This week is always a big week in the romance writing world because the RITA and Golden Heart finalists are announced. The RITA and Golden Heart awards are run by the Romance Writers of America and are essentially the Oscars for published and unpublished romance writers respectively.
So big congrats to all the finalists...especially the Aussies (yes, slight bias) Kelly Hunter, Bronwyn Parry and Elizabeth Rolls for the RITAs and Robyn Enlund (extra woot for my crit buddy), Kylie Griffin, Vanessa Barneveld and Gabrielle Luthy for the Golden Heart.
Enjoy the ride everyone.
Being a finalist in the Golden Heart is pretty exciting stuff. It's a big credential for your writing when querying agents and editors and winners and finalists have a good history of selling. What's interesting though is that, anecdotally (not sure if anyone has ever actually done stats) is that winners and finalists also have a history of quitting writing after the Golden Heart.
So here's the thing....don't give up. There's sixty odd finalists each year in (currently) ten categories each year. I was a finalist in 2007 and we probably had the same sorts of numbers...maybe a few more. Now, most years, a couple of you will sell the GH book or another book before results come out, at least one winner will sell the book at conference or very close to and there will be other sales throughout the year. I'd like nothing better than for everyone to sell their GH book (and snag themselves a fab agent as well) and have it be the kickstart to a glorious career. But most likely, that won't happen. Not everyone will sell their GH book this year, or maybe at all. Not everyone will pick up an agent out of it. And I think that for those who give up at this point, the fact that they don't sell or don't get the agent somehow equals "this is never going to work for me if I can't sell a book that finalled in/won the freaking Golden Heart".
In fact, finalling or winning means the opposite. It means you are a good writer. It means you have what it takes. But you might still have to grit your teeth and keep writing and keep walking the bumpy road of publishing a bit longer before you get that perfect combination of agent, book, editor and market that equals a sale. I sold this year...not quite three years after I got the finalist call (and I was a double finalist, though granted, I switched focus and have only really pursued one of the categories I finalled in since). It wasn't my GH book that sold, it was a few more books down the path. I would still love to find my GH book a home one day because I do love it but to date, it hasn't sold.
Of the gals in my GH year, there's been a steady stream of sales, some of Golden Heart manuscripts, some of other books. Some of other books then Golden Heart manuscripts but not everyone has sold yet. But I know they will if they just keep going. Because GH finalists have what it takes. How do I know? Well, of the 2007 gals, there are five RITA nominations this year. Not too shabby for a bunch of gals who were all unpublished three years ago.
So good luck to everyone, I hope you all sell fast. Enjoy the fun of being a finalist but keep writing and don't give up!