Sunday, February 3, 2019

Wearing Many Hats by @KarenWhiddon

I am a full-time author.  After years of working in the insurance industry and writing on the side, in 2011 my husband and I sold our insurance agency.  He retired and I wrote.

In 1996, I sold my first book to Kensington Precious Gems.  I wrote 5 books for them, and then 5 for Dorchester (Leisure).  Finally, in 2003, I sold to Silhouette Intimate Moments (Now Harlequin Romantic Suspense.)  My 55th published book will be out in April 2019 (45th for Harlequin). You'd think by now, writing would be easy, right?  Hah.  Not so.  I think the more you know, the more you question.  But I still love my stories and my people and the happily ever after.  So there's that.

2019 is 8 years after I quit working in the insurance agency.  This year, I've been toying with the thought of going back.  The benefits - steady income stream, health insurance, getting out of the house - balance out the negatives - having to leave the house, working for someone else, less time for my writing and working out.

Then I started talking to a friend who shifted from writing for Harlequin to self-publishing.  Bear in mind, I went to the Ninc Conference in White Plains where Bella Andre spoke.  I heard all the tales of big money, huge money.  I put up 10 books from my backlist and, while they earned some money, it wasn't a huge amount.  Granted, I didn't do any promo or advertising, inured against this since I wrote category for HQ with a short shelf life.  I'd heard that self-publishing had a glutted market and it wasn't the same.  I should have gotten into it in 2012.  Instead, I kept writing new material strictly for the traditional market.  I did ok.  Enough to live on, though nothing to write home about.  Until one of my Harlequin lines closed and I only had one to write for.  Since I write 4 books a year and they can only publish 2 per year from me, you can see the problem.

Self-publishing?  I spoke to my friend, read the new bestselling authors with whom I wasn't familiar.  There seems to be room for another author, though it certainly sounds like a lot of work.  But my friend was doing well.  Really well.  Not Bella Andre, millions of dollars well, but certainly way better than my annual salary writing for Harlequin.  And so a new job was born.



To be honest, since quitting insurance, though I kept my license active, I'd taken it easy.  Too easy.  I acted as if I too was retired most of the time.  I slept in, walked, worked out, and then spent 3 hours per day writing.  That was enough for me to write 4 books a year.  Since I'm contracted for the remainder of 2019 with Harlequin (last deadline 12-15-19), I'll continue to keep my 2-5 pm writing time for those books.

Now, I'm up at 5:30, just like I was going to an outside job.  I'm learning Photoshop, so I can design my own covers.  A couple years ago, I'd gotten back 10 more backlist books from Harlequin, so I'm putting them up.  I've purchased a couple of covers, but I'd prefer to do my own. I've asked for more rights to revert to me.  I'm going to plot out a new three-book series and once I have those all written, hire an editor.  I'm going to have a second career as a self-published author, while continuing to write for my beloved Harlequin.



Can I do this?  I'm full of doubts, but also full of hope.  I'll have help - the romance writing community is full of generous women who share knowledge.  I'm aware that it will take time to show a profit.  Time and money.  But years ago, when my husband I and started our own insurance agency, there were a couple of lean years until we got up and running.  We had to spend money to make money, and I will have to do the same thing now.  Wish me luck.  I hope to have all my backlist up on Amazon by the end of February and the new series up by the end of the year.  I can do this!!!


13 comments:

  1. Great post, Karen. I need to take a hint and get busy myself. Best of luck with learning Photoshop and with your new series!

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  2. Karen...you’ve got this! And you’ve got us, the Gems, to help you on your way. It’s a fun journey most of the time. And way to go learning to do your own covers!

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  3. What an inspiring post! I have no doubt you'll do this and do it well!

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  4. Very exciting, Karen. It's not a get rich quick gig, but the chllenges and the learning curves are part of the journey. And you're right. Lots of help along the way.

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  5. Karen, you can do it! Look at what you're accomplishing each day. I agree with Liz. Your post is inspiring.

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  7. Karen, I loved reading this post and discovering your journey from insurance to romance author. The industry is in flux and the harder you work, the more you get noticed. Trying new things and wearing more hats is all part of being an author these days. I'm so excited to see what you do this year! :) MRS N

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  8. Karen, I have no doubt you can make the transition. You're a fabulous writer and smart as anyone I know. Go for it! Oh, and congratulations on your 55th. We should have a party.

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  9. Very cool story. Thanks for sharing it with us 😍

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  10. Hey, if the 3 hours you spend everyday writing are indeed 3 hours writing at full speed, congrats! You have a lot more discipline than me and most of the people I know! :-)

    Keep up the good work! Everything is going to be fine!


    My contact info: adissidente at gmail dot com

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  11. You said: I think the more you know, the more you question. So true. I continue to learn and try to write a better book.

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  12. I just retired after 30 years of teaching and am trying the full time writer thing also. So much work. Sounds like you plan to get disciplined. Keep us informed on how you are doing and tips that work or things that throw you off. Good luck!

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  13. I think it's cool that you're doing your thing! It's very inspiring!

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