I know there are a few peeps out there who would love to know what happens behind the scenes when a writer slogs their guts out on an 80,000+ word manuscript and then decides to try to sell it. Try being the operative word. Here it is in a nutshell…
So first I came up with the idea for Behind the Courtesan. I wondered what the mistresses and high society courtesans did when their protectors returned to their families for the holidays or went off hunting with their chums. We’re talking a few months of the year here and the women would have had their cozy houses to live in and most of the time enough money to last them so it probably wasn’t a major hardship. But still the question begged, what did they do? What if they had families of their own? Families that may or may not have accepted their lifestyles at least as far as to hold out their hands when broke.
And then came the idea that the courtesan was forced to return home and finally face her demons, her old life, her old love. The what, where, when and why. And then you start writing. It took me around six months of solid work to get it past the draft stage and submit it and then more months of waiting, a few rejections and then the offer to publish came while I was on my honeymoon in Thailand. That was June 2012. Then came the rewrites. I had a new editor for this book and because of its depth of emotion and more characters than my first book, there were a few areas that needed serious work, a character who features throughout the book had to be rewritten, as did many, many chapters and scenes. I think we had two or three rounds of intensive rewrites and then line edits for punctuation, grammar and disjointed sentences or modern phrases. Most of these had to be done yesterday. I had three weeks for the first round and less than two weeks for each round after that. Add in my family, my housework and my day job and it was exhausting but we got there.
Amidst all of that was the back cover copy which is done by Carina Press and then I have to approve or make suggestions if I want to make changes. I didn’t. They pretty much nailed it.
Then comes the cover art sheet. Even though this book is published with Carina Press and a digital first, they still do everything for me. I don’t have to do my own covers or upload my own work to Amazon and the zillions of other etailers. They do all the hard yards (after I write the book) and I sit back and say yae or nae while I get started on the next book. So with the cover art this time I said what I didn’t want. I didn’t want the passionate embrace or the writhing on the bed with naked thighs (not for this one anyway). Even though this book or predominantly a romance, the story is so much bigger than a girl falling in love with a boy. They both have serious demons to face, betrayals to overcome and hurts to forgive and forget. If you read the first chapter when I submitted it for Mills and Boon New Voices then you’ll remember this as the one where the heroine gets out of the carriage and is dropped in the mud, laughed at, humiliated. It doesn’t start with eyes across a crowded ballroom and fluttery stomachs or sly half smiles. Here’s the cover they came up with.
Lovely isn’t it? There were a few stages before we got it here but I think the art department nailed it.
So now I just wait for the final PDF and it's already on presale at Amazon for nearly half the price! It officially releases on the 22nd April.
It took 14 months from submission to sale. Far quicker than a traditional print romance but with the same degree of meticulous editing and planning.
IF you’re a new writer thinking it’s easier to self publish, I can’t tell you either way not to do it but I can tell you that Carina are awesome to work with. The same level of professionalism, higher royalties than a lot of other epublishers on the market and a lot less hassle than Amazon direct stuff. Even cheaper than self publishing because I don’t pay a cent for my beautiful covers or my wonderful editor or the marketing.
Here's the blurb for Behind the Courtesan.
When courtesan Sophia Martin returns to the village she fled as a young woman, she knows it won't be a happy reunion—but she can't refuse her brother's request to attend his expectant wife. Trapped until the baby arrives, she must navigate the social rift she caused when she left to pursue a disreputable life—and keep the true reason for her departure from the man she once loved, the bastard son of the Duke who ruined her.
Blake Vale has never forgotten Sophia, but he can't accept the decisions she made, the courtesan's life she leads, or the fact she's cast aside her true self. Plain old Sophia has to be inside this hardened woman somewhere, and he's determined to make her see she doesn't need rich men to be happy, and that their future has nothing to do with the past.
When the dukedom suddenly falls within his reach, Blake must come to terms with his own past and his birthright, and what that means for his future…and Sophia.