Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Rules? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules!

Rules are made to be broken, right? Well, not when you're on the playground in elementary school. Probably not sitting at your desk in your first job or at a red light. Not when your doctor tells you to lay off the sugars and hit the treadmill. But do we still break them? You bet we do. Testing rules is how we expand our horizons, learn our limits, and tap into our creative (and moral!) compasses. If everyone followed the rules, 90% of what I have on my Kindle waiting to be read would never have been published. I never would have been published. I broke the first rule of writing fiction - You need an agent.

Over the years I've had several agents who've negotiated nice deals for me. Did they get my first six novels published? No. I did that on my own before even testing the agent waters. My first agent built off my rapport with my editor but never got me anything I hadn't already negotiated. Agent 2 got me kicked up a level at my current historical publisher, followed my leads to get me into contemporary and paranormal markets, and moved me to a new historical publisher just as the midlist market began to crumble. At that point, we amicably parted, and I broke another rule by leaving NY to go with a small press who let me bend another sacred convention by publishing the next six books in my vampire romance series after the first three were long out of print. Still on my own, I networked with my old contemporary editor and got back in the door in NY with an intrigue series before breaking the biggest rule of all by saying no to a wonderful offer because it came with conditions opposite what I 'd planned for the first book in paranormal series I'd started (it had a continuing hero/heroine and you didn't do that in romance!) - a series I discussed with another former editor who loved my idea and suggested I get an agent to do the deal. I retained Agent 3 at the same conference. With great Publisher's Weekly reviews (including starred!), the series extended to 10 books until e-books brought down the Big 6 and I was told the paranormal genre was dead. Rather than hang on by my fingernails by trying genres that weren't a good fit, I decided to go agentless once more to explore self-publishing.

Since then, I've self-pubbed 3 books, with three more to go, got the rights back to most of my backlist, sold 7 of them to another well established small press for rereleases, and am starting to go through those old historicals to get them out there again. A 30 year/60 book career from breaking that first rule. Did I make all the right choices? No, far from it. For the most part, I followed the guidelines until coming up against a rule that just wasn't in my best professional and creative interest, and I was willing to accept the consequences (most of them unknown) of those actions by saying no.

Everyone doesn't play by or prosper from the same set of rules. Don't be reckless just for the sake of being a rebel. Take the time to be sure before you aim to misbehave. Be a chance taker and a rule bender along this uncertain path to publication in this New Year!

Happy Writing!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG 

IWSG awesome co-hosts for the January 4th posting will be Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!


  1. Happy New Year, Nancy.
    Every time I read your monthly IWSG article, I learn something. Thanks for sharing your expertise and experience in the writer's market. It is a big help to me.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

  2. Thank, Pat and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you!!

  3. Rock on! That's all I have to say. This journey is different for everyone, and to think that one path (or method of progressing) is right for everyone, that's ludicrous!

  4. I first discovered you as Dana Ransom and look forward to those books coming out again-- the ones I don't have on my keeper shelves.

    1. I'm having such a good time getting reacquainted with the Bass family! Glad you still remember those days!!

  5. You make my head spin, Nancy! And you're speaking straight to my heart! Thank you for validating what I've thought all along...you have to do it your way! You are awesome!

  6. Taking chances (after thoroughly examining the consequences) makes you the terrific writer you are. You went with your gut as to what worked for you. BTW, love the title of this blog. LOL

    1. I spend more time coming up with the right title than writing the blogs!

  7. I don't have an agent and I've traditionally published quite a few ebooks and print books, but I am looking for an agent now to help with a certain project. No one path is right for every writer. :)