Thursday, March 5, 2020

What's Luck Got to Do With It? by Nancy Fraser

If you'd have told me thirty years ago that I'd become a romance novelist, I'd have probably suspected you'd lost your marbles. My life plan at that time consisted of family, a nine-to-five job, and my boys' sports. Summer vacations were always a trip to Nova Scotia to visit my in-laws farm and then back to the same-old, same-old.

However, once I rediscovered a long-forgotten love a writing, all sense of normalcy flew out the window. Thankfully. I've already recapped how I began writing in my column In the Beginning. What I didn't talk about was the "luck" you need to actually make it in this crazy business.

Here are just a few (of many) things that require luck when you decide to become an "author":

Finding a support system. Whether it's a group of like-minded authors (such as a chapter of Romance Writers of America) or just a critique partner or two, it's important to have someone at your side who understands what you're attempting to do. If you're really lucky, you'll find critique partners who know more than you do and aren't afraid to call you on your b.s.

Defining your niche. Being able to decide which genre best suits your style of writing. This is something I've never been able to fully define, despite my years in the business, and my tagline says...I jump across romance genres with gleeful abandon. However, that said, deciding on single genre is a better strategy to build a long-term audience. The luck comes in picking the right one and running with it.

Finding an agent. Back when I began writing, agents weren't a necessity. For those of us who have been writing a long time without one, they are still not an absolute. For a new writer who aspires to a big publishing career, finding a partner representative is crutial.

Discovering your strengths. Sometimes we stumble over them. Sometimes they come naturally based on past life experiences. I have no medical knowledge, other than from twenty-odd years in a totally administrative position. I'd never want to write a medical thriller. However, I can write the gritty behind-the-scenes stuff with competence, humor, and creativity.

Getting an unexpected break. My unexpected break came in 1996 at the RWA conference in Dallas. Like a number of the members of the Romance Gems, I attended a workshop given by the late Kate Duffy, an editor for Kensington Books. In the workshop, she detailed a new line of books that were part of a joint effort with Walmart. That was the beginning of the short-lived Precious Gems line. And, for a few of us who are part of this group, it was the beginning of our publishing career. My first book, Courting Trouble, was bought within three weeks of the conference, as was my critique partner's first book. It was a blessing to become a published author at the same time as one of my best friends.

Repeating a "ground floor" experience for a second time. No matter how a career has progressed, getting in at the beginning of a new venture is always exciting. I was one of the first authors to be published by The Wild Rose Press when they opened their doors over 14 years ago. I was also a year-one author with Entangled Publishing. I still write for both and am eternally grateful for their ongoing support.

Finally, and most importantly, finding a great group of authors and readers with whom you can dish on nearly any subject. I feel fortunate to have discovered the Gems and for having the opportunity to reach out each month on this blog.

Despite the hard work and moments of doubt, there is no more rewarding career (other than family) than being a writer. We have the power to reach out and touch people in a very profound and entertaining way. And, if that's not "luck", I don't know what is.

Speaking of luck, don't forget to enter this month's Rafflecopter drawing for two Amazon gift cards. You can find all the details on our Monthly Giveaway page. Or, you can go straight to the Entry Form. Either way, it only takes a minute or two of your time for a chance to win!

Until next month ... stay lucky !!



  1. I’ve always believed we need to be “out there” working hard and being available for luck to find us. Luck come to those who work for it. We also need to be prepared to grab a chance when it some along...we need the craft, skills, determination to take an opportunity and apply ourselves. Great post!

  2. i believe in luck. I've been told there's no such thing. Nope, maybe they just use another name . Nancy, may luck continue to bless you with riches!

  3. I do believe you sometimes need to be in the right place at the right time. I always seem to be behind the eight ball, or coming into something after the big peak. Maybe someday I'll get in on the ground floor of something great. But I did have amazing luck when I became friends with my two beta readers and my critique partner. They are so amazing and we all work together to make my books the best they can be. I am thankful for that!!

  4. Hilary Sares bought my first book for the Precious Gems line. Three days after I snail mailed it, I got the call. It was a very exciting time. Kate bought all of my next books. I loved working with her.

  5. Great post. We can call it luck, timing or synchronicity. It all helps. Along with talent, tenacity, and plain old hard work. And yes, I am one of the lucky ones.

  6. It sounds like you've had a great writing career so far and you're really enjoying it. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you Karin. Yes, I've had a wonderful time. I've made so many good and lasting friends. Even without the publishing credits, that would have been enough of a reward.

  7. I believe in luck, too, but think you usually have to work for it! Great post, Nancy.

  8. I do think that sometimes you can make your own luck. It does mean taking a chance.

  9. I enjoyed your article. I believe in luck and that sometimes you have to make your own luck!

  10. Great post, and cool how you got started writing!

  11. Nancy, Precious Gems was my first sale also and mine was due to three women at an RWA meeting telling me Hilary Sayres was buying. I got into Wild Rose Press through a joint effort of a private group that included one of their editors. They are lovely people but I am now indie. This is a wonderful career.

  12. What a great article! You are very talented and have an awesome career. Thank you for sharing it with all of us! :)

  13. Interesting how you first got published.

  14. Kate Duffy was one smart editor, wasn't she? Sure glad she gave you that first sale because you took that and ran with it!


Due to the high volume of Spam comments, we are forced to install Comment Moderation and Word Verification. We apologize for the inconvenience.