So many of us reinvent ourselves in the New Year, so we're asking authors who are rebranding themselves - through choice or necessity - how they go about a writerly reinvention.
Lucky me! I had active contracts with both Harlequin Superromance and Harlequin Western when those lines were discontinued. I went from the security of writing for two lines to writing for zero. I also lost my trusted editor, as well as my senior editor, whom I’ve been with since the beginning of my career. It was unreal. Just a whole bunch of bad coming down at one time.
Maybe I should have been more prepared for what happened. The sales for both lines had been declining and I knew something was going to give eventually, but I’d expected more of a one-two punch, with a little time between blows. As it happened, there was no time at all between blows and I still had contracted books to write for both of my defunct lines. Books I really didn’t feel like writing, believe it or not.
For the first time since becoming a published author, I felt glad that writing wasn’t my only income. If it had been, I would have gone into full-fledge panic mode. As it was, I had the luxury of using the time after the announcement to think hard about which way I wanted to take my career without the fear factor making me go numb. Traditional? Self-published? New genre?
I wanted to slow down—that was a given. I’d been writing six books a year, and Superromances are long. I felt like I was writing with no time to recharge…mainly because I was.
I realized that while I plan to self-publish at some point in my career, that point isn’t now. My self-pubbed friends ask why I want to continue in the traditionally published world—to the point that sometimes I feel a little defensive about my decision—but with traditional publishing, I know the routine, and I have the time to do it well. Self-publishing, and the steep learning curve associated with it, will take more time than I can give right now.
I have no desire to change my brand, which is cowboys; however, over the past two years I noticed that the sex scenes in my Superromances had been getting shorter. I started closing the door in my Westerns, and in my very last Western, the couple didn’t even do the deed. And it worked. I liked writing sweeter, and while I still write full on sex scenes for my stories published by Tule, my Harlequin voice had shifted. Maybe I could take advantage of that.
So there I was, orphaned, writing sweeter and wanting to stay traditionally published. I wrote to my editors before they left and officially requested to be transferred to Harlequin Heartwarming. My last contracted Western will become my first Heartwarming, to be released in August of 2018. My new editor is someone I’ve known since my first sale. I kind of feel reborn, excited about writing again, and it wouldn’t have happened—or at least not so quickly—if I hadn’t lost the security of my old lines.
So you know that saying about closing doors and opening doors—sometimes you need a door to slam in your face in order to evaluate which new door you want to open. Mine was the sweet door.
Jeannie's latest release, The Bull Rider's Plan, is out now. For more information about her and her writing check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.