The Call

Romance writers often work for years on their craft. The prize of seeing our work in print can seem distant at times and there are no quarantees. Perhaps that’s why we refer to the first offer of publication as “The Call.” It’s a personally validating moment that changes things.

But no two “Calls” are alike. Today debut author Joan Swan shares her call story.

Joan’s Call

Let me just say, it wasn’t at all what I expected.

I’m not sure where I got my fantasy of one call, one offer, one acceptance, one round of edits and wha-la, we were done, but that’s evidently what I had in mind, because when it didn’t happen, I found myself a little lost in the whole process. Thank goodness for my agent, Paige Wheeler. She did a lot of talking, a lot of explaining and I did a lot of Mmm-hmm-ing and Okay-ing.

I don’t see myself as a pessimist, but a realist. When you look at the statistics of writers becoming debut authors…well, just don’t look. Suffice it to say, my motto has always been hope for (and work toward) the best, prepare for the worst.

So when my agent called to say, “We have an offer”, I held my breath against the excitement ready to bust my ribs, waiting for the “but” at the end of that /In this case, the “but” was positive. “But, another house is also interested and I’m waiting to hear more from that editor.”

We went back and forth for a few days, talking revisions and changes for the series with each editor. My agent and I discussed the details of each publishing house, specifically what they brought to the table outside the advance—reputation, marketing efforts, author support, distribution, trade vs. mass market, etc. There were so many considerations I’d never realized would be important so early in my career.

Ultimately, we chose Kensington. The Brava line has a fabulous reputation for quality romance. Their covers are consistently amazing, their marketing supportive and varied.

A factor even more important to me personally was how I clicked with Alicia Condon, my editor. When we discussed revisions of the first book, I appreciated her candidness and her visions for how the book could be stronger and more compelling. While it meant a major rewrite, her suggestions gave me a glimpse of how her influence would improve my writing, which has always been a core focus of my career goals. Growth is very important to me, in every way. The fact that I felt I had found an editor who shared that value was key.

If you’re an author who has also gotten The Call, what types of considerations did you have to make that surprised you? If you’re an author waiting on The Call, what types of core career goals do you want incorporated into your first contract?

Thanks for having me, Mia!

My pleasure, Joan. Since Alicia Condon is also my editor, I can second your praise for her. It’s so important to work with someone who “gets” you.

Joan’s Bio: Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, debuts April, 2012. Currently, she works as a sonographer at a one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation, and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters. You can find Joan at:

For writers who pop by today, I’d love to hear your answer to Joan’s question. For readers, here’s your question: strongHave you ever had a moment when something you’ve worked hard for finally came to fruition? How did it make you feel?

22 thoughts on “The Call

  1. Joan Swan says:

    Thanks, Gladys! Isn’t that discussion over at Brava Authors with Alicia Condon fascinating! I love learning about PR and I love cover art. The two together are definitely a distraction in the making for me.

  2. GladysMP says:

    It is facinating to me to read about what authors go through to get published. Congratulations on making it. I am even amazed at how much discussion goes go regarding the covers for romance books.

  3. Joan Swan says:


    I can so relate. Are you sure you’re calling the right client? Are you sure they read the right manuscript? If we accept can they change their minds? LOL.

    Congrats on your first sale. VERY exciting! I always linger in awe when I’m in the greeting card aisle searching for just the right one. :) Next time it just might be yours!!!

  4. Joan Swan says:

    Hi Deb,

    Looooooooooove that send key!! (Print for me just means I have to look it over and edit again…whaaaaaaaa)

    Congrats on your papers. Any writing makes you a writer!

  5. Refhater says:

    My moment when something I’ve worked hard for finally came to fruition just last Wednesday. I finally got the call that one of the greeting cards I’d submitted had been selected for National publication (online) starting in January 2011.

    How it made me feel was beyond words. I was so excited that all I could manage was girlie squeals. And then there was the absolute fear that I had miss understood what they had said during the phone call and then that the required paperwork didn’t get to the right place by the time deadline. Ultimate high to the ultimate low. (OCD at its finest!) Thankfully I got a confirmation email and can now sit back and wait for January.


  6. Deb says:

    Thank you for your post today, Joan. I’m not a writer, but have had to write papers for teacher workshops in summer. It’s a good feeling to hit the print key or the send key. :)

  7. Joan Swan says:

    So true, Ann, so true. Anything worth having is worth working for…not sure who said that, but it is so very accurate. Thanks for coming by! Good to meet you!

  8. Joan Swan says:

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for coming by. Graduating college is definitely a HUGE milestone! One of the biggest and best in life. Kudos!

  9. Ann Best says:

    A good editor/agent is priceless!

    Anything that I’ve worked hard for, that means something to me when it’s finished, brings a great deal of satisfaction.

    I enjoy meeting new authors. I’m glad I came in here today and met Joan. I wish both of you much success!

  10. Jane says:

    Hi Joan,

    Can’t wait for your debut release. I would have to say it was when I graduated college. It was hard to believe that I was finished with school and officially an adult and independent.

  11. Joan Swan says:

    Hi Jane,

    Kids? Grandkids? Oh, no, they are a whole achievement category of their own. Those babies torture–I mean–LOVE you forever. A novel comes and goes in, oh, a year? Or two? Or ten? :-)

    After what you’ve already done, writing is just frosting for you, girl. Enjoy the sugar.

  12. Joan Swan says:


    I KNOW!! Total education! I swear everyday in this business is an education unto itself. Crazy, crazy amazing.

    Thanks for coming by. Thrilled to debut with you in 2012!! XO

  13. Joan Swan says:

    Hi Kimmy,
    I know how you feel! Boy do I know. I’ve so been there.

    A bachelor’s degree, an additional certification in ultrasound, then studying for board tests (five separate ones) specializing in separate areas of medicine, not to mention all the educational persuits for writing…

    The best advice I can give you from having been in those trenches…1) make sure you peek over the edge every now and then and see the big picture and 2) enjoy the journey

    Kudos on how far you’ve come. Celebrate your successes!

  14. Jane L says:

    Congrats to Joan! I have to say having children would be the biggest challenge and payoff for me so far. I am sure when I do get the call I will be more than thrilled and think what kids? LOL! I really did enjoy all aspects of being pregnant,raising kids and now being a grandmother. Whew! I am way to young for all this!

  15. MiaMarlowe says:

    Heather–Thanks for dropping by! At every stage of the business there’s another layer of things to consider. Glad you too have good representation.

  16. MiaMarlowe says:

    Good for you, Kimmy! Sticking with something even when it’s hard is my definition of heroic.

  17. MiaMarlowe says:

    Joan–Your attitude toward revisions is so healthy. We were having a discussion about this on the RWA Pan loop the other day. There are writers who have actually returned their advance and walked away from a contract rather than change their baby even a little.

    I’m not young enough to know everything. I appreciate it when my editor takes the time to polish up my darling.

  18. MiaMarlowe says:

    Theresa–No matter how many contracts I do, I still have those mm-hm and ok conversations with my agent. She deals with the legal verbage all the time and can explain it to me. I don’t know how anyone can manage without a good agent on their side.

  19. Heather Snow says:

    First, CONGRATULATIONS! And thanks for sharing your call story. I always LOVE hearing them, because even though the stats for writers becoming debut authors are scary, every call story I read inspired me that if I worked hard enough and the timing was right, I, too, could be one of those success stories.

    As for me, just having a choice between publishing houses surprised me! The entire process was very exciting. Beyond considerations of advance, reputation and publishing schedule, I got a very fast education in publicity and marketing plans as part of the decision process. I am very glad I have such a lovely, savvy agent who held my hand and educated me about the business through it all. Congratulations, again, on your sale!

  20. kimmyl says:

    I’ve worked really hard to get through my studies and finally succeeded. I stayed so nervous and stressed out that when it finally ended it was more relief than anything.

  21. Joan Swan says:


    VERY cool!! We are seriously twins because I haven’t gotten a revision letter yet either – which happens to work better for me at the moment because I’m trying to finish up revisions on book 2 to submit to Alicia by 1/1, so a letter on book 1 would totally distract me. :)

    I’m sure we’ll cross paths often! Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Theresa Romain says:

    Welcome, Joan! I’m kind of your twin, since I also work with Paige and Alicia. *high five* Congratulations on your sale!

    I’ve had some of those mm-hmm, oh, okay conversations myself, mainly when it came time for contract negotiations. Let me just say, it’s good that I didn’t have to sort through all that dense legalese by myself. I haven’t run into any surprises yet, though I haven’t gotten my revision letter! But like you, I am really looking forward to making the book even stronger.

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