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Monday, April 6, 2009
Monday Spotlight: Devyn Quinn
Hi, all! My name is Devyn Quinn. I write erotic romance for Kensington’s Aphrodisia imprint and, beginning in 2010, will be writing paranormal romance for NAL’s Signet Eclipse mass market imprint. Through the years I’ve also written for smaller presses such as Ellora’s Cave and Samhain, to name a few. Though my publishers have changed through the years, I have found one thing to be consistent: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
One of the most important things I’ve found as a working writer is you need your network! Just what is this network, some may wonder, and how do you get one?
It’s simple, really.
A writer’s network begins with the test readers, those friends in your critique group who read your work and give their opinions. More than being your friends, these are the people who will look you in the eye and give you an honest opinion of your work. They may be brutal and harsh at time, but these are the people you rely on to tell you the truth. With their help, you can perfect the manuscript you’re working on—something that may have taken years to complete.
One you have a manuscript in hand, it’s time to move toward expanding your network. You want to reach out and touch a seasoned professional, the writer(s) who know how to put together that all important query to a publisher or agent. Again, these may be people you already know in your own circle of friends. Or you may have to step outside that circle and start making contact with more knowledgeable persons in the business. In this regard, the internet is a boon and blessing. Without leaving your home, you can reach out and make new friends with very little effort. A friend may put you in contact with a friend, who happens to be a part of a professional group you can join and learn from. There are a lot of writer’s groups on the net, and a lot of writers are willing to offer a helping hand to the newbie on the block. These are the people who can take you another step up the networking ladder, helping you get your book in front of the agents and/or editors who can take your book from manuscript to published book.
In my own case, my referrals for editors and agents all came from my circle of friends. On the loops, I’d often learn about calls for submissions. When these matched up with my genre, I’d shoot off a query. A query, I might add, that friends in the know (meaning they were published when I was not) helped me whip into shape. In my case, my mentors were well published, well known authors with a lot of experience under their belts. Thanks to their generosity and time, I was able to continue to expand my network to include the agent who would eventually represent me (Roberta Brown, Brown Literary Agency) and the New York editor who would give me a break (Hilary Sares, Kensington Books). My agent, too, recently extended my professional my network, by putting my work in front of Lindsay Nouis of NAL. Going back and forth on a few proposals, we hit on an idea all of us liked and Lindsay offered a three book deal.
Without these contacts, I would still be sitting in front of my computer, unpublished. When I began writing, I had little clue of what to do with my work. The desire to be published and a little research led me to my first writer’s group. At the time I joined, no one was professionally published. But we all knew what we were after and put our heads together to find the people who did know what they were about in the business. By building my network I was able to go from unknown newbie to published author. Like many writers, I started small, first with e-presses and small presses. Those, too, offered a valuable learning experience. It helped me learn the business, to deal with publishers and editors as I went through the process that would take my work from raw manuscript and turn it into a published book that readers would—hopefully!—purchase, and enjoy!
It took a lot of years to achieve what I considered to be the Holy Grail that was publication in New York. Through that time I made a lot of good friends, many whom I am still in touch with to this day. Without these men and women, I doubt I would have ever been published. Not only did they encourage me when I was down, they allowed me to pick their brains, teaching me the things I did not know, giving me the tools that would take me from a wanna-be and turn me into a successfully published author.
To that end, I try and return the favor. If you want to know something about the business, just drop me a line. I’ll do my best to answer, and perhaps someday you can count Devyn Quinn as part of your network!