Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Personal Path To Publication - Jean Joachim

My guest today, romance writer Jean Joachim, didn't start out as a fiction writer...in fact, she had seven published non-fiction books to her credit long before she entertained the thought of entering the fiction arena about two years ago.  Lucky for us, she made the change.  A fellow author with me at Astraea Press, she has been delighting reviewers and readers alike with her special brand of heart-tugging romance that has been called vivid, real and enchanting.  She has two romance novels available now, Sunny Days, Moonlit, Nights, and Now and Forever, A Love Story, and her next offering with Astraea Press, April's Kiss in the Moonlight, will be available in October.  Please now enjoy the roundabout journey Jean has made into romance publishing.

1.     How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for about 20 years, professionally. But I started with non-fiction, writing articles about parenting that were published in parenting newspapers. I’ve only been writing romantic fiction for about 18 months.
As a child I wrote stories and plays and acted them out with my family and friends as long as I can remember.

2.     Are you published and if so, how long have you been a published author?  If not, what’s your plan?
Yes, I’m fortunate to say, I am published. I’ve been a published author since my first non-fiction book came out in 2003. It’s called “Beyond the Bake Sale, the Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book” and is still available today. I had six more non-fiction books published after that.
My first work of fiction, released by a publisher, came out in February, 2011. The title is “Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights,” published by Astraea Press.

3.     Which route did you choose for becoming published, the traditional route, with an agent, the “indie” route, going directly to the publishers yourself, or deciding to self-publish?
Actually, I’ve done all three. Two of my non-fiction books were through an agent. I self-published my first work of fiction in 2010. For my next book I approached an indie publisher, Astraea Press, and got a contract. Then I had a different book picked up by another indie, Secret Cravings Publishing. Is this confusing? Sometimes it is for me, too.

4.     How long did it take you to write your first novel?
It seems like so long ago, it’s hard to remember, perhaps about two months. I hadn’t yet learned to adapt my non-fiction writing skills to fiction and wrote the first book as almost a stream of consciousness. Then I had the gigantic job of going back and putting things in some kind of logical order. That seemed to take as long as the writing! Needless to say, I don’t do that anymore.

5.     How long did it take you to publish it?
Since the first book was self-published, it came out about two months after it was finished as it took me quite a while to find the perfect picture for the cover.
The first book through a publisher didn’t take nearly so long. I submitted a manuscript Astraea liked but needed some changes to meet their guidelines. I felt the changes wouldn’t work with that story so I submitted a different story that met their guidelines and had a contract right away. That was in January and the book was published on February 8.

6.     How many times did it get rejected before it got published?
“Sunny Days” was never rejected. However, “Now and Forever, a Love Story” the book I self-published was rejected by 15 agents and two or three publishers before I gave up on that route. Fortunately, Secret Cravings asked me if they could re-publish it. With their fine editing, the book came out as a re-release last month and is a far superior book now.

7.     Describe your worst rejection letter.
I suppose the worst rejection I got was one that came six months after I submitted; simply for the fact it was so delayed. Most agents and publishers have some stock reply they send you to save face. I guess the answer is that no one said anything terrible, but rejection is rejection. Even a nice let-down is still “no”.

8.     Describe the best news you ever got in your writing life and how it felt.
I have been very lucky to have had much good news in my writing life. After the first article I wrote was rejected, I’ve sold everything else I’ve ever written. Highlights would include: having an “auction” with five publishers bidding for my fund-raising book, the almost immediate acceptance of “Sunny Days”, the almost immediate acceptance of “Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny” – anything but a cookie-cutter romance -- by Secret Cravings Publishing and their wish to re-publish the first book in the Now and Forever series.

9.     What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
“Don’t be a writer, it’s too hard.” This came from my father.

10.   Now, tell us the best.
“Write, write, and write some more. You’re a terrific writer.” From my best friend, Diana Finegold, a gifted writer herself.

11.  What’s the one thing you would want an aspiring writer to take away from your personal path to publication?
My motto, which has stood me in good stead for everything in my life, “Never give up.” If you want something pull out all the stops, work harder than you ever thought you could, learn everything you can and keep working toward your goal.
After my rejections, I decided I needed to become a good fiction writer and I started to work. I wrote seven days a week often seven or more hours a day. My family supported me by taking care of themselves, freeing me to write. I read everything I could get my hands on about writing and in my genre, contemporary romance. After eight months of total dedication, I received the contracts I wanted and my career was launched. However, I am still striving to become the best fiction writer I can. LOL! 

12.     Where can we read your blog? Connect with you on facebook? On Twitter? Your website?

Blurb for “Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights”
Do you have someone in your past you would like to reconnect with?  Caroline Davis White wasn't looking for Mickey, now Mike Foster, her childhood crush, she was fleeing her philandering husband, seeking peace and quiet, time to reflect on changing her life. But there was Mike, saving her from a mishap...again, bigger than life and even more handsome. 

A well-known artist, Sunny thought she could escape, disappear back to the cabin where she spent her summers as a child. But she was wrong. Her husband refused to let her go. There hadn't been a divorce in Brad White's family...ever! And he wasn't about to start breaking the tradition now.  Could Caroline shake him loose and what about Mike? Where did he fit into her life?

For her fan's pleasure, Jean has made the prequel, “Moonlight and Roses” available as a FREE novella on Smashwords! Watch for the release of the sequel, “April’s Kiss in the Moonlight” also from Astraea Press in October.

And don't forget to tell Jean how much you enjoyed reading about her journey...as with all the authors in this series, she loves to connect with new fans and friends!


  1. Jean, Great interview and I'm glad younever took your fathers advice

  2. Thank you. Me, too! But he did teach me the most efficient way to pack a suitcase. LOL.

  3. glad you didn't give up Jean. you are very talented! good luck with everything!

  4. What an interesting interview, thanks for sharing Jean.

    Samantha,I'm enjoying your terrific idea of this series of interviews.

  5. Thank you Liz and Sherry. Sherry is right, Samantha, this is a great idea for an interview series. Thank you for having me.

  6. Thanks ladies, I am having a ball too. I do have a good idea now and again! I've just been loving how forthcoming and generous everyone has been. We are all so lucky to be among such giving and talented authors!