Thursday, April 19, 2007

Party Post Number 16

ANNIE WEST lives on Australia’s east coast and adores being paid to fantasise about wonderful men and their love lives. Her first book for Harlequin (Modern/Presents/Sexy) was accepted in December 2005. Her current release The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride is available in the UK, now, in Aus/NZ in May and North America in July.


The incredible metamorphosis from rough manuscript to published book ready for sale is obvious from this photo. But, being an author, I feel impelled to add a few more words on the subject!

Pulling out the old manuscript and the new books for this photo I was struck again by that sense of satisfaction, of achievement. Hey, I wrote a book and it’s out there for people to buy! It makes every hour of work on the story worthwhile. So, there’s the obvious first change for an author: you get to see your story published. It’s fantastic, amazing, an affirmation of your work. What else might happen after that acceptance?

You begin to say ‘I’m a writer’ with more confidence and conviction. You even find yourself referring to ‘my editor’ and then stifling delighted laughter.

Your family/friends take your writing ambitions more seriously and maybe even make an effort to give you more writing time.

You spend hours/days/weeks fielding congratulatory messages, answering questions about ‘the call’, and joining new authors’ groups.

You think about having a website/newsletter/blog and suddenly find your writing time has been affected by those exciting possibilities. You think about time management.

You discover how little you know about the mysteries of scheduling release dates and marketing. You realise you don’t understand the details of how and when book sales are determined but you quickly learn about the gap between advances and royalties.

You wonder if/when you can give up work and write full time.

You get surprises in the mail – copies of each edition. I write for Harlequin and my books come out in the UK as Modern Romance, in the US and Canada as Presents, and in Australia and New Zealand as Sexy. I receive copies of all three plus some hard covers (how amazing – my book in hard cover!), and a large print version. You may also start receiving bundles of books from far off places, written in foreign languages! (I’m currently wishing I understood Spanish so I could read my first foreign translation).

You walk into a store and there is your book. YOUR BOOK on the shelf! You pose in front of it, having your photo taken, grinning like a loon.

You are approached by someone who has bought your book (they’ve actually paid to read YOUR story) and she asks you to sign it!

You read reviews of your book. (Nerve wracking but potentially thrilling).

You receive fan mail. (That’s right, some readers will take the time to tell you if they enjoyed your book). It doesn’t get better than that!

You worry about whether your next book will make the grade. Whether it will be as good as the last one.

You have an editor who wants to read more of your work. When can you send your next manuscript? Suddenly the goal of producing the best book you can becomes the twin goals of producing the best book within a reasonable time. Which leads us to:

Deadlines. No longer are you writing a book to your own timetable (if you had one). Now you need to produce good books at regular intervals and your editor may have dates in mind. For me the hardest thing about deadlines isn’t necessarily the time you’ve got to write the book but the fact that the deadline is set, there, marked on the calendar. You can hear the clock ticking in the background... You think about time management some more.

You go out with friends to celebrate your book’s publication and you realise this is exactly what you want to be doing. Achieving the dream of publication is fantastic.

Having your first book published changes your life in all sorts of ways. I’d love to hear what you found the most surprising change after publication, or, if you’re not yet published, how you think it might change things for you. What are you most looking forward to? And if you’re a reader, not a writer, have you ever achieved a personal dream? How did it feel? What changes did it make in your life?www.annie-west.com


Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Annie, firstly congratulations on your great success. I've read all your books and they're fantastic. But I think my two favourites are the two sheikh books coming out this year. Hubba, hubba, are those guys MEN or what??!! The world has a treat in front of it.

I've gone through so many of the steps you outline. Each one seems odd until you move to the next one, somehow. The greatest change for me has been having to incubate and write a book within a deadline. For the slowest writer in the world (I'm in the Guinness Book of Records, I'm sure), that is a bit of a shock to the system. Actually, the nicest bit was the fan mail. It never occurred to me that people would take those characters to their hearts and that the people in my book would be as real to someone else as they have been to me. I've had questions about future wellbeing, sequels, pregnancies, children's fortunes, you name it. It's been lovely!

8:33 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Hi Anna,

I thought you'd be taking a break after your time blogging this morning! Thanks for the enthusiastic comments about Rafiq and his cousin, Arik. I had such fun writing their stories.

I so agree with you about receiving fan mail: it's just lovely. Hm, it sounds as if you'll never be short of ideas for future books with readers requesting pregnancies, childrens' fortunes and sequels. You might just have founded a dynasty with your first book! Great news that so many readers loved the story and want more. Why am I not surprised?

Good luck with the next deadline. I hope you discover you're not as slow as you think. I'm still just amazed at the fact that I HAVE a deadline! And an editor, and a book on the shelves etc. It's such a strange feeling to have a dream come true.


9:05 PM  
Blogger Authorness said...

Wonderful post, Annie! I'm so glad you're getting fan mail - you deserve it.

This week I was given an incredible boost with the offer representation from an agent, after almost two years of searching for Ms. Right Agent. I suddenly feel more "official" as a writer, even though I've been on the job for a loooong time!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Annie,

Thanks for sharing the effects of your journey with us! I read your first book and loved it - the hero was gorgeous and sexy and so likeable that I could see them happy together forever :).

Looking forward to your long writing career to keep me filled up with night-time reads.


10:27 PM  
Blogger Tessa Radley said...

Welcome, Annie!

Thanks so much for visiting and for the wonderful advice.

I have to say I so enjoyed your first book A MISTRESS FOR THE TAKING another author to put on my 'keeper shelf'.

I'm starting to run out of space on that shelf...and that's always terrible.

Looking forward to those sheikhs!!


10:28 PM  
Blogger Robyn Grady said...

Authorness!! That's fantastic! Congratulations. Hope you're celebrating big time. And I have a sneaking suspicion I might know you.... =)

Anna, I'm thrilled to let you know I'm getting a copy of your book on Monday! For the first time in years I'm catching a train that same day, so I'm afraid my companion might find me rather quite for a change. Fan mail definitely on the way.

Annie, I am still so pleased every time I think of you getting the Call. And I smiled and nodded all the way through your post. The biggest change for me is having *my* editors, lol, respond to emails or phone calls straight away. Don't think I'll ever get used to that! And you are sooo right. The pace is up, the pressure's on, and we're loving every minute!

PS I love your books too. "Your books..." Sounds good, doesn't it.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

HI Annie

I've read your first two books and, after this bit of chatting between you and Anna C, I can't wait to get my hands on Rafiq and Arik's stories! I've been over to read the excerpt on your site! Gorgeous!

Mmmm, you asked us about the changes that we thought getting a book published might bring... I thought it would be easy to answer until I sat at the keyboard to say something. I sure do hear what you're saying about the the deadlines though - a challenging idea to write to someone else's timetable.

I related to your picture of your draft with all that writing in the margins - my manuscripts look just like that! Maybe one day they'll be in book form and looking as good as yours do!

10:52 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...


Congratulations! I'm so glad to hear you feel like an 'official' writer (I know exactly what you mean). What a big change this is going to make to your career.

And as for it taking a looong time to get to this point - doesn't it make it even better, knowing you've finally taken that enormous step? You must be so pleased to be achieving your dream - first with Ms Right Agent and next... Fingers crossed for you.


10:58 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Rachel and Tessa, thanks so much for the kind words about A MISTRESS FOR THE TAKING. I love the idea of providing good night-time reads, as long as I don't put you to sleep! And the notion of having a book on someone's keeper shelf is such a buzz. Tessa, you know I've already got your book slotted in to when I finish my current ms - I have a couple ready to be my completion-of-the-book treat!

Robbie, yes, I love the sound of 'your books' too. It's such an amazing change, isn't it, after working so long towards getting that first book accepted? The pace of the changes post publication is quite stunning. I'm smiling here at the idea of you reading Anna's book on the train. Your poor companion won't get a look in, believe me!


11:05 PM  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

Congratulations, Anne. And thanks for the lovely post.

After I'd sold, I found people looking at me a little oddly and I just knew they were thinking, "She wrote a book?" Confused. Little frowns. Apart from my Guide troop. You just knew they were wondering how soon they could get their hands on it to check out if there was any sex and if so, how I knew about it. :)

Deadlines didn't happen until about book ten. They're still a struggle.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Sharon, I'm so pleased to hear you enjoyed the sheikh excerpt on my website. Thank you for the feedback. I love reading excerpts, except often then I can't wait to get hold of the book.

I'm glad that someone else's drafts look as messy as mine. In fact you may notice that in the photo I carefully moved the really untidy pages so you couldn't see too much of them. It's incredible to think of your ideas being transformed into a book. Good luck with your writing - I hope you get to see your stories with lovely covers too!


11:15 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Liz, I don't know whether to be glum or pleased to hear that deadlines are still a struggle for you. The fiction writer in me wanted to believe they might get easier, but at least I'm in good company!

I had to smile at your comment about people viewing you differently when they find out you write. People I've told tend to look amazed. And then they find I write for a line which, here in Australia, is called 'Sexy'...!


11:20 PM  
Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Annie, I think you're pretty sexy - in a totally non squick way ;-)

11:41 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Anna, you wouldn't believe how much practice it takes to describe yourself, without laughing, as a 'Sexy' author (G).


11:59 PM  
Blogger Lis said...

Wow, the picture of the ms to finished product is a great idea! Have to remember that :)

I'm unpubbed yet, but I think I'm most looking forward to THE CALL. That'll be the big thing I think.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Lis, I have to confess that this is the first time I've ever looked at a manuscript and the finished book together - just for this blog. But it was such a terrific feeling, seeing them together.

You're so right about the call. It's just such a fantastic experience! I remember being all atwitter when I heard about that first acceptance. It was so momentous I wrote about it on my website (on the links and writing page if you're interested). I think every author remembers that conversation in vivid detail! (G) I hope it happens to you too.


12:56 AM  
Blogger Fiona Lowe said...

Annie, what a cool idea to put the book next to the manuscript! Although how you can proof hardcopy single spaced I have no idea :-) Your eyes must be better than mine!

Looking forward to your Rafiq

Fiona :-)))

1:29 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Hi Fiona, lovely to see you here! Actually no, I usually read my mss in double spacing - this must have been an aberration, or maybe the camera lied. Spending so much time in front of the computer or reading in hard copy I have to try and treat my eyes well.


1:46 AM  
Blogger Abby said...

Hi Annie, what a great post. And you brought back my journey to me too! I remember when I was going through the internet looking for 'call' stories while submitting (jumping the gun slightly) and if I found your piece now it would definitely inspire me to keep going, just to have all the experiences that you've outlined!
x Abby Green

2:14 AM  
Blogger Christine Wells said...

Annie, I was nodding my head all through your post, which got me some funny looks, I can tell you!

The hardest thing for me now I have a publishing contract is time management, undoubtedly. I often have to 'steal' time to write. Unless you're making a lot of money, families (especially young chilren) can't comprehend the huge amount of time it takes to write a book, especially to deadline. I think if I'm lucky enough to have a long career I'll look back on the early years as a kind of boot camp for the rest!

2:33 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Hi Abby, I love call stories too. They're so inspiring, aren't they? Whether you're published or unpublished, they're just such fun to read or hear.

Christine, thanks for the idea of the early years as boot camp! (G)I can see where you're coming from with that. It's a real learning experience, isn't it? Wonderful but not necessarily easy.


2:46 AM  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

Annie I know I've congratulated you before but - hey - it's worth doing all over again. Congratulations on your success. I hae your sheikh on my pillow waiting for me to go to bed and . . .no - hang on - that doesn't read quite right! I have your sheikh BOOK on my pillow just waiting for me to go to bed and read. . .

Sorry but like Liz I'm going to say that deadlines don't get any easier. Nor does submitting, or waiting to hear from your editor . . .

Achieving a personal dream - well, yes - those published books are proof of that. And how did it change my life? I remember my sister always wanted to travel in India and when she made it, while she was there she kept thinking 'what do you do when you've achieved your dream? ' Well the answer for any writer who has dreamed of getting a book published is that when you do, the next dream is to get the enxt one published - and the next . . .
I never ever get over the thrill of seeing a book of mine on the shelves. And coming to Australia and seeing it in Hobart and then in Sydney was extra special.

Time management - I definitely need some of that.



2:51 AM  
Blogger Tessa Radley said...

Gosh, what a thrill to see so many familiar names *g*.

Liz, your comment that deadlines are still a struggle was much appreciated!!


3:31 AM  
Blogger tetewa said...

Hello Annie glad to see hear about your current release and have you here today. I'm not a writer just a reader of all genres. Good luck on the release and continued success! Looking forward to your new book.

3:39 AM  
Blogger CrystalG said...

Hi Annie. I loved your first book, A Mistress For The Taking. The characters are wonderful.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Denise Rossetti said...

Hi Annie (and Tessa and Anna and Christine and all the other folks I know!)

Loved all the posts on this subject. It's very dear to my heart! *g*

There are so many changes aren't there? I think for me one of the most profound is the paradigm shift in my head that says, "This isn't your little hobby any more, girlie!"

The thought that someone is prepared to pay me real money for the thoughts inside my little head continues to boggle my mind. Some days I simply cannot credit it. Other days, I am able to say airily, "I'm a writer." And not giggle.

But try saying you're an erotic writer if you want the funny looks. I swear, I'm going to murder the next person who asks if I do all my own research! Then I'll be able to write romantic suspense novels about serial killers because I will have done all my own research.

Ahem! Sorry about that.

One last thing. About the Call. I remember I said to the editor more than once, "Are you SURE?" while she laughed her head off. I wonder how many of us have said something like that?

7:29 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

Hi Annie
Loved Mistress for the Taking. Looking forward to reading more.
Lovely post. Thank you for taking me on the journey through the world of a published author

8:16 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Annie, great post and questions :)

When I do get published, I think I'd first be on cloud nine and be grinning like a fool for weeks, lol. I also think I'm going to have to schedule my time, just as you mentioned... which isn't something I'm very good at. I'm also thinking that I'll have to be more focused and not daydream too much... although, that is where my ideas come from, lol.

A personal dream I did achieve was completing the 2005 Houston Marathon. After running 26.2 miles and crossing that finish line I was in tears. It was such a big accomplishment for me, and made me think that if I could do that, I could do anything :)

10:13 AM  
Blogger Lois said...

I think if I were striving to write and then one day walk into a bookstore and saw my name on a book on one of those shelves, I would get on the audio system and announce it to everyone.

Alas, when I go to the bookstore, it tend to be early in the morning during the week. . . so there is hardly anyone there. So it wouldn't work. LOL

However, I did tear up a bit when I went to pick up my associates degree a couple years back in the office. . . in of itself, nothing unusual, but it was my third, and didn't think much of getting the first two. But I did tear up getting this one, because it was my physics one. :) It's only a two year physics degree, but it was my two year physics degree. ;)


11:05 AM  
Blogger Cherie J said...

Hi Annie!

Congrats! I am not a writer. I am a reader and a fulfillment of a personal dream for me was becoming a mother for the first time at the age of 35. My first pregnancy had resulted in a miscarriage so it was especially sweet when I delivered a precious little boy. Since then I have added a baby sister for him who is 6 months old now. I feel richly blessed that I have been able to have 2 healthy and beautiful little ones.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Minna said...

Yes, I have achieved a personal dream. For that I had to move, but it was well worth it.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Annie West said...

Wow a girl switches off the computer for the night and look what happens - more lovely posts to wake up to!

Crystal and Christa, I'm so very happy to hear you enjoyed A MISTRESS FOR THE TAKING. Just what a writer wants to hear!

Tetewa, nice to hear from you. I hope you've been discovering plenty of new books to dip into via Tessa's terrific blog party.

Kate, lovely to see you here. Am giggling at the thought of you having my Rafiq in your bed. I suspect that gorgeous man of yours might object if that were the case! Hope you enjoy Rafiq's story. What an interesting point about what comes after you achieve your dream. I suppose in some cases there could be a sense of anticlimax. But as you say, in writing there's always another dream to achieve, isn't there? What a great thought!

Denise, I can so relate to you asking your editor if she was sure she wanted your book. I read my acceptance in the email and I kept looking for the 'but'. I was trained to expect rejections and I couldn't believe it when it was a 'yes'! Would love to see your reaction to the 'do you do your own research' questions!


1:45 PM  
Blogger Annie West said...

I love to hear about people who've achieved a special dream.

Congratulations, Minna, I'm glad the move paid off for you.

Ali, running a marathon! Wow! I agree, you'd feel that you could do anything after achieving that.

Lois, your academic achievements are just wonderful. Of course you're allowed to tear up - a physics degree after your other ones - what an achievement!

Cherie, it was heartwarming to hear of you achieving your dream. How wonderful that it's worked out and you now have your precious children.

I feel terrific, reading your posts about dreams achieved. Thank you all for sharing!


1:51 PM  
Blogger jennybrat said...

Hi Annie, it's always exhilarating to achieve a personal dream. Congrats!

6:31 PM  
Blogger Helenk said...

Annie, congrats on your sucess. I hope to one day be able to make a full time job from writing - but i can imagine that the CALL would be very exciting but also scary at the same time (deadlines to be met, publicity etc).

11:24 PM  

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