My first novel (Underneath It All) was published in 2007 as was my second (Life Over Easy) by Kensington Books. By the time Touchstone released my third (More Than This) and fourth (Good-bye To All That) novels in 2008 and 2010, I was a bit burnt out. I needed a break.
It just so happened that my writer's sojourn coincided with a seismic shift in the publishing world. Even though I wasn't working on my next novel, I was still talking to my editor and what she had to say wasn't good. Her boss told her they were scaling back, way back, on women's fiction and chick lit acquisitions and focusing solely on non-fiction by celebrities and "book club" type books. (She's now at a publishing house that specializes in uber literary novels and commercial fiction is a dirty word that she dare not utter much less champion during pitch meetings.)
Once again, I was on the short, fuzzy end of the publishing stick. Even though I was never much for writing specifically for a publishing trend (vampires! erotica! erotic vampires!), I knew that I had to adapt. If I wanted to continue writing, I'd have to figure out a way to do it on my own. No matter what some publisher sitting in a New York City high rise said, I knew readers still want to read funny and smart fiction about modern women. How? Because I'm one of them. I don't only write women's fiction and chick lit, I'm also a voracious reader of it.
I took everything I'd learned, figured more than a few things on my own and have surprised myself with flashes of ingenuity and my sheer determination to make this work. Best of all, I get to write the kinds of stories I want to tell and, even though it's a lot more work (hiring a cover designer, working directly with a copy editor, coming up with a marketing plan, etc), I've never felt more in control of not only what I'm writing, but of my writing career.
Funny enough, my own life has started to mirror that of a chick lit plot: a plucky gal decides to go against the tide and hilarity/heartbreak ensue. While I would never would presume a happy ending for myself (it's just not in my nature), I'm positive it's going to be a hopeful journey. As a writer and reader, I can't ask for more than that.
5/21/12 Note: Winner of an e-copy of No Need to Ask: A SweetSpots Contemporary Romance is...Lauren M. Thanks to everyone for participating!