This blog was featured on 08/27/2016
[SWP: Behind the Book] My Journey to She Writes Press…

My interesting and satisfying journey to SWP...

I can tell you this with all honesty and a straight face. After I finished the first draft of the first novel in my four-book Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance series on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012, I was bound and determined to pursue traditional publishing. Why not? The genre was on fire when I started writing the book in 2010, although mostly in Young Adult. I took the next step into adult where the space seemed less crowded, and wrote a book I wanted to read.

What did I know about the publishing industry at that time? Nothing. However, I knew I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and wisely refrained from querying agents willy-nilly. Mostly because—other than knowing how to spell the words “synopsis”, “pitch”, and “query”—I had no clue how to write one effectively.

What did I do next?

  • Joined a critique group
  • Signed up for an advanced novel writing class at New York University's School of Continuing Education to work remotely with an editor on the first 150 pages of my book
  • Joined under the recommendation of my teacher at NYU, non-fiction writer Maureen Brady
  • Applied for a spot in the NYC Writer’s Workshop Perfect Pitch Conference for that coming November (2012) to pitch my book to editors and publishers

I worked over the next six months to edit and refine my novel with the help of four different editors which I used for both developmental and copyediting assistance.

Fast-forward eight months to Thanksgiving weekend, November, 2012. My full manuscript was delivered into the hands of Big Six (now Big Five) Executive Editor at Penguin Publishing. He requested it as a result of my pitch at the NYC Writers Workshop Perfect Pitch Conference. When I got the email from my team facilitator, my heart almost stopped beating on the spot. The next Conference is in April 2014... check them out if you are interested. They're top notch!

While my manuscript was on submission: I attended two other writer’s conferences; continued writing the second book in my series, working with She Writes editor, Zetta Brown; launched my blog / website / Facebook author page / Twitter author handle… and waited.  As a result of agent pitching during the all of my conferences, I received no less than eight requests.

During one of the sessions at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City at the beginning of April 2013, I heard agent April Eberhardt speak about publishing options. She mentioned She Writes Press as an alternative that fell between Traditional publishing and Self-publishing. As a member, my ears pricked up, and I took a note on my iPad. One thing I heard loud and clear was industry professionals debunking the two biggest myths believed by first-time writers about traditional publishing:

  1. You’ll earn a living from your first book 
  2. Someone else will do the marketing for you

These things are not true for most people. Rather, 90% of first-time authors will never earn out their shockingly small advances. There has been a ton of buzz over the last week at Digital Book World about this, and a good number of posts from bloggers reacting to it. They do agree on one thing though: If you expect to earn a living, you’ll need to write more than one or two books. Honestly, if I was doing this to make a living… I wouldn’t be doing it. For me, it's a labor of love. Of course, if the series catches fire (no pun intended) like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, I wouldn’t complain. As for marketing, the author is fully expected to participate in their own marketing. Sorry, there is no easy way out of this one.

The more and more I listened to agents and publishers speak on panels, and during keynotes, the more I started questioning what I really wanted as a writer. I also questioned what I would get out of a traditional publishing relationship based on my needs.  

According to another speaker at the conference, there are three main reasons writers pursue traditional publishing relationships:  prestige, editorial services, and distribution.

I received a very nice rejection from Penguin after two editors read my manuscript.  I also received kind notes from agents who I’d pitched to at the conferences who turned down the book (“can’t sell another angel paranormal story right now”), but asked me to submit the adult contemporary floating around in my head.

As a result of Penguin’s feedback, I spent my entire summer working with my critique partner, Joan, to rework my manuscript one more time. Given the dramatic improvements, she thought I should resubmit it to Penguin.  Even if I could have, by then, I’d already made a couple of decisions. I knew I wanted to:

  1. Maintain creative control over my work,
  2. Retain my rights, and
  3. Publish within the next nine months

I fully believed that pursuing a partnership model with She Writes Press could deliver that to me.  And it is!

At the end of the day, what was MOST important to me was a physically high quality book available through traditional distribution models for broad reach, and to be published by a press that I could be proud of. All while maintaining my rights and some semblance of creative control.

Let’s look at the three reasons why writers pursue traditional publishers:

  • Prestige? With agents like April Eberhardt speaking out in the industry on the merits of She Writes Press and partnership publishing, and the staff itself, I’m proud to be one of their authors.  CHECK.
  • Editorial Services? I’ve worked with the SWP editors since last year, so I have access to editorial services. CHECK.
  • Distribution? With the new Ingram relationship, I also have access to traditional distribution. My book will be presented next to the Big Five titles with the same Ingram sales team. It will be available to bookstores and libraries. Added bonus: all the major literary review outlets and services not normally available to indie published authors will be available to me because of my affiliation with SWP. CHECK.

With She Writes Press, I’m getting the best of both traditional and indie publishing, plus:

  • Higher royalties
  • Retention of my rights and creative freedom
  • Flexibility
  • Community

Hmm….  Would I choose the traditional path down the road with another book? It depends. I’m not opposed to it. It’s just not right for me right now. That all said, I’m thrilled to be one of She Writes Press’ Spring 2014 authors.

The first novel in my adult contemporary urban fantasy / paranormal romance series, TRINITY STONES (The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles #1), will be released on April 22, 2014. I’m currently running a Giveaway on Goodreads to win one of 5 free signed copies. Stop by and check it out!

I would love to connect with you! Find me in any of the following ways:

Friend me on
Drop by my blog  for more details on Trinity Stones and to read an excerpt
Visit and Like me on Facebook
Chat and Follow me on twitter
Visit me on Amazon

    Friend or Fan me on my Goodreads Author page

    And I’d be extra thrilled if you added Trinity Stones to your Goodreads Shelf !

Let's be friends

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  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Thanks, Zetta! It was fun working with you on it :-) Fingers crossed on the payoff!

    Also, thank you Karen, Kelly, Kanika, and Olga!

  • Zetta Brown

    Yea, Liz! Now I have your release date in my calendar. I know you've been working real hard and your dedication will pay off. It's been great working with you. :D

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us, LIz!  I just began following you on Twitter and "friended" you on Goodreads.

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Very inspiring post, Liz. Thank you!

  • Kelly Kittel

    Great post, Liz! Rock on! And now I'm off to make sure I've done the following:  friend you on SW, drop by your blog, visit and like you on FB, chat and follow you on Twitter, visit you on Amazon, and friend and fan you on Goodreads! And to make sure I've got all that straight for myself! Whew! And that, She Writers, is what the social media leg of platform building looks like...

  • Kanika Rohatgi

    This was such a great read! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a long, enlightening journey.

  • Olga Godim

    Fascinating post, Liz. So thoughtful and full of info. Thanks for sharing.

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Thanks, Cindy! I wish it truly was as easy as I guess I'm making it look. It's awesome being a part of our Spring Author group, and I thank you for all your encouraging words.

  • Cindy Eastman Writing

    Liz, you continue to amaze me with the amount of information you can gather, process and disseminate! I am glad to be a Spring author with you - you're so enthusiastic and you don't hesitate for one second to help those of us struggling with the many, many tasks ahead of us. For you it seems like a piece of cake! Good job and congrats on all your successes!