Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

The Road Not Taken

x-posted from the Manuscript Mavens blog

Earlier this week, I got a call that gave me a moment’s pause, wondering if I’d made a poor career decision last summer. You see, it was an editor calling to offer me a contract for Carnally Ever After, which I’d long-since contracted to Cobblestone Press. I submitted the story to said publisher back in April of 2006, and when I didn’t hear one way or the other for a few months, I got antsy and submitted it to Cobblestone, never dreaming I’d get a contract offer from them within hours of submission. I figured I had plenty of time to wait for BOTH publishers to get back to me. When I hadn’t heard anything from the other publisher after a full six months had elapsed, I figured the rejection dropped into my Spam folder and I’d failed to rescue it.

Anyway, my initial response to this call was to want to kick myself in the head. The publisher in question is a “big name” publisher, and there’s no doubt I could have earned more money on the story if I’d contracted with them. Why, oh why, didn’t I wait longer? Have more patience?

And then I kicked myself again because, duh, if I hadn’t contracted that story with Cobblestone, I’d never have bothered to write the sequel. I’d never have met Deanna Lee and Emma Petersen and Amie Stuart, all of whom were instrumental in my decision to submit that sequel to Kensington Books.

So, as it turns out, what was objectively a “wrong” decision (to go with a lesser-known, smaller publisher without waiting to hear from the larger one) was actually the right one. I couldn’t have known any of this back in June, though, and none of these possibilities factored into my decision. I simply decided that I’d found a reputable publisher who loved my story, and I was willing to forego the chance of hooking the “bigger fish” when I already had a solid bite on my line.

Wow, am I glad I did! If I had waited, there’s no telling what would have happened, of course. It’s possible I’d have written something instead of Wickedly Ever After that would have hooked an agent or editor. Or not. It’s impossible to know.

As writers, I think we angst a lot over our decisions. Do I write this story or that one? Should I submit to this agent or that one? Should I sign with this agent or not? And so on.

But I think maybe we worry too much. Even if you make the “wrong” decision, chances are good it’ll be a learning experience. It will probably lead you places you’d never have tried to go otherwise. And that, in the long run, it will contribute to your success in ways you can’t even dream of when you make your choice.

YOUR TURN: What was the hardest career decision you ever had to make? Did you make the “right” one or the “wrong” one? Or are you still trying to figure that out?


  • Renee May 17, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I haven’t been at this long enough to regret any decisions. My biggest decisions are which contest I’ll enter and what, if any changes I’ll make after feedback.

    I did, send a partial to a publisher per their request last September. I do remember being frustrated, because I had just finished the first draft. Everyone kept telling me it is complete, go ahead and pitch it. Well, I did and I stressed for months about not getting it done and up to specs before I got the rejection I fully expected, but I wanted it to be ready just in case. It’s been nine months and nothing, so I stressed for nothing.


  • Kris Eton May 21, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Oh, I have several:

    1) Querying an unfinished book
    2) Wishing I’d edited a subbed book just one more time
    3) Wishing I’d used a more polished query on my first set of queries
    4) Entering a contest to help me finish a book, only to not finish it and have a request for the full from the agent judge.

    I think I’ve done every single thing wrong at least once!


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