This must be the longest call story ever.

So Jo likes my first chapter, I have a request for the next two and I need to get writing. (By the way we do talk about voice. I don’t understand what she means-  then I get it. When I hear a singer I know immediately it’s them, no matter what they are singing. Harlequin Mills and Boon don’t want another Nora Roberts for example as they have already have the best Nora Roberts. So another big hint here- never copy another writer’s style. Find your own.)

Two chapters are submitted followed by a request for a full which I still haven’t written. I wouldn’t recommend this approach to anyone btw. Not unless you like spending your life at the computer for weeks on end. But book is written and sent. I call it Dr Campbell’s Secret.

Ages pass. In the meantime I have had great feedback from Alex Gray, my tutor on an Arvon course I signed up for before going to the Mills and Boon course.

Maybe I can write?

Or maybe not.

Jo phones me. She likes what I’ve done but has some suggestions to make the book better. I don’t really understand what she wants. I think I’ve given this book my best shot- so I’m afraid it goes in a drawer and I decide that writing for Mills and Boon is too hard.

More time passes and then I get another call from Jo. She’s wondering how the revisions are going. I don’t tell her that I haven’t even attempted them. Instead I phone Hugh (Jessica Stirling who has written over 70 books) with whom I play tennis. The conversation goes something like this.

Me: They want me to do revisions.(In plaintive poor me voice)

JS: So. Get on with it.

Me: I can’t. I don’t know how.

JS: For God’s sake. Do you have any idea how many people would give their eye teeth to write for M&B?

He gives me Roger Sanderson’s number (Roger has written meds for M& B under the name Gill Sanderson for years) I phone Roger- get the same ‘doing’ as JS had just given me.

I resolve to get my Big Girl’s Pants on and do revisions.

(Writers never fail to amaze me with their generosity towards unpublished writers. It’s one of the reasons I’ll try and help anyone who asks me.)

So revisions in. And then, one day, I’m at work (in the IVF unit where no-one knows about my secret life as a writer) when I get a call from Jo. I take the call right in the middle of the office.

Jo: We’d like to buy your book.

Me:That’s nice. (Or something equally banal.)

Jo: (Clearly a little at a loss at the most unenthusiastic author she has ever dealt with.) Ok, then. I’ll get the contract out to you.

Me: Thanks.

So that is the story leading to the publication of Dr Campbell’s Secret Son. (They added son. I still prefer it without to be honest.)

Now not everyone will be lucky enough to go on a M&B course. As far as I know they only did that one. But they do have competitions all the time which are online courses too. If you want to write for Harlequin, check out their guidelines and keep checking their sites for competitions.

So here are my top tips.

Do not give up.

Do the revisions. If you are asked for revisions, this is a very good sign.

Find your own voice.

And truly, if anyone has any questions, fire away.

ps Dr Campbell’s Secret son has been reissued in an anthology. I’ll try and post a link


About Anne Fraser

Medical Romance Author
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5 Responses to Call Story

  1. Lovely story Anne. I did the same as you with my first manuscript – I’d put in three chapters and when I got a request for the rest of the book, I had to sit down and write it. Definitely not an approach I’d recommend either 🙂

  2. Anne Fraser says:

    Good to know I’m not alone, Annie! My call story reminds me of the quote: ‘If I can’t be a good example, at least let me be a horrible warning.’ Actually that quote can apply to loads of stuff about me.

  3. Tina Beckett says:

    I did the same as you and Annie, Anne. I wrote a chapter and then had to write the rest of the book when it was requested. Definitely was a scary proposition!

    Loved your call story! And I agree. Writers are some of the most generous people around. I can’t remember the number of people who’ve helped me over the years with various questions.

  4. Anne – I have heard from editors that only about 20 of people they request submissions from do. Amazing right? Then, many people, such as yourself, assume revision letters are rejections and don’t do them. I’ve heard another editor say that when an editor takes the time to read your work and make suggestions for how to improve it or how to make it fit the particular line, they are serious about your book.
    I’ve said for years – The revision process can make or break the publishing deal and every author needs to take them seriously.

    Fortunately for me, I usually get what the editor is asking for with revisions (at least so far anyway)

    • Anne Fraser says:

      On one hand I hate revisions on the other I know they are absolutely essential. I rely on my editor to help me make the book better. I can’t believe how naive I was to begin with. I really thought the letter I received was a rejection. Thank God people took the time to bully me into keeping going. I just wanted other writers to know so they don’t make the same mistakes I did.

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