All roads lead to…Keeping promises to yourself.

“It’s very important to keep promises, especially to yourself,” purrs deliriously happy magazine writer Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) in one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies, Christmas in Connecticut. At that point in the movie, Elizabeth is opening a massive box filled with a mink coat. As for me? I opened my figurative box of mink last night.

Last night at approximately 10:00pm EST, the final step in a long process of my publication journey saw its completion, and staring at the screen as Breaking Up With Barrett finally reflected a “perma-free” price of $0.00, I burst into the kind of sobs that rattle your bones, and rested my weary head on my desk.

Oh, but I’ve skipped ahead. Let me start at the beginning…

Last May I was invited to speak at the NECRWA conference on the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. small press publishing. Having experienced both sides of that specific coin, I can share first-hand knowledge of both publishing avenues. My talk – which attracted about 50 participants – was in full swing, about halfway finished, when the door to the hotel conference room opened, and Bella Andre walked in. I gasped. My mouth dropped open. My eyes might have watered. My heart started hammering. You have to understand: I fan-girl Bella HARD. I admire her more than any other author writing contemporary romance today. She is smart and savvy, self-created and driven. She writes sweet and sexy romance and has built a massive audience through her Sullivan books (to which I am utterly devoted – haven’t tried them? Click here and buy all 13 of them. I’ll wait.) Suddenly in the presence of romance writing royalty (say that ten times fast, I dare you) I admit I was flummoxed for a few moments before I started speaking again. Those there will attest to the starstruck pinwheels of my eyes.

After the talk, Bella invited me to have a drink in the hotel lounge and chat about our books, and–

WAIT. Let’s stop here for a moment and give that moment the respect it deserves. Bella Andre (a self-made, self-publishing zeitgeist who has sold MILLIONS of books WORLDWIDE, hit the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists more times than I can possibly count, and blew the ceiling off of established New York publishing conventions) invited me, Katy Regnery (who, at the time, had a four-book, small-pubbed, poorly-selling, mostly-ignored series out, and one self-published standalone novel) to sit down and chat.

Bella Andre sets the bar high in all things professional. That’s a fact. I am anxious to share with you that she sets the bar even higher when it comes to kindness and heart. For over an hour she selflessly shared details of her publishing journey, listened to me share my own frustrations, answered my questions and gave me advice that I seared onto my brain. Noting that my publishing journey seemed a little unfocused, she gave me advice based on her own success, and told me to consider writing a series. Write them well, but write them quickly, she said. Don’t sacrifice quality, but the key is to write them, and keep writing them. Her exact words? “Write the books. Write the books. Write all of the books.” I will always – alwaysalwaysalways– be grateful to Bella Andre for that advice, and she will always live epic and beloved in my mind for taking an hour out of her exceptionally busy life to mentor a newer author. Thank you, Bella.

I still had three chapters to finish in the novel I was writing at the time, The Vixen and the Vet, but after speaking to Bella, I committed to finishing them as quickly as possible. On the drive home from Boston, I outlined The English Brothers. A series of five books about five hot, wealthy brothers from Philadelphia, I’d thought I’d finish Vixen and start writing The English Brothers right away as mid-length (55,000-70,000 words) books to be enjoyed as “beach reads” over the summer. Bella said to launch them quickly, so I finished Vixen in three days (a chapter a day keeps the ??? away?!), and started on Breaking Up With Barrett the following day. Here is what my ensuing writing/release schedule looked like:

5/2 – 5/3: NECRWA Conference and talk with Bella

5/3 – 5/6: Finish The Vixen and the Vet

5/7 – 5/19: Write Breaking Up With Barrett

5/19-6/1: Write Falling for Fitz

6/2-6/6: Write Anyone but Alex

6/7-7/7: Launches of The Vixen and the Vet, Meeting Miss Mystic and The Wedding Date (which Bella invited me to write – do you see what I’m saying?! I LOVE her!)

7/8-7/29: Write Anyone but Alex

7/22: Launch Breaking Up With Barrett

7/29: Launch Falling for Fitz

8/20-9/16: Write Seduced by Stratton

9/3: Launch Anyone but Alex

9/17-10/6: Write Wild About Weston

11/4: Launch Seduced by Stratton

12/2: Launch Wild About Weston

And of course, this timeline doesn’t account for developmental edits, proofreads, formatting and promo. It was a pretty crazy summer. (What I remember of it.) Some days I’d write 8,000 words. Some days I’d be up until 3am finishing a deadline I’d set for myself. I almost murdered Alex English several times, but I didn’t think that would make for a very good love story. I’ve never driven myself so hard, worked so fast, or accomplished so much in such a tight space. Always in my head when I was tired or frustrated or despairing? The words: Write the books. Write the books. Write all of the books, like a train engine that kept me barreling forward. Chug-a-chug-a-write-the-books… I’d have a little pity party, crack my knuckles and start typing again.

From July until December, I kept The English Brothers exclusively on Amazon. I built my audience by enrolling the books in KDP Select and I think that I’m one of the few authors who is profoundly grateful for Kindle Unlimited. Not a great long-term solution, perhaps, it still introduced my books to thousands of readers. Did I lose money? Maybe. But I believe in “paying your dues” and that’s how I paid them.

The promise I made to myself? To finish all five books and eventually publish them on Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords and Kobo, in addition to Amazon. Once live, I would put the first one, Breaking Up With Barrett on perma-free, hoping to attract new readers with the promise of a free book. That was my plan. That was my only plan, and I kept my eye on it. I never thought about throwing in the the towel. I never deviated from the promise I made myself on May 2nd after speaking to Bella. Seven months later to the day, book five of The English Brothers, Wild About Weston, was published to Amazon. On Monday, all five books were published to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords and Kobo. Yesterday, I refreshed my screen and watched Breaking Up With Barrett drop to $0.00 on Amazon.

I didn’t expect the tears – I didn’t feel them coming on. There wasn’t a warning lump in my throat or a burn that told me they were on the way. One minute I was staring at my computer screen, the next I was sobbing. And the overwhelming feeling I had? That I had started a marathon on May 2nd…and I crossed the finish line, exhausted but elated, last night. I had done it. I had completed what I set out to do, and it felt feels….awesome.

“It’s very important to keep promises, especially to yourself.”

Breaking Up With Barrett has a BookBub free-spot on Friday, December 19. The English Brothers is now a six book series, and I recently announced an additional four books, The Winslow Brothers, that will be released Spring-Fall 2015 to continue the series.

You know what? It’s been the most fun I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I guess it’s time for new promises.

__________

Katy Regnery is the author of 15 published books. She is presently working on her 20th, Kiss Me Kate, The English Brothers #6.

 

 

11 Responses to All roads lead to…Keeping promises to yourself.

  1. Pat Harrell December 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    i haven’t connected with an author or a series like I have you sense I started reading Nora Roberts and Susan Wiggs. Your books got my attention from the first. I will definitely buy any of your books, no questions asked, as soon as they are available. Thanks for such great stories.

    • Katy Regnery December 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      Pat, what a wonderfully kind compliment! I am so glad you enjoy my books – thank you so much for letting me know!

  2. Dee Lancaster December 19, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    Wonderful post. This is inspiring. What a wonderful person Bella Andre is. You got me hooked on her books before and now I’m hooked on yours too. Congratulations on a great year. Keep writing because you do it well.

  3. Diane Gilliam December 19, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    And all this while efficiently running a household with two active, young children,and being an excellent wife, daughter, sister, friend. How blessed are we to have you in our lives. We love you, dear Katy.

  4. Charlene December 31, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    I am a new reader/fan entirely because of your decision to put “Breaking up with Barrett” out as a free book on Amazon. I am always hesitant about buying a book from a new-to-me author so free is my go to method. I know nothing about the publishing industry but enjoyed the insight gained from your story. Congratulations on your sucess I know there is more to come!

    • Katy Regnery January 5, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      Thank you so much, Charlene! What a kind message – I am so glad you enjoyed the English Brothers! :)

  5. Elke January 4, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    I was intrigued by Barrett, hooked by the time Alex came around, and impatient like a kid on Christmas Eve for Stratton and Weston’s stories. And now I’m kind of sad knowing that Kat’s book will be the last in this series because those English brothers are kind of addictive…

    Which leads me to my question: dear, dear Ms Regnery, will they be published in paperback? Since I’m a book addict, I like to have my favorites not only on my reader, but also on my bookshelf.

    Thank you very much for these wonderful characters. Really looking forward to those Winslow boys!

    • Katy Regnery January 5, 2015 at 11:20 am #

      Wow! I love that! You fell in love with the English…I’ve heard it happens. 😉 As for publishing in print…I don’t know. My novel, The Vixen and the Vet, is out in print, and I have plans to print my upcoming novella, “Frosted” when it’s no longer part of a recently-published anthology. But I don’t have any immediate plans to print The English Brothers…then again – never say never!

  6. Jennifer Rae January 7, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    Wanted to let you know that I also started the English Brothers series when I found “Breaking Up With Barrett” on BookBub. I’ve since finished the series and am wondering if I’ll be able to read about Kate and Ten since hating him in Stratton’s book. As an aspiring romance writer I admire your story and am beginning to recognize the need for structure and planning in the writing process. Going now to “write the book, write the book, …”

    • Katy Regnery January 8, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      I promise you will grow to like Etienne…there is a whole backstory that will explain what happened with Kate and that story, unlike the other English Brothers books, is told 40% in flashback and 60% in the present day, so you’ll even get a chance to see how Kate and Etienne met (it’s super cute!) For me, structure is important. Particularly in The Vixen and the Vet, Seduced by Stratton and Kiss Me Kate, the structure really drives the story forward. Good luck with your writing and thank you for the kind comments! xoxo

  7. Kella Campbell March 2, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Congratulations on keeping that promise to yourself and getting to your goal.

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