A writer’s journey doesn’t necessarily get easier after being published—or even after being multi-published. Nothing is guaranteed. Today on Seriously Write, author Irene Hannon shares personal experiences and how she tackled new challenges in her writing career. Enjoy! ~ Dawn
A Veteran Writer’s Ongoing Journey
by Irene Hannon
I guess you could call me a veteran writer. I’ve been published for 20+ years and just saw the fabulous cover for my 40th novel, Vanished (January 2013).
Yet four years ago, after 26 books, a RITA award and various other honors, I found myself once again classified a newbie when I decided to expand from contemporary category romance into single-title, trade-length novels.
Let me tell you—that was a big surprise. I had no idea breaking out of category was going to be so tough. Or that I would essentially be starting all over. But the hard truth was, very few people in the single-title, trade-paperback world had ever heard of category-writer Irene Hannon.
My first effort, a longer contemporary romance, drew little interest. So I tucked the manuscript away in a drawer, hoping to sell it someday down the road. (And I’m delighted to report that day seems to be fast approaching!)
When I couldn’t sell that book back then, I decided to try my hand at a different genre. Since my Nancy Drew days, I’ve been a fan of suspense. In fact, my very first novel (novella, really), was a romantic suspense. I still have it; it’s in the deepest, darkest corner of my closet—where it shall forever remain. To put it delicately, the book stunk. My writing in those days was unpolished and I had no law enforcement or military background—nor was there an internet to consult. (We’re talking the dark ages here.)
But this time when I tackled suspense, I had my ducks in a row. I’d polished my writing. Established publishing industry contacts. Lined up amazing sources in law enforcement and other professions. And even though my original intent was to write one book, two more hunky FBI characters appeared, begging me to tell their stories. So without even a nibble from a publisher, and in between category commitments, I took the plunge and wrote the entire Heroes of Quantico series on spec. Kind of like newbie writers do when they’re trying to break into the published ranks.
I’m happy to report my gamble paid off. All three of those books became best sellers. They garnered two RITA nominations and a RITA win, as well as a Daphne du Maurier award. So far—fingers crossed!—all the books in my second, series (Guardians of Justice) have been best sellers, too. And one of them (Deadly Pursuit) is up for a RITA as I write this. The third book, Lethal Legacy, has just been released.
So what does all this mean? Simple. When spreading your wings, perseverance, risk-taking and a belief in your own talent is as important to multi-published authors as it is to the unpublished. My experience also reminded me that while nothing about this business is easy or guaranteed, if you want something badly enough you can find a way to make it happen. But it takes work—homework, groundwork and hard work.
I’m glad I made the effort!
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Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier Award and two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. Booklist also included one of her novels in its “Top 10 Inspirational Fiction” list for 2011. She lives in Missouri.