On 24th April my dreams came true … My debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love was published by the fantastic Harper Impulse (digital first romance imprint of Harper Collins) as an ebook, with paperback following in June.
Publication was exciting, scary and satisfying. A lot of hard work, angst and energy has gone into getting here. So how did I do it? Well, apart from supportive friends and family, very patient children, learning my craft and reading a lot, I can thank the Romantic Novelists Association's (RNA) New Writers' Scheme (NWS).
The NWS is a probationary membership where for an annual fee you get to attend events including meetings, parties and the conference (fees apply) and can be part of the friendly, informative cyber-chapter ROMNA where you can chat to/get advice from/share news with other authors. Most importantly, at least in my view, you can submit a manuscript to be anonymously read and critiqued by a full member of the RNA.
I was lucky enough to join the NWS in 2010 and the last four years have been amazing. I've attended RNA conferences including going to unbelievably helpful workshops and nerve-racking but positive one to one appointment with editors. I've drunk wine at and reported on the Winter and Summer parties for the RNA magazine, Romance Matters, I've received support and guidance from some fabulous, lovely authors (some of them household names) and had the confidence to take part in a workshop with our Vice-Chair Sue Moorcroft at the Festival of Romance. Crucially, I've submitted manuscripts to the NWS every year - two different books, each of them twice - and received bracingly honest but effective critiques in return.
It's always hard when someone points out that your baby isn't quite as beautiful as you'd hoped :) but every NWS report has been clear, helpful and constructive and both manuscripts have undergone rewrites as a result … and it has made them much better books.
I will be honest. It was not always easy. In fact it was pretty painful, de-constructing stories I knew, loved and utterly believed in and then putting them back together again. I didn't always agree with everything the readers said, so I used my instincts and some of the suggested changes weren't made. And sometimes it felt like the rewrites were going on forever but I got my head down and pushed through … and some of the things my editor loved about Crazy, Undercover, Love when I pitched it to her at the RNA Conference 2013 was down to NWS feedback - which is why I've just sent thank you cards out to my NWS readers via the tireless scheme organiser Melanie :)
So, where am I now? Well, I've just graduated from NWS member to full RNA member and I'm working on my next book for Harper Impulse. So if you're out there, an aspiring author, and you're wondering if it's ever going to happen for you, make it happen. Join the RNA New Writers Scheme at the end of this year. And be part of our gang.
Amazon UK: Crazy, Undercover, Love
Harper Impulse: Crazy, Undercover, Love
Thank you for sharing your journey, Nikki
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