Before I became published in LGBTQ+ romance in September 2014, I’d already had a lot of experience being published in other genres, including poetry, short SF/F fiction, and both long- and short- form non-fiction ranging from pop-culture commentary to personal essays.
When I suggested writing M/M romance to Erin McRae, who’s become my co-author, I said, “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. This will be easy!”
Now, in some ways, my previous publishing experience did make things easier for us. I knew how to write a good cover letter; I knew we didn’t necessarily need an agent; and I knew perseverance would be key — both to finish our first book, and to find a publisher for it.
All of that stuff was perfectly true, and it definitely gave us a leg up in our pathway to publishing, but there was also lots of stuff we didn’t know, and didn’t anticipate, because we thought we had all the key knowledge we needed.
As people who have read more gay literature than gay romance, we weren’t necessarily aware of the likes and dislikes of much of the M/M romance community when it came to narrative items like bisexuality and polyamory. While knowing these things earlier wouldn’t have changed the story we wanted to write, they would have changed how we marketed our book to publishers and readers earlier on in the process.
And as someone with a larger background in non-fiction than fiction, I also had different expectations of the editorial process. The edits on our first romance book would have gone smoother if I hadn’t assumed that that process or timeline would be closely similar for the editorial experience on my non-fiction book.
Additionally, my background in non-fiction and journalism made us prone to writing extremely professional emails which were, frankly, a little bit stuffy when communicating with publishers, bloggers, and the like early on. What was polite in one sphere I was used to working in was sometimes read as off-putting in the much cozier, familiar, and social romance space.
This meant that our pathway to publishing didn’t just mean learning new skills, but unlearning old habits.
Ultimately, that first book, Starling, sold to Torquere Press, one of the oldest publishers of LGBTQ+ romance. The second book in that series, Doves, is out January 21, and book three will be available in June. Since we started writing together, we’ve also sold a number of short stories and novellas, and also have work coming out with Dreamspinner and Cleis.
Every book or story isn’t an immediate yes. Every editorial process has its own individual quirks. Learning those nuances is as important as creating the work itself. And finding each book’s audience is more complex and rewarding than we had initially anticipated.
All of this means that newcomers to the publishing industry aren’t starting miles behind people who have written and published elsewhere. And people with publishing experience have nearly as much to learn as writers who are publishing for the first time. But as daunting and frustrating as learning process can at times feel, every query letter, manuscript and round of edits teaches us something new. And the end result of that, is always amazing and rewarding and leaves us filled with gratitude.
Title: Doves (Love in Los Angeles Book Two)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Date Published: January 21, 2015
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 90,320
Two years after the events of Starling, Cinderella story and star of The Fourth Estate J. Alex Cook is living happily ever after with his boyfriend, television writer Paul Marion Keane. But when Paul’s pilot, Winsome, AZ, gets picked up, the competing demands of their high-profile careers make them question their future together.
As Paul becomes increasingly absent from their relationship, Alex tries to regain control of his private life and establish a career path independent of Fourth’s enigmatic, and at times malevolent, showrunner Victor. But the delicate web of relationships that connects Alex, Paul, and their friends — including Alex’s excitable ex-lover Liam and his no-nonsense fiancée Carly — threatens to unravel.
With the business of Hollywood making it hard to remember who he is when the whole world isn’t watching, Alex is forced to confront major changes in the fairytale life he never wanted as he discovers that love in Los Angeles often looks nothing like the movies.
By the time the call with Victor is over and Alex has finally slumped back into the chair next to Paul’s, Alex is ready to never answer his phone ever again.
Which is when Paul’s phone rings.
Paul looks scared. His mother looks like none of this is terribly out of the ordinary. Alex wonders if that’s just because she’s used to Paul’s job or if her life transcended strange and scary a long time ago.
“Answer it,” Alex hisses, because he knows this is one of the two calls they’ve been waiting for and the one that will go a long way towards telling them the shape of the next year.
Paul answers it, and Alex watches him closely as he nods and says yes and thank you a number of times, but he’s so damn even Alex can’t tell if the news is good or bad.
When he clicks off, he just stares straight ahead breathing for a moment, and what Alex would have once taken as shock or admired as an even disposition now just seems learned in the most unsettling of ways.
“Well?” he finally asks.
Everyone is leaned forward in their chairs on the verandah staring at him in the bug-filled twilight.
“Thirteen episodes,” he says softly. “Option for another eight. And then we pray for season two.”
The reaction is loud from Paul’s family, but Alex just sits there, still bent towards Paul and holding his hand, waiting for the moment to actually connect. When it does, Paul is out of his chair in a flash, hauling Alex up with him into a crushing hug.
“Oh my god, this day,” Alex says in his ear.
Paul laughs in utter delight. “So will you marry me now?”
Racheline Maltese co-writes the Love in Los Angeles LGBT romance series with Erin McRae. Set in the film and television industry, the books (Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)) are available from Torquere Press. Their May/December “gay for you” novella Midsummer will be released Summer 2015 by Dreamspinner Press. You can also find their work in Best Gay Romance 2015 from Cleis Press and edited by Felice Picano.
Author Blog: http://Avian30.com
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Amazon Author Profile: http://www.amazon.com/Racheline-Maltese/e/B001JRVS2C
Goodreads Author Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1015335.Racheline_Maltese