour last week: The Long, Long Journey to Publishing Your First Manuscript.

    Would love a chance to enter the giveaway - thank you! :)


  10. Growing up in a strict Christian family I pretty much only read Christian books and it wasn't until recently that the Christian romance market really took off so my options were pretty limited. I'm pretty sure my first was Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke followed by some of her other books. Then I discovered the world of novella collections and devoured them. After that I think it was Al and Joanna Lacy. Christian romance has come a long way since then though I still love the Love Comes Softly series!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. It's hard to remember the very first romance novel I read but I know that when I first discovered Janet Dailey's Americana series of books set in each of the 50 United States I devoured them and went on to read as many Harlequin romance novels as I could. My first Christian fiction was by Colleen Coble and I was hooked and pretty much read only Christian books now.

    Would love to be in your drawing.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  12. What a walk down memory lane! I trashed my first 5 completed books as being over-the-top melodrama, but....

    Writing them was the BEST EDUCATION on creative writing I could get and WAY CHEAPER than going for a college degree that means little in the publishing world. So being self-taught in this industry, is okay.

    BRAIN SURGERY????? Not so much!!!

    TEEEEENA, great graphics. I bow to the expertise because I DREW BAD SPIDERWEBS for my class on writing series and here you are, totally dolled-up and dressed to the nines with pie charts.

    I am not letting my class come here today, they will see what a sham, what a FAKE I am!!!!

    But I will eat some chocolate!!!

  13. Abbi Hart, you're so right. Christian fiction has come a long way, an amazing growth spurt for what was a fledgling industry twenty years ago.

    How blessed we are to have options! And to have an ever-widening audience for our work? LOVE IT!!!!

    Helen, thank you for the coffee.

  14. Clari!!!! That happens so often, and the trick is to just keep writing.

    As that body of work grows, consider it money in the bank, a storehouse of future opportunity. You never know when the tide may turn.

    Nevah give up. Churchill and I are in full agreement on that score.

    Nevah give up.

  15. I collected the Janet Dailey, Americana series until it began to take over my house. Gosh, I loved that series.

  16. Absolutely loved this post! Thanks for all the encouragement in the charts. I love it! I've just discovered I want to write. I have four or five stories started, so who knows where they will go. I love reading to figure out what works and what doesn't work. Would love to be entered in the giveaway! I first read Grace Livingston Hill in high school, while also reading Louis L'Armour westerns. I loved discovering Mary Connealy's books! I am so glad you persevered! So, tip for the day: just keep going. You never know what will happen.
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  17. Wow, Helen Gray. Your 12book. And look at you now!!!!

  18. I'm one of the few who sold their first full length manuscript. I believe it was due to the fact that I'd been writing and successfully publishing in magazines for over twenty-years so I was used to really researching the publications and writing toward the market and what editors said they needed.

  19. Thanks for such a interesting post! I suppose the results are pretty much what I'd expect.

    I've been working on my novel for almost five years, but it's been slow going. I'm involved in several other writing projects--that I enjoy--but as a result, my novel is often put on the back burner...Sigh...

  20. This post really made me smile. My first book was written many years ago when I was on maternity leave after the birth of my oldest daughter. I sent it to one publisher (lol) and received a lovely rejection letter. My sister recently shocked me by producing a copy of the manuscript, since I'd gotten rid of all my copies. Like a loving sister she keeps trying to convince me I should try to publish it. Trust me, it's a little too quirky to sell. My first romance book was Phyllis Whitney's "Golden Unicorn." She had me hook, line and sinker.

  21. Hey, Belle!!

    Ah, yes, Phyllis Whitney. Read them all. Wonderful stories with just the right hint of romance.

  22. Wow, Rose, congratulations! Which was your first?

  23. Speedbo is coming up March 1, Jennifer.

    Time to finish the book and move on to book 2.


    Write faster.

    Write even faster.

  24. Good morning, Tina! So interesting to see the stats of the survey. There's no "one size fits all" in this business! But I think it should be encouraging for those who have written several books yet not sold to see they are in good company. And for those who have lived with one book for years to see that there may be wisdom in setting it aside and starting a new one.

  25. My first book was the easiest book I ever wrote because I knew absolutely nothing about writing.

    She is waiting for me to decide what to do with her. Originally I wrote it for the adult market (no,no, not like that...)but since then, I find it too juvenile. My teenage daughters loved it and read it all in one day, not able to put it down. The characters are too young to submit to LIH or Heartwarming. So I'm just hanging onto it.

    Feel free to toss my name in the lovely hat.

  26. You all are making me feel so much better today. Thanks!

    Thanks to Tina, I've really started studying contests closely for the feedback and exposure I can get if I enter.

    My first two stories were learning experiences. Now I'm digging deeper into the craft as I write.

    Helen, not only did you sell the 12th but the two sequels...way to hang in there. That's awesome!

    Have a great day everybody!

  27. Aww fellow Janet Dailey Americana fans. TINA and CINDY W. They were great books weren't they? I liked all of her books actually and she is the one who started me on Harlequins. And my first sale was to Harlequin. What a dream come true.

    I love how all the stories are different. There's no formula folks. Just do as TINA says and write write write.

    Oh yes, and submit, submit, submit.

  28. Tina, what a wonderful idea to poll authors on their first loves. Very cool to see how first sales correlated with first novel attempts. We all bought into this industry on different tickets, didn't we?

    Being a VERY shy child, I devoured books. I couldn't really tell you why some genres clicked for me and others didn't...until I discovered Kathleen E Woodiwiss. OMG, the adventure, the descriptions, the very diverse reading all spiralled down to this one point...ROMANCE. KEW was my hero for years!! At that point in my life, no other author compared and I wanted to add that kind of color and style and emotion to my own stories.

    My first novel was an historical romance and is currently resting in the back of my closet (no hard drives yet, this was written on a typewriter), half complete at page 450!! One could say I got a bit carried away with melodrama, LOL!

    I dabbled in historical romances without any true direction, my wise husband's words continually ringing through my head, "write whatever you want...just don't get us kicked out of church!" He was very his own special way, LOL!

    I have Anne Goldsmith to thank for setting me on the path of Christian romance. At a local conference, we kind of bonded after I had won the contemporary romance category of the chapter contest. She recommended I submit a novella proposal to her for Tyndales current collection. We continued to talk and my heart opened to the reality that she had faith in me.

    I set aside secular romance and have persued Christian romance ever since.

    Oh, that book that I started so many years ago?? I have a feeling Captain Morgan and I might be reunited for an historical sail across the seas again someday...

  29. Clari, when you finally figure out this writing business, would you please let us in on the secret??

    Write, write, write. Don't follow trends -- well, unless you can writed a great bonnet book, LOL!

    Remember, only YOU can write the book that God has placed on YOUR heart.

  30. Jennifer Smith, I think we've all trudged through a book we refuse to let go of. That is soooo okay. Glad you're working on other projects, too. You never know what direction might spark that ultimate idea and path.

    Good for you!!

  31. AUDRA! 450 pages and half done. Another GWTW!!!

  32. Good morning to you, Jackie and Connie.

    Keep moving forward is a good plan. Good for you both.

  33. Clari!@ I missed you in the morning muddle. And I've missed you, overall. How've you been. Good to see you.

    Hang in there. I did three sets of revisions on my second sale to Love Inspired. But in the end it was a better book and I finally GOT it.

  34. Looks like Blogger ate my comment...I'm just sayin, glad you were so persistent I'm reaping the fruits of your labours...and anticipating those next books! Thanks

  35. Well I wondered where you were, Marianne!

    Thank you for buying!

  36. I'm starving this am, for no good reason. So I brought Asiago cheese bagels and whipped cream cheese.

  37. I loved reading this, and I was comforted to see that a number of authors did not sell their first, or even second, third or fourth books. I'm plotting book number three. Each one gets better. This will be my first romance story.

    I don't remember the first romance novel I read. It may date back to Brock and Bodie Thoene's Jerusalem series many years ago. It wasn't a straight romance, but there was at least a romantic thread. :)

    This post is encouraging!

  38. My very first's a synopsis:

    What if Howard Hughes had a daughter? What if he died, leaving all the security for himself and his daughter in tact and funded forever with a lot of people's livelihood depending on keeping her cut off from the world? What if she wanted out?

    One of the richest women in the world, is on the run from those whose protection have become a prison, is living anonymously in poverty when she stumbled into the life of an inner city doctor with a houseful of teenage foster children. He takes her in thinking she's another homeless waif and she begins caring for his home--but once she's inside she refuses to come out knowing people are hunting her.
    He begins to realize she's not as young as he thought but she's so secretive about her past he can't be sure.

  39. Really solid blog today, Tina, with info to encourage every spectrum of writer from those with only a chapter written to those with 20 ms. like Mary had. Thanks for doing the research and legwork -- it's a blessing to SO many!

    And like Belle, I LOVED Phyllis Whitney, although the first really impactful book I cut my teeth on was Gone With the Wind. I thought it would be downhill from there since it was my first and the best, but there's a big, wide world of wonderful books out there, thank God, and I wish I had more hours in the day. :)

    LYNDEE ... soooooo glad you read romance now!!! :)


  40. CONNIE QUEEN SAID: "My first book was the easiest book I ever wrote because I knew absolutely nothing about writing."

    LOL ... that is a HOOT, girlfriend!!

    Oh, AUDRA ... "Anne Goldsmith ... a name from the past!! And, YES ... you and Captain Morgan ... DO IT!!

    MARY ... I LOVE the Howard Hughes concept, girl, seriously ... you DO IT too!!


  41. Ha, Julie! It's kind of cute how similar our comments are. :-) But you sold your first manuscript, you overachiever!!! ;-) I actually keep forgetting about those two books I wrote in high school. So technically, my first sold book was my fourth one I wrote. But it's so true that all our journeys are different. We have to write OUR stories and be true to ourselves and what God has planted in our hearts. He will bring the increase.

  42. It's fun to think back to that first book I wrote. And rewrote. LOL I'd believed that story would never see the light of day, but the love of the characters and a strong streak of stubbornness led me to revise once again. That book became my seventh Love Inspired Historical, The Bride Wore Spurs. It was not easy to whip that newbie manuscript into a publishable book, but having that story in print still makes me smile.

    My debut LIH, Courting Miss Adelaide, was my second manuscript. It, too, needed numerous revisions. My third manuscript was not a good fit for Love Inspired Historical, but I love the story and characters and think it would be a great story to ePub.

    Thanks, Tina, for the data. Fun to read everyone's experience in the post and in the comments.


  43. Audra, Anne Goldsmith encouraged me too. She asked for revisions twice, but then she changed publishing houses. Ah, the ups and downs of publication. :-)


  44. Cindy W., Tina, and Sandra:

    Did you know that Janet Dailey died December 14, 2013?

  45. Clari, don't give up! You have what it takes!


  46. If we are just talking first manuscripts started, that was when I was a pre-teen, like 10 years old. I still have newer iterations of that story, original titled "The Murder Mysteries of Maria Gonzalez" (why Maria Gonzalez and why murder at 10? I have no idea). My first serious stab at novel writing was YA when I was 13, Fatal Obsession (apparently, murder and mystery is my calling--somehow missed that). It was my first attempt at a book with chapters. I started it in a spiral bound notebook that I left on a bus, but I have from chapter 13 on.

    My first completed manuscript is the one I finished during NaNoWriMo 2013. I got a request to read it yesterday and am hopeful that it will be my first sale, along with its fellows in the series.

    It's so interesting to see how long some of our journeys are to publication. Even though we can't all get it on the first try, we can get there if we keep learning and improving and refuse to give up!

  47. I've been writing (as a hobby) so long that don't remember which completed story was first. I think it was a murder mystery. (So not my thing, so not sure where that came from.) It will never be taken out of my closet.
    Fun to read this post! I agree the main thing to realize is we're all different, and the Lord will use us differently.

  48. What a fun post, Tina! Very interesting to see those graphs and pie charts!

    Phyllis Whitney--YES!!!! She was definitely one of the first romance authors whose books I fell in love with. Also Kathleen Woodiwiss. Once upon a time I was really into the dark gothic romances. Can't think of the author or titles now, but there was a whole series about a castle and a keep, and I just couldn't get enough of it!

  49. Everyone's journey is different, just as our life journeys are different. It's encouraging to hear how long some of you waited, I think that is more the norm, but I'm happy for the ones who didn't have to wait.

  50. Thanks for the encouragement, ladies. I'm definitely still writing and working on a fun story (at least I think so ☺). The two that got rejected this past year (ouch) were sent back with an "I want to see something else from you" so I've put them aside for the time being and am working on new stuff. Onward and... well, onward for now. ☺

    Tina, I've been around, just quiet and a little introverted (too much in my own head probably). :-)

  51. Please enter me in the drawing.

  52. Love this glimpse into the obviously diverse publishing world. I know Madeliene L'Engle sent A Wrinkle in Time to 39 publishers before it was accepted at the 40th one and later became a Newberry award winner. Wonder what she would have done in this age of ebook self-publishing?

    Okay -- first romance I ever read...gosh...thinking back it must have been Mrs. Mike? Historical romance set up in the Yukon. I found it malingering in a used book sale and gobbled it up. Her husband is a mountie. I felt sooooo grown up reading that book!

    First book ever written was when I was eleven. It did have romantic elements...does that count? Bwahahahhahahaha!

  53. One of those quotes sounded familiar...either it was mine or someone had the same experience!

    Here's what I tell my kids: Run the race with blinders on. There's always someone who seems ahead of you in the race and people bringing up the rear. When you're looking at other people, you're taking the focus off your own goal.

    Every journey is different. And that's okay. If we were all the same there'd only be one flavor of ice cream. And how boring would that be?!

  54. Okay,
    So I've finished seven manuscripts now, and I haven't sold one yet.
    Wait... that makes me sound like a horrible writer.
    I haven't sold one, because I haven't yet figured out exactly what to do to get it in front of an agent/editor. But... I have four manuscripts in the Genesis and two more going in.
    My first manuscript, well let's just say it was a good story, but boy was I obviously a newbie. In the find tab, searching out 'felt', there are too many to preview.
    Now I make it a priority to make sure I never leave a 'felt' in my manuscript.
    Maybe on of these days I'll make a sale.

  55. My first love will always be special to me. Three years ago I entered the Genesis and although it didn't final I received some great advice from the judges.(especially the one who I believe has the initials MC)

    Thanks to seekerville and Tina I took the plunge and entered a LIH contest and won. It opened the door for my book to be read by many editors and agents over the next year and a half. Everyone loved it but no one bought it. But thanks to listening to TINA I have an agent and and editor who from time to time email to remind me they want to read my next manuscript.

    I finally set Love's Golden Quest aside and moved on. Months later my critique partner/mentor suggested I self publish the book. So I did.

    The first month on amazon the book sold over 3000 copies. That is not the norm for an unknown author and I believe it was a case of Proverbs 3:5&6.

    When I check my books sales and pass over LGQ I always think "there's my baby"

  56. Crystal, ahem. That does not make you a horrible writer. It makes you a real writer.

  57. Congratulations, Jamie. And the key is you KEPT writing.

  58. You got that straight Sherri!

    And I am pure Italian Vanilla. ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS!!

  59. Oooh, Mary Connealy. I like that book premise!!!

  60. Interesting facts and figures, Tina!

    Love to hear all these wonderful stories! Sharing our knowledge and our journeys is so important - to give back what we've learned along the way!


  61. It is encouraging to know that you SHOULD walk your own road.

  62. CRYSTAL, now see what you said about liking your story...that's how I feel about those early books. I still like my story but I just didn't tell it well.

    So when people say, "That first book will never see the light of day."
    I always wonder was it a bad STORY or did you just tell it like a newbie. Go back to those old stories. If they're good stories, bring your bright and shiny improved skills to telling them.
    I love all the stories I've written.
    Well, there's one.............

  63. Jamie, how cool is that?????

    And Clari, it's H-A-R-D to keep your chin up when the sophomore novel holds you down....

    But kick up your heels, raise some dust and keep on, keepin' on.

    And Crystal I'm with Tina.

    Shoot, as someone who didn't sell until I had nearly fifteen books written.... And then sold the ninth one after being rejected countless times, and then sold 10, 11, and self-pubbed #8 last year.

    Just keep writing.

    Just keep writing.

  64. The first story I wrote was a military suspense. Hubby loves the book...of course he would. It's written about where he worked -- at the National Training Center in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I'm sure he sees himself as the hero. All I see are the problems with the story. Can we all say New Writer With No Clue About Story Construction! LOL

  65. What a great post, Tina. It's so interesting to see how everyone's publishing journey is different!

    I sold my first book, and I feel like I've been playing catch-up ever since! It would have been so nice to have a few more on my computer to polish up and send in...but instead, I have a list of ideas a mile long, and I'm writing as fast as I can :)

    You know, I started that first book just to see if I could do it. I had some time...we were in the process of moving and hubby was living in our new town while I was trying to sell our house. For six months. I was still homeschooling, so I got up a little earlier, let the boys sleep a little later, and wrote for an hour every morning.

    But I never thought it would sell - until I stumbled onto Unpubbed Island and met you Seekerville folks. Suddenly there was someone saying "Go for it!" instead of, "You're doing what?"

    Thanks :)

    And put me in for the drawing!!!!

  66. I love this! I'm among those who took the survey who sold manuscript #5. And whose first is abandoned--lost on an old floppy or zip drive somewhere.

    This has been a chocolate week for me! I have been craving M&M's. LOTS of M&M's. I bought plain, peanut butter and peanut ones at the grocery. I've just about gorged myself. I hope it kills the craving. LOL

  67. Love the encouragement in this post! Thank you to all the writers who participated to bring us seekers the good news to keep working and keep striving. I have not always read and writen romance, but I am falling in love with it! :) What an amazing prize today. Would love to be entered!

  68. I guess my first reads were Grace L.H.
    I do love to read Christian fiction....especially books by Seekers. Please count me in the drawing.

  69. I have read so many books over the years, but the first romance book that I can remember is North and South by John Jakes.

  70. Wow, so many first stories abandoned. That's really sad!

    I don't write romance, but I was very blessed to have the first story I ever completed be my first story published. I had written other things in the mean time, and I went back and revised it to publisher guidelines, but it was still my first one, so I was happy.

  71. Amber, that's how I felt too...sad at all the stories that never made it to the light of day. :(

  72. That's truly the only negative of selling your first written book, Jan. You can't pull a Mary Connealy and pull out all your backlog. LOL

  73. I've been a GLH fan too, Jackie.

    Never read North and South, Amy C.

    Must play catch up. (saw the movie, doesn't count, I know.)

  74. Can't you revise that first love, Debby???

  75. You all are entered in the drawing. Except Seekers, of course.

  76. Tina, Ruthy, and Mary C.
    Thanks for your wonderful words of encouragement. I know I wouldnt be writing where I am today without the wonderful support I've found here in seekerville.
    THANK YOU!!!!!!
    I'm not writing on a manuscript right now, so I don't have to watch my exclamation points.;-)

  77. Tina why you always gotta leave out the SEEKERS when you're giving away good stuff.


  78. Am now toying with the idea of sending grapefruit with all prize packages.

  79. "Except Seekers, of course."

    Yeah, we know.

    But we can still gripe and feel sorry for ourselves.

    Must break out the M&Ms.

  80. Wow, KAV. ELEVEN!!!

    Way to go. You precocious kid you.

  81. "Except Seekers, of course."

    Maybe the only reason to be happy I'm not a Seeker. ;)

  82. I haven't any full manuscripts written. Lots of 1000 words or less stories, but nothing full length. Lots of story ideas stored in a writing file. But no first love to have languishing.

    I do have a 3700 word short short I'm contemplating posting to SmashWords once I've created a kick-butt book cover (well, that and having anyone interested critique it one last time...).

    Queen of the really itty-bitty stuff. Nothing long. At least with this post, I can be encouraged that when I do finally write THE END on a longer piece - all is not lost if it doesn't find a home. Just keep writing. Which is what I need keep doing - now to just add length.

    I do have quite few story ideas in my writing folder. Now to just flesh them out. This post is so encouraging. Keep writing and I will prevail, in God's timing. And which book gets published first is in no way a reflection on my as a person. These things are good to know.

    thanks Tina.

    oh, I'd like to be in the running for that goodie bag...

  83. #pass the M&Ms.

    The snow and ice have melted!!! HOORAY!!!

    Calls for a celebration! I've brought Pre-Valentine Candy and a lovely, red rose for every Seeker and Seeker Villager.

    Notice: I do not discriminate against Seekers. :)

  84. I wrote six completed manuscripts before I sold.

    None of my earlier works have been published.

    I revised one book three times. It can be read in a X-Files type format, as a straight military suspense, and as a medical thriller. It never sold. Finally decided--thankfully--to move on to a new story.

  85. Debby, the secret is as know when to move on to the next story. Thanks for the chocolate.

  86. Deb H., write a little longer each time and before you know you will have a short novel.

  87. LOL, MEL ... I noticed that too, so it's kinda eerie, isn't it? We always talk about how much alike we are (emotionally especially), but I had NO idea just HOW much ... uh, except you're like a gazillion years younger ... :|


  88. Ooh, Seeker grumbles today. Must send Seekers Christmas in February surprise presents.

  89. Just kidding, Tina!

    The prizes are for the Villagers!

  90. I'm so glad you did a post on this, Tina!! I've been wondering about all those first manuscripts.

    My first is about to be revised (during Speedbo!) for the last time before submitting.

    Then I'm moving on!

    First romance I ever read was my mom's copy of Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly. After I read as many of hers as I could, someone loaned me Lori Wick's Kensington Chronicles and I fell in love with Christian romance. After that, I tried to read some non-romance coming-of-age series and eventually did read a couple, but came right back to Christian romance, 'cause I was twelve and "those other boring books didn't have any kissing." LOL!

  91. Natalie, you contest diva, you. Good to see and you and thrilled you will be subbing your wonderful story and writing more.

  92. Deb brought me a rose?????


    And M&M's. I'm death around M&M's, if they are here, I MUST EAT THEM.

    This Seeker is not WHINING.

    This Seeker is not grumbling.



    I'm nicer than the lot o' youse, and that's all I'm sayin'.

    Deb H., I wrote lots of short stories until a friend (Renee) heard me tell about one story and she grabbed my arm and said, "This should be a BOOK."

    And Renee is Italian and tough and I never argue with Renee because she is SMART.

    So I wrote that book and it was a great story, poorly written, but lots of emotion.

    And several others followed.

    But you know, what? Mary's right because book 2 became "The Lawman's Second Chance" and that old manuscript (I didn't use a word of it, but I used the IDEA of it) and my friend's amazingly clever way of doing research for me by developing breast cancer, brought us an amazing, sweet book that I love.

    So Mary's right (how it pains me to ADMIT THAT!!!!) hold onto the ideas... if not the words.


  93. My first book is a non-fiction manuscript that will only see the light of day if self-published. I started a contemporary that only got about 50 pages, then shifted to a historical inspirational that I actually completed. That work is still in front of publishers, though the rejection stack is huge.

    I don't know if that makes the pending one my first, second, or third, since the first was non-fiction and the second was unfinished.

  94. You can only count finished ones Walt or you can glue two unfinished ones together to make a full.

    Like arts and craft class.

  95. Funny thing, Ruthy. A published author whose name I can't remember, said to me, "Why are you wasting all those good ideas on short stories?" She was right.

  96. Wait.

    If I grumble I get a PRESENT?????


    Can I have Mary's, too?

    I'm nicer.

  97. But, since the first manuscript for me was nonfiction, does that make my first fiction manuscript my second or my first

  98. Tina, I really like the two blues on the "First Love" pie chart. But those poor abandoned stories. I mean, at least there are a lot of them, so they don't get lonely. But surely there are some good ones in there that just needed the benefit of time and better writing skills.

    What great info you have shared with us. Thanks for taking the time this undoubtedly required ... and thanks to the authors who shared.

    Nancy C

  99. >> Mary Connealy said...
    So when people say, "That first book will never see the light of day." I always wonder was it a bad STORY or did you just tell it like a newbie. Go back to those old stories. If they're good stories, bring your bright and shiny improved skills to telling them. <<<

    Thanks. I needed to hear -- well, read -- that!

    Nancy C

  100. First romance manuscript, Walt. Stop confusing me. It's working.


  102. Tina I only half agree... you will have lots of great stories still coming and there's nothing wrong with solid regular income... And you know, there's nothing wrong with taking those short story premises and making them BIG STORIES now. Nora did that with a bunch of her early romances, and then turned them into her single title romantic suspense novels... and it worked!

    This way you make money TWICE.

    I'd call that smart.

  103. Note to self: write a little longer each time. That I can do.

    Yep. There are some ideas that would be wasted short. Just keep writing... Thanks all. This is what I love about Seekerville, all the YOU CAN DO IT!

    I love y'all.

  104. OUTSTANDING information, for anyone - readers and writers.

    Just love it!

    Thanks for all the hard work you do on our behalf and happy almost Valentine's Day everypawdy!

  105. I'm a reader.

    My first romance book would have been a medical romance. That is what my older sister was reading at that time in my life.

  106. The first romance novel I read ... probably "Roses for Mama" by Janette Oke ... at the time, I was close the the heroine's age and it probably started my love for the "childhood friends" couples.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  107. I wrote my first romance story as a teenager, starring my BFF Debbie and her boyfriend, Ringo Starr, and me and my boyfriend, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders. :) And yes, I know I'm dating myself here. I'm not published YET but I can assure you my writing has greatly improved since the days of Mark Lindsay.

  108. First series I read was Trixie Belden books. First romantic series that blew me away was Gwen Bristow's Plantation Trilogy: Deep Summer, The Handsome Road, This Side of Glory.

    First (and only)romance novel I've written (during NaNoWriMo 2009) is lurking in the corner of my computer waiting for me to get up the courage to take an objective look at it.

    I've had 3 non-fiction books published, but the switch to fiction has been much harder than I thought it would be. Hat's off to all you romance writers. This girl appreciates all your hard work!

  109. Wow, thanks for the chocolate. Heading over to give contact info. Cool survey. Very interesting.
    I was one of the ones that said she sold the first manuscript she wrote. Only there was no place to say that the book took ten years to sell and sooooo many revisions over those years. I never gave up on it.
    Its still one my favorite books.

  110. Loved the post and loved reading all the comments. I wrote my first story when I was 16. It's very long and complicated and was actually the first of a series. Now, when I pull it out and look at it, I can definitely tell that I was only 16 when I wrote it, but I will go back and re-work someday! Thanks for the inspiration!

  111. I love and am now writing medical romances, Mary Preston.

  112. Our Hawaii friend!!! How are you.

    I love boy next door romances. Love them.

  113. Edwina! Good to see you! I did the same thing. But my hero was Peter Tork from the Monkees.

  114. Edit. Edit. Edit.

    You can do it, Jan.

    Congratulations on your non fiction series.

  115. Terri! Congratulations. And you are an inspiration as you never gave up.

  116. Yep, never rule out revising those old stories.