We're delighted to welcome Rachel Brimble to the PHS this month, as she talks about what it's like to write for the US market as a Brit...
My first novel was published by small US publisher, The Wild Rose Press, back in 2007. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. I have wanted to be a novelist since I was around nine years old and discovered Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series. The fabulous plots and characters had me completely hooked, but it was the lifting of the hairs on my neck that caused me to instinctively know what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Well, of course, the journey to being published was not the straight-forward, dreaming-reaching success my nine-year-old self envisaged. Real life meant I left school at sixteen, secured a job in a bank and worked there for almost ten years until I left to give birth to my eldest daughter.
Very soon I took the decision to be a stay at home mum, and even though my husband and I knew it would be a struggle financially, that’s what I did. Two years later, our second daughter was born and that’s when I had a ‘now or never’ moment and finally started writing my first novel.
Six months later, Searching For Sophie was born and I began to query UK agents. Twenty plus rejections later, I was beginning to feel daft for even thinking I could write. Then I discovered the Romantic Novelists Association.
I joined their New Writers Scheme where a published author reads and critiques your entire manuscript. I now know my reader was fabulously successful and extremely lovely and funny lady, Julie Cohen. Julie was so encouraging that I dived straight back into the book and applied her tips and advice.
More rejections ensued.
While chatting on the RNA loop, someone suggested I try The Wild Rose Press, a new US publisher looking for romance novels and novellas of every sub-genre. I eagerly sent off my manuscript and it was accepted within a month. I was beyond thrilled!
After the publication of Searching For Sophie, The Wild Rose Press went on to publish two more of my novels and two novellas. I was happy, but still itching to secure a UK agent. I decided I would write a longer romantic suspense and start submitting again.
Almost thirty rejections later…nada.
Thankfully, when I was beginning to think I couldn’t write, would never move to the next stage, I attended my second RNA conference and secured a one-to-one with an editor from MIRA. The single-title arm of Harlequin who publishes romantic suspense, thrillers etc. The editor had already read the first chapter of the novel before we met and was so excited by it, she invited me to submit the entire novel.
Two months later it was rejected…but with a wonderful note to saying ‘you have a very global voice which I think is more suited to the US market. Go for it.’
Hmm, why was I fighting the market that gave me my first chance of publication? Why was I so focused on a UK agent instead of a US one? Maybe the gods were trying to tell me my destiny lay across the pond.
Having written a full-length contemporary romantic suspense and, by now, my first Victorian romance, I submitted to three US agents. Within a week, I was offered representation. Woohoo, happy day!
The rest, as they say, is history.
Since 2007 I have had seventeen books published (book 18 coming in August – details to follow!) and books nineteen and twenty are currently under consideration with—you guessed it—US publishers.
Right now, I have a popular series with Harlequin Superromance (The Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press. All the books feature UK characters in a UK setting and not once have I felt restricted to write differently for the US market than I would have if I was targeting my books anywhere else in the world.
My latest release will be out August 1st and is book eight for Harlequin (all books can be read stand-alone). Ethan’s Daughter is a romantic suspense novel and features an existing character from the Cove and a brand new character, reclusive novelist, Ethan James.
My message to all aspiring authors out there, or even experienced authors struggling to find an agent and/or publisher, think wider than your resident country. Opportunities are everywhere, it’s just a case of reaching out to find them.
Rachel's latest book, Ethan's Daughter, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, visit her website and blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.