For some, the journey to publication may be smooth. But for most of us, it can be almost as challenging as trying to win Survivor. One difference is that we gain strength throughout the day or evening from drinking coffee and eating chocolate instead of dining on an assortment of creepy, crawling creatures. But as author Jen Turano shares, we learn and grow from the challenges we encounter along the way.
Jen Turano’s Perilous Path to Publication
I wish I could write that my journey to publication was relatively easy and painless, but alas, I’m afraid that’s not my tale to tell. Instead, I chose the daunting path, the one filled with rejections, some scathing at times, too many mistakes made on my end to count, and five manuscripts that will never see the light of day. I’m hopeful my story will encourage other writers, and perhaps, help some avoid the disasters that occurred to me.
It all began when my son was in elementary school. We were having a difficult time finding books to hold his interest, and so—we decided to write our own. I sat down and whipped out a middle-grade fantasy novel about repulsive lizard creatures, and titled it Fanglers. My son thought it was fabulous, and proceeded to tell his teacher at school, and word soon got out that I’d written a book. Here’s where lesson number one comes into play—people who know you are not the best source for honest opinions. I quickly became convinced I belonged on Oprah’s couch, back in the day when Oprah still had a couch, and so my journey began. I put together a query letter, sent it out to all of six agents, and…rejections were swift, and…brutal. Lesson number two—a writer really should investigate what agents are actually acquiring before sending a middle-grade book to agents who only represent non-fiction, and…manuscripts are supposed to be double-spaced. Who knew?
Undaunted by the rejections, I proceeded to write another middle-grade novel, then moved on to a young adult, and that’s when I learned another painful lesson. Harry Potter was huge at that time, as was Twilight, and I discovered that writing to trend is not recommended. Agents told me their lists were full, and that I should probably try something else.
Right after I finished the YA, my dad died, and when I got back to Colorado after closing up his house, I decided to write a novel set in my old hometown. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and then learned that, well, 172,000 words for a debut novel will never, ever, ever, be picked up by a publishing house. That was almost the end of my writing journey, but…one of my girlfriends came over to commiserate with me, and she suggested I try my hand at what she called a “Fabio” book.
I’d been reading historical romance forever, and the idea took hold. I sat down, wrote a story I titled Almost a Lady, and sent it out. Within hours, I had eighteen requests for partials, but it was a hot mess and rejections quickly followed. I’d not done any real research, you see, and my historical facts weren’t exactly accurate, my POV problem had not improved much, and I hadn’t given the story the time it deserved, but…I realized that historical romance was what I was meant to write.
I wrote another historical novel, this one actually researched, and that landed me my agent, Mary Sue Seymour. Bethany House purchased A Change of Fortune and my publishing journey continues.
In hindsight, I now view my rejected manuscripts as my stepping stones. I needed to go through that pain in order to grow, and in order to produce a book that would be good enough for readers to want to read. I’ve come to believe that God knew exactly what He was doing when I struggled for so long, because I’ve learned patience, and through that patience, I’ve become a better writer.
Wishing everyone all the best,
~ Jen ~
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Jen Turano writes quirky historical romances for Bethany House. Her debut novel, A Change of Fortune, released to market November 1, 2012. Her second novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, will release in June, 2013. She lives in Colorado with her husband, son, and neurotic Cattle Dog.
To learn more about Jen and her work, please visit
Author website: www.jenturano.com
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