By H.B. Moore
For every novel we write there is a story behind the writing and the eventual publication. When I started drafting QUEEN (now FINDING SHEBA) in 2005, I had no idea that it would take nearly eight years to see it published. Based on an agent’s feedback, I changed the ending, which resulted in losing a few plot points and a brand new 200 pages. (A pretty wild ride considering I’m a pantser. If I change one plot point, I might start writing a completely different book.) More time passed. New agent. First thing she said was “cut 100 pages.”
We went on submission just as the nation spiraled into a recession. The publishing world followed with layoffs and major restructuring. Three years later, after so many “close calls” that included final NY committee meetings, QUEEN was still without a home.
I continued writing and publishing a line of historical novels, but QUEEN wasn’t a good fit for my current publisher. So I waited and watched. Finally, it made sense to take the manuscript off my agent’s desk and retire it for a while.
We were now in 2011 and the ebook market was taking off like crazy. Some publishers were even considering releasing books as ebooks first. I was still writing and publishing for my publisher and I had nine books out with them. But thoughts of QUEEN wouldn’t leave me alone.
In the summer of 2012, I was planning out marketing for my first contemporary romance novel that was coming out in a few months. I realized that all of my other novels were historical thrillers, and written under H.B. Moore. Now, ATHENA (The Newport Ladies Book Club series) would be coming out, and published under Heather B. Moore. Since Amazon makes authors with two pen names separate those author pages, if someone looked up “Heather B. Moore” they’d find two inspirational non-fiction books and ATHENA. If someone loved ATHENA, they’d have nothing else to read that compared.
I wanted to put out another romance, contemporary or historical. But if I wrote a full novel then it would take months to write and a year or two to come out with my traditional publisher. This would not help me with crossover sales with ATHENA. Then I thought about writing something short… but could I do it? I’d written a short story to go with QUEEN for a thriller anthology. Maybe I could write a short romance.
One of the things I dread as an author is self-promotion: “Buy my book!” Putting out a short romance would just add to that… and it would now be “Buy my self-published novella!” To get around that, I thought about doing an anthology. I’d find other authors to write a short romance as well. Then it wouldn’t just be “me” shouting from the roof-tops. We’d be able to cross-promote and share readership.
But who could I ask? And did this mean I needed a publishing company imprint? And how do I choose the covers? Make all the publishing decisions? Edit? Design? I knew I didn’t want to do it solo. I went through my mental list of author friends, ones who could help with those decisions, help navigate the romance genre, and were fantastic writers as well with publishing experience in that genre. So I met with Annette Lyon and Sarah M. Eden, who both agreed to be on the board for Mirror Press. We put together A Timeless Romance Anthology series, first release would be October 2012. We invited three other authors to contribute for a total of six novellas in one anthology.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because… once I became an indie publishing Kindle author it meant that I received the KDP newsletters. In November, the featured publisher/author was Aaron Patterson of StoneHouse Ink. I read about his publishing success and the more I read, the more I realized that his company would be a perfect fit for QUEEN. Even though the book hadn’t been queried for over a year, I dug out my pitch sentence and crafted a letter to Aaron.
When Aaron called me, and we talked about contract terms, release dates, and the all-important cover—which we both agreed we were cover snobs—I don’t think I was 100% sure it was all real until I received an email with a contract attached.
Life is often ironic, and when I learned that QUEEN would be coming out summer 2013, a few months after my newest release ESTHER THE QUEEN, I started posting on my Facebook page that my two novels about Biblical queens would be out in the same year. From the replies, I realized that my readers were confused about which book was which. Some thought my QUEEN book was really ESTHER THE QUEEN, or that they were the same book. Of course, it was all perfectly clear in my mind, but I wondered if I’d be spending the next several years explaining it over and over in endless blog posts, interviews, or Facebook clarifications. I realized that although I’d lived and queried QUEEN for seven years now, the title had to change.
And FINDING SHEBA was born.
Good things come in 2’s. H.B. Moore is 2-time Best of State award-winner, 2-time Whitney Award winner, 2-time winner of the Golden Quill Best Novel Award. Her first contemporary thriller is FINDING SHEBA, but she just had to throw in a historical thread as well.
To learn more about H. B. Moore, please visit her website.