Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guest Blogger: Book Publishing Secrets of Romantic Thriller Author Dave Donelson

Unless you publish your book yourself, there is no easy way to see your book in print. It took more than five years for my romantic thriller, Heart of Diamonds, to go from concept to published novel, but it was an interesting journey.

The book started with what I thought would be a sure-fire hook. I ran across a Time Magazine article about the famous televangelist Pat Robertson and the avaricious relationship he had with Mobutu Sese-Seko, the dictator who raped the Congo for over thirty years. When I found out that Robertson, the founder of the 700 Club and one-time Presidential candidate, owned a diamond mine in the Congo—probably operated by near-slave labor—I felt I had to write Heart of Diamonds.

A couple of years later, I had a finished manuscript and it was time to take it to market. I wrote a query letter, drew up a list of agents who handled this kind of high-concept commercial fiction, and started making submissions.I had been through this process before, so my expectations were very realistic. I knew it would take an almost endless stream of submissions until I happened to hit the right agent at the right time in just the right way.

I stopped counting submissions after the first 200. It was obvious from the replies that 90% of the agents didn’t bother to read my letter, much less consider the book. I had used several different versions of the query, followed every set of rules for submission, and still couldn’t raise any interest.

Still, a handful of agents requested sample chapters and a couple even asked for manuscripts, so I experienced occasional glimmers of hope. The most important thing, I knew, was to never give up.

While I was looking for prospective agents online, I ran across a new publisher, Kunati Books, who said they accepted non-agented work and were looking for edgy, provocative fiction. That description fit Heart of Diamonds perfectly, so I followed their online submission instructions to the letter and crossed my fingers.

In the meantime, though, I didn’t sit back and wait for an answer. I kept up my search for an agent with more queries. Before I became a writer, I had a long career in sales management, so I knew perseverance was one of the most important elements of success. I devoted an hour a day to researching, preparing, and sending out queries.

Several weeks later, Kunati requested a complete manuscript. Again, I responded quickly, being careful to send them exactly what they requested in the form they wanted. The deal wasn’t closed, though, so I continued to send out queries.

Finally, about six months after my initial submission to Kunati, I got a phone call from Derek Armstrong. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of Heart of Diamonds, how it could be marketed, and how much time and effort I could devote to promoting it myself in complement to Kunati’s efforts. An offer was made and accepted contingent on acceptable contract terms.

During the next couple of weeks we went back and forth over some contract details and I had an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law look it over for me. I signed the contract, the advance was paid, and the first part of the journey was over. Heart of Diamonds was on its way to bookstores.

Dave Donelson is the author of the romantic thriller, HEART OF DIAMONDS. You can visit him on the web at or

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1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on sticking with it. This sounds like a great book!